Figured I will finally work on my Cynosport update since I am sitting in CLT waiting on a flight that’s already beed delayed 5 hrs! So on to better things and a LOOOOOOOOONNNNG rundown of the event!
My first ever Cynosport was in Texas back on 2002. I remember my first time watching a live Finals event and cheering for Karen Holik and just how incredibly talented everyone seemed! I was by then hooked on this sport and the excitement of that day pretty much convinced me that I wanted to come back I have attended this event almost every year since, had the chance to cheer for good friends – Sharon Gutierrez (PRs first ever national Finalist!), Rafael Quiñones (first person from PR to make both Steeple and GPx finals) and Annette Alfonso who had so often been close but not quite, until her amazing Legend took her to Steeplechase finals. And yet, I personally had never run in a Finals at Cynosport until this year. And what a year it was!!!!! The footing was awesome, the courses were fast and challenging and the best part? The Puerto Ricans were all here, including my sister Sharon Gutierrez!
Day 1 – Fanta came in without a Perf SpeedJumping BYE, so I knew we needed a good run on Friday to make it in. Shiny had both BYEs for GPx and PSJ, so Wednesday would be all about Fanta. Both dogs had great warm up runs and when Fantas time came to run PSJ she smoked it!!!!! I had a bit of a mental misshap (had a few over the weekend so definitely something I have to work on) and found myself blocking her on the weaves when I had planned to rear, but even with the time fault my girl WON the Quarters by a nice margin!!!!
Day 2 – started with Biathlon Std, which Fanta totally rocked, good enough for a second place Shiny was high as a kite and pushing his startline and I let it fluster me, causing me to get lost on course and E! I could not seem to get my head straight for his runs until the end of the day. Biathlon Jumpers didnt go too well for either dog – Shiny I again got lost, and Fanta missed the weave entry which I knew was not something we had worked on. Still, when it came time for PSJ Semis (Perf Steeple) both dogs rocked it!!!! Both running clean and fast. Shiny actually had the second fastest time by mere fractions of a second, but since they only took 6 dogs for P14 (Fantas height), I waited on pins and needles to see if we were fast enough to make it in She was the last dog in, but to get a chance to run my girl under the big lights at her last Cynosport was a dream come true. And oh Shiny!!!! We had a tough day, but that last run was poetry, and I just couldnt believe it – this boy and I have worked so hard and he has grown so much! He handled the event like a pro and though arousal got the best of him on a few runs, most mistakes were mine and I am soooooo incredibly proud of him!
Day 3 – Shiny had his one mental implosion in PVP Team Standard (Sharon says she knew before we started running), right off the startline (and even before when he wouldnt even sit!) he came out and took off for an off course DW without me even moving! It was unfortunate, as this was one of my favorite courses for the weekend and I was really looking forward to running it with him. Fanta though – her PVP Standard run was INCREDIBLE, probably my favorite of the weekend with her, and she actually won that class! In Gamblers both dogs were flying, which earned Fanta a 3rd Place ribbon but unfortunately for Shiny meant that he was running faster than my planned alllowed, so we ended up messing up our closing – still, I was sooo happy with that run! We were the last group to run in Perf Grand Prix and I knew the times were tight for P14 so I pushed Fanta because I know our contacts are not the fastest. Unfortunately, I forgot to say her Touch cue and just said GO on the Aframe and my perfect girl leaped off the Aframe!!!! Her time would have been good enough for Finals, so I wanted to kick myself, but boy was I happy with her run! Shiny was a ROCKSTAR and his run was pure magic, he listened to every cue and verbal we have been working on this year and laid out an amazing run that landed him 2nd, just a fractions after Diane Sander’s amazing boy Stat! This meant my Shiny Shoes would be running in BOTH Final events!!!!! Just amazing!!!! So we were all exhausted, but ready to give that Steeplechase course our best shot and excited to be sharing the moment with good friends Nicole Cabrera and Annette Alfonso! I have dreamed of running under the big lights for so long, and the experience truly did not dissappoint! Walking that course while the music played, I felt excited, pumped and just proud as heck. Surprisingly, it was the only time I shed some tears, only because it hit me that we were REALLY THERE and that this would be Fantas last big hurrah. That course was just BEAUTIFUL and I knew it was perfect for us and we would have a blast!!!! Fanta and I pulled off a clean perfect run and she was flying, but our creeping Aframe hurt our time. For a dog that I have been afraid to train for over a year, I was thrilled we made it there and couldnt be happier – she retires from major competition having made finals in both AKC and USDAA, earned Championshios in both, and a Lifetime Achievement Award in USDAA! She is my heart and I was so happy to see her doing what she loves! Shiny, oh SHINY……all I remember from that run was releasing him from the Aframe to those weaves and him taking off so low and fast, that I wondered if he realized there was a jump between!!!!! He was just flying, and beat me down the line to those tunnels but prooved he can run and listen! It was unfortunate that he hit the wall jump, and in hindsight, I should have rear crossed like I did with Fanta but ONG what a HIGH!!!! We gave it our all and to have finished with the fastest time! Earned a 6th place ribbon too! Just wow!!!!!
Day 4 – having had to stay for finals, amd the adrenaline rush, made for a short night and I was definitely feeling the exhaustion! PVP Jumpers was our first run of the day and though both dogs had beautiful openings and weavepole entries, I just could not make it thru the serp. Shiny’s run was specially painful, as the judge talked to me and I swear my brain just ground to a halt – boy what a mess!!! Bad handler!!! Definitely need to work on that mental game and staying in the moment! So we went on to Snooker with hopes to do better. Fanta had an uncharachteristic fault in the opening, but Shiny just nailed his run – flying thru the course and earning his one placement ribbon in the Team events – a 3rd!!! While waiting to walk Perf Grand Prix Finals my brain felt like MUSH and I remember I kept nodding off and falling asleep!!!! But as soon as the music started for the walk thru, I was clear headed and pumped again The best part was getting to share the walk thru with my twin sister Sharon Gutierrez, who was out of finals by 0.20 s and got to run as white dog with her amazing boy Jovi! The course was fun and straight forward, with interesting challenges and I was confident with our handling choices and knew my boy could handle it. Sharon and Jovi SMOKED it with a clean run in 32.66 (which would have landed her on the podium if she had been a Finalist!). Shiny and I were both rearing to go, and looking forward to our run. Unfortunately, he is not a dog that can wait ringside and even when I brought him up while the dog before us ran, I was working on connecting and managing him, so I had no idea the dogs before us had struggled with the teeter, but I am not sure what I would have done if I had known. I felt HORRIBLE when he fell, but even after watching our runs a million times I cant figure out what happened or think there is anything I would do differently. I didnt rush him, I was right there with him, and he isnt one to normally fall off equipment, so this was totally unexpected. Time totally slowed down, and I wasnt even sure what to do, but as soon as I saw he seemed fine and on four legs (which seemed like an eternity but looked like only a second and a Front Cross later!) I decided to just go for it and finish strong! He waa awesome and though I was bummed that this happened, I couldnt be prouder of him!!! We had the second fastest time and still managed to place 5th!!!
After finals, I couldnt sleep…for obvious reasons, LOL! But it hit me, how many times I have attended this event just for the fun of it, how many friends I have cheered at Finals and never thought I would be there myself. I have had COUNTLESS agility weekends without a single ribbon, and there were days when Shiny was a puppy when I thought we wouldnt be able to get his arousal under control enough to grt into the ring – let alone run in such a power charged event! And Fanta, my baby who was broken (literally) so early on (had a cast on her leg for the better part of her first year) amd who has had so many injuries and setbacks, only to come back time amd again….To have made it in that ring, with these two dogs…..Just wow! I feel soooooo amazingly lucky and priviledge, to have these two dogs in my life and to have had the opportunity to step to the line with them. And if you ever doubt it, agility is equal parts skill, and luck – there were some INCREDIBLE runs by competitors this weekend, and though some had mishaps, we all love our dogs and were all giving it our all. Sometimes it just comes down to luck – it was an honer to have run alongside so many incredibly talented people!!!!
It was an amazing event, that completely exceeded my expectations! Thank you to all those who approached with encouraging words and congratulations and to everyone that stopped by to say hello. One of my favorite things in this event is seeing so many friends from afar. Though I will miss running Fanta in it, I look forward to doing it again!!!!