TAG Easter Saturday

Today I was at TAG. My first outdoor show of the season.

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5.30am we were up and making scrambled egg for me (on toast) and for Guinness’ breakfast. I’ve been pondering a lot about what to do with Guinness’ meal on show mornings, he often has a bad first run and especially if he hasn’t done a poo, but on the other hand they do need some energy food. A recent discussion on facebook brought up the method of feeding high protein food such as scrambled egg and as I love it too I thought it was a jolly good idea. So with breakfast and poo’s done before we left we set off in search of unknown territory, West Midlands Show Ground!

I arrived before 8am (shock horror) and had plenty of time to get my bearings and walk my course. First up, Grade 1-3 Agility, although a long wait until our running order. I walked into the ring and my stomach fell, first hurdle, a tyre! We have not seen a tyre for over 12 months and the last time we did one in training Guinness ran smack into the bottom of the loop and head-butted it to the floor. He then jumped through it afterwards, but still a concern.

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We got there towards the end of the class and had a nice short queue which Guinness happily tugged in! I decided to run start him to help him through the tyre (plus I wasn’t confident with our wait anyway) and I revved him up, aimed him in the right direction and hoped for the best! Hurrah we got through and onto the Aframe. Jumps, seesaw then pull off the tunnel for 180 jumps. A lot of people chose to handle it differently to me, pulling the dog back onto themselves, off their natural path, and I was really pleased with my decision. A blind cross while he was in the tunnel and then dog walk, a tight right angle from the contact down three jumps and then another tight 90 degree angle into the weave. No chance we were getting it, refusal. Second entry and good weaves until pole 11! Too late I’d started running on and we’d had a pole down so time to finish. 2 poles knocked on the 270 boxwork and finish.

It felt like such a messy round, but not too bad. Lovely Ella happened to be watching and videoed us. Watching back it looks a lot more successful than it felt! Of course lots of little things to improve but I am generally pleased with our contacts, handling and overall performance.

A huge break until our next runs and I was given a very appreciated seat, coffee and company from Lou and Deb. G1-2 Agility was set up before lunch and I walked it then sat in the sun with Guinness to eat my sandwiches.

G1-2 Agility was a lovely course, all on one side and very fast and flowing. Jump jump seesaw, I went for another running start, tunnel dog walk tunnel and I saw the judge raise him arm to fault us as we left the dog walk for the tunnel. “What?!” I thought. Guinness never gets faulted on contacts, even when he self-releases his 2 on 2 off he has normally gotten into position. Tunnel to weaves is often a challenge but the weaves were a lovely distance away so I could collect Guinness and send him. Yes! He nailed the entry but then popped out about halfway through and then again at number 11. We carried on for a tight 90 degree and then a 180 and as I stopped still in the middle of the 180 he pulled through the gap to me. Douche, my bad really, second attempt and I kept moving and he turned nicely. Aframe and I held his contact. I expected him to run off and I made it very obvious that I was stopping and expected him to do so also and he stopped nicely! A nano-second passed and then I released and we continued across a box to finish.

Pfft there were my dreams of going home Grade 2 gone! I won’t lie and say I wasn’t disappointed, I was. But I was pleased and having a great day! Ring experience. We said it last year and as this is the first competition away from home of the season we haven’t yet got the experience of new environments. But every show helps and Guinness was running lovely.

Speaking to Lou later on and she had seen our run from a distance and said it looked like Guinness took a very long strides off the dog walk and she wasn’t surprised he had missed it. We had been quick releasing all day and with the tunnel in sight I reckon he pulled off a very un-stylish running contact, otherwise known as not even attempted to stop despite his training! We had a great contact training session on Thursday however it is nowhere near the level of proofing that I am aiming for – gotta keep at it!

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Final class of the day Combined 1-3 Jumping. We watched as the Judge laid out his course. There was a tricky section in the middle which looked a little strange but okay, then the Judge wasn’t finished and he changed it completely to something far stranger. Gosh. I hate to be one of those people who complain about a course, especially as I know how it feels to be a Judge myself, but I couldn’t help it. It wasn’t good in my opinion. Sections were nice but the tunnel was a very close trap in more than one place, the long jump was set off at an odd angle, directing away from the dogs path and there was a huge space between the long jump and another jump then onto an angled jump at minimum distance, a bounce for large dogs. 180 degree pull off a flat tunnel and then flat tunnel quickly to tyre ending. Plus I wont even bother trying to explain the funny middle section.

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I put my positive head on, decided how to handle it and went for the challenge. We had a lovely time in the queue with no barking collies in sight. Guinness queued next to a male husky which I was a little concerned about (because Guinness can be a dick not because the husky was nasty) but we all kept a nice distance and Guinness stayed calm.

With nothing to loose we went into the ring tugging and I popped Guinness into a down, ready for a wait. I unclipped the lead and walked away backwards, then calmly turned away from him, silently expecting him to break. He didn’t move. Time stood still! Feeling more confident I walked a little further and then released. Ahhhh!!! Hurrah!! (I really need to man up and start pushing my dog more. So what if he breaks and we get E’d?!)

Onto the course and a nice 270 avoiding the tunnel and then into the weaves. Guinness wasn’t giving 100% and spun around in front of them but on second attempt he got in and flowed through 12 weaves in great style. Finally! Only taken 3 runs! Off onto the tricky bit and I’d opted to work it from behind, a little more risky, and I couldn’t pull him off a jump in time. Never mind we carried on and over the long jump and then he flew straight past the next jump. The 180 was superb and then he zoomed out of the flat tunnel and quickly ducked under the tyre. I’m just so grateful that he didn’t run into it! Not wanting to leave on a failure I popped him back over, and he ducked under again, then third and final attempt and he jumped through it.

Day finished! Phew. Three disastrous Eliminated but three runs with positives to take away!

A lovely first experience of TAG and West Midlands Show Ground with a stunningly sunny but cool day!

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