My Agility Show Routine

Routines help us to get our brain in gear for the situation that each specific routine relates to, plus its good for the dog too. If you get nervous or stressed at competitions then developing your own routine may help you … Continue reading

Laughs, cheers & a bunch of lovely people!

Today we went along to the Dig It Dogs Club Competition. Entries limited to 50 keeping the show nice and small and especially designed for beginners. I’m Show Manager for next month so I thought I best go along. Well before … Continue reading

Back in business

I decided to take the next step forward with Guinness’ training and booked onto a weave and contact workshop with Kathryn Stickney. Afterall weaves and contacts are one of the issues we have in the ring. I haven’t been able … Continue reading

So… is your agility dog fit?

Dog Sports.Cz do a slow motion video of the International Border Collie Champ every year. It’s always great to see (although a little scary) exactly what our dogs are going through and really emphasises the need for safe equipment and … Continue reading

Why the long face?!

When a friend invited me along to Bolesworth International Horse Show this year for a birthday get together I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I thoroughly enjoyed it last year and although wasn’t planning on going this year (more due to … Continue reading

Agility without the Agility

Yesterday I rocked up to the Dig It UKA Camping Show. I hadn’t entered and wasn’t camping as I have so much going on, but I’d got a free day so went along to help, take some photographs and perhaps … Continue reading

Nausea, Eliminations & Achievements

On Sunday 17th May, still recovering from a very dodgy tummy the day before, and being fuelled by only a few mouthfuls of cornflakes, I rocked up to my first show of the year! Not just the year, but our … Continue reading

So have we retired from agility?

The answer is Hell No! I’ve had so much to blog about I’m afraid letting you know about our agility training had to take a bit of a back seat! The good news is we are back at it, big … Continue reading

My Two Days at Crufts 2015

Now that I’ve written about my outlook on Crufts this year I thought I’d give you an idea on how I spent my weekend there. On Saturday I travelled with and spent the day with a few friends. We started … Continue reading

The Two Sides of Crufts

Yesterday afternoon I was sat on the floor of the NEC with a latte still contemplating what I was going to write about. And then it dawned on me how Crufts has become split into two halves, especially so over … Continue reading

Adams August Bank Holiday

Our final trip to Catton Park this year. We rocked up Saturday morning late and missed walking two courses. I had the Grade 1-4 Agility and Combined 1-7 Jumping straight away. The 1-7 could have really done with a walk. I watched the Agility, exercised Guinness and went to run it.

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I had him off lead before the previous dog was over the last jump and we stayed calm and rewarded outside of the ring and then into a down and in the ring. He waited, I paused, we went. Perfect. We were running well but then he didn’t push out to a jump on a turn and came over the wrong jump. Eliminated! Onto the weaves and he did 12 beautifully. We held the dog walk contact and finish. A positive run!

I watched the Combined 1-7 Jumping for a while and we went in to run it. The course was stunning, exactly what I like to see from a 1-7. It was doable for Grade 1s but gave the Grade 7s lots of handling options and chances for them to find the fastest line. We did some lovely front cross and rear cross work, pulling off the tunnel, 180 turns, then it finished 12 weaves and jump. Into the weaves and as he was halfway through I was thinking “We’re going to do this. We’re going to show these Grade 7 dogs what we can do”. I was running for home and Guinness skipped the last weave! Damn!!! I took him back and he did 12 perfectly.

Despite high entry numbers the day was feeling quite quiet and relaxed. The weather at Catton Park changes as often as a woman’s mood and we varied between sunbathing and huddled in a jumper! Be prepared for four seasons in one day at Catton.

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Grade 1-4 Jumping next up. I pushed for distance but Guinness didn’t agree and instead pulled off a jump and took the wrong one for an elimination (again!). The rest of the run was lovely with a cheeky blind cross and I rear crossed the 12 weaves just for training purposes and he nailed them! Finally following Lou’s advice of getting something out of your run, even if you’d been eliminated.

Last up was Combined 1-3 Agility and Combined 1-3 Jumping. I concentrated on the Agility run. On a 180 turn he ran wide around the jump, then over the jump and he decided to aim for the seesaw that was miles away rather than the aframe that was right in front of us. “Where are you going?!” I laughed at him. Weirdo.

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Finally onto jumping. 4 straight jumps to a tunnel. Time to push for a real sexy wait! I walked to the second jump and glanced at him, he stood up and ran around the jump. I took him back and this time walked to number 4, paused and then released him. That’s more like it. Front cross into weaves and he missed the entrance but 2nd attempt was great and he did all 12.

A successful day of near misses! A nice early finish and a relaxing evening.

Back at it on Sunday, I really struggled with my 6am alarm clock and I missed walking my first course yet again. It was a nice, fun Grade 1-3 Agility. A lovely course with some great tunnel entrances and a male Judge in a kilt!

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We set off from another beautiful wait, and as Guinness was on the down plank of the dogwalk I could tell that he wasn’t going to stop. I didn’t want to command him to steady or stop as that is not our training, so I kept running and he flew off it and I saw the judges arm go up. I should have taken him back over but I wanted to run the course and we carried on. The rest was lovely and he drove into both tunnels with distance and I was running away shouting for him to chase me, which he loved. Gutted for the 5F but what a fun course. I checked our time afterwards and he was the 2nd fastest dog out of the 100+ Grade 1-3s, only one Grade 3 dog beating us by 2 seconds. Zoom!

We had a big break now and I watched the Adams Jumping Cup 4-7 Qualifier for a while, and was very chuffed to see a girl in a bright green hoody, the same fluorescent shade as mine! Hurrah I’m not the only one with a taste for bright green. It was fun to watch the higher graded handlers negotiating the course, but I started to feel a little disheartened after seeing quite a few people leave the ring as soon as their dog went wrong, never rewarding nor speaking to the dog. It made me a little sad about our sport. Then in another ring I saw an incident of harsh handling and from the sidelines I watched the drama that followed it. Now I was really feeling glum.

20140824_101723After lunch I had three runs bunched together. First up was the Adams Combined 1-3 Jumping Cup Qualifier. I entered this purely because it was a 1-3, not for the cup. But the idea of qualifying was quite exciting and it was a nice course. We set off but as I turned for the 180 on the third jump Guinness ran forward and over a jump. Eliminated at the third hurdle. The rest of the run was perfect, story of my weekend! I front crossed 6 weaves and we did a lovely pull in, something that we haven’t seen in a course or at training for a while so good to know we can still do them. What an almost-exciting weekend it was being! Waits were also perfect so far.

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Grade 1-2 Agility, our last chance at progression! Four jumps in a straight line then seesaw then jump, and he ran wide past the top jump rather than over it. Wtf Guinness. Into the weaves and I needed to get ahead to set the line for the next jumps, but he popped out about halfway through. Second attempt he powered through all of them and the 11 remaining obstacles of the course were done in style, of course! I held and pushed his aframe and dogwalk contacts to really make up for the mornings missed one and came out of the ring very pleased.

Last of the weekend, Grade 1-4 Jumping. As I stood in the queue I joked with the handler in front of me who was queueing without his dog, commenting that he may run better without it. I later found out that it was Ian Jackson! Oh the shame! But what a nice bloke! He heartily bantered with me without appearing to take any insult. Some people are just instantly likeable. Into our run and Guinness went 1st jump, 2nd jump, wrong end of the tunnel! And so we ended on a run that summed up our whole weekend, it was a perfect run except for that one mistake!

What a fantastic two days! The best we have had for a long time. Waits were almost perfect with only one or two niggles out of a total of 9 runs. Plus what an improvement to our weaves!

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As I got to the car to go home for the day the Jumping Cup Finals were starting in about half an hour. I wavered between going home and getting my blog writing done or staying to watch. I decided to stay, it’s not every day you get a chance to watch some of the top handlers. Laura Chudleigh and Lee Windeatt to name a few. I pulled up a chair along the picket fencing and loved every minute of it. Not just because my friend, Audra Hurst was running in the 1-3 Jumping Final. Go Audra & Cara!

Two hours later, time to go home! Feeling great!

But… as I got Guinness out of the car on Sunday night he was limping, not putting his back left leg on the floor until he had hopped down the length on the drive and into the back garden. On Monday he seemed fine. Late on Tuesday evening he limped. On Wednesday Lydia came to look at him. Today we went to the vets.

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A cruciate injury. Not serious… but serious enough for restricted exercise of walking only for 8 weeks, a change of diet to Hills JD and we were advised that physiotherapy would help. I asked to be referred to Physio-Vet.

As it happens Adams was our final KC show until Shrewsbury in October, but we will not be entering that. I hadn’t pre-entered UKA at Dig It next weekend but I planned to pay on the day. Now we are off agility training for 8 weeks and shows for longer.

A new chapter is now starting in our training as I look for alternatives to keep that collie brain stimulated throughout his rest period. I’ll know more once we have had our initial consultation at Physio-Vet and I will keep you all updated.

 Stay tuned!

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TAG at Uttoxeter Racecourse

I sit here, at 8.30pm, waiting for Ash to arrive back from Belgium. As the ferry has only just landed in Dover, it’s going to be a long night!

Today was TAG at Uttoxeter Racecourse. 40 minute journey away? Luxury!

Out of the house late (a bad habit I must get out of) but we still arrived on time. Entry numbers looked low and there were 5 rings, but as I pulled through the gates the view that greeted me was amazing! Floods of caravans as far as I could see. Surely there could not be this many people entered?! I later found out that they were here for another event. We had great fun trying to identify all of the different countries flags on display!

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First up, Grade 1-2 Agility. It was simple enough with front cross/rear cross opportunities, but then towards the end, tunnel – long jump – 12 weaves. A mere four to five paces from the long jump to the weaves. Crap. Yes he should get it surely, but it certainly wasn’t “easy” for newbies.

As I headed to fetch Guinness, walking towards me were two lovely friends from Dig It, Gwynneth and Diane! They haven’t been to a show for a long time and it was lovely to see them. We spent most of the day together.

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I’d opted for a new tactic today, keep calm, feed in the queue for stillness, and go into the ring off lead. The start line nicely reached outside of the ring so I was able to get Guinness into position and treat. Technically not breaking rules (I hope). My plan is to fade out the need for treats. Into a calm wait I stepped a few paces away, looked at Guinness, and released. We went well, rear crossing the aframe and the tunnel. I tried my best to show him the weaves but he blasted out of the tunnel and over the long jump and was halfway past the weaves before he noticed. Three failed attempts and we never completed them.

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Our next runs weren’t until after lunch and I enjoyed the morning watching agility and chatting with friends. The exercise arena was huge, following the curve of the racecourse, and we had a lovely group walk with four dogs between three of us.

As lunch came to a close I found myself with three courses to walk! Collie mania, all rings were on large!

We ran G1-3 Agility first. A nice course with some little bits of gentle handling. I decided to rear cross the weaves, we can do it and sometimes it actually helps Guinness to push on through them. He didn’t see the weaves and instead headed for the seesaw and then we were too close. I brought him back and sent him in. Nailed it! Only 5R. A lovely run! A little relaxed on my behalf, but we felt calm and smooth and connected! This is what we need! Speed and difficulty can come later. Plus it’s not like he’s a slug.

As we came out of the ring, Combined 1-4 Jumping was calling to the end so we ran up there, back into the same ring as this mornings Agility. Just as I was getting Guinness on the line the lady scriming said “Ruth will you please please please try to get the weaves, we’re so bored of watching dogs fail”.  “Remember what Grade this is!” I chuckled back.  The comment hadn’t offended me at all, but I wouldn’t wish it on a nervous competitor about to do their first run of their first show. We nailed our weave entry but popped out at about 9 and Guinness was over a jump and into the tunnel before I had even said “whoopsie”. We tried again, no good. “That’s your fault” I shouted at the scrimer jokingly. As I told my friends and heard their reaction I realised how thoughtless the comment had been, plus the fact that the G1-2 Agility from this morning had produced a grand total of zero clear runs.

Last up, Combined 1-3 Jumping. The start line had loads of room and again I was able to set Guinness up and treat outside of the ring and then shuffle him off lead into the ring. I felt cool, relaxed and confident and slowly walked out right up to Jump 3. Lets rock n roll. What a wait!! Plus a fantastic front cross. Then it all ended at the weaves. A straight entry with room but Guinness went in at pole 2. I took him right back, wrong entry again. Back again and into a down. 2nd pole again. Last attempt, a tight wrap around my leg, wrong entry. What is going on Guinness?! My thoughts raced from potential injuries to eyesight issues to discomfort to lack of entry training. Hmmmmm.

But what a wait! Woo I’ll take that over weaves (for now). “You were so cool and confident” I was told. I do seem to be walking with Swag on the video haha. Love it. Now that is the wait I have dreamt of! Today I started to make it a reality.

I hung around for a little while after the G1-3 Agility had finished, wanting to check if there was any chance of placement despite faults. After almost an hour it was time to go home.

I’m feeling much more positive! A little concerned about our weaves, we definitely need to go and look at that. But what great waits! Yes they are something that we should have had from the beginning and something we should have never lost. But by gum the joy from working through a problem and making progress is far more satisfying than having them from the start.

Onto Adams next Saturday and Sunday. That’s gonna be a busy show!

20140816_09381910.30pm now, only 4 more hours or so to go!

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KCIF Rejects

While the majority of the agility world are at the Kennel Club International Festival (I’m obviously not jealous at all!) I went to Adams today! Back to Catton Park, but only 4 rings this time, and I flew past the entrance for day parking (despite the signs) as it was on a completely different field to the last time I was there!

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After being woken up at 4am and again near to 5am by Ash, who left for a week in Belgium this morning, I set off a little late and my satnav ETA was worrying, Judging starts at 8.30am! I was determined to get there in time to walk the course and I was parked and out of my car at 8.27am and pleased to see plenty of people still on the course, phew.

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First run of the day, in the kerfuffle of trying to get my ticket (why do they put the ticket person next to the start line) I stood on Guinness’ paw in my metal stud football boots! Oh god! He certainly let me know about it, by trying to bite my foot and anyone or dog in the immediate vicinity to him. After much walking around, rubbing and stretching, I decided he was okay. Guinness will always tell me if he’s hurt, normally by my hand suddenly being in his mouth!

We went for our run, it was a tricky start of 3 zigzaggy jumps to a slightly offset seesaw. I ran start and straight away Guinness couldn’t find the second jump, then he didn’t even think about stopping on the seesaw. Onto the aframe he stopped then self released and then he didn’t try to stop on the dogwalk. I missed the rest of the course and just got out over two jumps and rewarded.

We sat around the rings for a little, had a bacon barm (or a butty/bap to my local friends), went for a good walk and then had a break. There was quite a long time before our next run and I finished off Agility Voice and decided to take some photographs. I’d thrown my camera in as an afterthought, expecting rain all day, but was genuinely surprised at the sunshine we had for most of the day!

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Combined 1-3 Adams Jumping Cup was ready. It was a stunning steeplechase course style. Really suited us and so nice to see, especially in a combined class. As I watched a lot of people were coming out with clear runs, this was going to be a real race of speed! I love it!!

The start line was nice and far out and I got Guinness into a down while out of the ring, and then shuffled him forward in between my legs (not as weird as it sounds) and asked for a wait. I got to jump 2 and released without looking. I wish someone had been with me to film as he’s been standing up without me noticing, but I will just have to hope he stayed down. We went off with great speed and directions, onto the second pinwheel and I was turning left but he went off to find another jump to the right! So unexpected!! Ahhh Guinness. The rest was perfect, even fast 6 weaves. Could have been a winner.

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Time for lunch and the whole show went quiet. I’d seen no one I knew and was starting to feel a little lonely and bored of my own company. Plus knackered and therefore slightly grumpy from my 4am wakeup.

After a yummy jacket potato I sat down at Ring 4 to get some long jump photographs when suddenly it was announced that “the helicopter is just coming in to land in the exercise arena!”. The lady about to run asked if she could wait and the judge let her. A guy on the ring said “I parked my helicopter over there, where did you park yours?!”. Haha. It was an interesting turn of events, I suppose I’m still very new to competing, does this happen at shows a lot?!

As I wandered to fetch Guinness there was the chopper sat in the exercise ring and I enjoyed watching it take off again. Something different and very enjoyable to see. Plus, except for an increase in barking, none of the dogs seemed to mind too much.

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Onto G1-4 Jumping and I asked Guinness for a wait and unclipped his lead. He jumped up and I caught him (much to his annoyance) and asked again. He waited as I stepped to the side and paused and off we went. A nice turn and wing wrap, although I hung back and gave him too much room for my liking, and then we turned left and had an unlucky pole down. Weaves, turns, the rest was beautiful! So gutting yet again.

Last class of the day, G1-2 Agility was ready. Only 17 dogs in the class and there were quite a few faults and eliminations, expected from newbie dogs I suppose. The course started jump to weaves with a tunnel nearby but with its back to us. I’ve done a lot of collar-holding to weaves in training with Guinness, and the weaves were quite soon from the jump, so I went for a run start to allow him to drive into them. He cut across and went past towards the tunnel. We retried and he got in at the 2nd poles, third attempt, still in at the 2nd pole. Just another metre from the jump and a bit more distance from the tunnel would have been so much nicer, but he should have got in them really. The rest of the course was straightforward and I took the opportunity to make sure he got his contacts. I didn’t test them but paused at the bottom with him and praised. He cleared the tyre and the spread just fine.

What a frustrating day. But weaves and waits and general handling were better, I think. But I’m not sure. Why is it so hard?! If I actually think about it, I recon we are improving with every show. TAG next Saturday and then back at Adams for the Saturday & Sunday of Bank Holiday, I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks.

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Dig It: Wrong Trousers

I’d got the wrong head on today. From walking the course, to warming Guinness up, to running, I don’t have the right attitude at Dig It Shows. I have great fun. But not the correct attitude for our competitions.

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The day started with Intermediate Jumping. Lydia had set out a nice course, mostly “easy” with little tweaky sections and an around-the-back from a tunnel. Ash walked Guinness while I was ring managing and then met me in the queue. Guinness was tugging nicely and continued off lead, went into a down, released the toy, and came into his start position. We raced off and I sprinted for the push round. As he came out of the tunnel I was stood at the jump leading him around in no-mans-land. It was a very “demotivating” manoeuvre. 12 weaves fabulous!! Brilliant achievement. The next jump was off to the right so it was a real tricky weave exit, especially for the dog that likes doing 11 weaves! From a wide wing wrap it was a tricky angle to the long jump and Guinness took it sideways.

Second run and Guinness wouldn’t tug. I knew this wasn’t going to go well. Into a wait, and he bogged off. Circled the first jump and came quite quickly back into position. Off we went again, this time I was supposed to be attempting to serpentine the push round, still didn’t get there or make it. However 12 weaves again! Yes! But 2/2 eliminations so far.

Onto Agility. Lou was judging and as always it was a lovely course. Plus it was nice for her to see me run after we trained on Thursday. I wasn’t sure which way round a jump to go, I’m sure I walked it one way and then ended up running it the other way. I don’t know what happened. First run and again Guinness was tugging off lead, into a down and then came into position and kept his wait. Contacts were much better than they have ever been. He still stops quite upright but then ducks into a bow and nose touch. Tunnel, jump and quickly into 6 weaves and he missed the entry. On Thursday Lou had mentioned about “Weaveweweweweweweave” fairly voice. As I ran her course off I went “weweweweweave”.

Second run and he wasn’t tugging. Uho I thought. Into a down, lead off, bye bye Guinness. It took a little longer but I stood my ground and he came back around. Better handling this time but again, two failed weaves from the tunnel, still with fairy voice. I looked at Lou, “Weave!”, nailed it, but not from the tunnel and jump.

Straight on from the weaves was a tunnel they had to avoid and instead take a jump to the left. I though that me being on the left and moving across would be enough to draw him from it, but this is tunnel-addict Guinness we are talking about! On the first run I called him late and with a paw inside he pulled off it. The second time, straight in the tunnel. Commands are needed woman! Turn left!

Disappointing. I said that I’d being doing at least one of each runs NFC today. I didn’t. I left this morning thinking I could get 5 out of 5 rosettes. There were low entries. I wanted to win. Instead I made a mess of my training opportunity.  I’m pleased with our waits (50% anyway) and out contacts and weaves also.

Steeplechase was last and again, Ash took Guinness for a walk and then I met him at the ring. He tugged and then we got into a good wait. Nice handling up until a turn and then I chose to push across a diagonal, but I didn’t commit or get ahead enough. Guinness found the jump but wasn’t sure where to go and ended up re-taking the jump.

I’ve not had any AWFUL runs today but they certainly haven’t been that productive. 12 weaves successfully twice and much better contacts is something good I suppose. Plus 3/5 off lead tugging into waits. Not bad.

Time to get my head straight at Dig It Shows. They are fun and relaxed shows that I’m always helping at or photographing. I don’t think I will ever treat them with a competitive mental attitude, and therefore I should be running NFC. We haven’t got the skills up rock to a run and win it, so I shouldn’t act like I can. Also as I’m doing more Kennel Club Shows I think I am becoming accustomed to the ups and downs of Grade 1, and perhaps the Intermediates are trickier than I thought.

As I said I’ve had a really good, fun day, but not the runs and results I hoped for.

Adams Virginity

My first trip to Catton Hall! (Does that make me a proper agility competitor now). It was a wet one! I had a late night and then was up from 2am to 3am with the HUMONGOUS thunder-storm, and then up at 6am for the show.

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Waterproofs on! Today I discovered that my football boots are not waterproof, and it wasn’t until I reached the show that I remembered I had some sealskin waterproof socks at home! Numpty.

First up was Combined 1-3 Agility. I’d already decided I was going to run start and off we went. A lovely stop dog walk and then a nice wing wrap with the pole still intact. I pushed him for a distance send into the tunnel while moving into position but he pulled back towards me and then started straying toward the wrong end! Oh no. I pulled him back further and re-sent him in and saw the Judge mark a refusal. Darn. Nice six weaves and finished! My mistake, I should have watched and made sure he was committed before moving away, plus one more step forward would have been all the difference. Never mind.

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I was all alone so there are no videos of any of my runs this time.

Back to the car to chill out and I popped Adam FM on the radio. I wasn’t sure what it was and there was some music playing and then all of a sudden an announcement came through the radio!! OH MY GOD!! I may be easily impressed, but I think this is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! I could sit in my car and keep track with what each ring is doing. People can be in their caravans and know where their ring is up to. WOW. Mega impressed. Just as I was starting to worry I’d need a push start to get home I remembered my wind up radio/torch that I always have in my car. Voila! I knew it’d come in useful one day.

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Onto Combined Jumping 1-2 and I stood at the start line looking up a line of 6 jumps across the diagonals. All with just about 4 metres in between.

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Looking from number 7, the tunnel, to the start line.

This song popped into my head straight away! I think I know what the soundtrack to my next agility video will be!

There was a nice big start area and only me in the queue when I arrived so I got Guinness happily tugging. The scrimer gave some tickets out to the next few people who had arrived before sitting down to mark my run which gave me more time to tug and get Guinness really revved up. I left him in a down and set off. He waited. I only took a few steps and then released. Brilliant! I raced ahead and didn’t watch him but we had no poles down on the first stretch! I wish I could have filmed it to have looked at his jumping. We fluffed a front cross and the pole dropped and then onto weaves and he made a beeline for the tunnel after only 5! Let’s try again… no out at 5 again. Third and final time, out at 5!! Time to get out of the ring.

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With the rain still bucketing down Grade 1-4 Jumping was soon ready for walking, today was going great with hardly any waiting around! As I walked it there was a lot of murmurs. “Ooh that’s hard”. “This isn’t very nice for Grade 1s!”. “More like Grade 5”. I liked it! I liked it from the moment I started walking it. Yes it had tricky bits, but do-able tricky bits. Maybe because I’ve been training way out of my grade at Dig It. Ironic as we couldn’t even win out of Grade 1 until last month, but it certainly has helped with our confidence and Guinness’ drive and ability. I walked it with a Ketchup (Ketschker) turn in mind. I’ve done them in training but not for a while. I think they have their place. But I’m still not sure why I was even considering doing it. I thought it would help create a tight wing wrap and open up the weave entry as I wouldn’t be blocking his sight of the weaves. However only the other day I had decided to be consistent and work on basic foundation handling skills with Guinness; building up our drive, flow and smoothness around courses rather than adding in new manoeuvres and new rules.

We started with a wait. He wasn’t tugging but went down and I felt more confident that he was going to wait. As I took a few steps forward he stood up and stalked forward and then went down again on command and waited. I don’t mind so much if he is breaking to run over the jump, it’s when he breaks to circle and bark at me that is frustrating. From the wait I was in the perfect position for the ketchup…. I stopped by the wing with my “correct” arm sending him over… he stopped and looked at me. Why was I stood still at the wing with my back to the jump! After what felt like a minute Guinness took the jump, wing wrapped correctly and then missed his weave entry, getting in at the second gap. So much for opening up the weaves! I was kicking myself. 11 weaves and sod it I’d had enough. We went on to do the tricky section nicely and I’m generally pleased with my handling. But what a stupid decision to make.

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With only one class left I was listening to the ring waiting for them to announce that the course would be walked and would restart after lunch (it was already 1pm). To my surprise they said the ring would not stop for lunch. I walked it, a little unsure about some sections but pleased with my choices. I went for another run start and sprinted after Guinness as he powered over the dog walk. A quick front cross at the tunnel to a sharp turn and a sudden jump and he ran past the wing for a refusal. ARGH. I think I’d babied the turn from the tunnel and was in his way. Dammit. 12 weaves and he pushed right to the end beautifully. Typical. The rest was great!

I came out and saw Vanessa and she complemented our run. It had been good, just bitterly disappointing. That would have been our ticket to Grade 3! I decided to wait for the results as all of the classes were coming to a close and I sat with Guinness ringside and chatted to Vanessa and her husband. She is a new Dig It Instructor that has moved from America. She’s amazing! It was so lovely to get to know her a little bit better.

The results came and I hadn’t been placed which was expected. Grade 2 Agility only had 2 placements.

It was only 3.30pm and time to go home! This car parked near to me did make me chuckle… a little over-optimistic I think!! (Although the sun broke through for about 20 minutes and was directly on the windscreen).

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Muddy, damp and absolutely knacked I pressed the wrong button on the Sat Nav and before I had chance to realise I was on the M6 Toll. Bye bye £4.80! Never mind, it was a nice quick blast down the M6 rather than the windy lanes and the bumpy A50.

Home for half 4 and enough time for a lovely bubble bath before tea. It’s been a great day with some fantastic runs! What an improvement to Dog Vegas! I look forward to being back at Catton Hall soon.

 

Dog Vegas

Our last show in Grade 1, off to new territory of Osmaston Polo Ground to pop my Dog Vegas cherry.

Hurrah, not the first class of the day, I gave myself half an hour lie-in. A nice quiet show with only 54 max in G1-3 classes, compared to 130 at Oswestry.

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The ground was soft and we’d had some rain so studs were on (I did take my agility trainers too this time) and we set off for G1-3 Agility first up. A hesitant wait and I must apologise to the person doing leads, I rudely appear to ignore him and chuck my lead at his feet when he had his arm outstretched, I am so busy concentrating and worrying on Guinness’ wait that I often don’t look at what I’m doing with the lead.

We got a wait nonetheless and took down the first pole (I left Guinness too close to the jump). It was a good run with some pleasing handling, he ran out of the weaves around 9 (due to me rushing I think) but nailed 12 weaves second attempt. Contacts were shocking – he self release all of them, didn’t even think about stopping, and is a little hesitant down to the bottom.

I don’t know what to do with contacts in a show. I agree that bouncing them back onto the bottom doesn’t really help, but if he misses one I would quite like to do something about them rather than just running on. Onto the next G1-3 Agility and this time we were going to concentrate on contacts, we have got that win into G2 and now it’s time to use the show experience wisely.

I went for a stronger wait and Guinness bogged off before I had even taken a step away. He wouldn’t come back, just stood barking at me. Messily I got him into a down and then we went and he blasted past 6 weaves. We ignored it and ran on, taking a quick course up and down the contacts. I made sure he stopped on the Aframe, he released off the seesaw and then release off the dogwalk, but I paused and he reversed back onto it. Argh.

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After spending a lot of time sat in the car reading the first Grade 1-3 Jumping was set up and we sneaked in to run before the lunch break. The first jump was a nice distance into the ring and we were able to get in and get tugging while the previous dog was finishing. I felt confident, Guinness was tugging nicely. I popped him through my legs and into a down, unclipped the lead, and off he went on his own. AHH. I couldn’t get him back again! Barely bringing him around near to me before setting off. The rest of the run was okay, missing a jump on a tricky off set row towards the end, but I’d had enough.

I was so annoyed!! I’ve never felt frustrated with Guinness at an agility show before, ever. Until now! I didn’t show or tell him (although it was probably ebbing out of me) and I rewarded him the same, but mentally I wanted to scream and yell at him. Of course it isn’t Guinness’ fault, it is my training fault.

I could have cried. My mood flowed out at Ash and we bickered. Then I sulked.

Good job it was lunch time. An hour in the car reading, eating sandwiches and a lot of cuddling later and I had sorted my head out. Time to get the last run done and then get home and do some serious thinking and training!

It was a while still until my run and we went to get coffee and donuts and sit ringside. They were presenting some results out and suddenly I recognised my own name! I had got 2nd place in Agility!!! I was sooo surprised. With 10 faults! I wasn’t expecting that.

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Final jumping class came and Guinness was tugging on the start line! I unclipped his lead and carried on tugging. Into a down, release the toy, we were feeling good. He jumped up and ran off ! He didn’t go far and quickly came back around in between my legs. He ran off again and circled the first jump, 5R. I had almost given up but called him back and he came into position in a down back at my feet. A more confident wait this time and off I went and released! A FANTASTIC RUN! I was so pleased with my handling choices. We were fast. I ran! I got a front cross in a place I wasn’t sure that I could get to.

AMAZING.

Jenny was scoring and shouted “Great run Ruth. Fast. You’re 2nd!”. As the next person finished “3rd now!”. Ack. If only we hadn’t had that refusal! But overall our start line had been so much better! Tugging is definitely for us and tugging off lead and then into a down is our key formula I think, we just need to get it 100% now.

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That was it! I decided to wait until the presentations at the end of the day. I knew we were unlikely to be placed but I couldn’t go home and miss the chance of a rosette.

We settled down in the sunshine reading again, I finished off Agility Voice and Ash made good progress through his book. Then the results came and only 2nd and 1st were announced in Grade 1.

Never mind! A late finish. A mental day with tears, cheers and learning curves. Overall another great show and some value ring experience.

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Can You Dig It June 2014

This weekend I sacrificed a day at Sutton Weaves UKA to work on my APDT assignments, a good decision as it needs to be done soon, plus I had Dig It’s Club Competition on Friday night and Can You Dig It today.

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I offered to Judge as they were struggling to find people and got off lightly, only needing to do Intermediate and Advanced Agility, which ran the same course.

I was judging in the afternoon so we started the morning straight away with Intermediate Jumping. I had plenty of time to get Guinness warmed up and we were the first to the ring, Guinness tugging nicely. It turned out there were only three of us entered in Large Intermediate so I had no worries with queuing.  Into the ring with some great tugging and I unclipped his lead and he kept tugging.

We’re struggling with letting go of the toy once he is tugging at the moment, which makes a change! I love Guinness, when we “solve” one “problem” he always throws something else at me. Never a dull moment!

He went into a down and release the toy and then I moved into the start position I wanted and called him to in between my feet. My perfect start line! (Although a quicker drop of the toy would be better). It was a nice simple Jumping course with only 8 jumps and some tight handling as well as blasty sections. The first 3 jumps to the tunnel were a tricky spacing and angle and Guinness bombed over number 3 and knocked the wing and jump flying. Unfortunately we had to go back over that jump twice more so I just aimed Guinness at the pole and he found his way in between the wings. What I should have done is popped Guinness in a down, stood the jump back up and then carried on quickly towards the finish, rather than aiming him at a skew-whiff wing and pole just for the sake of continuing the course. Onto the weaves and Guinness missed him entry a few times and then popped out at number 11. He is turning and looking towards me at 11 and not finding the final gap! Ahh, more training needed on 14+ poles! We had some nice distance pivot work and a tight front cross on a 180 though. And let’s not forget about our fabulous wait!

Our second run went in a similar fashion, same weave issue.

At this point the sun was really beating down and I was very pleased that I had recently bought a second hand cool coat,  it was a life safer today.

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We jumped into Beginners Agility for a couple of NFC runs. The queue was fairly small again and Guinness was happily tugging once we were inside the ring and then I unclipped his lead and he continued tugging. For one run I held his collar, revved him up and then asked for a down as I let go. Nailed it! This is our back up for when he wont tug or choose to come around my legs to a down.

He had a fast run, avoiding contacts with some wing wraps and straight line blasts.
(I’ve stepped away from contacts completely while we work more on our foundation behaviours at home such as nose touch and back foot target).

Time for brunch and to get ready for judging.

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I loved my course on paper and it set out in real life quite nicely, taking a little bit of small tweaking before I was finally happy. We got cracking and quickly moved through the heights. With low entries there were only a handful of clears, the biggest problem being 17-18, avoiding the dog walk. However I received some nice comments and I think the course was suitable for the level.

I was due to follow on with Steeplechase for Medium-Small dogs, and I was looking forward to laying out a fun steeplechase course, however as we were heading for an early finish and a lot of people had gone home we decided to do all heights in Ring 2. Hurrah I was finished!

I grabbed Guinness and ran him around my agility course (very naughty as we did the contacts) and met the same issue at the weaves. We managed all 12 on a third attempt and the course ran smoothly. We struggled a little with the flick flack and I hung back at 14, sending him from behind and over the wing and then the rest ran well.

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Into Steeplechase and Guinness wasn’t quite right, I think he was hot and still feeling a little rushed. I should have taken him for a walk and a real warm up before running him around my agility course. He ran off at the start line and I eventually got him back. I don’t think the Judge marked a refusal and I left him for a nice long wait. We set off fast around a speedy steeplechase course, knocked a pole or two and then were caught out, Guinness went off over a jump to the side instead of heading to the tunnel. A bit of deja vu from Anglesey again, this time Guinness peeling off to the side away from me rather than coming across me to turn.

Eliminations galore! Oh well, what a fun show. What great waits!! Argh. Why can’t we have that confidence and attitude at other shows. I feel like we are taking a step in the right direction however. I’ve been doing lot of  games with Guinness from Absolute Dogs training and it is helping, plus the work we’ve been doing with collar grabs is also making the whole start line experience much better.

Next show is Oswestry in a few weeks! Eek!

Ynys Mon (Anglesey)

Ash and I set off on Thursday evening for a long weekend camping, with the added luxury of a day of Agility! I’d been recommended the Anglesey show and it was a perfect opportunity to have a nice weekend in the tent as well as get to a new, quiet show.

_DSC0001We’d chosen a campsite about half an hour away from the show and set of at 7.30am to arrive nicely for 8am. It was blowing a gail! We had lovely sunshine on Friday but came back from a walk to find our tent sideways, practically flat on the floor (it was a miracle how no poles snapped).  It was no different at the showground, if anything I think it was windier,  however the rain was holding off and we quickly got started with G1-2 Agility first up.

I considered this my most important class and I opted to run start. All started well and I pulled off a nice rear cross on the a frame with strong contacts. A tricky round-the-back from the dogwalk while calling away from the tunnel and then three jumps diagonal to rear cross the seesaw (mind your chin) then another round-the-back into the weaves. Yes, he’d done the weaves, then across a box and ARGHHHH!! He turned left in the box toward me and took the wrong jump. Nooooo. Even the judge looked gutted for me. A nice 270 and finish.

Man!! I thought we had it in the bag. He drove into the weaves so nicely and did 6 lovely, we were on for a winner. But I was holding back from the weaves to ensure I didn’t rush him and I ended up so far behind! Never mind. I am so so pleased, that is the best run we have had at a competition for a while, lovely contacts, nice handling (if I do say so myself), only slips up were we got a little stuck on the diagonal and he turned the wrong way from the seesaw, but overall very good. Plus no knocked poles!

A long break now as the next two runs weren’t until after lunch. The day got a little slow and we were very glad of the company and hospitality of Kev, Adele and Avril. We settled down in the car for lunch of homemade ham & cheese butties and chips! Nom.

1908013_10154145813590578_7007415439657938295_nG1-3 Jumping next and I choked down a miss-timed brew and only managed to walk half of it before they were calling to clear the course. Damn. I went away and quickly drew the course (a technique I’m really getting along with) and studied it on paper. Into the ring and I got Guinness tugging outside of the queue and then kept it up nicely before our run. We went for a wait, nervously, and managed a step away before he leapt up and I ran for it. Some nice rear crosses, although he went off course a little and I needed to spin him around to get back on track. Not knowing if we’d been marked for a refusal I ran on, second to last was the weaves and we powered over the finish! Had we been given a refusal?? I looked at Ash and Kev who raised their arms and said “Ah what happened to the weaves!”.  “What did happen at the weaves?! Did he mark our refusal?!” I said. No refusal but apparently Guinness missed his last weave! Aw. I hadn’t even noticed. Gutted.

We had all got so excited, another fantastic run yet a fall at the second to last “hurdle” again. Gutted. Phew! This was exciting. It was really feeling like the final Agility was going to be ours.

As we walked the Combined 1-3 Agility the heavens opened! With the wind blowing even stronger the rain came sideways and we were soaked through in no time. It didn’t last long and luckily went off just before our run. At lunchtime they had finally decided to take out the dogwalk, a sensible decision, but it left the course lacking a little imagination in places… jump, a frame, jump, wing wrap, a frame, jump.

The queue was a bit manic with everyone trying to get their run done to go home. It was far from relaxing. The person queuing in front of me and I spread out and took the queue in a wide circle to keep some distance from the ring, but then the person queuing behind ended up in front of me, which left Guinness surrounded by three dogs. As we entered the ring I had Guinness tugging on his lead nicely which is a great achievement, but as I unclipped his lead a spark of nerves struck me and I grabbed his collar. I don’t know what came over me, despite the queue we were on track to go for our wait but this run was “important” and I didn’t want to risk a Guinness-bog-off-special. As I grabbed his collar Guinness tried to make a runner and freaked out on me (he isn’t a fan of sudden collar grabs) and after a quick pause we set off and knocked the first pole. The rest of the run went in the same style, but I managed to get my head back on as we reached the seesaw and held his contact. I was impressed to see he stayed on it (totally expected him to break) and then nice 6 weaves at speed followed. Always taking positives, we also did a lovely wing wrap, but other than that a potty run!

Disappointing end! Ah well. As I drove away I was kicking myself. I am in such a rush to win out of Grade 1 I am sacrificing my waits. Something that is much more important! I’m rushing toward a short-term goal and spoiling the long term goal. I think I’m ashamed to be in Grade 1, especially as I have started teaching classes, yet I am confident in my teaching and handling ability, plus it is only a matter of time before we get that first win. If I look at my true feelings I am more ashamed about becoming someone without a wait than I am of being in Grade 1… so I need to get a grip and sort myself out!

Off to Holyhead, we finished the day with takeaway pizza and a visit to South Stack.

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The whole weekend was very enjoyable. We had a lovely walk through Newborough Forest and a visit to the beach on Friday and a cup of tea by the seaside and a pit-stop at Snugbury’s on the way home today.

The Anglesey Show is a lovely, quiet, two ring show in a nice venue. I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of friendly faces and it felt geared towards the lower grade dogs. With Beacon being the main show this weekend it certainly seemed that the more relaxed handlers had chosen this show. Plus I hear it was just as windy back home and no one can control the weather.

 

UKA Dig It

The first of the Dig It Summer Shows is finally here! Time to start earning some points!

As it turned out this was one of those shows where we had so much fun the results did not matter at all, although it was still a slightly disappointing day.

Bright and early Ash and I rocked up just past 8am. Straight away we got set to work helping, pegging weaves and putting up the shelter, and before I knew it I’d walked the course and they were calling for the first dogs. I was straight in and with only 10 dogs in the class I gave Guinness a quick warm up and we rushed into the ring. Into a down, lead off and he broke his wait. I put him back and we set off for a messy run. One of those typical first runs of the day. Never mind.

Off into the exercise field across the lane and he had a poo. I knew it, I’d rushed him in. Scooping the poop, I looked up and he had gone. Vanished! Sh*t! (Quite literally). It was a huge field but I couldn’t see him anywhere, calling and whistling, I rushed back to the Dig It field, looking up and down the lane, and breathed a huge sigh of relief to see Ash putting him into the car. Phew. What a numpty. Luckily the little lane is quiet and he’d just run straight off to find Ash.

Time to chill out and have some breakfast.

_DSC0303I left Ash in charge of my camera which resulted in some rare (and extremely unattractive) photos of me! Doing what I do best and stuffing my face.

Quickly onto Jumping and it begun jump to 6 weaves. C’mon Guinness, we can do 6 poles easy, we have them set up in the garden. I ran start him to really drive him into the weaves “Go weave weave weave”…. he Go’d too much and entered at the 2nd gap. D’oh, come back, get in the weaves, lovely, off we go. It was quite a tight, tricky course with some knocked poles here and there but some pleasing rear crosses. Another Elimination picked up along the way.

While taking photos and watching the course later on I realised I had completely missed out a jump! I hadn’t even noticed it when I walked it. Oops! Not like me at all.

A bit of a break before steeplechase and Ash had long since abandoned me for Nick, pleased to finally have someone else at shows who was interested in something other than dogs!

Onto Steeplechase and me and Gaz set a good example of how to walk a course… stand on the edge of the ring with arms crossed. Everyone was starting to get a little silly and carrot cake for lunch was certainly boosting up my happiness scale.

_DSC0200A nice but tricky steeplechase course, I decided to test my wait and ran off three jumps ahead. Guinness jumped up and then stopped just short of the first jump but set the timer off with him nose. I released him and he ducked under. The rest of the course was so smooth and clear! Absolutely gutted!!

Power & Speed came next, my first ever games class. A great opportunity to test our contacts plus it started with a spread jump. I ran start again to help him over and he cleared it nicely. A-frame quickly to weaves was going to be tricky so I held his stop A-frame then sent him in. Yes! Nailed the entrance but popped out around pole 9. Second attempt, fail, time to get out of the ring and try to get 12 weaves out at training more often.

Second Steeplechase, another nice course with some different handling options but some tight turns. I was really pleased with my choices and Lydia and Audra both decided to handle the same way.  We hadn’t even passed each other while walking the course so I was mega chuffed with myself. Onto the course and 1 pole flew, followed by another, then 3 more, a terrible rear cross and over the line.

_DSC0359What a shamble. However he did manage to keep up three poles in a row of tricky spacing, with a bounce in the middle. If you listen closely he lets of a “huff” noise as he bounces which makes me chuckle (amongst all of the barking of course). As I came out Avril and Katie said they’d decided his downfall is that he can’t bark and jump.

5 out of 5 glorious eliminations! The end of the show was spent filming and scribing and generally larking around while we brought the Steeplechase ring to a close.

Still finding victories somewhere, I was so chuffed with how our waits have progressed and I’m starting to feel more confident, plus I’m a lot happier with taking him back to the start if he does break.

Most importantly this show was so fun it really didn’t matter how we did in the ring, the point was that Guinness was having fun and I was having fun!

This video really sums up the atmosphere of Dig It Shows and particularly the Dig It Instructors, some of my best friends.

G1-3 Agility Training Exercise

So after TAG there was a particular section of the G1-3 Agility course that I really wanted to revisit. The seesaw, long jump, 2 jumps to tunnel sequence. I saw a lot of people handle the two jumps as a pin wheel, staying on one side to pull around the near wing and through the gap.

I prefered to handle it as two front crosses as I did, taking the dog around the far wing which stayed to their natural path and avoided the problem of pulling through the gap, however leaving the tunnel quite open.

However…  I was SOO late to front cross and it didn’t run smoothly at all.

Therefore, to work it from behind and still keep to the dogs natural line, while also pushing for tight turns… Serpentine handling!

A serpentine isn’t just three jumps in a row, it is any sequence of three obstacles.

We had a go today! (But without the long jump and tunnel). Training it up from jumps on small, and look how smooth it handles! Success! I had to pause to bring him over the second jump but I still got a good distance ahead once he was committed. However… we didn’t have the tunnel there or the long jump. By handling from behind I am leaving the tunnel wide open, but it’s doable with the right training and commands.

I think this way is quicker, however I should have timed both ways today during training! D’oh.

Woop! It’s great to take away little sections from courses and work on them. If you’re not happy with how you handled something, or you’d like to try it another way, make a note and then go and do it!