Vlog | Judging at Dig It Dogs Winter Series Agility Show

So here is my vlog from Sunday. It’s a very short and sweet vlog of my day at a Dig It Show, judging in the morning and then mooching around in the afternoon. I realised that I hardly filmed Guinness during … 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

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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Oswestry

Wowie!! Well let’s cut to the chase… we won! We won Grade 1 Agility! Which puts us in Grade 2!

ARRRRGHHHHHHHHH!

Well, don’t get too excited, 3/4 runs were fantastic eliminations are usual!

Oswestry. A showground I have been to be before. I was surprised to see only 4 rings as last time the Shrewsbury/Oswestry Show had 6 rings jam packed in. 4 was amazing! So spread out with a great big area to sit and relax on while watching some agility.

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The weather was an odd mixture of glorious sunshine and cool clouds with bitter winds. I spent half of the day in a vest top and half of it in my hoody!

First course of the day was Grade 1-3 Agility. It was a nice course when walking and I had two options, hang back and rear cross a serpentine or run and push to get ahead for a stronger serp. I went for the run! Well the first thing I found out was that running in football boots on rock hard ground is like running in high heels! At least the faster I ran the more they dug in so I didn’t end up A over T somehow. I’d left my agility trainers at home so it was studs or nothing all day.

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We went for a very nervous wait and I managed to step over Guinness and then released. It felt cautious and steady and then I pushed on and serped (technical term) the middle of the three jumps nicely then rear crossed for a nice line into the tunnel. 12 weaves and I paced along with him and we got them! Run run, catch up, a pivot and then dog walk, finish, ahh!! I was sure we must have done something wrong. I was convinced we weren’t clear. I couldn’t believe. I asked Ash and he said he thought so, the judge clapped. I let myself celebrate!

For the rest of the morning we were waiting and waiting for the results at lunch time. I was hopeful. The odds were in our favour. But I couldn’t celebrate early. I didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment. I walked the Combined 1-3 Agility and Combined 1-3 Jumping and had some time to sit and look through them. Onto Agility and Gill Vann with her Shepherd was in front of me so I had quite a nice relaxing queue, giving her lots of space. With nothing to lose (hopefully) I pushed our wait and Guinness jumped up and went over the first jump. I called him back, thanked the judge and off we went. What a messy run. Not bad but not great. He only did 11 weaves on both attempts and then missed a jump later on. I had taken up enough of the judge’s time so we just went on and got out, but he did stay on his Aframe contact well while I caught up.

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Combined 1-3 Jumping was another lovely course. Another serpentine, good job we’ve been practising them, and I went on the attack. Guinness broke his wait after I hesitantly left him but didn’t take the first jump and I popped him back and then ran off with confidence. I must get my start line head in gear!  Off we went at speed and I pushed our serp and didn’t connect with him enough over the middle jump, nor give very clear arms, so he missed it. Never mind, the rest was good with a nice distance into the tunnel, 6 weaves into nothing and finish. “A good elimination” as Lou described it!

Lunch time finally and as the presentations started to be handed out the Judge from G1-3 Agility, of course, was to be the last to present. We did some shopping (picked up a reflective windscreen shield and a new Frisbee), had some chips and a coffee and were ready and waiting! Grade 1 Agility… 2nd place was announced… it wasn’t me… 1st place… IT WAS ME!

Judge Sharon Chapman grinned as I ran over and said “Lovely run”! I was so exciting I don’t think I really thanked her properly or told her how much I enjoyed the course. Luckily I saw her on facebook afterwards. Thanks Sharon!

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Final class of the day G1-2 Jumping and I was on cloud nine. Another choice of pushing it and running or hanging back, let’s push it! (Even in my high heel football boots). Another broken wait from Guinness and he circled the first jump and went off barking. “It’s okay” said the Judge, Doc Docherty. I got him back and we started with a wait. I could tell Guinness was in one of those moods and he turned off the weaves barking at me (video footage shows I didn’t send him in very strongly either). Only 11 weaves again but we’d taken enough time so we ran on. Pushing for the outside line and sprinting we made it with only 1 knocked pole (better than expected). Pin wheel and two rear crosses and not a bad run at all. The Judge clapped and shouted “Some cracking stuff there!”
What a great guy! I also saw him lifting up the cloth tunnel for a previous competitor whose dog had been nervous to go through. G1-2s are handlers and/or dogs that potentially have never competed before. This could have been their first ever show and that is exactly the experience they need! I cannot credit Doc enough for how he was with us!

Day finished! We were off to a BBQ in Whitchurch that evening and with some time to kill we stopped in Ellesmere to have a walk alongside the mere.

Amazing amazing day!! Finished off with good food and company.

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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.

 

A Weekend at Dig It

This weekend was the UKA Show at Dig It on Saturday and their Can You Dig It? Unaffiliated Show on Sunday. It was so so hot! I was a little concerned about Guinness as he has got a thick coat … Continue reading

The Second Agility Show

September saw us back at Dig It Dog Training Club for our second UKA Show and Dig It Unaffiliated competition. Now with 8 months of training under our belt, I loaded my pockets with treats and headed off for another … Continue reading