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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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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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.