Summer Events in Cheshire & Staffordshire

I love a good game fair, nothing beats wandering around a field in boots looking at stalls of outdoor clothing and handcrafted sculptures, plus watching fantastic displays of horse riding, sheepdog training, motorbikes and more. There are plenty of events … Continue reading

Macclesfield Sheepdog Trials

  I love watching sheepdog trials. I really enjoy seeing Border Collies doing what they have been bred to do and working in harmony with their owner, controlling the sheep with a simple stare. Last year the international sheepdog trials … Continue reading

Walk of the Month: Alsager – Rode Heath circular

Distance: 5 miles approx Time: 2 hours No. of pubs en route: 2 Safety notes: Some small sections of country lane walking with no pavements. I’ve talked about walking along the saltline many times and recently posted some photographs of my Alsager – Rode … Continue reading

Cheshire Show

I finally got organised enough this year to book the day off work and headed off to the Cheshire Show. Accompanied by Guinness & my Mum, we entered the show into the Countryside Experience Area and quickly hurried away from the … 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

Brereton

I don’t often drive somewhere to walk Guinness as I have ample fields for him to run in nearby plus the Satline a short walk away if we prefer a less-muddy walk or cycle. However I love to take the short … Continue reading

Get lost in the woods

If I could pick anywhere to live I would definitely choose a woodland or forest. I feel most at home amongst the trees and soil, covered by a canopy of leaves with patches of sunshine (or more often spots of rain) … Continue reading

New Kid on the Block

I took the plunge, I have upgraded my camera! I’ve been craving an upgrade for a while. I’ve outgrown the frames per second and limited number of focus points of my Nikon D5100, amongst other things, so this week I … Continue reading

In 2015 I will… lie in a field more often!

I want to really get in touch with my photography more this year. Take more photographs. Cherish the green around me. Improve my skills and pair more images with my adventures. I want this blog to visually pop out. To … Continue reading

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.

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!

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.

January & February Dig It Winter Series

The first show of 2014 started with Dig It Winter Series.

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January

Lydia was away so I helped to run the show with a few other Dig It guys. I had a lot of fun but I was very busy in between runs. Amanda Hampson judged the Advanced and Intermediate Jumping and it was a pleasure to see and try her courses! I am continuing with NFC runs and chose to do a 9 obstacle sequence from her course. There was a flick flack/serp that didn’t quite go to plan with a tunnel drawing them away from the third jump, I couldn’t get it even with two tries. However weaves we managed 12 poles once but 3/4 times popped out at pole 10.

Amanda Hampson - Intermediate Jumping (Course Section that I ran)

Amanda Hampson – Intermediate Jumping
(Numbers not correct to full course)

In Agility I made my own course but included a nice 3 jump sequence from the judges course. Again we popped out on 10 weaves so I didn’t attempt them again. The sequence didn’t go to plan either however our contacts were good.

Watching a friend run I saw them make a handling choice different to mine that worked much better! I watched and immediately thought  “of course, why didn’t I do that!”. It seemed like such an obvious option yet I’d missed it. The same with the Jumping!

I am failing to see all of the handling options. I look with blinkers on and see one or two options, make a decision and then go for it. It’s something that I need to work on and also an ability that I want to pass to my students, so I best get better at it myself! Perhaps more time walking the course?! Or at least concentrate more while walking and broaden my mind.

Steeplechase I blasted for a run but I’d got my Dublin boots on and I tried to lazy handle/push Guinness out and i left him too far. We didn’t train track! I went off the rails.

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February

This show was a lot of fun! I had a bit of a lazy start (I was there by 8.30am nonetheless!) and had a wait until first run so I got my camera out and did some photos and filming for Dig It. There were three rings with two clubs providing ring parties so everything was well run and the rings moved quickly. Agility first and a tricky handling section with lots of options got quite a few people pondering while walking it. I made my choice and was really pleased as it worked well, flowing smoothly into the tunnel! (Hurrah my course choices are getting better perhaps). I ran for training but stuck to the course as it allowed everything I wanted to work on.

I filmed the worst of my two training runs so be open-minded when watching this, it went much better the first time…

[There is a lot to analyse and take away from that video but I wont bore you with it in this post! Important thing is the fecking weaves! Epic Guinness!]

6 weaves and we nailed the entries plus Guinness powered through them so fast he got stuck! Really impressed! Contacts were good although he released on my movement more than he should, however he had stopped so promising for competition.

Jumping was a nice up and down blasty run with 6 weaves from the tunnel. Again amazing weaves and only missed 1 out of 5.

I pushed our waits aiming to leave Guinness closer to the edge of the ring. As you can see from the video he doesn’t even think about it in the agility, as soon as the lead is off he goes. However our other runs were better with some nicer waits. I’m struggling to see how we will bridge the training-competition gap! At the moment it looks like a huge, bottomless valley.

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Steeplechase was a fun course from Becky Sargent with two tunnels next to each other. Although some say this tests nothing, as it is not obstacle discrimination, I had a lot of fun! I didn’t guide Guinness enough nor judge how long his jump is (partly due to not walking it) and and we got Eliminated when he took the furthest tunnel rather than the one closest to me. Never mind still a fun run with some good distance work and rear crosses.

Only two more shows to go and competition season is creeping closer and closer! I am hopeful that our waits outdoors will be better as Guinness was always happier on grass last year. The Dig It Club Comps start in March so I’ll be out there as soon as possible, pushing and testing our waits!

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Dig It Christmas Show

Today was the Dig it Christmas Show and a lovely finish to 2013.

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I’m not really sure what our aim was. Just to have fun and have a run.

We ran one for competition and one for training.  Guinness went up first in Jumping. He tugged really nicely on the start line and waited, although I did back away from him steadily, not march off with confidence. We had an around the back of the jump which we got nice and then missed the weave entry first but did 6 weaves lovely second attempt and came through them a second time too.

Agility we were tugging lovely in the queue and on the start line, although he broke he his wait but I got him back into place. He self released one contact but had the rest nicely and again missed the weaves first time but nailed it second attempt.

The Agility course had a few wing wraps and a pull in. Nice things to train in the ring. My wing wraps need work. I was watching Lauren Langman’s session on Friday and she talks about having a command for absolutely everything. This isn’t the first time I’ve told myself I need a command for Guinness to shorten his stride but I seem to forget to say stuff when running. Definitely need to practise “Dig”!

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Our training run went much better although no tugging in the queue. Finally Steeplechase. Guinness went into a wait position nicely but I still stood him up and run start as it wasn’t a long lead out. My course choices went well however I wasn’t really competing properly and hadn’t decided if I was front crossing or not at a section. I got there in plenty of time so decided to cross, but didn’t cross enough and ended up in a jump myself! The pole was down and I was in between the wings before I’d barely had time to realise what we’d done! What a funny run.

The weather stayed nice and clear and I mixed around between Ring Managing and helping.

Low entries meant that we went home with a 3rd and a 4th! Although the bottom of the placings due to high faults.

A lovely finish to 2013 and nice to have a fun run without thinking too much. It was so relaxed and it’s nice to run in my training arena.

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November & December Dig It Winter Series

I didn’t blog about November Winter Series as it all went a bit pear-shaped, plus with there being one show a month I thought it would be quite tedious to read about each one. So I’m going to combine them … Continue reading

Dig It Dogs Open Day

Wow today was amazing! I’d organised an Open Day at Dig It Dog Training Club, completely done by me, my ideas, my planning, my mess! We had no idea how it would go or how popular it would be, but … Continue reading

Back With A Bang

After barely being home from a week away in Cornwall today I trundled off to Dig It for their final Summer Can You Dig It Show. It was going to be a relaxing day focusing on Guinness (didn’t I say … Continue reading

A walk along the Saltline and Wheelock Rail Trail

Today Mum, Guinness and I set off for a walk to explore pastures great and new, equipped with a free leaflet by the Cheshire East Rangers. We started from Alsager and headed along the Saltline. A frequent dog walking route … Continue reading