Well it’s been a little while since I’ve written a show report! It was good to be at a show and into competition again. To me it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, but actually judging by how it went … Continue reading
I’m very excited as this weekend is our first proper agility show of the year! Technically Adams in May was the first, but I only did 1 agility and 1 jumping run, plus was sick to my stomach all day, … Continue reading
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
A 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.
What 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.
Today I was at TAG. My first outdoor show of the season.
5.30am we were up and making scrambled egg for me (on toast) and for Guinness’ breakfast. I’ve been pondering a lot about what to do with Guinness’ meal on show mornings, he often has a bad first run and especially if he hasn’t done a poo, but on the other hand they do need some energy food. A recent discussion on facebook brought up the method of feeding high protein food such as scrambled egg and as I love it too I thought it was a jolly good idea. So with breakfast and poo’s done before we left we set off in search of unknown territory, West Midlands Show Ground!
I arrived before 8am (shock horror) and had plenty of time to get my bearings and walk my course. First up, Grade 1-3 Agility, although a long wait until our running order. I walked into the ring and my stomach fell, first hurdle, a tyre! We have not seen a tyre for over 12 months and the last time we did one in training Guinness ran smack into the bottom of the loop and head-butted it to the floor. He then jumped through it afterwards, but still a concern.
We got there towards the end of the class and had a nice short queue which Guinness happily tugged in! I decided to run start him to help him through the tyre (plus I wasn’t confident with our wait anyway) and I revved him up, aimed him in the right direction and hoped for the best! Hurrah we got through and onto the Aframe. Jumps, seesaw then pull off the tunnel for 180 jumps. A lot of people chose to handle it differently to me, pulling the dog back onto themselves, off their natural path, and I was really pleased with my decision. A blind cross while he was in the tunnel and then dog walk, a tight right angle from the contact down three jumps and then another tight 90 degree angle into the weave. No chance we were getting it, refusal. Second entry and good weaves until pole 11! Too late I’d started running on and we’d had a pole down so time to finish. 2 poles knocked on the 270 boxwork and finish.
It felt like such a messy round, but not too bad. Lovely Ella happened to be watching and videoed us. Watching back it looks a lot more successful than it felt! Of course lots of little things to improve but I am generally pleased with our contacts, handling and overall performance.
A huge break until our next runs and I was given a very appreciated seat, coffee and company from Lou and Deb. G1-2 Agility was set up before lunch and I walked it then sat in the sun with Guinness to eat my sandwiches.
G1-2 Agility was a lovely course, all on one side and very fast and flowing. Jump jump seesaw, I went for another running start, tunnel dog walk tunnel and I saw the judge raise him arm to fault us as we left the dog walk for the tunnel. “What?!” I thought. Guinness never gets faulted on contacts, even when he self-releases his 2 on 2 off he has normally gotten into position. Tunnel to weaves is often a challenge but the weaves were a lovely distance away so I could collect Guinness and send him. Yes! He nailed the entry but then popped out about halfway through and then again at number 11. We carried on for a tight 90 degree and then a 180 and as I stopped still in the middle of the 180 he pulled through the gap to me. Douche, my bad really, second attempt and I kept moving and he turned nicely. Aframe and I held his contact. I expected him to run off and I made it very obvious that I was stopping and expected him to do so also and he stopped nicely! A nano-second passed and then I released and we continued across a box to finish.
Pfft there were my dreams of going home Grade 2 gone! I won’t lie and say I wasn’t disappointed, I was. But I was pleased and having a great day! Ring experience. We said it last year and as this is the first competition away from home of the season we haven’t yet got the experience of new environments. But every show helps and Guinness was running lovely.
Speaking to Lou later on and she had seen our run from a distance and said it looked like Guinness took a very long strides off the dog walk and she wasn’t surprised he had missed it. We had been quick releasing all day and with the tunnel in sight I reckon he pulled off a very un-stylish running contact, otherwise known as not even attempted to stop despite his training! We had a great contact training session on Thursday however it is nowhere near the level of proofing that I am aiming for – gotta keep at it!
Final class of the day Combined 1-3 Jumping. We watched as the Judge laid out his course. There was a tricky section in the middle which looked a little strange but okay, then the Judge wasn’t finished and he changed it completely to something far stranger. Gosh. I hate to be one of those people who complain about a course, especially as I know how it feels to be a Judge myself, but I couldn’t help it. It wasn’t good in my opinion. Sections were nice but the tunnel was a very close trap in more than one place, the long jump was set off at an odd angle, directing away from the dogs path and there was a huge space between the long jump and another jump then onto an angled jump at minimum distance, a bounce for large dogs. 180 degree pull off a flat tunnel and then flat tunnel quickly to tyre ending. Plus I wont even bother trying to explain the funny middle section.
I put my positive head on, decided how to handle it and went for the challenge. We had a lovely time in the queue with no barking collies in sight. Guinness queued next to a male husky which I was a little concerned about (because Guinness can be a dick not because the husky was nasty) but we all kept a nice distance and Guinness stayed calm.
With nothing to loose we went into the ring tugging and I popped Guinness into a down, ready for a wait. I unclipped the lead and walked away backwards, then calmly turned away from him, silently expecting him to break. He didn’t move. Time stood still! Feeling more confident I walked a little further and then released. Ahhhh!!! Hurrah!! (I really need to man up and start pushing my dog more. So what if he breaks and we get E’d?!)
Onto the course and a nice 270 avoiding the tunnel and then into the weaves. Guinness wasn’t giving 100% and spun around in front of them but on second attempt he got in and flowed through 12 weaves in great style. Finally! Only taken 3 runs! Off onto the tricky bit and I’d opted to work it from behind, a little more risky, and I couldn’t pull him off a jump in time. Never mind we carried on and over the long jump and then he flew straight past the next jump. The 180 was superb and then he zoomed out of the flat tunnel and quickly ducked under the tyre. I’m just so grateful that he didn’t run into it! Not wanting to leave on a failure I popped him back over, and he ducked under again, then third and final attempt and he jumped through it.
Day finished! Phew. Three disastrous Eliminated but three runs with positives to take away!
A lovely first experience of TAG and West Midlands Show Ground with a stunningly sunny but cool day!
Crufts is an exciting time of year for all dog owners and lovers. As a competitor it is the agility that really catches my eye. Ever since I was young I watched the agility on the TV and said, “I want to do that one day”. As I’ve got older and wiser I now start to notice the slips on the carpet, the lack of rubber and the bouncy seesaw, however lets not dwell on the bad.
Shopping is a big part of Crufts. Toys, treats, equipment and clothing. You can buy any sort of toy at Crufts! Cage balls, tennis balls, fleece, stuffed animals, fur, you name it. My ideal agility toy is something on a bungee tug that is high value. Voila, I found a tennis ball on a bungee! Perfecto. There were a few stalls selling garden agility equipment, easy put together jumps, hoops, tunnels and weaves. They’re ideal for having a bit of fun with your dog which is the perfect way to introduce agility to pet dog owners.
Health equipment is also growing in popularity and promotion of health products and activities were seen throughout the show. Hydrotherapy, herbal supplements, tablets for joints, digestion, you name it and you can find something which “helps”. Plus peanuts, balance cushions and fitpaws!
The DogBooksOnline.co.uk store left me quite confused! There was a huge choice of agility books to buy, including course diagrams and training exercises. I really didn’t know which to choose so I played it safe and left them all!
What really caught my eye was the Halequin Agility demo on the Eukanuba stall. I arrived just in time as a lovely lady with a great dane was demonstrating wobble cushions and the exercises to do on them with your dog. She talked about muscles and strengthening exercises and was really enthusiastic about keeping dogs fit. It was brilliant to see and I hope it wasn’t just me that thought so. It’s so enlightening to see more and more health and fitness demonstrations appearing.
I challenge you to go away from Crufts without learning something new, no matter how knowledgeable you think you are! The Kennel Club have a big activities section with a little box full of people to answer your questions on agility, as well as free handouts. The activities ring also held some agility demonstrations throughout the day.
I was most interested to see Agility1st there! Set up by former KC International Team Coach, Steve Croxford, and current KC GB Team Manager, Mark Laker, Agility1st is a training and accreditation scheme for Agility instructors and coaches. It not only offers you a chance to be recognised and proven as an agility instructor it also offers you training and improvement opportunities! This is the first Agility specific dog training scheme that I have come across and I think it is a hugely positive step forward for agility! (Unfortunately I didn’t get chance to speak to them).
Into the main arena and this is where the magic happens! I could sit in there all day (at least until the Group judging starts perhaps). There are plenty of big competitions held at Crufts and its one of the sought after goals for many agility careers. Novice, ABC, International and Championship classes allows for a wide variety of people to get their chance in the limelight.
I really enjoyed the courses this year (apart from a few contacts-into-nowhere) and they all ran fast and flowing! There seemed to be less slips and skids than I’ve seen before (maybe due to course design or the dogs being more prepared) and there was some tight competition! The crowd love the agility and there was one person behind me in particular that was squealing, gasping and whooping! I love hearing other people’s enthusiasm. My friends and I enjoying watching the decisions made by competitors, talking about what we would have done and discussing the different international handling styles and methods. Plus the best thing is you can go home and watch all again on youtube!
Crufts is becoming more and more diverse and I feel that the attention is starting to creep away from the show dogs a little. Of course it will always be the biggest and most prestigious dog show in the World, however you can certainly enjoy a visit even if you have grubby farm collies at home and no interest in hairspray for dogs.
I went home full of ideas for my agility classes, motivation and inspiration to work on my own training and my purse was much lighter! A great weekend!
The first show of 2014 started with Dig It Winter Series.
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.
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.
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.
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!
That’s it folks. The last proper show of 2013 season. Not that we do many proper shows, but this is it for competition runs as I’m going to control myself and keep Dig It Winter Series for training. This is … Continue reading
We went along to the Club Competition at Dig It last night to have a bit of fun, assess where we’re at and how ready for next weekends show we are, plus do some training in the ring. You get … Continue reading