Dog Vegas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMAZING.

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

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

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

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

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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.

 

G1-3 Agility Training Exercise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TAG Easter Saturday

Today I was at TAG. My first outdoor show of the season.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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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Shrewsbury and Oswestry

So we bit the bullet and entered a Kennel Club Show. I consider this our first KC show, as although we did Adams in January it was inside without weaves, and we weren’t ready for it. So I’ve learnt from … Continue reading

First Agility Competition Experience

So after 5 months of training, and about a month of being told we should start competing, Guinness and I went along to our first ever UK Agility competition today! My training club, Dig It Dogs, were hosting a UKA … Continue reading