This weekend we made our proper Kennel Club return, 8 runs across two days, we were officially back since the injury. Saturday started off amazing! I won’t go in to too much detail as if you’ve watched my vlog from … Continue reading
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
After 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.
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!
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.
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.
I sit here, at 8.30pm, waiting for Ash to arrive back from Belgium. As the ferry has only just landed in Dover, it’s going to be a long night!
Today was TAG at Uttoxeter Racecourse. 40 minute journey away? Luxury!
Out of the house late (a bad habit I must get out of) but we still arrived on time. Entry numbers looked low and there were 5 rings, but as I pulled through the gates the view that greeted me was amazing! Floods of caravans as far as I could see. Surely there could not be this many people entered?! I later found out that they were here for another event. We had great fun trying to identify all of the different countries flags on display!
First up, Grade 1-2 Agility. It was simple enough with front cross/rear cross opportunities, but then towards the end, tunnel – long jump – 12 weaves. A mere four to five paces from the long jump to the weaves. Crap. Yes he should get it surely, but it certainly wasn’t “easy” for newbies.
As I headed to fetch Guinness, walking towards me were two lovely friends from Dig It, Gwynneth and Diane! They haven’t been to a show for a long time and it was lovely to see them. We spent most of the day together.
I’d opted for a new tactic today, keep calm, feed in the queue for stillness, and go into the ring off lead. The start line nicely reached outside of the ring so I was able to get Guinness into position and treat. Technically not breaking rules (I hope). My plan is to fade out the need for treats. Into a calm wait I stepped a few paces away, looked at Guinness, and released. We went well, rear crossing the aframe and the tunnel. I tried my best to show him the weaves but he blasted out of the tunnel and over the long jump and was halfway past the weaves before he noticed. Three failed attempts and we never completed them.
Our next runs weren’t until after lunch and I enjoyed the morning watching agility and chatting with friends. The exercise arena was huge, following the curve of the racecourse, and we had a lovely group walk with four dogs between three of us.
As lunch came to a close I found myself with three courses to walk! Collie mania, all rings were on large!
We ran G1-3 Agility first. A nice course with some little bits of gentle handling. I decided to rear cross the weaves, we can do it and sometimes it actually helps Guinness to push on through them. He didn’t see the weaves and instead headed for the seesaw and then we were too close. I brought him back and sent him in. Nailed it! Only 5R. A lovely run! A little relaxed on my behalf, but we felt calm and smooth and connected! This is what we need! Speed and difficulty can come later. Plus it’s not like he’s a slug.
As we came out of the ring, Combined 1-4 Jumping was calling to the end so we ran up there, back into the same ring as this mornings Agility. Just as I was getting Guinness on the line the lady scriming said “Ruth will you please please please try to get the weaves, we’re so bored of watching dogs fail”. “Remember what Grade this is!” I chuckled back. The comment hadn’t offended me at all, but I wouldn’t wish it on a nervous competitor about to do their first run of their first show. We nailed our weave entry but popped out at about 9 and Guinness was over a jump and into the tunnel before I had even said “whoopsie”. We tried again, no good. “That’s your fault” I shouted at the scrimer jokingly. As I told my friends and heard their reaction I realised how thoughtless the comment had been, plus the fact that the G1-2 Agility from this morning had produced a grand total of zero clear runs.
Last up, Combined 1-3 Jumping. The start line had loads of room and again I was able to set Guinness up and treat outside of the ring and then shuffle him off lead into the ring. I felt cool, relaxed and confident and slowly walked out right up to Jump 3. Lets rock n roll. What a wait!! Plus a fantastic front cross. Then it all ended at the weaves. A straight entry with room but Guinness went in at pole 2. I took him right back, wrong entry again. Back again and into a down. 2nd pole again. Last attempt, a tight wrap around my leg, wrong entry. What is going on Guinness?! My thoughts raced from potential injuries to eyesight issues to discomfort to lack of entry training. Hmmmmm.
But what a wait! Woo I’ll take that over weaves (for now). “You were so cool and confident” I was told. I do seem to be walking with Swag on the video haha. Love it. Now that is the wait I have dreamt of! Today I started to make it a reality.
I hung around for a little while after the G1-3 Agility had finished, wanting to check if there was any chance of placement despite faults. After almost an hour it was time to go home.
I’m feeling much more positive! A little concerned about our weaves, we definitely need to go and look at that. But what great waits! Yes they are something that we should have had from the beginning and something we should have never lost. But by gum the joy from working through a problem and making progress is far more satisfying than having them from the start.
Onto Adams next Saturday and Sunday. That’s gonna be a busy show!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.