This morning I went to a young dog / puppies flatwork agility session with Jen Lewis. I was a little apprehensive as I haven’t taken Zebby to a class for a few months so I wasn’t sure how he was … Continue reading
Each month, alongside the big Winter Series Shows at Alsager Equestrian Centre, Dig It holds little competitions in the agility arena. Places are limited to 50 to keep the show really small and everyone runs the same course, but results … Continue reading
Photographer David Finchett was snapping away on the Agility ring we ran in at Shrewsbury a few weeks ago. I was really pleased with the four photographs he got of Guinness and as I haven’t got that many agility shots of … Continue reading
While the majority of the agility world are at the Kennel Club International Festival (I’m obviously not jealous at all!) I went to Adams today! Back to Catton Park, but only 4 rings this time, and I flew past the entrance for day parking (despite the signs) as it was on a completely different field to the last time I was there!
After being woken up at 4am and again near to 5am by Ash, who left for a week in Belgium this morning, I set off a little late and my satnav ETA was worrying, Judging starts at 8.30am! I was determined to get there in time to walk the course and I was parked and out of my car at 8.27am and pleased to see plenty of people still on the course, phew.
First run of the day, in the kerfuffle of trying to get my ticket (why do they put the ticket person next to the start line) I stood on Guinness’ paw in my metal stud football boots! Oh god! He certainly let me know about it, by trying to bite my foot and anyone or dog in the immediate vicinity to him. After much walking around, rubbing and stretching, I decided he was okay. Guinness will always tell me if he’s hurt, normally by my hand suddenly being in his mouth!
We went for our run, it was a tricky start of 3 zigzaggy jumps to a slightly offset seesaw. I ran start and straight away Guinness couldn’t find the second jump, then he didn’t even think about stopping on the seesaw. Onto the aframe he stopped then self released and then he didn’t try to stop on the dogwalk. I missed the rest of the course and just got out over two jumps and rewarded.
We sat around the rings for a little, had a bacon barm (or a butty/bap to my local friends), went for a good walk and then had a break. There was quite a long time before our next run and I finished off Agility Voice and decided to take some photographs. I’d thrown my camera in as an afterthought, expecting rain all day, but was genuinely surprised at the sunshine we had for most of the day!
Combined 1-3 Adams Jumping Cup was ready. It was a stunning steeplechase course style. Really suited us and so nice to see, especially in a combined class. As I watched a lot of people were coming out with clear runs, this was going to be a real race of speed! I love it!!
The start line was nice and far out and I got Guinness into a down while out of the ring, and then shuffled him forward in between my legs (not as weird as it sounds) and asked for a wait. I got to jump 2 and released without looking. I wish someone had been with me to film as he’s been standing up without me noticing, but I will just have to hope he stayed down. We went off with great speed and directions, onto the second pinwheel and I was turning left but he went off to find another jump to the right! So unexpected!! Ahhh Guinness. The rest was perfect, even fast 6 weaves. Could have been a winner.
Time for lunch and the whole show went quiet. I’d seen no one I knew and was starting to feel a little lonely and bored of my own company. Plus knackered and therefore slightly grumpy from my 4am wakeup.
After a yummy jacket potato I sat down at Ring 4 to get some long jump photographs when suddenly it was announced that “the helicopter is just coming in to land in the exercise arena!”. The lady about to run asked if she could wait and the judge let her. A guy on the ring said “I parked my helicopter over there, where did you park yours?!”. Haha. It was an interesting turn of events, I suppose I’m still very new to competing, does this happen at shows a lot?!
As I wandered to fetch Guinness there was the chopper sat in the exercise ring and I enjoyed watching it take off again. Something different and very enjoyable to see. Plus, except for an increase in barking, none of the dogs seemed to mind too much.
Onto G1-4 Jumping and I asked Guinness for a wait and unclipped his lead. He jumped up and I caught him (much to his annoyance) and asked again. He waited as I stepped to the side and paused and off we went. A nice turn and wing wrap, although I hung back and gave him too much room for my liking, and then we turned left and had an unlucky pole down. Weaves, turns, the rest was beautiful! So gutting yet again.
Last class of the day, G1-2 Agility was ready. Only 17 dogs in the class and there were quite a few faults and eliminations, expected from newbie dogs I suppose. The course started jump to weaves with a tunnel nearby but with its back to us. I’ve done a lot of collar-holding to weaves in training with Guinness, and the weaves were quite soon from the jump, so I went for a run start to allow him to drive into them. He cut across and went past towards the tunnel. We retried and he got in at the 2nd poles, third attempt, still in at the 2nd pole. Just another metre from the jump and a bit more distance from the tunnel would have been so much nicer, but he should have got in them really. The rest of the course was straightforward and I took the opportunity to make sure he got his contacts. I didn’t test them but paused at the bottom with him and praised. He cleared the tyre and the spread just fine.
What a frustrating day. But weaves and waits and general handling were better, I think. But I’m not sure. Why is it so hard?! If I actually think about it, I recon we are improving with every show. TAG next Saturday and then back at Adams for the Saturday & Sunday of Bank Holiday, I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks.
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!
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
I always enjoy getting outside with my dog but especially so if it’s nice and sunny. This week I had an afternoon off, it was glorious weather and we got out for an early afternoon stroll. When I walk my … Continue reading