So today I sit here with a cup of tea, watching videos of WAO on youtube and thinking about what a fabulous day I had there on Friday. World Agility Opens in England?! How could I miss on the opportunity to go. … Continue reading
For a while now there have been calls and campaigns for a 4th height to be added to Kennel Club (KC) agility. To briefly explain, at the moment there are three jump heights in KC agility; Small, Medium & Large. … Continue reading
This weekend I went down to London with a few friends to attend the London International Horse Show, or as I know it, Olympia! I’ve never been before, I don’t own a horse and I don’t know how to ride, but I … Continue reading
Tonight its the turn of my class to do their assessment. This is the first obedience course I’ve taught for a while as I’ve been teaching agility over the summer. I feel like a nervous parent watching them go through … Continue reading
Tonight I have been to Dig It assessing Silver and Gold level classes. Up until last year The Kennel Club allowed people within certain professions, such as police dog handlers and dog wardens, to assess the scheme without going through their … Continue reading
Okay so this bat aint so scary, but seriously, it’s actually a really unpleasant time for dogs at the moment. Halloween, as fun as it can be, is full of people in weird-looking costumes that smell funny, all very confusing … Continue reading
So you’ve decided you want a puppy. You’ve got the time to give a new puppy, you can afford the lifelong cost, the whole family are on board and you’re ready to get one… but hold on! Now that you’re … Continue reading
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
On Sunday 17th May, still recovering from a very dodgy tummy the day before, and being fuelled by only a few mouthfuls of cornflakes, I rocked up to my first show of the year! Not just the year, but our … Continue reading
Now that I’ve written about my outlook on Crufts this year I thought I’d give you an idea on how I spent my weekend there. On Saturday I travelled with and spent the day with a few friends. We started … Continue reading
Yesterday afternoon I was sat on the floor of the NEC with a latte still contemplating what I was going to write about. And then it dawned on me how Crufts has become split into two halves, especially so over … 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.
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.
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!
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
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
September saw us back at Dig It Dog Training Club for our second UKA Show and Dig It Unaffiliated competition. Now with 8 months of training under our belt, I loaded my pockets with treats and headed off for another … Continue reading
This year has seen a significant change for Crufts and the Kennel Club. In 2008 a TV show “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” was shown on BBC One, which exposed the health and welfare problems faced by pedigree dogs in the UK. … Continue reading