So this is when I tried to order things a little, but of course you just can’t put an order on things like your dog, your family and your other half, so don’t take it too seriously guys. 20. My … Continue reading
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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!
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!
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!