Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Blackdown Show to beat the Winter Blues

It was another cold wet and muddy day but wow did I enjoy myself!
Hex had her first 1st, winning the Grade 3 Agility by 2 seconds and then proceeding to gain a 6th in the 1-3 Jumping and a 2nd in the Grade 3 Jumping. She was simply fantastic all day. See attached Video:

I also got to watch Sarah run her guys and she had a 10th with Jemma in the Grade 1-7 Helter Skelter and a 14th with Elliot in the same class. For her vids go to her blog (link in the top right corner of this page). Well done guys!

Please note I have now added Jeannette’s video to the Conquest Farm Blog (Below).

Hope everyone likes the countdown to Christmas I’ve added to the blog and that you’re all feeling well and truly on top of your Christmas preparations. It’s been really great to see a number of you treating yourselves to an early Christmas gift in the form of running shoes, everyone’s been coping really well with the change in the weather and ground – keep up the good work and energy!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Conquest Farm

Hex didn’t have a great day today, she was firing on all fours and the rest but came out the weaves early twice and fell off the dog walk once, I’m glad she keen, but really Mrs - focus! She did have one clear but turned the wrong way after a jump and it cost her time so no place for The Baby.
We also got asked to leave the queue for a class today by a member of the ring party because of Hex’s ‘running commentary’, so I took myself outside in the wet and mud (where she continued to cheer) and that’s when I realised how rude this person had been; I’ve paid the same entry fee as everyone else, she wasn’t upsetting anyone in the queue, in fact she was helping excite the dog behind her and I heard a number of dogs barking in the same manner that Hex does throughout the day and they weren’t banished, it put dampener on an otherwise fab day. And I wouldn’t change or swap my baby for anything. Rant over.

Now on with the fab day! I had three people representing today; Emily and Alfie who did a grand job, unfortunately for Emily poor Alfie decided today to forget how to weave! But he didn’t know he’d gone wrong and he thoroughly enjoyed himself and the bits that went well, went very well. Jane and Boot who got a 5th in the Large 1-2 Jumping, the run was beautifully handled by Jane. Jeannette and Tess had their first show ever got and got 5th in the Small 1-2 Agility, placings were only to 4th, but who cares – what an achievement especially when you consider that Tess has never run in front of other dogs before or indoors... or even on anyone else’s equipment. Jeannette handled Tess’s original doubts in the Jumping with patience and professionalism and helped show Tess that it was just the same as at the field – only dryer! As a result Tess went from strength to strength with each run and finished the day with her clear, I was so proud.

Blackdown next week and I’ll be keeping an eye on Sarah and her guys ; )

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Exams and Photographs

Well the results are in and Mum passed the Agility Club Instructors seminar so she is now an Agility Club Approved Instructor! She was only 5 marks off the 1st Class pass, but she’s not disappointed, she knew she made some mistakes in her first exam following a serious attack of the nerves, and that’s what cost her. She thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and so did Hex who went up as her demo dog, I’m really proud of how both of them coped with the long days and the information overload and no, we still won’t channel weave!

The photo day on the 7th November was a huge success with every place booked, we were SO lucky with the weather, with only 2 brief rain showers and I hope everyone enjoyed themselves. Thank you everyone for your patience, this is the first time I have ever tried to organise anything like this or tried to take a lesson with more than just training on the brain, and it was obviously frustrating for me not being able to be my usual hands on self with the dogs cause of my injury. I hope that everyone gets some great pictures out of the day, knowing Carol’s work, you won’t be disappointed – I did get to have a sneaky peak at a few on her computer before we left and the bright sunshine on the field with the dramatic stormy backdrop has worked really well. Thanks obviously to Carol as well for coming all the way down to visit us and getting down in the wet and mud to achieve what are going to be some really interesting shots.
The pictures should be up on her website tomorrow (9/11/09), there’s a link on my links page, her number is on her website if you have any queries.

Hex’s first indoor show is this Saturday, hopefully she’ll be a good girly because I have a special treat for her Sunday; a training session with Anthony Clarke.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Happy Hex

Hex had a good weekend; after 3 weeks off with a virus she finally got to do some agility!

We were at the SWAT vs LEADS interclub match, Hex was 1 of the 5 dogs representing SWAT’s grade 3-5s and she won both the Agility & the Helter Skelter, she also came 5th in the Jumping. I was really pleased with her especially when I left her no space to take a jump in the jumping and she still cleared it and recovered.

I felt really ill all day with a stinking cold developing, but I still had a fantastic day, it was really well organised and there were some great courses, but what I enjoyed most was actually getting to sit down and watch everyone. We spend so much time at shows rushing around trying to sort out our own runs and walk our own courses that usually it’s only by chance that you pass a ring when a friend is queuing and get to watch them.

Unfortunately the results weren’t in SWAT’s favour but we still have the away match in a couple of weeks and I’m sure we can pull it back!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

I am a bad blogger - How long has it been?

Hex’s first show at Bromsgrove seems like such a long time ago now! But she was such a good girly.
She was a bit taken back by actually being allowed a go but still managed a 20th in Gr3-4 Jumping (her 2nd run ever!).
Other than that it was just silly puppy mistakes; getting over excited and misjudging jumps, and going under first jumps in a bid to get to me asap! But she worked like a dream and I am very proud of her. Sprite had a 6th in the Anysize and Kif came home with a couple of clear rounds, as did Phee. As for everyone else, I must send my apologies; I spent most of the weekend in a daze, I didn’t really take in all that much and even tried to send Kif the wrong way in one of his classes! Feel free to fill me in!
Below are all of Hex’s runs from Bromsgrove. I think you’ll agree that some of the courses were a lot to ask for a baby’s first show!

Round 1 = Gr3-4 Agility: A silly handling mistake by me following a last minute change of plan.
Round 2 = Gr3-4 Jumping: 20th Place : D
Round 3 = Gr1-7 Agility
Round 4 = 1-7 Jumping: Jumping very green
Round 5 = Gr3 Agility: Silly me setting her so close to jump 1, really really pleased with the rest though, lots of dogs struggled with the weave entrance - not The Baby!

Then we had the final big show of the season! Devon Dogs/Honiton and I don’t think one person I know had a bad show!

*Jane & Boot had another 1st in Gr1 Agility, good job they’re moving up – leave some trophies for the other Gr1’s!
*Jo & Fluke won the Gr3-5 combined Agility taking Fluke up to Grade 4!
*Sam & Billy won the Gr2 Agility. Billy is a spotty Grade 3 now, so he’ll also be leaving the Grade 2 trophies for the Grade 2s!
*Mike & Rio had an amazing run in the Gr3 Agility and came 2nd

In fact SWAT pretty much owned the prize givings with places for Daz, Toni, Trudy, Natalie, Kim and Martin as well.

As for my woofs, well Kif had a very good show with a 4th in the Gr4-5 Jumping with one of the trickiest courses I have put him on and an 18th in the 1-7 COMBINED Collie Sprint! Sprite only had the one run and in protest he decided not to listen to me and travel the entire length of the course to pick out a random jump that he felt needed to be done but which of course got us eliminated! Hex came out all guns blazing at this show and was MENTAL. She did manage to complete an extremely challenging 3-5 jumping course with only a pole down and came 10th in the Grade 3 Agility – Her first Point!

So lessons have changed to Fridays & Saturdays from this week; I’ll look forward to having the evenings to myself for a bit (although what I will do with them, who knows?!) and my Fridays & Saturdays are now pretty packed. I have entered a few more shows for the winter, details on the right of this page. And that’s about all the news I have... I think? I’m still having a blonde week.

Ooo I know what else, something rare and magical happened this week; I have an agility person on my team at work now! (Hi Caroline!). For those of you that have tried to discuss agility, or even just normal doggy things with your work colleagues, you will understand how rare it is to find someone who a) cares or b) understands. I feel very privileged : )

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

I leave the country for one week...

... and O, the drama!

Unbeknown to me as I merrily sunned myself Phee was in and out of the vets for tests under general antithetic (not good with her heart) – she developed some symptoms which caused Mum a great deal of concern and £450 later we await the results – could this mean that she may return the agility scene if a proper diagnosis can be found and treated? Only time will tell... She must have read my previous post and thought ‘no way José!’
Kif managed to do a runner the morning of the show Mum was taking him to but he found his way home (phew!) and Stitch was a pin to the bowling ball that is Billy (don’t worry he was a rubber, bouncy pin and is unscathed).

And now for the drama which comes in sparkly spotlights; Prestbury Park show Results (report from Mum who was there, of course!):

*Mum & Kif with our friend Diane & Fraze came 9th in the pairs together (Diane also cleaned up around Gr3 with Fraze with a number of places including a win up to Gr4 with the youngster).
*Mum felt Phee was up for running the pairs (and the vets okayed it) with Jo & Fluke; following a re-run Phee only had the 1 pole down and Fluke did a flying Clear – go the spaniels!
* Jo & Fluke had a 2nd and a 4th
*Sam & Billy had a 2nd in Jumping even with his on-going tendonitis (currently being treated by the amazing SMART clinic)
*Sam also borrowed Sprite who had a whale of a time and did a stonking clear for her on the Sunday and then proceeded to help himself to a tripe stick out of the treat box that they put near the finish line for the anysize dogs – honestly, I ask you?!
*Mike & Rio won the Gr3 Jumping
*But top of the class; Jane & Boot won Gr1 Agility taking her up to Gr2! Not only that but she also had a 2nd in Gr1 Jumping and a 5th & 7th the previous day. Boot is 9 years old! – Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?!

Well done guys! – I’ll go on holiday more often ; )

P.S: Stitch has had his KC Name confirmed, he is..... Experiment Six Two Six

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Monkstone Phoenix

Phee turns 5 in December, we will of owned her for 4 years and in that time as most of you know we have had a number of ups and downs (for her full story refer to her page on my website).
For her 5th birthday I will be retiring her from competitive agility. This is not a decision I have made easily, and is one that I have been mulling over all of this year but at the LEADS fun day I watched Mum run her over small height and her love and lust for the sport had gone, she was verging on struggling and this made my mind up for me.

Phee can be a fantastic agility dog, she used to have the fastest weaves I have ever seen on a Spaniel, her directional control is that of a Collie, but because of her health she cannot perform all of the time – she needs the right course on the right day in the right conditions, when she is feeling fine and the days that Phee feels ‘fine’ are now becoming less and less and when we reflect that the vets didn’t think she would make 2, we consider ourselves lucky that she can soldier on as she does.

Every time I thought that I had made Phee’s retirement decision she would put in another stonking round and my aspirations for her reaching Grade 5 were back, but the guilt I feel when she goes down and can’t do herself proud outweighs this and I said to myself at Dashin’ Dogs- ‘no more’. It’s not fair to put the pressure on her when she would be equally happy just hanging out at the shows, being naughty, cheering on the others, having tummy tickles and sharing ice-creams.

Typing this is making it very real and is very hard for me, a lot harder than I thought it would be; I love this little dog to bits and if she hadn’t had the start in life that she did, I have no doubt that she would excel at the sport she loves – the frustration, disappointment and remorse surrounding this decision are overwhelming but it is the right decision to make, I am sure.
Will I enter her in the odd anysize class next year? – who knows? Will I continue to let her play on the equipment in the field? – I most certainly will! – Whatever she wants to do, I will make sure she gets the chance to do it but I want her to have the choice.

So if you see Phee at the field or out and about at shows please take the time to make her feel as special as she is, she needs to know that she doesn’t have to jump jumps and climb contacts to make us smile. Love you Phee-wee x


To everyone who brought a raffle ticket for the Many Tears raffle – THANKYOU! In total Mum and I sold an impressive £130.00 worth of tickets. Good luck to everyone with a ticket, I expect you to invite me if you win any of the holidays ; )

Dashin' Dogs

So we got there Thursday late afternoon and pitched the tent with great difficulty due to the wind, thankfully everyone chipped in to help each other; we needed 3 people to set up my tent and we needed 5 people to tame Sam’s!

As usual, the week consisted of some dodgy toilets, stupidly long queues for the shower, one day of unbearable weather (80mph winds... not fun in a tent) and an ever deflating air bed! But what is great about weeklong shows is the team morale – we can all look back and laugh now at what we tolerated but on the plus side we enjoyed cocktails at the Keating’s, a wicked Chinese takeaway, a dodgy training DVD, a fab walk on our day off and spending some quality time with our dogs as well as the agility itself of course. Big disappointment of the week was that the Bingo was cancelled as the Marquee was unusable as a result of the strong winds!

My dogs had a fantastic holiday, and Mum’s Stitch took really well to camping although he was a little terror around the rings screaming ‘I wanna do that!’ at the top of his lungs non-stop! Our camping neighbours took great joy in watching Stitch tear around our make shift garden carrying numerous items he stole (socks, pants, cookies, poo-bags, hairbrush) with Matt and myself hot at his heels.

As for the results it wasn’t a great week for me; Phee spent half the week ill and I pulled her out of the ring most runs. The thing with Phee is that you never know what you’re dealing with until she does the first jump and she can vary from hour to hour so it was always worth a try (last year at this show she won up to G4) she got her act together in the last two days but decided to put her best performances in when she was in the combined classes against short collies or speedier spaniels (no chance), on the graded classes she thought it would be more fun to gain 5 faults. I’m sure a blind judge robbed us on a trophy in the graded 3-5 agility on the last day by missing the foot she put on her dogwalk contact 1 obstacle from the end. Grrrrr.
Kif just wasn’t fast enough this year – he took great pride in collecting a clear round rosette in every colour the show had to offer but unfortunately was not fast enough for the places, he’s only 3 and I know he has the capability to speed up if he’d just relax, open up and jump the jumps at the right height!.... Maybe next year?
Good old Sprite brought home some top 5 places but struggled with some of the tighter corners set in the ‘anysize’ classes and again, the competition was just so tough this year so no 1st places.

Sam & Billy went up to Grade 3 and I lost count of the number of places they went home with!
Mike & Rio had a number of top 10 places
A number of my friends at SWAT travelled up the grades, most having their best results hung over (shame that didn’t work for me or ‘Ant-y Abi’)

We will definitely be attending Dashin’ Dogs next year although hopefully in a caravan!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Skinner Pack has a new member!

Mum saw a dog on Many Tears Rescue 2 months ago which she fell in love with, by the time she had weighed up the pros and cons and built up the courage to ask Dad, it was too late, he was gone and she regretted resisting for the amount of time she did.
She had quietly been keeping an eye on the Many Tears site should another pop up that caught her eye and who should pop up but the little fella that got her broody for another in the first place! He had been returned to Many Tears for ‘an unprovoked attack’ (he is 16 weeks old, so make of that what you will). This time Mum didn’t waste any time and told Dad that he didn’t have to think about what to get her for her 50th any longer.
Next thing I know I’m travelling up the M5 all the dogs in tow for a meet and great and bring him home. Never have we been so unprepared for a new dog – Mum fresh out of hospital and as for supplies, well we only had half a pack of puppy pads left over from Hex – all of her other puppy things had been given away to other puppies in need. So I had to stop at Pets at Home on the way back and take him in for a collar and bed fitting and then finally I took him home 14/08/09.
Mum has named him Stitch, he is a Collie (Dad) X JR Terrier (Mum) and he is to be her project to work on while I am at shows, he will go to France with her when the time comes and I think he will make a cracking little dog for her – he has SO much character and is already terrorising my guys and my Mum’s socks!

(I apologise for my inability to edit videos - this was my first attempt)

Off to Dashin’ Dogs on Thursday and so much to do! Job applications to complete, a van to pack, lesson plans to hand over to Mum, a suitcase to pack for Bulgaria (for when I get back from Dashin’ Dogs) and a puppy to watch.

It’s all go go go!

And finally congratulations to the newbies who are now happily going ‘over the top’ (have mastered the Dog Walk and A-Frame); Tila, Tilly, Spud & Collie Charlie WELL DONE!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Wow! What a super fine week we have had.

I have really enjoyed teaching in the new field this week, it’s got a really good vibe about it and all the dogs seem to like it too with some great improvements coming in particular from Tess, Collie Charlie & Tila

For those of you concerned about about the sheep next door, be re-assured; a whole week of lessons and only one dog took an interest in them and it wasn’t a collie.....it was the Dalmatian! Billy cleared the fencing in a single bound, had a frolic with the sheep and then helped clear the ram’s rear of poop (I’m sorry, but that’s the nicest way to put it) before being manually retrieved – quite the sight to behold!

As most of you know, I was at a fun show this weekend running Hex in a competition environment for the first time. Her first run was in agility and was clear and gained her 2nd place! She had 10 faults in the jumping and a 5R in the steeplechase but she was such a pleasure to run, she felt great (once I’ve worked out how to work the video programme we brought the other month, I’ll try and post the video). I’m now at the edge of my seat waiting for the 19th September when she comes out for real and am continuing to switch between being excited and nervous but I have booked her into ‘Mucky Pups’ in Clevedon to be made prettiful so at least if my nerves stuff it up for her she’ll look damn fine! ; )

My other dogs had a good day too; Kif came 5th in the Jumping. Sprite was running ‘not for competition’ over a lower height (as there weren’t enough veterans to warrant a veteran course) and he really enjoyed tearing around even if it was just for fun, he didn’t know (although he was a bit sore this morning). Mum had fun running Phee (also ‘NFC’ on a lower height because she was feeling the heat). So a good day had by all. I also got to see a good friend of mine and Mum’s running her collie, Molly, who is gaining speed and confidence each time I see her – Karen I hope to see you at more shows next year!

No show this coming weekend as I am saving the guy’s legs for the week long Dashin’ Dogs show next week. Bring it on!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Well I was never gonna have as good of a day as I did last weekend (2x 1st’s with Sprite & a 2nd with Kif) but it doesn’t hurt to try!

The show at Blackdown was lovely and well organised but unfortunately due to bad weather we weren’t in the field originally planned for the show, instead we were in a field covered in designer highland cattle poo! Phee had a typical spaniel day so no joy there (again! – come on Phee!), Sprite had fun in the anysize jumping but took an extra jump 3 obstacles from the end (trying to get his monies worth) and Kif did 2 fantastic clear rounds (G3-4 Jumping & G4-7 steeplechase) but was just out the placings time wise, which I should be disappointed with but actually was not at all because post-injury Kif is running more and more like pre-injury Kif and is now only slowing down and measuring on straight runs where I think he has time to think and worry about hurting himself again.

I may not have matched last week’s results but Sam did with another win from spotty dog Billy. I hope she remembered to take him up to the prize giving again to collect his trophy – it’s fantastic to see people’s faces when they see a Dalmatian has beaten their Collies – but Billy’s not just any Dalmatian!

Mike won the G3 jumping with Rio : )

I saw some more happy SWAT members around the show with placed rosettes; although they’ll have to forgive me for not noting what they were.

Diane Graves also got a 3rd in the G3 Agility with Frase who seems to be speeding up each time I see him!

And now I have an exciting week ahead of me with lessons in the NEW field commencing from Tuesday and a fun interclub competition which Hex will get to play in on Sunday!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

I have finally started a Blog!

I think I'm going to be a rubbish blogger but I wanted to make an attempt at recording and sharing my results and doggy doings as well as sharing the successes of my friends and people who train with me at A-SIT (Agility Sprites in Training).

So wish me luck and feel free to give me advice on how to work a blog!