Saturday, 28 August 2010

Dashin' Dogs!

So I struggled to sum up the 3 day KC Festival – How am I supposed to sum up Dashin’ Dogs?!

Dashin’s Dogs is one of my favourite shows of the year and once again my other half, Matt joined me, much happier this time as we were in a caravan, not a tent this time J

We set up in the pouring rain on Thursday and it was pretty darn windy too! “If the caravan’s a rockin’, don’t come a knockin”?.... Well everyone’s caravans were rockin’ and no-one dare go out of theirs to go a knockin’!


Competition started, we were eased in with a half day of competition and reduced runs.

Hex opened her week with... you’ve guessed it – 5 faults! Not cool! And then another 5 faults – surely not!! I said to myself before we left for DD that I couldn’t take a WHOLE week of just 5 faults and as pleased as I was with how she was handling, and she really was handling well, I couldn’t believe our luck – why couldn’t those poles just stay up?!

Kif on the other hand had a fantastic start to the week – 14th in the Combined 3-5 Jumping! The biggest class of the day and he was up there in the places.


I shouldn’t of b*tched about 5 faults – today was the day of 10 faults from Hex – grizzle grizzle.

A 6th in Veteran jumping from Sprite.

Sprite has slowed down a tad which was to be expected, running half blind. But he was still super speedy, his main time was lost when he lost me, this was either when he came out of a tunnel, if I did a reverse turn or on tight corners when I was on his blindside. Later on in the week he mistook the judge for me following a tunnel, but generally he would either get E’d by just doing what he could see or would lose time going wide or hesitating while he found me. But we’re adapting our partnership to cope and hoping for courses when Sprite’s on my right! We did get a couple more clears throughout the week, but only in the anysize classes where younger, faster dogs just kept pushing us out of the places.


Things started looking up!

Hex gained a 5th in the G3 Agility. Unfortunately I was handling like a numpty. I had stupidly started a count down of how many days I had left competing this year to go grade 4 and was also walking my agility courses thinking ‘this is the most important course of the day, I NEED this’. So my mind was in conflict – did I walk my courses ‘safe’ and concentrate on just keeping every pole up, or did I walk it to win it and take risks? When running courses – should I work my contacts assuming the fatal pole would fall or do quick releases to gain time, but lose consistency? I was totally over-thinking and when in the ring I was unable to breathe and my limbs were visibly shaking – what was wrong with me putting all this pressure on myself and a young dog?

Kif managed a Clear in the G5 Jumping but my timing was off with him all week, I cost him so many places, either miss timing manoeuvres or sending him wide and costing him time


The day off. A day of stinking weather to sit around wishing we were running. I got serious Cabin fever!


Another Clear with Kif and an entertaining run with him in which a small ‘hurricane’ hit whilst he was in the ring, everything we approached blew down and we were dodging wings left right and centre, if I hadn’t bodged his weave entry I think we might of got a nice place... mainly from the time we saved not having to actually jump 4 obstacles! Nothing with Hex though – Back to our 5 faulting ways – so frustrating! Also a rather surprising refusal. She nipped under a jump to get to some weaves, she just didn’t see the jump, whipped her round to try again, she did it again! She just wasn’t seeing the jump, so I set her in a wait and she did it... but all the poles stayed up – so this got me doing more dangerous thinking – when we made mistakes – were the poles staying up cause I was handling differently, or were they staying up cause she knew she’d gone wrong so therefore was running with less throttle? Or was it all just a happy coincidence? I never managed to answer this question because on


She got a 10th in G3 Jumping (really rubbish course walking from me!) and a 2nd in G3 Agility! – Yes another 2nd, her fifth one – so close but yet so far and she was leading the class for so long *sigh* and we were only off by something like 0.221 of a second.

Matt dedicated today to agility (he had spent most of the week being sensible and hiding in the caravan with a book... and cooking me yummy meals), but Wednesday he made a vow to watch every run of mine and he was true to his word he became my lucky mascot and kept control of the ninjas (don’t ask!), as a thank you I gave him the last run of the day with Hex – The Flick-Flack challenge; Now as most of you know a flick-flack, or ‘snake’ is not the easiest of exercises for a ‘newbie’ to master and the course consisted of 4 snakes made up of 4 jumps each. Matt has probably only mucked around at the field with Hex twice, but he took his instructions and did SUCH a good job. All the SWATties gathered round to watch and he did himself and Hex very proud, he just sent her wide round number 2 so she missed it out, but he picked her straight up for number 3 and continued to do the rest of the course fast, tight, and clear – if he hadn’t made that initial mistake I’m sure he would of made top 5 but it was not to be which is a shame. I wish I’d recorded it, it was a thing of beauty... unlike Kif’s G5-7 Flick Flack challenge – Yvonne Goode set a wicked course, I arsed up infront of the tunnel, managed to save it after Kif span and barked at me a number of times and then bodged my way round the rest of the course, I wasn’t even sure when I’d finished if I’d completed the course correctly – but I had and he came 12th... no thanks to me!


FINALLY it all came together!

After my success with Matt watching the previous day I insisted that he come watch at least Hex’s runs on the Thursday (superstitious, me?!), armed with a clover (just a 3 leaf one – don’t ask, the weather made us all a little crazy).

Hex’s first run of the day was G3 Agility in ring 1, it really wasn’t a Hexy course, minimum distances, on a steep slope, and her first run of the day, which is usually the most mental. I was queuing up with Matt and voicing my thoughts, I told him I’d walked the start to play it safe and that I apologised if it looked a bit messy, he said ‘I thought you were in it to win it?’, to which I replied ‘I am! But I need to go clear’, but the seed of doubt was planted and now a decision had to be made with 4 dogs to go... and I’m VERY indecisive, out of the blue I say to Matt ‘pull her, or push her?’ referring to the safe (pull) or the risky (push) option – I expected him to just pick one, not really knowing what I wasn’t talking about, but he asked me what I meant so I explained so he answered ‘ it’s your last day, go for it, PUSH!’, I looked at what I was going to be asking Hex to do, the pole before the A-frame was a huge risk, I was worried she either wouldn’t see it (like so many others), or would smoosh it (like most of the others)..... ‘mmmm, okay’ I answered, but decided not to watch anymore dogs running incase my mind was changed back.

So I pushed, and was in total shock as she cleared all the jumps leading out AND the risky jump before the A-Frame, sh*t, now I’m on the wrong side, a quick rear cross fixed that and into the weaves, wow that was a speedy see-saw, now when I walked this course I didn’t think I could get there but.... hey yeah, I’ve got time, across the face of the tunnel I whip and on to the dog walk, wow she’s moving – O man, down hill minimum box work with an A-Frame trap, the familiar sound of a toenail on a pole – it’s still standing! Don’t rush her, a wide turn – 2 jumps to go – Clear! ‘O wow, wow, really nice’ said the scrimer to the scorer behind her. Poo, I thought, that means I’m in the lead which means poo, I’m going to come 2nd again. I didn’t tell Matt what was going through my head, just that I was pleased with all but the wide turn and thanks for his help.

Later on in the day we ran Marie Douglas’s Agility and went into 3rd (we ended up 4th), I waited till I was alone and went down to check Ring 1, my ticket wasn’t on top, O well, I thought, 2nd again, let’s see what that wide turn cost me, I flicked on to my ticket in 2nd place – HEY! Wait a second! My time was faster than the dog on the top of the pile by half a second! – I pointed this out to the scorer, she corrected her error – I was back in the lead and there I stayed!!! Winning the class by just under half a second. Matt and the SWATties came to my presentation as did Hex (I always take my dogs up to collect their prize if the win), although she wasn’t that impressed to be ringside in her ‘posh’ clothes, with no work to be done teehee.

Dashin’ Dogs have their announcements on tanoy and over the radio, lots of people heard and congratulated me, but it still didn’t sink in until I was home – We’d finally after so many near misses, achieved our first goal – to win up to G4. : )

Phew, now I might actually start running like a normal person again! I have some new bits and bobs I’d like to work on with Hex, so must find the time before our first run at G4 – Devon Dogs/Honiton – Bring it on!

Away from the rings I had a great show, with great company, Abi and I enjoyed some entertaining walks, Matt & I enjoyed some fun nights in and out with the SWATties, celebrating their many successes. Alot of you know Mike & Rio – he gained enough points to go Grade 5 and won a fair few trophies along the way – we drank to that!

The weather wasn’t great, but I don’t think I spoke to anyone who didn’t enjoy their time there.

I’m just sorry that there are no videos to view, but here's my Baby looking beautiful with her win out trophy.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

While the Lel's away the A-sitters still play!!

Hello A-sit folk. Somehow I have managed to "glean" the password of Sprite's Blog in Lesleys absence. This is handy as..... I thought I would like to report on how i am finding it.. being her right hand woman....wing man,general dogsbody or whatever it is that i am whilst she is away hopefully adding to her points/rosette tally for this agility season.

Where to start?? Well first and foremost I would like to thank everybody for...still turning up...JUST kidding there guys. I have to say that although I was the one who started agility in the Skinner household so many years ago, spending long hours training and coaching Lesley and her brother Paul, I haven't ever really seen myself as a regular trainer. It's been Lesley who has inspired me (that's another way of saying nagging...but in a GOOD way!!) to get the Kennel Club Approved Instructor qualification so that I can step forward and have confidence to share my experience with people and coach partnerships in the sport I have had such passion for over the years.

This break of Lesleys' is a golden opportunity for me to pick up the reins on some pretty impressive up and coming woofs and their human counterparts.It's looking good folks. Contacts are being touched,weaves are being negoitated and I have seen some of the most impressive directional controlwork over the last week. Lesley appears to be shaping you into some great handlers and you are working hard both in the lessons and with the homework being set. Remember it pays dividends guys so keep up the good work. Hopefully when I hand you all back to her she will see that nothing has slipped...that's a hint by the way not to drop me in it by saying "left" to your dog when you actually mean "right" ...I will never hear the end of it ok :-)

Well I better get off to bed - another set of lessons tomorrow night. Thank you once again everybody for making me feel so welcome and not glaring at me too hard when I say "can you just do that one again".She will be back very soon but you have made me feel very valued also.


Monday, 16 August 2010

International KC Festival.... British Weather

So on Thursday I headed off to my first International KC Festival, where do I start?!

The show was huge, really, really HUGE. There were people camped only rows away from me that I didn’t see until I went to leave. There were 17 rings, 18 if you include the practice ring!

When I took Hex down through the caravans for her first run she was her usual mental self, bouncing back and forth tugging her lead, then as the caravans cleared to reveal the rings she dropped her lead and just stood there open mouthed and looked at me as if to say ‘woah!’. I laughed out loud at her, scruffed her head and headed off to our first run.

Hex worked so well at this show, she was really driving on when on the straight and responding beautifully to my shoulders and arms, even when it got to slippery for me to run to where I usually would, she listened to her ‘go go’s’ and followed the line that my arm sent her in. Unfortunately though, she was still clipping the odd pole and when she picked her feet up, I let her down; the competition at the show was soooo hot, I was aiming for the tightest turns and twice, I called her off route too soon. She did however manage to go clear and come 20th in the qualifier and the course was the stinkiest I have ever run with her, I was so nervous I just aimed her at each jump and didn’t work any corners and she was still fab. All I had to do was go clear in the jumping round to qualify for the final – I have never been so nervous with her and it got the better of me, I swung around from jump 2 to 3 so quick she didn’t see it and picked up on the long jump – it happened so quickly I wasn’t even sure she had missed it so carried on and got E’d, but the rest of the run was clear and accurate – I just spent the rest of the show kicking myself. Kif was a speed demon and had 2 out of 4 clears, he was running his fastest, but unfortunately for him, at the KC fest he still wasn’t quite quick enough.

There were no veteran classes for Sprite so I brought him a ‘Dog Tornado’ to play with, it’s a treat based toy he has to learn how to operate in order to obtain the treats – he is supposed to use logic to locate and obtain the treats – he is just enjoying bashing it at the moment : )

Thunder, lightning and rain kept crossing the show ground the whole weekend, but it didn’t seem to dampen the atmosphere until a collie got spooked in one of the storms and did a runner, everyone rallied together to search for him, fortunately he turned up 8 miles away and was returned to his daddy the next morning.

I would really recommend the KC Festival, I wouldn’t want to run anymore than 2 dogs at it and I advise that if you are camping then you should volunteer to help for a day, it drastically improves where you are situated for the rest of the weekend and you get a T-Shirt, lunch and raffle entry.

I’ll leave you with some of Hex’s highlights:

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Pick your ruddy feet up!

Sorry for the lack of blog, I’ve had some time off from shows and haven’t had any texts or emails with anyone else’s results so nothing to write!

I was at Lansdown on Sunday and had a great day. My chum Clare came to watch her first dog show and my guys put on a good show for her. Kif did 2 lovely clears, so tight and so fast, I was certain he was in for a place in the Gr5 Jumping, but not quite fast enough and I knew he didn’t stand a chance in the 3-7 Circular Jumping bless him. Hex decided that after her break she was going to come back... and do exactly what she was doing before – a pole in each, but she was running like a dream and it did give me a chance to work her contacts and they were speedy and solid – loved it!

Elsewhere Jane got a 3rd in ‘Snakes & Ladders’ jumping with Welly & a 2nd in the Snooker with Boot.

Tomorrow, I’m leaving for my first KC Festival – not sure what to expect, seems to be a love it or hate it event but I’m excited anyway especially after how Hex ran tonight at SWAT.

While I’m away I’ll be planning the courses for the fun competition which is just over a month away and lessons for Mum to take whilst in my absence. Exciting stuff and lots of newbies to play with – Welcome All : )

Monday, 2 August 2010

Boot does it again!

Well done to Jane and Boot for winning the Grade3 Agility at the Limit show this weekend.
The previous week Jane had lots of clears but was just out the placings, this week he was back on top. Congrats! : )