Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Anthony Clarke @ A-SIT

Everybody was really looking forward to this and the feedback I've had was fantastic.

4 out of the 16 people booked in have only ever trained with me and it was a strange feeling handing them over and watching them train with someone else, but I was very proud of the work they did and knew they were in good hands!

For me there was no stand out performance, everyone did brilliantly. But there was alot of excitement around Sarah's Narla and Anne's Chas. I also think that Julie did SO well considering how poorly she had been in the week.

I congratulate everyone on their hard work, I thank Anthony and Sian for a fun day and am very grateful for the sun shining so late in October!

BHC Show

Weird one for me, just one run with Kif all day gave me a chance to catch up with and watch friends but I was mainly there to support Mum and Stitch on the anniversary of the show he came out at last year; which really is a reminder of just how much this incredible young dog has achieved.

Unfortunately the Agility win Mum has been craving was still just out of reach, with a handler oversight one obstacle from the end, but a stonking run over a difficult course and still one to be proud of and they made up for it later in the day.

Results:
Stitch - 1st, G6-7 Jumping
Stitch - 2nd, C1-7 Jumping
Kif - Clear, G5 Jumping (he was 5th, but they only placed to 4th - story of Kif's life!)

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Chippenham Champ Show

A scorching hot weekend at the start of October (yes this is late!!) caught us all by surprise.

With no Hex to run I had fun running Stitch. Olly made his debut with Marley and had a couple of near misses but overall we were pleased that he ran just as he does in training (bring on 2012!). Molly's Ben also chose this show to start running as he does in training - good things to come next year!

Results:
Stitch - 5th, C4-7 Jumping
Gill & Kassey - 5th, C1-3 Jumping
Anthony & Amy - Clear, G1 Jumping

Monday, 31 October 2011

Honiton/South Devon Show

I was really looking forward to this show, it was the last one of the year I had entered with Hex, because of her impending season and I intended to just go for it.....unfortunately Hex had the same idea! I've just watched the videos back to remind me of what happened that weekend and O dear, what a mess! She wasn't paying attention to me, at all, no respect, just one crazy red head! But she had fun.

Lots of A-SITters at the show too, these are the results I can remember, sorry to anyone I've missed out:

Gill & Kassey - 1st, G3 Agility winning them up to Grade 4!
Mum & Stitch - 2nd, C1-7 Jumping
Alex & Sonny - 5th, G1 Agility
Alex & Sonny - 5th, G1 Jumping
Kif - 7th, G5-7 Jumping
Rosie & Freddie - 2 x Clears
Michelle & Bel - Got their first Clear Round in G1 Agility (and just one place out of the placings)

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Bromsgrove & Blackdown

Bromsgrove Results:

Stitch - 2nd, C4-7 Jumping
Stitch - 3rd, C1-7 Agility
Stitch - 4th, C4-7 Jumping
Hex - 7th, G6 Agility
Hex - 5th, Pro Plan Final



Hex was 1 second off the win, but watching the video back, she did everything I asked of her, I don't think we could have done any better - she was fabulous.

And elsewhere @Blackdown:

Alex & Sonny - 5th, G1 Agility
Alex & Sonny - 2 x Clear Rounds
Sadie & Carmen - Clear Round

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Olympia or bust.

People not updating their blogs for weeks at a time seems to be a running theme at the moment, I follow a couple of blogs and nearly all of them have been abandoned until recently, I put this down to the intense end we all have at the end of the season which leaves us with very little time.
So I do apologise for slacking, but I also point out that I'm not the only one!!!

So the Olympia Semis... a distant memory from September. I had so many near misses on the qualifiers, at least 3 5-fault runs with a qualifying time, but it was not meant to be and it allowed me to focus my attention on Mum who had managed to qualify right at the start of the season with Stitch. I was so proud to be there as her Groom, she looked an image in purple in her new A-SIT 'Experiment 626' polo shirt (thank you Sew What!) and smart black trousers, Stitch looked pretty smart to following a tidy up from Jo.

We arrived in plenty of time and watched the end of the Junior event before the warm-up was set up for the Mediums. To be honest it wasn't a very challenging course, but we figured 'well it is a warm-up' and Stitch did a nice clear finishing 7th or 8th.
Disappointingly the actual Semi Final wasn't much more challenging, although there were traps there, if you got the dog on the right line there were a number of straight lines which really favoured the collies, the only real trap came at the end trying to get your dog in the correct end of the tunnel, but because the jump before the tunnel was a panel jump, the dogs didn't see the wrong-end trap and not ONE dog fell into it. Mum did another nice clear with only one slight hiccup and finished 15th out of 36 - the top 10 qualified. NEVER have I heard of a clear at an Olympia semi not going through to the Final, but in the mediums this year there were 21 out of 36 dogs clear.

Obviously I was gutted for Mum and she was upset, but she really kept her nerve and to get 2 clears under that kind of pressure is really impressive and I was very proud, we weren't even sure how Stitch would cope with the environment; despite being a Grade 6 we must remember that he is only very young and that this is only his first season competing.

Here are the vids from the Semi's; the warm up followed by the Semi:



video



The following day we were at Prestbury and Stitch came 7th in the C1-7 Jumping and Hex came 11th in the G6 Jumping even with 1 naughty wide turn before the tunnel and a face plant on the jump after that! lol. We also got to try out one of the more difficult weave entrances we've been practicing check it out:


video

Gillingham

Anne & Chas - 1st, C1-3 Agility - Taking them into Grade 3!
Anne & Chas - 5th, C1-4 Jumping
Gail & Stitch - 4th, 5-7 Jumping
Kif - 2nd, G5 Jumping (he likes to keep surprising us)
Hex - 8th, G6 Agility
Anthony & Amy - 2 x Clears

A special mention must go to Helen who put in two fantastic runs with Ben, they only got a refusal in each, in one they were just a nose length away from their first clear and the run was otherwise smooth and impressive.

A wet but fun weekend.

Dashin Dogs

O man - another month late blog!

Gonna start with the results this time:

Rosie & Freddie had wicked week at groups the Monday before, so great things were expected and great things were delivered! In the 3 days they were there they collected a 1st, 2 x 3rds and 3 x Clear Rounds!

Stitch and Mum went home with 2 x 1sts, a 6th & a 7th and were part of the SWAT Squatties team running in the Team Dash Final and they came 2nd even against a number of all collie teams.

Hex was still trying to find her feet in G6 and went home with a 5th & a 7th.....and a lot of near misses!

We were really lucky with the weather this year with the only spot of rain being when we got there on the Thursday, Friday was the quiet half day, Saturday was the day of the Team Dash Final and the SWAT Squatties kicked butt!

I think it was Saturday which was 'A night with Nigel'; drinks and entertainment in the marquee, which meant that Sunday was a bit of a messy blur for me : s Monday was our day off so we enjoyed a day at Chester Zoo and a trip to the cinema to see the Inbetweeners. Then we were back into competition Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We left the last ever Dashin Dogs on Thursday evening and we were all knackered... except Hex! She just got more and more mental as the week went on as I got more and more tired - crazy ginger.

We had a couple of days off before going on to Dordale where Mum & Stitch picked up a 2nd and a 3rd

Monday, 12 September 2011

KC International Festival

A show of many highs and lows which to save time and to catch you up I will bullet point. Starting with the lows so we can finish on the highs (although you can miss the lows if you'd rather).

Lows
*The biggest low of the show was the loss of Don Nunn, a big character in the agility world who sadly lost his life following a clear round in the 6-7 Jumping. Did I know Don? Not really, we'd nattered at Valgray prize givings and he'd judged me from time to time. But I find when people die it's the people which they leave behind that I end up really feeling for and Don left behind his wife, his friends, his dogs and his Club members who went to collect his placed rosette with his dog. Really mind boggling that a person can leave this world in the time between a run and a prize giving.
*A dog dislocated it's hip on a tyre. So to all those 'tyres are safe/what happened to Hex was a fluke/ she wasn't seriously injured' people - I say I TOLD YOU SO! But I also hope that the dogs makes a full and speedy recovery
*Stitch missed out on the British Open by 2 teeny weeny points.

Highs
* Hex coped really well with her first Grade 6 runs, to start with she seemed a bit lost on the more open courses, everything is so tight in Grades 4-5, so she lost confidence in the big gaps on the G6 courses, but by the end of the weekend we got it together and she never looked out of place we had a couple of close but no cigar runs.
*Club friend Jo with her spaniel Fluke qualified for the Novice Final at Crufts next year. I am so pleased for her and can't wait to go cheer her on.
* Stitch went home with a 2nd, 11th & 12th at arguably the biggest, most competitive show of the year
* Jo and I enjoyed an evenings entertainment at the Feroda Camp, complete with our beanbags and an Amy Winehouse tribute from Neil Ellis.



And that's all I remember right now! I can't believe it's been a month! I have been so busy and feel awful about my short and sh*tty update but I guess it's better than nothing...maybe?

I'll leave you with mine and Mum's favorite runs of the week:

Saturday, 6 August 2011

The calm before the storm

When we looked at our show calendar in August we had our 2 favorites booked; KC Festival & Dashin Dogs, but nothing else - in fact we had 2 weeks off at the start of the month! Now one week off is fine, we need time to pack, train and see our loved ones, but 2 weeks off?! That's crazy talk mid season so we looked further afield than we usually do and decided to make the trip up to the Agility Club Show in Ardingly and whilst we were there spend some quality time with my Uncle Mark who kindly provided us (Mum, myself, Hex & Stitch) with accomadation in Brighton (Well, Hove actually) : )

The weekend didn't start off as planned, we set off late, got stuck in traffic, tried to avoid traffic, got lost and inevitably got stuck in more traffic! But when we got there we were greated with a scrummy meal and the dogs settled right in (Stitch a little too much so).

Being only 30mins from the showground we got to have a relaxed to start the morning with toast and jam and head on out to day parking at a 'sensible' time, Uncle Mark in tow....well actually leading the way in a car you could probably only fit a Pug in.

My first day was an unlucky one, faulted (IMO wrongly) in my Olympia Qualifier, but with a qualifying time and poles in the jumping. Mum had a great first day with Stitch, winning the G6 Jumping (2 down 2 to go!). Mark had brought his camera to the show (posh camera) and despite being new to the sport managed to take some amazing pictures of our dogs and really capture their spirit and enthusiasm, taking really good pictures of Agility isn't easy and you usually have to pay the experts through the nose for your perfect shot but we got loads and are so very, very grateful. Here are just a few.



The second day I continued my unlucky run and Mum joined me, Stitch fell over and missed a jump recovering but to Mum's delight he seemed to fit right in with the G6's and was making some of the tricky bits of course look easy. Hex fell off a dogwalk in the morning, I got lost in the afternoon but managed to pull of a wide clear and my favorite run of the weekend was the last one but Hex couldn't find the last tunnel entrance, but I loved the course when I walked it and when I ran it so shared it anyway:





Even without any ribbons I had a fantastic time, it was so relaxing just having the 2 dogs and nice to have a supporter with us, especially one that fitted in so well to the scene and took an interest in the science of the sport. The weather was also glorious.

Unfortunately we did have to miss the SWAT Summer show though, with so much holiday booked in August it was impossible for both Mum and I to get any more time off work but Alex and Sarah went out to represent and boy did they! Here are the week's results:

Gail & Stitch - 1st, G6 Jumping
Alex & Sonny - 2nd, G1-2 Jumping
Alex & Sonny - 2nd, G1-2 Agility
Alex & Sonny - 5th, G1-2 Agility
Alex & Sonny - 3 x Clear Rounds on top of all those places!
Sarah & Ru - 4th, G1-2 Jumping
Sarah & Narla - Clear, G1-2 Jumping - Narla's first CR! Yay!


So now the crazy month of August begins, trying to plan, set-up and fit a week's worth of lessons into 3 days, trying to get Hex prepared for her first Grade 6 show (her first class will be the British Open!) and get packed for the time away. Thank you everyone for your flexibility with lessons.


In other exciting news, Hex's coat is falling out in handfuls, which means we should be about 8 weeks from her breeding season - I am very excited, but also scared, I just want everything to be right. I will starting up another blog or FB Page for everybody to keep updated as things develop and by things I hopefully mean PUPPIES!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

There be Dragons!


YAY CAERPHILLY TIME! There's not a lot not to like about this show and I look forward to it every year. This year didn't disappoint even with a new venue.

I didn't have the best time, Hex had another collision, worse than her long jump incident and this time with a tyre, my 'stop-go' contacts have fast become running contacts - Hex's decision, not mine! So that needs to be fixed and I just couldn't handle to save my life! No excuses, just rubbish.

But I did get to see a lot of A-SIT runs and I was so proud of everybody, I had a number of compliments come my way from people who had seen the A-SITters at work and wanted to let me know how well they were handling and I received a lovely comment about what a great team we had... and we really did - Anthony (& Amy), Sarah (& Ru), Sadie (& Carmen) and Alex (& Sonny) all competed in their first team as the 'A-SIT Apples' and made quick change-overs and ran nice runs, only a spaniel sniff and a pole away from the 4 clears they needed to be in the places.

Michelle was at her first show with Whistler & Bel and both dogs ran really well. Helen also had her first competitive runs with Ben and he was focused and happy to be in the ring. And there were some of the much sort after Dragon Trophies brought back to Somerset....

Results:

Gail & Stitch - Dragon! 1st, G6 Jumping
Gill & Kassey - Dragon! 1st, G2 Agility (taking her up to Grade 3!)
Gill & Mollyanna - Dragon! 1st, G2 Jumping
Anthony & Amy - 6th, G1 Jumping
Hex - Clear, G5 Jumping
Kif - 3 x Clears
Anne & Chas- Clear, G2 Agility
Sarah & Ru - Clear
Alex & Sonny - 2x Clears
Sadie & Carmen - Clear, G1 Jumping


And @ South Devon:
Karen & Mollie - 6th, 1-3 Steeplechase
Karen & Mollie - 9th, G3 Jumping

Monday, 18 July 2011

Sherborne Vale

I had a special treat this weekend - my brother came to the show! Paul used to do agility, in fact he used to do it rather well but traded dogs in for motor sports in his teens. Paul has been involved with a couple of A-SIT events and is Pimpin' my Mower, but this is the first show he has been to in YEARS! It was great to have him there to support Sprite, Hex & Stitch (or as he calls them - Pirate Pete, Stink Weasel & Turd). Hex was particulary happy to have 'Unkie Paul' there - she was so full of herself in the queue and stood on his feet when she could which she usually saves for me. Stitch also enjoyed someone who could match up to his tugging needs and Sprite was just happy to have some of his pork roll! : )

The day well, didn't start off too well. Stitch clipped a long jump in the jumping and would have won the class otherwise and in the Agility we ran at the beginning and nobody was straightening the collapsable tunnel so it spat him out past a jump 2 from the end - wicked run otherwise, and someone was there straightening the tunnel from then on! I made a comment at the end of the day to the judge - couldn't help myself, I felt robbed.

Hex also had a bad start - I nearly pulled her from competition after her first 2 runs - in the agility she was much as she was last Sunday - really wide, not listening, missed a weave entrance, just not with it at all and in the Steeplechase she ran so flat and also under a jump. But we dogged on and I ran her in the Jumping and with only one wide turn she won the class! I then ran her in the lucky dip and she just had the one pole, but this was def her best run of the day - she attacked the course and wrapped wings and hung on my every direction, despite the pole and the fact she had won a different class, this was my favorite run of the day - nice to have her back! Toni saw her run flat in the steeplechase and also saw her Lucky Dip and gave me a huge thumbs up when I came out the Lucky dip as she knew how bummed i'd been earlier in the day. Paul said it was like watching two different dogs but I'm glad he got to see the real Hex- lets hope shes got whatever it was out of her system for good this time!

Results:

Stitch - 1st, C1-7 Steeplechase
Stitch - 1st, C1-7 Lucky Dip
Hex - 1st, C3-5 Jumping
Alex & Sonny - 4th, G1 Agility

Mum gets back late Wednesday/early Thursday; I look forward to having her back and life returning to normal... well it's never 'normal' in the Skinner house but you know what I mean!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Diamond Performance

Saturday at Diamond Dogs was AMAZING!

6 Clear rounds out of 6 runs and 4 of those were wins, including Hex's win up to Grade 6! The whole day was unbelievable, just wow.

Both dogs had amazing contacts, solid waits and speeded their way around their courses. The only course I didn't feel confident on was the Olympia Qualifier and it was just that word 'Qualifier'! 327 dogs ran that course and I was one of only 28 to go clear. The start was fantastic, but I didn't handle my contacts naturally and there was a part before the second tunnel where we had a detour, I was just trying to go clear but now that I'm in Grade 6 I need to handle more ambitiously, 'just going clear' is not going to cut it... although the courses are obviously going to be getting much harder and I'm going to need those clears for mine and Hex's confidence - catch 22.

I know Hex isn't quite ready for what Grade 6 has to hold - I haven't quite put enough work in and we have a lot to tidy up, tighten up and speed up but I just had it in my heart that this is what I wanted to achieve before her pups later this year and whilst I feel daunted for us, I also feel a huge weight has been lifted.

It was so nice to focus on my own dogs, not only did I get to focus on my own dogs and courses but I had the support of Rosie all day and she really took alot of the pressure and stress off. Little things like having someone to take your bag and jacket for you on the startline (especially when you're juggling Stitch and his many accessories!) makes a huge difference. I am sad that Mum missed this weekend, but grateful for the opportunity to work the Stitchy Bug, he really is an amazing dog.

Sunday I was lacking sleep - it wasn't a great day, stupid mistakes were made like Hex missing the last jump in one run?! - When has that ever happened - weird. I knew I should have stayed at home, nothing was ever going to top Saturday but it was great to see the A-SITters doing well and see proud smiling faces on handlers and wagging tails on the woofs.


RESULTS... and lots of them!:

@ Diamond:
Stitch
- 1st x 4! (2 Agility & 2 Jumping wins)
Hex - 1st, G5 Agility - Taking her up to G6!
Hex - 7th, G5 Jumping
Hex - 8th, C3-5 Olympia Qualifier Agility
Alex & Sonny - 7th, G1 Jumping
Alex & Sonny - 1st, G1 Jumping
Alex & Sonny - 4th, G1 Agility
Alex & Sonny - Clear, G1 Jumping
Sarah & Ru - 5th, G1 Agility
Sarah & Ru - 6th, G1 Jumping
Sarah & Ru - 6th, G1 Agility
Sarah & Ru - 8th, G1 Agility
Anthony & Amy - Clear, G1 Jumping
Anne & Chas - Clear, G2 Jumping
Rosie & Freddie - 3 x Clears

Elsewhere:
Karen & Mollie
- 9th, G3 Steeplechase

Monday, 4 July 2011

So here at last is the details of Hex's treatment at the SMART Clinic thus far


Angela has put me to shame with her regular Mindy updates so I have finally put the time aside for an update but I'm afraid limited for time, it's not very detailed. As everybody now knows Hex took 'a bit of a tumble' at Thames Show in June and here it is for those of you that haven't seen it:


video


I knew it was bad when I turned around to see her flipping, but when I got to her she seemed fine, barking and bouncing and telling me to get on with it! So I pieced the long jump back together and jumped her over it to make sure she wasn't mentally scarred too. When I got out of the ring I kept her out and about to let her muscles warm down, keeping a careful eye on her, when we got back to the caravan she had cuddles and then I watched the play back of the video and saw just what she had done to her neck -eep! I was worried, sad and in shock, I knew despite having what seemed like a perfectly fine dog laying next to me that all was not going to be okay.


Our vets confirmed stiffness in her neck and were happy to refer her to the SMART Clinic, who have worked wonders with Kif and many other dogs we know.


Hex had her first SMART appointment on June 22nd, Lowri gave her a thorough look over and her neck wasn't the only problem because as she had twisted after the neck impact she had wrenched and pulled her belly, armpit, legs and back so it would seem that the only part of her that wasn't ouchy was her tail which she kept wagging. She got twisted, stretched and pulled and didn't resist at all, she then had acupuncture, which again she just stood and took and last but not least she had her first go on the water treadmill - this was the bit I had been dreading, Hex HATES water and this was a strange box which would fill up once she was in it and she wouldn't be able to escape, but once again, she just got on with it. The water started filling up around her, she just held up her front right leg for as long as possible and then gave up and let it join her others under water. Then we started the treadmill and she immediately got the hang of it.


I was obviously gutted that she had more damage than we had at first thought, but I was relieved that I had caught it early enough that SMART were happy they could fix it and that Hex could still compete providing I didn't train her imbetween time and did her homework physio exercises (or as we call the Hexercises) religiously.


So we have kept up our Hexcercises and SMART visits and Hex has turned everything to a real routine. She loves it at SMART just look at her little face.


Hex is back on form and since visiting SMART she has won up to Grade 6 and won another Jumping class as well as collecting other top 10 places, her jumping action is cleaner than it has ever been. She has also had to accidents since the long jump - a collision with a tyre and a fall off a dog walk and thanks to her new flexibility walked/bounced away from both with no damage done. I am however now ALWAYS carrying arnica on me just in case!


What I love about SMART is that they know agility. They asked me what her weave action was, what grade she was, what speed she travelled at and what sort of courses she was running on - they knew my dogs body and movement better than me! I would recommend them to anybody who has any doubt about their dog's fitness and/or performance. www.smartvetwales.co.uk

Tuffley

Usually I love Tuffley - the venue is beautiful, the show well run, nothing is too far from anything and the exercise area is HUGE - it seemed even bigger after the postage stamp of grass Lansdown offered us last week. But I was tired, fed up and run down and not being able to train Hex in the week when we are trying to fine tune things is denting my confidence and ability to walk courses for her, I also have her injury playing on my mind so alot buzzing around my head.

Saturday started as I thought it would - utter shite. But then if you have that negative frame of mind what else can you expect? The first jump was a spread and Hex crashed it (as did most dogs as there was a dip before it) but it made we worry - I had a power nap in the afternoon and tried to wake up with a new frame of mind, my rounds improved and I came 13th in the Olympia qualifier with only one expensive mistake - whoops!

Sunday was a new day and watching the Champ classes was inspiring - I decided to just attack everything, which landed me flat on my @rse in my first run - I still managed to get up and go clear but was fractions of a second out of the places and I think that was the time I spent on the floor! Hex got her own back though because she fell on her face later in the day and we came 3rd... without her nose dive we would have won the class taking us to G6! O Well, I was just happy to get a trophy especially at a Champ show, the trophies at Tuffley were so beautiful, giant diamonds! - Here's Hex with hers : )

Mum's weekend was the other way round, she had a fantastic start to the week and finished on a low, her mushy brain came from thoughts of going away and packing for France. As I type this she is currently on a ferry to France surrounded by Glasto hippies on their way back to Jersey singing songs of love, Jesus and Sandy lol.

Results:

Stitch & Gail - 1st, G5 Agility
Stitch & Gail - 4th, C1-7 Agility
Kif & Gail - 2 x Clears
Hex - 13th, C3-5 Agility
Hex - 3rd, G5 Agility
Hex - 2x Clears
Anthony & Amy - 2 x Clears (In the combined 1-4 Jumping they were 1 of only 2 Grade1s to go clear!)

Diamond Dogs to look forward to now... well we will see...I have more dogs to manage, less help and more to cope with in the week - it's going to be a tough one!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Lansdown

So no surprise - I have left blogging to the last minute before my next show and still haven't done a post detailing Hex's SMART treatment (which will follow...eventually).

The A-SITters were out in force at Lansdown and I think it's fair to say that the British weather was at it's most British with wind and drizzle all day Saturday and glorious sun all day Sunday (once the fog had cleared).

I must say, I did over-do it at this show and must remind myself that there is only so much I can do in a day and that my dogs must come first; I ended up in agony Saturday night with my back and I am so SO grateful that Tamzin Grimes was there to save the day and fix me up in time for Sunday and another day of team morale - it was lovely to sit down that day and enjoy Anne's bakery goods as a Club.

Results:

Hex - 5th, G5 Agility
Kif - 2 x Clears
Gail & Stitch - 1st, G5 Agility (winning into Grade 6!)
Gail & Stitch - 1st, G5 Jumping
Rosie & Freddie - Clear, G1 Agility (the first of many to come we hope!)
Rosie & Freddie - 3rd, G1 Jumping
Gill & Kassey - 2nd, G2 Agility
Anthony & Amy - Clear, G1 Jumping
Anne & Chas - Clear, G1-7 ABC Olympia Course. There were 101 dogs in this class and only 12 went Clear so we are so proud of Chas for being one of them.

A special congrats to Molly & Ben for surviving their first show and showing a lot of promise and a Good Luck message to Helen & Lily at their first show tomorrow.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Golden Valley - The ups and downs

I really should write up my blogs when I get home from a show - I can't believe Golden Valley is already a distant memory... well Sunday is, Saturday has pretty much gone from my head altogether!

I love the idea of Golden Valley - Nice venue (although Kif hates it), near a Strawberry Farm (yum yum), camping not too far from the rings and always lots of friends there but I always leave feeling slightly disappointed - I never seem to meet my goals, I miss out on seeing people because I'm running from ring to ring and I usually eat to many Strawberries! This year the only exception was I ate just enough Strawberries :)

Saturday saw Mum collecting places with Stitch, Anthony having some near misses with Amy and me mucking things up for both of my dogs - well that's how I remember it anyway. Barrie James set an Agility sequence I have worked on a couple of times in training with Hex and I couldn't pull it off in the ring - I look forward to setting it up in training sometime and sending the vid to Barrie just to prove we CAN do it!

Sunday was a much better day with Hex and I getting our act together, Kif having fun in the teams and The SWAT Squatties team qualifying for the Team Dash Final! But I still left frustrated, Hex put in some really good runs, particularly her last run but at this show they just weren't up to the speed set. I would do a run, be pleased with how I ran, be so proud of how Hex handled and then look in the score tent to see where we were in the places and be disappointed instantly, which is so silly when I was beaming with pride and excitement before the score tent. I need to remember my personal goals and just be happy to achieve them and stop comparing my young dog to other more experienced dogs while we are still getting our act together.

Results:

Gail & Stitch - 5th, C1-7 Agility
Gail & Stitch - 3rd, C4-7 Jumping
Hex - 8th, C3-5 Agility (+ 2xClears)
Kif - 2xClears
Alex & Sonny - 2xClears
'SWAT Squatties' - 1st, Team Dash. The medium team consisted of Stitch and his 4-legged SWAT friends Doug, Fluke & Chip. They beat even the large dogs by 3 seconds!

@ Barnstaple
Karen & Mollie - 5th, G3 Agility

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Thames

I'm a week behind blogging - so naughty because I remember at the time I felt like I had lots to say about Thames which is why I put off writing about it because I didn't have the time... but now it seems like a distant blurry memory. Things I remember:


- Hex having just a pole down in the Olympia Qualifier : (
- Getting very wet... but not as wet as Packington
- Hex taking a nasty tumble - won't easily forget that! But she seems fine and I await an appointment with the SMART clinic on Wednesday to give her the all clear.
- Stitch having his first runs since his operation. Both Mum and I watched him very closely; he was fine.
- A wicked night out at the entertainment with a fantastic live band. (Maybe it was all the wine and dancing which has made the weekend a blurry memory?!)

Results:

Hex - 13th, Combined 5-7 Jumping
Kif - Clears...can't remember how many.... sorry Kif!
Stitch - 1st, Combined 3-5 Jumping
Stitch - 2nd, 3-5 Jumping
Stitch - 6th, Combined 3-5 Agility.

Sorry for the vague update, Golden Valley update to follow... hopefully in more detail once I've run the videos off!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Just the 3 of us, we can make it if we try!

Mum had/has the lurgy so it was off to Wye Valley by myself; not usually a problem but I was SO tired and had such a rubbish day at Packington on Monday, I felt I could do with the extra support. There were no Veterans for Sprite so I set off with just Hex & Kif in tow and things started with how I left off on Monday - I got given the perfect 'Kif' course and was doing a fast fantastic clear on an extremely confusing course... so confusing I missed out part of the course and E'd myself! I walked a course wrong for Hex and by lunch time I'd had enough of myself - I had a moan down the phone to Mum, and a power-nap and woke up with a I'm here to have fun, so sod it, let's just have fun attitude and with that came our first clear of the weekend - Hex in the Combined 1-7 Jumping woohoo! We ended up 2nd.

The show had such a lovely holiday feel about it with gorgeous weather and walk, you couldn't help but relax when you let yourself. Saturday evening a couple of us wondered down the local pub for some eats and drinks and then came back for more drinks and snacks.

So feeling much more relaxed I started Sunday with a new frame of mind, although the weather had turned sour, I was not going to let it dampen my spirits! Hex started the day with a lovely clear in the combined 3-5 Agility, went to check my time and woah there - I was in the lead! Not for long though, Lynne swooped round only a queues length of dogs behind me and trumped my time, but she remained 1st and I remained 2nd and we bothy qualified for the ProPlan Final in September. Kif was running his best, especially in the Brace, I just sent Hex wide of a jump, but they were both flying and Abi provided the most awesome change over - Hex associates Abi with super fun crazy times... so a bit of a shock for her when Abi stopped her fun and let Kif go : )
Kif had another course which seemed to be designed just for him and everyone that saw it remarked on his confidence and corners - I love this dog's corners when he's happy - he beat Hex's time again too! So I finished the weekend still tired, but once again feeling full of pride and confidence, which can only mean one thing....... This coming weekend we'll do CR@P!

RESULTS:

@Wye Valley

Hex
- 2nd, C1-7 Jumping
Hex - 2nd, C3-5 Agility
Hex - 5th, G4&5 Jumping
Kif - 4th, G4&5 Jumping

@Carn Brea

Karen & Mollie
, 2nd G3 Jumping
Karen & Mollie, 3rd C1-3 Steeplechase

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Every dog has it's day

Where do I begin? Friday & Saturday I was on top of the world, I felt I could achieve anything, Sunday was a reality check...Monday I came back to earth with a wet bump.

I always like to end my blogs on a positive note, but that just wasn't how the weekend panned out, so feel free to stop reading after Saturday if you don't want to join my self loathing pity party ; )

Friday:
So my competitive weekend actually started on Friday for a change, I went to help set up some tents at the SWAT show and Jo talked me into bringing my dogs along for the Dairin's Challenge qualifier. This was an event where you could have as many goes at the course as you liked at the fastest 20 Clears would take place in the Final Saturday night - The Catch - The course was a 'Dairin special', hard to remember and difficult to run, expect the unexpected! Jo had talked me into bringing my guys because the course had been running for 2 hours and only 3 dogs had gone Clear! So I took in Kif first, he was my best chance of getting round a course like this, but he back jumped number 2 in his first go, the rest he did clear and to be honest, made the course flow and feel nice. I thought I'd give him a rest and let Hex have a blast before getting him out to try again. Hex's run was nowhere near as clean as Kif's BUT to my surprise sheonly had 5 faults - just one pole! I was in shock, I now had 2 dogs that could potentially do a clear, but I was advised that I could only take one dog through - so which one to choose? Well rumour had it that the final would be a bit more of a blast (turns out that rumour was started by Dairin himself - sneeky!), so I went for Hex, who ended up being the 5th dog to go clear, she qualified 5th overall - her first final! And to be surrounded by Grade 6-7 dogs, I felt so proud!

Saturday
I gave Mum Kif for the weekend because she was without Stitch so I only had Hex to run and we had a day of 5 faults, having said that her corners and her response and contacts were so quick and accurate, I couldn't have been happier with her and was excited about her first final in the evening... until I walked the course and realised it was not the rumoured blast. I walked the course over and over and all I could think was 'why, o why didn't I have a second go at the qualifier and put Kif through?!' I don't think I walked the course once without saying 'I want Kif' and I walked that course ALOT! But I shouldn't have doubted the Red Baby, I panicked and pushed her out of the weaves early and over Jump 3 before correcting the weave, but then I took a deep breath, took her back to the end of the weaves and ran the course from there until the end as if nothing had gone wrong and she did that CLEAR, not just clear, but clean, tight, accurate, I left the ring buzzing with what we had acheived and thinking 'if we can do that then we can do anything we put our minds too'.

Sunday
O Sunday, why did you have to go and ruin that Saturday buzz? He had some results Sunday, but Hex was nowhere near as responsive as she had been the day before. She wasn't listening, she was wide and even turned the wrong way after one jump - so frustrating. I really thought that one of my Clears would be out of the places but I had actually gone into the lead!... only to be beaten by Mum & Kif! Yes you read that right, I'd talked Mum into running Kif that day and she went and beat me and with Kif of all dogs, I really underestimated that dog, what a star! - He provided some rather good banter material that day turning Mum into 'Skinner Winner' and me into 'Skinner first loser' - Thanks Dairin!

Monday
With the SWAT show behind us and rather knackered Jo and I headed off to Birmingham for Packington Show to be abused by the weather and test our love for the sport.
I don't know what was up with me, I released Hex from her dogwalk WAY to early in the Olympia qualifiers - the pressure just got to me, I pulled Kif off a jump too early in his jumping and I took my eyes off Hex in her jumping - timing just seemed to be a issue for me which was a pain because my dogs were giving it their all. I really let them down and would have been in tears if it hadn't been for Jo helping me focus on the positives of each run (which was basically everything apart from the one mistake I made in each).
We survived the whole day, unlike a huge number of the day runners who had left by lunch and Jo went home with a 5th in the C1-7 H/Skelter with Meddler against some of the best mediums in the country!.... I went home with a new Keyring (well I couldn't go home empty handed!)

Trying to go back to the positive, I leave you our best acheivements from the weekend; The Dairin's Challenge courses (as best as my memory serves me) and of course RESULTS:






Results:

Gail & Kif - 1st, G5 Jumping
Hex - 2nd G5 Jumping
Hex - 10th, C1-7 Jumping
Hex - Qualifying 5th Overall for Dairin's Challenge
Sprite - 2 x Clears, Anysize Jumping
Sarah & Ru - Clear, C1-7 Jumping
Alex & Sonny - Clear, C1-7 Jumping
Anne & Chas - 3rd, C1-4 Agility

I must also say a special thank you to Helen & Anthony who weren't even running dogs on Sunday but were there all day to help run our ring and learnt lots of jobs, we had a couple of no-show helpers and without Helen & Anthony's help, running Ring 2 would have been nearly impossible. Thank you!

Worcester

This was a long time ago now. I know I've been really rubbish at blogging recently, but any spare time I've had I've been sleeping, catching up on TV and training.

I don't remember much of the day other than I was really tired so needed a good power nap at lunch, O and I was really poorly and Jo came with me because Mum was playing 'House Wife' at home.

Results:

Hex - 4th, G4 Jumping
Hex - 5th, C3-5 Agility (Purina ProPlan Qualifier, top 2 qualified - doh!)
Stitch - 5th, C1-7 Jumping

I really let Stitch down in the Agility, I reckon we'd have ended the show as a Grade 6 if I hadn't under-worked the A-Frame up. As it was, it's a good thing I didn't win; Stitch needed surgery the next week and is out of action now for a couple of weeks, it wouldn't be the best thing if after a long break that he be up against the Grade 6s! Get well soon Stitchy Bug!

Monday, 9 May 2011

A-SIT's Field Day @ Blackdown

Never have I had so many A-SIT members at a show, it felt like a school trip as I showed the new batch of newbies the ropes,. All the excitement of being out of the class room but with the need to at least pretend you've learnt something ; )

Blackdown was an odd show, I can see what the club was aiming at by splitting the classes as they did, but it did make for a long day and if they use the same class set up in September, I don't think I'll be going. I just hope that it hasn't put anybody off who was attending their first or second show, it is not the norm to have that many classes. Having said that, the rosettes and trophies were nice (although I personally didn't get any) and the new venue was good... although very exposed and windy!

I think the day really went to Anne with her 'Rottelier', Chas. I don't know anybody who has won their very first class ever and if I hadn't jinxed her before her last run, I reckon she would have had 4 out of 4 Clear rounds. I was one very proud trainer. Not to be out done, Gill followed up by winning the Combined 1-2 Agility with Kassey at her second show ever so they both won up to Grade 2.



It was so great to see everbody enjoying the work and time that they had put into their dogs and to see the dogs beaming with pride and joy as they finished their runs, not understanding what clear rounds or faults were, just enjoying the new experience and moment with their handlers.

There used to be an agility magazine published with the front page each month reading 'Agility is Fun', it kind of became an on-going joke phrase when we were out in horrific weather, or having the worst elimination of our lives, or just having a shite day in general, but d'ya know what - Agility really IS fun. I had pinned my hopes on Hex that day and walked some courses I really liked for her, but we went home with 3 x 5s and an E, even when a class was restarted and we got the chance to re-do it, I still fluffed it - (I guess that's what you get for going out drinking before a show!), yes I was disappointed, but Hex was having the best time and loved all the fuss she got from the A-SITters (I think she thought I had brought her an entourage complete with cuddles and sweeties and even Sea Jerky from Helen!) and with everyone including my dog having such a good time, I couldn't help but catch the feel good vibes and look forward to more A-SIT days out.


Results:

@Blackdown

Anne & Chas - 1st, G1 Agility (Winning up to Grade 2 at their first show with their first run!)
Anne & Chas - 3rd, C1-2 Agility
Anne & Chas - Clear, C1-3 Tunnels & Spreads Fun Class
Gill & Kassey - 1st, C1-2 Agility (Winning up to Grade 2 at their 2nd show!)
Alex & Sonny - 8th, G1 Jumping
Sadie & Carmen - 12th, G1 Jumping (another 1st show success!)
Gail & Stitch - 1st, G4 Agility
Gail & Stitch - 1st, G4 Jumping
Lesley & Kif - Clear, G5 Jumping

Thursday, 5 May 2011

A Royal Weekend!

So because we'd planned to chase qulaifiers, we've entered a number of shows further afield... Which is how we ended up at Shrewsbury this weekend instead of Dordale with everybody else but going that extra disctance was so SO worth it!

I'd spent the week working on Hex's wing wraps, as you might have read a couple of months ago I started giving her earlier verbal queues, well I've now decided to give her earlier body queues too because my body was conflicting what my mouth was saying. I can't believe the improvement I've been seeing already, I even let Mum get the video camera out again... although not in time for our win into Grade 5 : )

Stitch also got to put what he'd practiced in the week to work, I've come down hard on Mum's pull throughs and we practiced tunnel traps over and over and good job too, because the medium judges were out to get the medium dogs with many a trap and pull through! In fact we generally found the courses more challenging than down south, particulary the 5-7 courses which Kif was on and which totally played in our favour, despite him hating that show ground (too many skips that people bang around the rings and flags too, O and big rustling trees - o Kif) he did really well much to my surprise. There were a couple of runs I didn't think I'd even get him off the start line, but he was brave when it counted.

Then on Monday we had the North Somerset show with 3 members making their KC Show debuts infront of the general public! I know we do agility 'for fun' and I know people say 'O I'll just be happy if they do their best' but everybody has their own personal goals for their dogs and I so wanted all my guys to get what they wanted and knew that it would only be nerves that stood in their way and so in turn I was nervous for them, but I need not have been.

Both Alex & Anthony came incredibly close to a clear with their first runs, just 2 obstacles to go and both dogs did what many did and went in the wrong side of the weaves with just one jump to go and then they grew and grew in confidence with each run, as did Gill with her dogs. I am already getting nervous for the people making their debuts this weekend, I not only want them to get the performance they want out of their dogs, but also to enjoy themselves at the show and enjoy the company and support of other A-SIT members - I really do feel lucky to have such a fun and friendly bunch, so don't be strangers, especially not to Rosie - she's bringing a new picnic set!!!

Videos from the weekend are available on the youtube channel:
http://www.youtube.com/user/AgilitySprites

Results were as follows:

@ Shrewsbury

Gail & Stitch - 1st, C4-5 Agility
Gail & Stitch - 1st, C1-4 Agility
Lesley & Sprite - Clear, Anysize Jumping
Lesley & Kif - 4th, G5-7 Jumping
Lesley & Kif - 5th, G5-7 Jumping
Lesley & Hex - 6th, G4-5 Agility
Lesley & Hex - 1st, G4-5 Agility (taking us up to Grade 5!)

@ Cornwall

Karen & Mollie - 7th, G3 Agility

@ North Somerset

Alex & Sonny - 7th, C1-2 Jumping
Alex & Sonny - 4th, G1-2 Jumping
Anthony & Amy - 8th, C1-2 Jumping
Gail & Stitch - 2nd, C4-7 Jumping
Gail & Stitch - 1st, G4-7 Jumping
Gail & Stitch - 1st, G4-7 Agility
Lesley & Hex - 8th, C3-4 Jumping
Lesley & Hex - Clear, (5th & they only placed to 4th!), G3-4 Jumping

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Easter Weekend

Mum got back from France at 2am Friday morning, we left for Kernow K9 Show in Cornwall at 5am, so it was agreed that I would run Stitch on Friday while Mum caught up with her sleep, having said that she was too excited to sleep but still too tired to run Stitch to the best of her ability so I still got to keep my runs with him and we had great fun winning the 1-4 Agility.
Hex had a pole in her Olympia Qualifiers but overall she was running nicely.

On Saturday Mum had her Olympia Qualifier with Stitch, having not run or trained him for over 2 weeks, we were all a tad nervous, but knew that if he could just go clear he should have the speed to take him through and sure enough with a lovely clear (and some quick release contacts) he came 2nd and as the top 2 dogs go through he will be off to the semi finals in September where 32 dogs which have qualified throughout the year will go up against each other to become the 10 dogs which will compete at Olympia 2011.
Here is his qualifying round, if you've trained this week you will recognize the course:


Sunday was Hex's day, she didn't have a pole down all day she did once nice clear, just 0.3 seconds off the win (vid below) and one messy clear, she was very close to pulling off a very difficult course but we had some communication issues with just two obstacles to go much like Mum did in the jumping (vid also below)!

I'm extremely grateful that Karen filmed Hex's agility run, it's the only run of her we got on film because I've told Mum for the time being I'd rather not be filmed. I believe there are 2 reasons you have your runs filmed; 1 - To look back and say 'yay me' and share that with other people, 2 - To learn from your mistakes. At the moment I know I'm not handling to the best of my ability so I'm not proud of my runs and I know the mistakes which are being made and why, I just haven't had time to work on them. Having said that I wish I'd had my jumping run on film, it was the most in tune I've felt with Hex EVER, Karen offered to film and I declined dammit!





Not much mention of Kif because he went lame on the last day and no mention of Sprite because I left him at home with Phee for company. I have decided that I will not be running Sprite over medium height any longer. Although he can still jump that high, I know that he is struggling to find them with his one diminishing eye and I don't want him to see a jump last minute and then fail to clear it. He will now only be running over small height in 'Anysize' classes. This saddens me but I know it is for the best.

Kernow K9 is a fantastic show, one of my favorites of the year (despite having broken my elbow there the previous year). I finished the weekend feeling so very lucky to have such supportive friends & family around me and such a wonderful pack of dogs, I love my furry family. On Easter Monday Hex went for an Easter walk and picnic with my friend Vicky and four Children between the age of 3-9, I was so proud of her; she did waits for them while they threw her toy, jumped park benches for their entertainment, she let lots of sticky fingers cuddle her and didn't eat any of the jam sandwiches! Matt also mowed the field for me that day, giving himself an almighty blister on the palm of his hand - seriously huge and disgusting but he pushed through and finished the job, I am one lucky lady.

Results @ Kernow:

- Lesley & Stitch - 1st, G1-4 Agility (winning up to Grade 5)
- Lesley & Hex - 6th, G4-5 Jumping
- Lesley & Hex - 7th, G4-5 Jumping
- Lesley & Hex - 5th, Combined 4-5 Agility
- Lesley & Kif - 2x Clears in G5 Jumping
- Gail & Stitch - 2nd, Combined 1-7 Agility (qualifying for the Olympia Semi-finals)
- Gail & Stitch - 1st, Combined 1-4 Agility
- Karen & Mollie - 5th, G2 Jumping
- Karen & Mollie - 1st, G2 Jumping
- Karen & Mollie - 2nd, G1-2 Jumping

I'm looking forward to my next blog with lots of A-SIT members making their debuts on Bank Holiday Monday.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Wallingford

I am trying to think of a time when I have ever felt less prepared for a show...there have been times (they usually involve a late night and a hangover), but never have I been to a show and not trained any of the dogs for weeks before. Hex hadn't trained for over 3 weeks due to her season, Kif doesn't train too much these days and the last time I worked Stitch properly was when Mum was last in France.

Matt came along to support me because I had 5 courses to walk 1st thing Saturday with 3 different dogs, so lots to remember and think about. Hex was MENTAL Saturday morning and spent the day having poles down, Stitch was fantastic but my timing was off , I felt I'd just about got the hang of him by the end of the day, Kif had fun.

Sunday was a different story for Stitch, he seemed less driven for his solo runs although managed a place in the jumping. Hex had the misfortune of having an 8.30am run in the pairs and then nothing until 2.30pm, when she was just as mental as the day before, but got it together for her last run and came 3rd in Grade 4 agility and Kif managed a Clear in Grade 5 Jumping. Sprite had a clear in the anysize on Saturday but got a little lost on Sunday, we also collected our Valgray Veteran Dog of the year award - very proud of my little pirate.

I also took part in 2 teams. Kif was in the large SWAT team and the team just had the one pole, Buell and Kif showed their true colours and really made Trudy and myself run (I'm still hurting now!) and Daz & Toni also had to run, but they're used to that pace with Raq & Boo. I imagine the team had a pretty impressive time but I didn't go and check (as tempted as I was).
Stitch was on the SWAT Squatties Team and again, SWAT have another strong team - watch this space!

Wallingford had a great atmosphere and fab weather, and we had the most superb camping spot thanks to Claire. Last year I was a spectator with a broken elbow so it was nice to take part in this show again and certainly will again next year - they have some really nice trophies and really generous rosettes to go for.

Results:
Lesley & Stitch - 2nd, G4-5 Jumping
Lesley & Hex - 3rd, G4 Agility
Lesley & Kif - Clear, G5 Jumping
Lesley & Sprite - Clear , Anysize DogGames
Sprite - Valgrays Veteran Dog of the Year (3rd year running)
Club friends Jo & Meddler - 1st, G3 Agility (winning into G4 at Meddler's first KC Show)

Sunday, 3 April 2011

"What a difference a day makes" - by Gail

The weekend just gone has very much been a prime example that you can have high hopes one day....have them effectively dashed....lose confidence and convince yourself that nothing good will come of another day in the ring only to find that things turn full circle again and you have, quite unexpectedly, the day you sought initially and all is well once more.

Indeed one of the great things about agility as a sport is that, except for the select elite-semi-pros out there, for the regular folk it is a great equalizer. The highs and lows come and go as regularly as clockwork (even for those who have "been at it for a while")... but that's what keeps you coming back for more.

So the next time you find yourself asking yourself whether you should have even bothered to have got up, let alone have ventured to training/a show etc. The answer is a resounding YES for it could be that this is your day to shine and even if it doesn't involve a clear round,a rosette or an award it is a day to enjoy that wonderful partnership that is you and your dog...for when it "clicks" it's the best feeling in the world.

@Wye Valley Small/Medium Show


  • Jeannette & Tess - Clear Round, 1-3 Circular Jumping

  • Gail & Stitch - 10th, 4-7 Circular Jumping

@Carn Brae


  • Karen & Mollie - 3rd,1-2 Jumping

  • Karen &Mollie - 7th, 1-2 Large Steeplechase

  • Karen & Mollie - 1st, 1-2 Agility (winning into Grade 3)

  • Gail & Stitch - 1st, 1-4 Medium Jumping

  • Gail & Stitch - 1st, 1-7 Medium Steeplechase

  • Gail & Kif -Clear round 4-5 Jumping

  • Gail & Kif- Clear round 4-5 Steeplechase

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Fun Competition

What a lovely day! Fantastic weather and food and most importantly fantastic dogs!


Results:


Pre-Comp Agility:

1st - Gill & Mollyanna

2nd - Molly & Ben


Competition Agility:

1st - Kelly & Spud


Trophy Agility:

1st - Gail & Stitch


Pre-Comp Jumping:

1st - Sadie & Carmen

2nd - Diana & Ruby


Competition Jumping:

1st - Anthony & Amy

Clear - Sarah & Ru

Clear - Jeannette & Tess


Trophy Jumping:

1st - Karen & Molly


So congratulations to all rosette winners but also well done to everybody who went out there and gave it a good go, some of whom it was the first time they've tested their nerves and dogs in a competition environment.


Competition Days are hard work but always worth it and wouldn't be possible without the help and support of friends and club members. Special thanks obviously to Mike for judging and Mum for helping me set up last night and get everything together, thanks to Mel for scoring for us; the day wouldn't have run half as quickly and smoothly without you, thanks to the Skinner Men; I can't believe we got them BOTH at the field! - Paul did a grand job of timing and Dad made sure there was always hot water at hand for tea and coffee. I'm sure everyone will agree that we had the best spread of food and that was all thanks to Anthony & Helen's Cakes and Alex's Quiche.


Now lets bring on the real deal!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Results, Results, Results!

I know I've been a bad blogger, but any spare time I've had I've been cramming in revision and baking for Red Nose Day and it's so tempting when you get on the computer to get carried away on Facebook or YouTube so I've been avoiding it although I have videos I want to sort out and photos I'd like to share.
So although there's lots I'd like to talk about - the fun time we had at Crufts, Anthony Clarke coming to A-SIT, Red Nose Day, Hex's Birthday, the upcoming Fun Comp etc. - I'm going to concentrate on the good results we've had this weekend and at Crufts... this was in order to keep things short but there's actually quite a lot to type off!

So well done to all involved in the following results:

@Crufts
Barbara & Dex - 2nd, Postgrad
Jacqui & Izzy - 3rd, Obedience Inter Regionals and 2nd in the Team Event

@Barnstaple
Mum & Stitch - 2nd, 4-7 Agility
Mum & Stitch - 1st, 4-7 Jumping
Karen & Mollie - 3rd, 1-2 Agility
Karen & Mollie - 4th 1-2 Helter Skelter

@Yeovil
Jeannette & Tess - Clear (Just out the placings at 5th), Small Jumping

@UKA Cornwall
Hex - 1st, Novice Steeplechase
Alex & Sonny - 2nd, Beginners Jumping
Alex & Sonny - Clear, Beginners Steeplechase
Sarah & Ru - Clear (5th & they placed to 4th), Beginners Steeplechase
Sarah & Ru - Clear, Beginners Steeplechase II

A really positive and exciting start to the season.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Blackdown

I had been really excited about Blackdown all month until the night before, when I was feeling tired and like I really didn't fancy the early start - this feeling didn't change when I got up at 5.40am. I was annoyed with myself for not being as excited as I had been earlier in the week.

It meant I was running on a really short fuse all day but I was really lucky to have some great company around to perk me up. I got to meet the Engelbrecht's new addition - Wink (so cute!), caught up with Jane and Jill who I haven't seen in what seems like an age and got to spend time at lunch nattering with Mel, Neil & Colin; Colin has so many interesting stories about the work he does with his beardies, it was great to hear some.

So what did we go home with? Well I was really pleased with Hex's corners, still room for improvement, but such progress from last month, unfortunately I took a risk I felt I needed to make in order to get myself ahead of Hex, just 3 obstacles from the end and it didn't pay off. But here's the vid of her corners:

video

In her Agility she misjudged the 2nd bounce and ended up underneath jump 4, this threw me for the rest of the run so we just focused on solid contacts and 2 good wind wraps.

Hex came 2nd in the Large Steeplechase and Stitch came 2nd in the Medium Steeplechase. Here's the vids:
video
They were really unlucky not to win the Agility, Mum is still kicking herself, she pulled him off the last jump after a really fast tight run - have a look for yourself:
video

Take a look again at Stitch's double bounce - outstanding control and use of his muscles:

video


Also we must congratulate Mel & Lucas on their 3rd in G3 Agility, I am so pleased for Mel that the hard work she is putting into Lucas is paying off.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Vogue!

Well being the diva she is, Hex decided to starve herself for 2 days the weekend before her photo shoot, we thought she must have heard that the camera adds 10lbs, but then she got quite sick and just 48hrs before the shoot she was in the vets for some jabs and medicine to fix her, luckily these worked within a couple of hours and she was ready for her first bit of promo work!

I wasn’t really sure of what to expect – all I’d been told was to bring some of her stuff (bedding, bowl etc to make her feel at home) and a hi-viz jacket so they could dress her as a builder, this would also entail wearing a hard hat so we got practicing with next door’s riding hat balancing a solid hat on her head (thank you Lucy for your hat!). We got there nice and early and met the photographer, he showed me the brief which was that Hex was to be photographed in each room to form a tour of the ‘Hex’s Home’ (still not sure if the brochure is for handouts or the internet but I will let you know when I see the end product). Any ways then we met the Taylor Wimpey reps and an Ad company rep and proceeded to the show home. First we shot in the Kitchen, Hex was a little natural, she was so comfortable with her new found friends and the house, and pulled all the poses required to make the Kitchen/diner look like it was her Kitchen/diner where she ate breakfast every day. Then we shot in the living room, the photographer said it would look nice if she could put her front legs and head over the arm of the sofa whilst laying down, I said if he gave me a minute I could teach her that position – She did it straight away! It’s such an unnatural position for a dog, she kept wanted to rise into a sit but she got the shot and we then had other shots of her ‘watching tv’ and also head on paws curled up on the sofa all of which she did no problem, she then had a drink and got some fresh air before going up to the bedroom. I taught her a ‘flat’ command a long time ago and she remembered it – hopefully she looked chilled out/asleep and not dead! And then we did some of her just lying on the bed, a couple of the shots had to be re-photographed without the throw on the bed because she blended in so well with it.

Then we had the hardest shots – outside. Kids were out of school now and playing football behind us which Hex thought was interesting AND one of the little treasures thought it would be a great idea to shout ‘cheese!’ – Which made Hex VERY interested in what they had to offer her, but she stayed seated and we started trying to balance a hard hat on her.... no chance – unlike a child’s riding hat, the width of a hard hat is just not suitable for a dog. So we decided to put it next to her and try and place her foot on it, the hat was slippy for a paw, but she again, learnt this new position and held it as long as she could – so cute. At this point she’d been photographed for nearly an hour and a half, I could see she was flagging, she was very sniffy and lacked focus so although she sat in front of a door for a final shot, she struggled to look interested – I hope we got at least one without her frowning!

I’m really looking forward to seeing the end result and was so pleased with her that I am currently looking into what I can do to get her more modelling work, I wasn’t sure she’d 100% enjoy modelling but she totally saw it as work and was very eager to please not just me but the other 4 people involved – she’s such an attention seeker! Easy, breezy, beautiful; Covergirl.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Each day learn something new, and just as important, relearn something old

It’s a bit late for New Year’s resolutions but in the sleepless nights I’ve been having recently I’ve been thinking about my goals and aspirations for this year and the deadlines set by the start of the show season and Hex’s future litter and I realise that if I’m going to make G6 before August I have some serious work to!

Hex has sped up in the last 6 months and I’m glad, I’ve been pushing for the speed and I’ve got it but I’ve lost our effective turns. Hex is definitely fast enough to win a class, but she’s not fast enough that she can afford a wide turn and still win a higher graded class. Over the past couple of months I’ve been helping her stride and learn when to bounce as well as speeding up her contacts and pushing for more difficult weave entrances, but wide corners are still getting the better of us.

I know that I haven’t had the time to do anywhere near as much I’d like to but it’s difficult when you haven’t got someone about to watch you, there’s a risk you’ll fall in to bad habits and not even realise you’d done anything wrong. As far as I was concerned I had put all the ground work in, she knew it all, why isn’t she doing it now?! I’d been working on deceleration with Anthony Clarke with some great results, but I can’t always be there to decel and this is when I’m still having problems. But what else could I do with a dog that barks non-stop at me? I’ve been saying to myself she can’t hear me, so what is the point on me commanding her when she’s just going to drown me out? But as the April show season looms I have been forced to make some decisions and my decision is that she should LISTEN!

I have been running my thoughts through with Mum, Sarah, Abi and Toni and I am so grateful for having these people around me, sometimes it just helpful to talk your thoughts through and justify them, if you can’t justify them then there’s something wrong.

Both Toni and Abi have brought to my attention that when things aren’t going to plan I have a habit of using commands out of context and that my timing has become pretty poor. So now that I’ve decided to revert back to my original verbal commands, it was time to re-cap my Hex dictionary. This didn’t take long as it was pretty much a case of going back to basics and relearning what we already knew and did, a group lesson last night and a private lesson with Toni this morning confirmed this – it’s not Hex which is the problem, she knows it all and has retained everything I taught her, it’s bloody me which is the problem!

Last night I made a real effort to use my verbal commands in a course situation (I think I walked the course 8 times and was saying the commands aloud to help them sink in), I only used the wrong command a couple of times when I ran it but my timing was still out. This morning out of a group situation Toni set a number of sequences to test Hex’s ability and see how much work we would really need to put into this, I had given Toni my Hex dictionary and before each exercise we made sure I knew what I was going to say and when I was going to say it, everything we set Hex did right (unless I panicked), it was so great to feel in control of her turns again – reverse turns, shoulder turns, decel turns, rear cross turns and turns around a pin wheel. I swear we just went through the lesson going ‘can she do that?’‘yup’, ‘okay but can she do that now?’‘yep’, ‘okay but you can tighten that up by doing this’‘So I can! Awesome!’. Toni did a grand job of keeping me calm and consistent (thanks Toni!) and I was really, really pleased with the results. I cannot believe that we have had it there all along and I’ve just been throwing it away by not practicing and making excuses for us. Hex actually got faster when I cued her with her directions and I could hear myself think and command which could only mean one thing – Hex wasn’t barking as much as usual, so she must have been thinking or maybe it’s that she’s not as frustrated with me so she doesn’t feel the need to swear at me all the time? Only time will tell but I really am pleased with the progress we have made this week and my new year’s resolution is to keep up the good work! – Ensure that I stay consistent, don’t praise her for my faults, stick to my dictionary and set time and special exercises aside to achieve my primary objective which at the moment is tighten up our corners to shave our times down.

I read a Chinese proverb recently ‘Learning is like rowing upstream: not to advance is to drop back’, I have dropped back and it’s time to start rowing again.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Hex and Stitch pull off “double” at Blackdown Limit Show

As Lesley is always blogging about her shows I (Gail) thought it only right that I did the same for this show (especially as I ventured alone AND stole her dog) I have to admit that it was with the excitement of a giddy schoolgirl that I headed off to bed on Saturday evening...you know the feeling ..the realization that you won’t need an alarm clock as you are going to be fidgeting and fussing and generally packing your bag, your van and your (in my case) stash of pain medication in your head and that wobbly feeling in the pit of your stomach is going to have you heading along the landing in the wee (no pun intended) small hours ...well it’s something to do as you toss and turn through the night.

Anyway all packed and prepared I headed off down the motorway to Junction 26 with Hex and Stitch in tow...The seeds of doubt were appearing already in the mind of Hex as to where I had put her mummy but she seemed happy enough to join me in my car (we would surely meet up with her at the ringside) Stitch on the other hand was bouncing around and giving it his best wakey wakey whines and barks...like you really need that in your ear at the crack of dawn.

Once there I walked my first course..Stitch in the 4-7 Medium Jumping. I phoned Lesley before I ran him for a quick confidence boost. It was horrendous!! There were weird angles tight turns traps and you weaved twice. The sort of course I LOVED in my heydays but not with my little guy at his 3rd ever show. I can’t remember her words of wisdom but they must have worked as he careered around it like a mad thing and it was only when I didn’t hear the Judge clap that I realized something was up...He had missed the last pole of the weaves the 1st time through them and I hadn’t noticed...but I didn’t care he had done all the tough stuff.

Next run was “fire pants” herself.. the gobby redhead who answers to Hex...well she could answer to it if she wasn’t barking so darn LOUD!! I will never forget queuing with her...she was SO confident as we moved down the line that Lesley was going to turn up at the last moment. She fixed her eyes and her radar ears on the door and had that quizzical “Mummy??” look in her face right up until the moment I slipped her lead off and she just went “Ok you’ll do”. It was exactly the same course as Stitch’s but the angles and spacing for the larger dogs made things tighter and trappier but she fired around it beautifully and I knew if I am honest that she was unlikely to be beaten. It felt amazing. The score sheet provided conformation. She had indeed won. She had made my day already ..anything after that would just be icing on the cake.

Next run was the Large 4 & 5 Agility. For this I had my orders...hold her contacts and make her wait for the release word. It’s a toughie for me that one for, as a rule, I cannot keep my “competitive edge” in check. But it is to my credit (even though I do say so myself) that I not only managed to do it for Hex but also for my little Stitch too. Ok, so I mucked up the SAME snake of jumps with both of them TOO but on the whole I was still very proud of myself as it was very much a 1st for my competitive “inner demon”.

Lastly was the “Fun Jumping” which was the same for all sizes of the 4-7 dogs. It was a sheer BLAST. Both Stitch and Hex thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They both went clear...Stitch being lucky enough to win his Medium class and Hex coming 5th against some pretty fast Grade 6-7 dogs so I was thrilled. What a fabulous end to the day. Two firsts. Unbelievable.