Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Party at the Ring! (Lansdown Show)

Lansdown Show is always hard work, the rings are extremely spaced out which means that there is a lot of walking to be done! A-SIT were running a Ring which meant that we did get preferential parking on the Saturday which made life easier....but of course running a ring did mean we were on our feet most of the day!

I am SO proud of my A-SIT Team, we once again provided a Judge with a smooth and effective Ring Party, there were no complaints, plenty of smiling faces, lots of laughs and the sun shone for us this year! there were a few pink faces by the end of it! With the money raised I am buying rubber chips for our seesaw and a new branded cover for our tyre. So thank you everybody you went out of their way to help. Our Judge Marie Douglas posted the following status:

'Home and sorted from a lovely lovely weekend at Lansdown , have to say a massive thank you to Lesley and her fab A-SIT team for the superb ring party, one of the best I've had.'

I hope you guys planning on working as hard next year as you will be MY ring party (I accepted an invitation to Judge Lansdown 2014 whilst at the show).

In other news..... Stitch has qualified for Crufts 2014!!!! When I was invited to join the Blackdown Team a number of months ago, I had hoped we stood a good chance (they were there last year) but now that we've made it I still can't believe it! It was afterall the first time we had run as a Team! And until that morning we still hadn't decided whether to put Stitch first (and risk him following the next dog out on the course) or last (and risk him getting over excited and blowing his contacts).
I am sorry Stitch and I have had to fill Anne and Stanley's place but I am glad we did them proud and it was good to have Anne cheering us on from the sideline and pugging Stitch full of black pudding afterwards! Our Team ran first, Zavvi had 5f on the Dogwalk, Tequila went Clear and Chilli got marked 5f on the A-Frame (I say 'got marked' because I saw her get it!) Stitch then finished with a Clear, so we finished with 10f and a pretty good time. Kidderminster managed to match our faults but beat our time...our disappointment didn't last long when we were informed that they had already qualified at Nottingham, which meant that this time 2nd place was good enough and we are off to Crufts 2014! We will be running on the Friday. Here is a picture of our lovely friendly team in running order.


Jennine & Ruby - 1st, G1-2 Agility (winning into Grade 2!)
Jennine & Ruby - 3rd, G1-2 Agility
Gill & Mollyanna - 3rd, G4-7 Agility
Anne & Chas - 4th, G3 Jumping
Stitch on the Blakdown Team - 2nd, Crufts Team Agility
Stitch - 3rd, G7 Agility
Hex - 6th, G6-7 Jumping
Hex - 22nd, Crufts Singles Agility
Hex - Clear, C6-7 Jumping
Gill & Kassey - 2 x Clears, Special Anysize Jumping

UKA Aldon

Matt got to play with Hex again at Aldon so I had to take the back seat again, although I don't mind when he is doing such a good job of walking courses and running her : )


Mike & Bonnie - 1st x 5!!!! Mike won 5 classes this weekend - whoop!
Gill & Kassey - 2nd, Senior Steeplchase
Matt & Hex - 3rd Novice Steeplechase

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Super Weekend!

I'll let the results speak for themselves:

@ Golden Valley

Julie & George - 1st, G1-2 Agility. Winning them up to Grade 2!
Julie & George - 1st, G1-2 Jumping
Mike & Bonnie - 1st, G3-5 Agility
Mike & Bonnie - 3rd, Jumping
Mike & Bonnie - 4th Jumping
Gill & Kassey - 1st, G3-5 Agility. Winning them up to Grade 5!
Jennine & Ruby - 5th, G1 Jumping
Gill & Mollyanna - Clear, C4-7 Jumping


Matt & Hex - 3rd, Novice Jumping (Their first Clear Round together!)

@ Barnstaple

Stitch - 1st, C1-7 Jumping
Stitch - 1st, G4-7 Jumping
Stitch - 1st, G4-7 Agility
Hex - 2nd, C1-7 Collie Sprint
Hex - 3rd, G6-7 Jumping

Monday, 17 June 2013


I was really looking forward to Thames and was missing the DARL Rescue League Final which Stitch qualified for, to attend. The weather forecast was good, there were birthdays to celebrate and a Champ to get stuck into.

But the wind was higher than forecast and from the moment I unsuccessfully tried to set my 'garden' up, the show lost it's feel good vibe. Pat and Martin saved the day, helping me with the bits Mum usually did, this was my first camping show by myself in over a year and I was SO grateful for their help after what had been a long day teaching followed by the drive up there.

Hex was an ABSOLUTE nightmare. Usually Mum takes her while I queue, she takes her out of sight from the rings and keeps her calm, without Mum there and with the rings set up so that I had nowhere to take her away from any agility without losing sight of the ring myself, I had to queue with her. I very, very rarely pull my dog out of a course, I believe you should always end on a positive and that there is always something positive to take from a run, HOWEVER, out of Hex's 5 runs I pulled her out of 3! She had gotten herself in such a state queuing that she trashed most of one course, flew a seesaw and took an unsafe approach to a tyre in another and punctured my arm in the last. For her own safety (and mine!) I removed her from these runs before I had finished them. What a shambles!
There was also a mishap where I missed my Crufts qualifier with her because the ring party were calling 'anything' all day! Argh! Total pet peeve of mine. I didn't want to queue for any length of time with her because of the troubles we were having and because of the heat and yet every time I looked at that ring - huge queue and 'taking anything' - what is the point of running orders then?! When I figured the class must be nearing the end, I asked what they were calling to, hoping they'd say 'the end'.... 'O, we're taking anything'..... 'Grrr, I know but how many dogs do you have left to run?', ' We have Loooooaaads' was the response as she flicked through a giant pad of remaining tickets. 'Okay, I really don't want to join that queue as it is, I'll come back after I've had a cuppa and some cake'.
Next thing I know just as I'm getting myself together to get Hex out the tannoy comes on 'Ring whatever, calling to the end of the wait, sorry, that's class CLOSED'.
What?! They never called to the end, how ANNOYING!

For the first time EVER, Stitch got E'd in a Champ Class - not happy as it was totally my fault. I put him back on the A-Frame in the Crufts Singles (obstacle 2), only to finish the rest of the course with a blinding run - whoops. He was a sod in the Olympia qualifier, barely touching the contacts and going wide off them thinking I was going to put him back on, but then did a beauty of a run in the Agility later that day and coming 2nd - the place we needed in the Olympia class. So many frustrations.

The highlight of the whole weekend was the BBQ we had at Pat's, great food, great company and a dog party to finish which I brought Hex too.


Stitch - 2nd, G6-7 Agility
Stitch - 5th, 6-7 Agility
Stitch - 6th, C1-7 Olympia Qualifier

Wye Valley

I was extremely happy to be setting off to Wye Valley with Matt in tow, although already missing my Mumma who had departed for France.

Matt was great setting up, although not so great at getting up in the mornings!
We got to see Gili, the future Mummy of his future puppy and the weather wasn't to bad so Matt had a good weekend, O and we had an Indian with our SWAT friends Saturday night, so he really was a happy chappy : )

Both Jennine and I made it into the Superstars Final on Saturday. Hugely scary for Jennine who's first KC Show it was; she now had to run under commentary with an audience but she coped really well, just under working a weave entrance. Stitch was one of the 6 dogs to go clear on the course which was made up of 2 rings and 24 obstacles, unfortunately I lost him in a tunnel in the final round. No cash prize for us : (
But it was really fun and great to have 2 of us representing the club.


Jennine & Ruby - 2nd, 1-2 Agility
Jennine & Ruby - 16th,
Hex - 3rd, 6-7 Jumping
Stitch - 4th, 1-7 Helter Skelter
Gill & Mollyanna - Clear, 1-7 Jumping
Gill & Mollyanna - Clear, 1-7 Agility


Nottingham - o, Nottingham.
When I discovered my tyre was damaged in the morning and needed to be replaced, I should have decided not to go, when we were 2hrs into the journey and someone passing us signaled for us to check our caravan and we found the skylight to have been ripped from the roof, we should have turned around and when we finally arrived exhausted after a 5 and a half hour drive (which was supposed to be 3 and a half hours) we should have known that it just wasn't going to be our weekend.

We knew we had shut the skylight before we left but the caravan is a 1985 model and the supports had grown brittle and the springs lose, so the high winds had managed to get underneath it and rip it out. I managed to work out how to get Mum ontop of the caravan (I'm wobbly at the best of times and not good with heights) by parking my van along side it, opening the window and having her use that as a step up, Mum saw about covering the hole in an old-school bin-bag manner which did the job :)

Voodoo managed to make it down to the rings un-escorted. He jumped into the van and as Mum let go of his collar for him to take the final hop into his crate, he span, burst out of our garden and ran the distance through the caravans to the rings. I was in my wellies and tried my best follow him, but by the time I made it to the rings he was flitting from one to the other until Laura Chudleigh caught him and returned him to me. Good job I hadn't taken his harness off, it made him much easier to grab!

I just couldn't get my act together in the ring, just a silly mistake in each one, a 5r here, a pole there and with frustration setting in things were never going to get better. I don't think I will be returning to Nottingham again.

@ Nottingham
Hex - 6th, G6-7 Jumping
Hex - 8th, G6-7 Jumping
Stitch - Clear,  C6-7 Jumping

Jennine & Ruby - 12th, Beginners Steeplechase

Tuesday, 28 May 2013


Local show! Whoop! Lie-in (Well kind of) and 25min drive.

I only had one course to walk for Hex first thing and decided not to run it, it really wasn't a Hex course and I was still a bit wary of running her after the tumble she took at Cornwall a couple of weeks prior.
I did however have Stitch in the same course in Medium and we couldn't have done a worse job so glad I gave it a miss with Hex.

I'd only been at the show a matter of hours and I felt deflated and defeated, the show was seeming like somewhat of an anti-climax after my Champ runs at Vyne. I even debated going home, but decided to stick it out - the forecast promised rain, but it wasn't raining yet so thought I'd kick about until things got wet.

The rain never came, so I stuck about all day and glad I did! Hex only had 2 runs and she ALMOST had another of her G6 wins (just missing out to Tim Jones) and had a 5th in the Combined Jumping, only 0.3 of a second between her and some dogs I would never think she'd keep up with especially on such a blasty course.  Really pleased with her energy at the moment.


Hex - 2nd, G6-7 Agility
Hex - 5th, C6-7 Agility
Gill & Mollyanna - 2nd, C3-4 Jumping

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


A weekend of 'close but no cigar' for me. I came 3rd in the Olympia qualifier I had traveled all the way to Shrewsbury for (top 2 qualify, so I would have rather come 4th or 5th!). I went into the lead when I ran but knew that with 2 wide turns it was beatable - sure enough I got beaten!

At Vyne, I went clear in Champ Jumping putting me in 2nd place and had 10f in the Agility but as only 1 dog in the whole competition got a double clear (Well done Sam Lane) I still qualified 6th overall putting me into the Final.

I got 5r in the Final with a refusal at No3 (The A-Frame) I still don't know how this happened - it's the biggest piece of equipment in the ring , how did he miss it?! But he did miss it and followed me around it. I think having not trained with a collapsible tunnel since November, he was just a bit dazed coming out of it and looked for me, but I handled the rest of the course like I was clear and put in a wicked run which I was more than proud of. Close...but no cigar.

I really expected not to enjoy Champs, I thought I would find them stressful on me and Stitch, but actually the environment is a very supporting one. I am enjoying the challenge of the courses and the ring side atmosphere, the only bit I don't like is the second qualifying run when the pressure is on. Whether I will feel the same when I don't have my Mum to help me prepare Stitch and hold him while I do a last minute walk, only time will tell. But for now I am looking forward to and enjoying them :)

Stitch - 2nd, 6-7 Jumping
Stitch - 3rd, KC Olympia Qualifier C1-7
Stitch - 5th, G7 Jumping
Stitch - 5th, 6-7 Agility
Anne & Chas - 1st, C1-3 Jumping (one more to go until Grade 4!)
Anne & Chas - 2nd, C1-3 Agility
Anne & Chas - 3rd, G3 Jumping
Anne & Zara - 2nd, G3 Jumping

Stitch - 2nd, Champ Jumping

Wednesday, 15 May 2013


I've done that thing again when I don't have time to post about a weekend's work, then the same happens the next weekend, then they build up so I know I need to really sit down and get on with it... and then I don't really remember the show and have to rely on the Agility Club tables for results.

So... Cornwall and Dartmoor.

I was running with a quad injury, Hex slipped and injured her leg and A-SIT collected the following results:

Stitch - G6-7 Jumping, 1st
Stitch - G1-7 Steeplechase, 1st
Stitch - G1-7 Steeplechase, 2nd
Hex - G6-7 Jumping, 3rd
Hex - C4-7 Steeplechase, 10th
Hex - G6-7 Jumping, 2nd
Karen & Mollie - G3 Jumping, 4th
Karen & Mollie - G3 Steeplechase, 6th

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Team GB Performance Weekend

I could write so much on this weekend, but I am already behind on my blogs and knackered! It was such an amazing weekend, a huge test of my skills, but more so a test of my nerves.

We arrived Friday afternoon and I had a Lucy Osbourne Group booked that evening concentrating on EO exercises. I didn't know whether my confidence was going to take a huge knock or whether I would leave feeling elated. The venue was outdoors on THICK rubber, I had never run on anything like it so really struggled to shift my weight and sprint away, but Stitch didn't seem bothered at all. The exercises were challenging and gave me a good chance to push the stuff I had been training the past couple of weeks and put them to the test in a new environment with new exciting dogs cheering him on from the side lines.
I left with an 'I can do this' attitude and a good bond with Stitch.

Saturday morning I woke up with butterflies. Excited Butterflies Vs Nervous Butterflies - Butterfly warfair in my tummy. The first course was a jumping course and I neither liked or hated it, but new I'd give it my best shot. Stitch wasn't happy with me leaving him in his wait, I had to hold him funny before hand because FCI rules mean no collar, he didn't like that, but I got a wait, he just released before I had finished his 'ready, set, go' routine. We got all the way around to jump 15 before a lack of trust caused me to over check him, causing him to turn the wrong way and back jump the jump he had just jumped. But I recovered quickly and completed the run confidently.

The Agility did not go so well, I miss timed a snake and Stitch thought I wanted to push him through on the last jump so we got eliminated when he jumped that jump the wrong way, it was quite early on in the course (number 10?) and I let it get to me on the rest of the course, but his contacts looked amazing.

In the team run Stitch and I just had 5 faults and finished 10th overall if the runs were treated individually. I was really pleased with the run and only got 5 where I pulled him off the dog walk early fearing he'd take the jump in front of him and not the one to our left.

It was a very long first day, but I enjoyed the challenge and the courses.

Sunday was the sequence day. As well as the judge and the people behind their laptops taking notes, we now had somebody running up the length of the weaves and our contacts timing us with a stopwatch.

I properly stuffed up on the first sequence, I left Stitch behind a 'sponsored' jump, which means the jump was made up of large flat panels - I couldn't see him when I got into position for his recall, so I moved so that I could see him - released him, but hadn't moved back so nothing was where it was supposed to be and we had the most stupid elimination. I will NEVER make that mistake again!

We did a stonking clear in the 2 sequence which was testing our ability to set our dogs up for the most efficient lines.

The 3rd sequence it turned out was more of a course, we were clear most of the way around, but I underestimated the speed Stitch would come out of a tunnel and he put himself onto a line straight to another tunnel, I didn't spot it until it was too late - he does move rather fast!
I was really attacking this course, knowing it was my last chance to impress so was gutted to have let it slip away but it was the run which I was most proud of all weekend.

Stitch had no problem with the FCI Tyre or the table, I was really impressed with him but predictably my nerves got the better of me. I have come away with only one regret and that was that I didn't apply for Hex to have a go, she would have loved the courses!  I got a lot out of the weekend and got to watch some great agility. Happy days.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Carn Brea

This post was going to be called 'Preperations', I was going to talk about the fact I had entered this show to try and get a few more runs with Stitch in before the EO Tryouts and the work we had been doing and how I  was going to push my independent weaves and contacts... but Hex just stole it all away with her performance at the show.

Hex started off in G3 as a consistant little lady, going home with 2-3 rosettes a show, then by G4-5 she became the crazy red-head we know and love today, unfortunately this attitude came with no brakes and often a clumsy pole here and there so when she had a pole in the morning Steeplechase I thought nothing of it, she then went on to WIN the Combined 6-7 Agility and come 2nd in the 6-7 Jumping (I cost her the 1st by babying her and not trusting her, I held on to her in places I should have just let her go and we missed the win by less than 0.2 of a second - whoops!) so Hex is now only 2 wins from G7 (or grade 6.5 if you like).

Stitch met one of his goals getting through to the Champ final last week and Hex met her goal of getting another win out of the way for G7. Maybe I should quit whilst I am ahead?

I feel bad that Hex will not get to play agility this weekend, I hope she doesn't hold it against me, I'd really enjoy some more weekends with her like this one!

Sorry to keep in brief but I have so much to do and no time to do it all in!


Hex - 1st, 6-7 Agility
Hex - 2nd, 6-7 Jumping
Stitch - 1st, 1-7 Steeplechase


Having worked so hard last year to get Stitch to Grade 7, I couldn't wait to get stuck in to my first Champ with him at Wye Valley.

I wasn't nervous (to start with), I just wanted to not make an idiot of myself and try and enjoy the experience. I walked his jumping and liked the course, I decided to play it safe after the weaves and changed sides, just wanting to go Clear, which I did. This meant I just needed to go clear in the Agility (or at the very least not get eliminated), it was when I was lining him up for the Agility that the nerves started to kick in and I handled him as if he were a completely new dog to me, I WALKED down the side of the seesaw! But we pulled off another clear (all be it slow and weird). One of my goals for this year was to get to a Champ Final and I had managed it, qualifying 8th overall, running order 10th.

Overall I was pretty happy with the course, although I umm'd and ahh'd for some time how best to exit the weaves. But I had totally underestimated the angle of the tunnel to the dogwalk and didn't line Stitch up for it and possibly blocked his view, I lost out on something I had been practicing all week - bloomin' obstacle discrimination! argh! How can Stitch take an obstacle when I don't even show him where it is?! Muppet.

Anyways - here are my Champ runs.


@ Wye Valley:
Julie & George - 2nd, 1-2 Proplan Agility, qualifying them for the Final later in the year
Stitch - 4th, 6-7 Jumping
Stitch - 7th, Champ Jumping
Stitch - Clear, Champ Agility

@ Devon Dogs:
Mike & Bonnie - 1st, G4 Agility (taking them to Grade 5!)
Jennine & Ruby - 3rd, 1-3 Agility (at their first KC Show!)

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Kernow - Unofficially the start of the Agility Season

Kernow is where the the agility season starts from me, usually the first camping show of the year and more often then not shows every weekend follow Kernow which means little room for anything other than Agility in my life until October!

Last year I didn't really enjoy Kernow; I had just lost Sprite, Hex was still recovering from her C-Section and I had to leave baby Voodoo at home. I spent most of the weekend hidden in a caravan. I really shouldn't have bothered going but I wanted to do the Olympia qualifier with Stitch and my weekend blackened once more when I made a handling decision with sabotaged my chances of getting round Clear. I was finding it very difficult to read about other peoples successes when I was so thoroughly miserable and my Mum was in France so I was limited to who I could talk to. Most people who know me were surprised to see me in such a dark place this time last year - I was not myself at all.

So I was looking forward to writing over that year and starting this Agility Season afresh. I had been attending weekly fitness session at the KJ2 Gym and also Matt's 'Agility Fit' classes which he had designed and catered with Agility handlers and manoeuvres in mind. My stamina was up, my running style improving and my speed increasing, but I then got hit with my first EVER chest infection! I couldn't train my dogs, I couldn't attend my fitness classes, everything seemed like so much effort, but I did what I could in the run up to the show to prepare myself and I did what I could at the show, but it was like running in high altitude. I just couldn't catch my breathe to run or speak, the poor dogs didn't stand a chance and I fluffed every qualifier I went into, but did manage some places in the standard classes even with my limited capability.

If it wasn't for my Mum I would not have been able to run at all, she did everything for me bar running my dogs to ensure I was fighting fit to run. I am very grateful for everything she did from the washing up to exercising my hounds. Thanks Mum!

I'd asked Mum not to video me as I knew I wasn't running my best so it would be silly to critique videos of myself, knowing that my shortfalls were mostly down to being ill but Karen managed to sneaky vids and I am glad she did as things weren't quite as bad as I thought they were AND I did still manage to RUN!


Stitch - 3rd, 5-7 Agility
Stitch - 5th, 5-7 Jumping
Stitch - 1st, 4-7 Jumping
Stitch - 2nd, 4-7 Jumping
Hex - 8th, 5-7 Jumping
Hex - 3rd, 6-7 Jumping
Gill & Mollyanna - 4th, 1-4 Jumping
Gill & Mollyanna - 6th, 1-4 Agility
Gill & Mollyanna - Clear, 4-7 Jumping
Karen & Mollie - 9th, 3-4 Jumping
Karen & Mollie - Clear, 3-5 Agility

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Blackdown and The 'Bug' is back

First show of the year for me (Matt ran the UKA in January) and Stitch is back in the country. I had I believe 2 training sessions with him before the show and our timing was horrific, so needless to say I was feeling a little apprehensive about running him in public! We had finished last year on such a high, so in tune with each other and what we had before Blackdown was just mess.
Hex has been running really well in training so I was really looking forward to playing with her :)

The first run with Stitch we won the class, but there wasn't much you could do with the course and it felt a bit lack-luster, the second he needed to be put back on the A-Frame for a beautiful but self-released dog walk so I eliminated myself. The 3rd, things finally felt right and I think I may have my boy back, although we still have some timing issues to address and he has decided to leave me at the end of a run in favour for looking for Mum - this also needs addressing!

Hex was fast and for the most part my handling decisions were our down fall, I chickened out in  a couple of places I should have taken risks and I flinged an arm in the wrong direction, but she still came home with a 3rd.

Voodoo is behaving much better ring-side, less volume and more control, I hope that this improvement continues so that he will at least look at me when another dog is running!


Stitch - 1st, 1-7 Jumping
Stitch - 1st, 1-7 Helter Skelter
Hex - 3rd, 4-7 Jumping
Anne & Chas - 4th, 1-7 Helter Skelter
Anne & Zara - Clear, 1-7 Agility

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Guest Trainers

I started writing a 'quick note' to my clients for our newsletter, but then it got longer and longer (and later and later) and just seemed better to blog it and refer them here. It is now 12.10am in the morning so if it lacks structure ....and sense... then I apologise and will set about editing it as and when I am notified of my mistakes! lol

I will only book trainers at A-SIT, whose methods and handling systems I agree with and which reflect in my own handling. This isn’t to say that I follow their rules by the book; Anthony Clarke for example (who visits us twice a year) does not promote ‘blind turns’, I think that there is a time and a place for them.

The reason I only book similar trainers is mainly not to confuse the people I train, but also because I believe that in any form of dog training, consistency is key. As a trainer I go on a number of training days a year, looking at different methods and how they have evolved, trying new moves and systems, discarding those I don’t like and storing them in my brain for reference should I be asked to take a lesson with a client who uses them. I do this so my client’s don’t have to. What are they paying me for if not for my guidance based on the knowledge and experiences I have picked up?

Agility is a fascinating and complex sport with fresh ideas cropping up everywhere and with the sport becoming so much bigger and more diverse, new methods are being developed not only for specific ‘problems’ but for everything from disabled handlers and even dogs with disabilities like deafness. I would encourage you to nose around at what else is going on in our sport and certainly to ask lots of questions! Having been involved with the sport for 20 years I have seen a variety of things come in and out of fashion and probably tried my hand at a fair few and through this developed the way I handle my dogs and teach today (adapting everything slightly to suit each individual handler/dog partnership where needed, I don’t believe there is a ‘blue print’ on how to train every dog).

When you train a partnership regularly you can accidently over-look things which have slowly developed over time. I know there have been times Mum has covered a lesson for me and come back and said ‘have you noticed’ or ‘have you tried’ and I’ve had to say ‘no, I haven’t’ because I haven’t seen them for looking at the dog each week. And that’s when a fresh set of eyes is really useful and a good reason to go to training days with other trainers. Training days are also a good opportunity to train on different grounds and surfaces with new dogs and also to try courses and sequences which will be a different 'style' to what you are used to.

When you go to another trainer or training day I think it is important to remember when you see a guest trainer that they are usually seeing you and your dog for the first time, in some cases they won’t have learnt your dog’s name until at least half way through the session and they certainly won’t know how you have ended up where you are – Have you had to re-train your contacts? How long have you been jumping that height? Is your dog of a sensitive disposition? Do you have any physical impairment? They have a ‘snap-shot’ of what you are about and if you’re anything like me that snap-shot won’t be up to scratch because you’re nervous! Realistically in an hour long session shared with 5 other people you will only have a trainer’s undivided attention for 10 minutes. What they usually will try to do in that group is push and explain some of their key handling and teaching techniques and usually set exercises which focus on these and which are designed to prove their point. For example I am attending a Barrie James training day this weekend and having trained with Barrie before I expect I will leave having done WAY more blind turns and ‘Ketschkers’ than I would usually feel necessary, but they will work and I will feel good about them and have a better understanding of them – will I want to proof them properly in my own time and use them on a regular basis? -probably not; it will require a vast amount of work to train them properly and re-programme myself into that way of thinking, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t teach them to those who are interested and who would benefit from them more than myself.

If a trainer’s techniques didn’t work they wouldn’t be worth selling or have the success rate that they do, but that doesn’t mean that they will work for you or run smoothly on from how you already train. My Mum explains this well with her comparison using a Victoria Sponge Cake – the recipe of which is fairly simple (certainly compared to agility!) but every family still has its own ‘secret ingredient’ or special way of doing things which makes their cake the lightest, fluffiest and tastiest (hungry now!), some of these methods will work well together and some are impossible to combine. You can copy a recipe to the last gram from a book and yet it still won’t turn out how it does in the picture! This doesn’t mean that any of the methods are wrong, we all end up with cake, just that you have to pick the one which works best for you.

What I witness a lot of new handler/dog partnerships doing is sampling different training days and trainers and either ending up in a confused state, questioning it all but not doing anything and holding off on any sort of development at all, or the opposite and trying each method and changing it 3 months down the line for the next one and so on and so forth (I have been guilty of both in the past). Trainers are business people and they will be looking to win you over, each sale will be more appealing than the last, Remember this and remember why you have trained the way you have thus far and remember your dog who is at the receiving end of all this and who won’t be able to understand why you keep changing things.

Having taught groups in a Club environment at Clifton , Severnside, Little Orchard and A-SIT, it amazes me how very little people watch the group above them and see what they’re aiming for and the results that come out of the training that they are entrusting and putting into their own dogs. And yet at the drop of a hat can be sold on another idea.

Usually I come away with one thing from a training day; sometimes it’s a manoeuvre I’ve struggled with previously, a sequence I haven’t tried before, a better understanding of a new handling system. You should always try and come away with something, otherwise what have you paid your money for? But I think that re-writing the entire way you train your dog based on a couple of hours with a stranger to you and your dog isn’t necessarily the best idea. If you have a number of sessions with a new trainer which validate the changes suggested then that’s different and maybe you ought to reconsider where you are currently training if you’re having better success under new instruction elsewhere, especially if the methods don’t mix. It is unfair on your trainers to play them against each other and a waste of your time and money, but as I have said before, it is mostly confusing for your dog.

Thursday, 24 January 2013


So following my last post you might be surprised to read that I was at another UKA Show!

Firstly, I had already paid for it when I booked the other and secondly I have decided that I will not be running the classes; Matt will!

Matt (my OH) has watched agility from the side lines for 9 years now, I have tried to get him involved with offers of training and the odd pay on the day run, but until recently he has shyed away (not like him at all!), he would rather just make up his own course and help himself to equipment with whatever dog is out when I am trying to set up for next weeks lessons. I think a combination of needing me to tell him what to do, not wanting to 'break' my dogs and not wanting to look like a wally have put him off. But this all changed last year when I asked him to run Hex in one of my groups; we were down on numbers, she needed exercise - it just made sense. Both Hex and Matt had a blast, my tuition didn't turn out to be as scary has Matt may have feared and everybody in the group cheered him on, he asked questions, he worked hard and finally I think for the first time felt what it was like to feel a working partnership the a dog and not just any dog; his 'Princess'.

So Matt was all sorted, he can run Novice at UKA (not an overwheming 6-7 course) which having watched me for years he is capable of walking himself and of course running, but on New Year's Day Hex destroyed her feet on a long walk and was unable to train until the day before the show and even then we only did 20 minutes to cover the basics - 'finding lines', 'rear crosses' 'reverse turns/front crosses' 'weaves' 'de-cel' and timing.

Matt's first run, Hex was excited to be at a show and took her own line halfway around the course, which is a shame as she did a wing-wrap tighter than I have ever seen her do and I wanted to credit them both with that. Their second run was a steeplechase with multiple tunnels - Matt lost his route, easy mistake on that course. Third and Final run of the day and they pulled it together (nearly) - I hadn't shown Matt how to do pull throughs, or pull offs, I didn't think he'd need them in Novice, but he did! And it was executed with perfect timing, her response out of a tunnel was tight and fast, his reverse turn, whilst a little late, was tidy.... he just pulled her off jump 16 a FRACTION too soon, such a shame as I'm sure it would have been a winning run, but I am so proud of them both. Here's his last run:

Well done to
Jennine & Ruby - 3rd, Beginner's Steeplechase