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!

Results:

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

Champ

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.

Results:

@ 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!

video
video


RESULTS:

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