Thursday, 3 May 2012

Insert clever quote that relates to my Post

I am in awe of the people that find a quote that exactly matches their theme of their post on their blogs! I think it would probably take me an extra 3 days on average to find a quote I wanted to use! So I haven't bothered!

Well I have lots to write but I don’t know in what order or whether to put it all down in writing anyway!
I have some thoughts on some things that have happened recently, agility-based and non, and I would also like to tell you all about how the dogs have been doing at their first couple of shows of the season.
So I guess I will start with the dogs’ progress and see where we go!

Easter we were at Kernow K9, we had a tradestand so we were kept very busy all weekend. All our products seemed to go down well, and we had sold out of a couple of types of toy by the end and very nearly run out of headcollars! The rope toys were really popular, they are my current favourite too, especially as there is pink rope and we have some new special pink camouflage webbing in for the handles! Great for Princess Phaze who actually can get through toys nearly as quickly as naughty Cruze, so she can look girly with pink but we have a hardwearing toy!

I was a little disappointed at the lack of Graded classes, 3 grade 6 dogs and not a single graded class for the entire 3 days, not brilliant, there was one class down as graded but as that was the Pro-Plan Qualifier it became a combined class, I certainly felt for my friend who was the fastest Grade 6 run, and only needs one more win to Grade 7, she came 2nd behind a Grade 7 dog and when running it thought it was a graded class. She took it better than I would have done!! We had about 7 clears over the weekend, the best runs being Cruze came 3rd in a jumping and Magic came 4th in a 5-7 jumping. Cruze was also clear in the Olympia qualifier but with a couple of bad turns was a couple of seconds of the qualifying times. At the time I was despondent, but looking back on it, at least I seem to be able to get round the Qualifiers now, where as last year I was flailing around failing miserably!!

Phaze ran really nicely, her agility runs were combined 3-5 classes so a little more technical than would have been ideal, as I just wanted to give her some confidence in the ring. She was slower in the ring than she is at home, but listened beautifully. This is her first ever run at a show, and if I’d said tunnel (!!!!!!!!) would have been clear! Ooops!

On Saturday she had a clear round and one really wiiiiiiiiide turn and came 2nd!

The following weekend was Wallingford, nothing to report there of any real significance! Magic was out of sorts on the Saturday and when Dairin had a look at her she had some tight muscles in her abdomen, so she had lots of hot water bottle treatment and massages – which she was really pleased about!

Knock Out pairs with 2 pairs plus 4 normal runs to run first thing on the Saturday was a nightmare! Don’t think we will be trying that again!
Phaze and Magic had a lovely clear in the Rainbow Rebels team
The experienced dogs weren’t quite so good in the SWAT Team! Whoops!! Maybe Toni will want the well behaved girls in the Crufts team instead of the grown up merle boys!

Last weekend was Cornwall/Dartmoor. And Magic had an absolutely amazing day! 3 out of 3 clears and she won both the Agility and Jumping, so she is half way to Grade 7 in one fail swoop! (And again overtaken the boys as she is a girl and better behaved!!)
Unfortunately no video of her wins, but her Agility round was stunning, lovely running contacts on all 3 pieces of equipment, nice to see she can do it in a competition environment. Her jumping run was poetry in motion! Really nice course, some technical bits and some bits where Dan had the advantage with his ability to run! There were about 6 or so of us watching and with each jump she took you could feel everyone willing her on and leaning forward at each jump! At the end she got a lovely round of applause :o) If that had been me that would have been one of my highlights of the year I think! It’s nice when people get behind a competitor on a run, you often only really see this at finals nowadays, but it made such a nice atmosphere.
Magic SC run C4-7, 6th place

We had been at the Grade 6 ring for the last hour before this run and I had walked this over 2 hours ago, there was no queue and they were about to close the class so not too bad a run seeing as I didn’t know where I was going half the time!
I had said my aim for this run was to get a decent wing wrap turn into the weaves, which we managed, so all in all pleased with 7th.
Shame about the pole but we would have been holding our seesaw anyway!
I had planned on holding her DW in this run, but the Cadet swinging backwards on his chair at the bottom of the contact put paid to that idea!

We only stayed for an hour at Dartmoor on the Sunday. The weather was due to be horrible, shows further up had already been cancelled so we were expecting the worse weather to approach by lunchtime.
Phaze ran an amazing Agility round! For the first time she felt like she does training at home! I held the Aframe in this class! And put in an extra jump for good measure ;o)
The Merles all ran the G6 jumping, Cruze worked really nicely, but there was 9 weaves in the ring so he missed the last one. This is something that REALLY grates on me!! Some people say oh well the dog should know to keep weaving until there aren’t any weaves left. I strongly disagree with this! If you look at how we train weaves, 2x2/channels etc, what you are teaching the dog is a pattern, which in my mind includes ‘enter on this shoulder’ and you ‘exit on this shoulder’. For this reason I never train 9 weaves even though some judges stick them in grade 6/7 courses, I don’t know what the logic behind this is, but I stick to my reasoning for how I train weaves and therefore if 9 comes up and the dogs pop the last weave they are not asked to repeat them.
We decided not to stay and wait around for the Agility, Magic had worked really hard on Saturday and I was going to pull Cruze out anyway as the course was using the Aframe twice and currently Cruze and I are having Aframe issues and as I am unable to train my Aframe at home as we don’t have one I didn’t see the point in hanging around and running in the rain when chances were Cruze wouldn’t complete the Aframe correctly.
It is a real issue not having an Aframe to train on as Cruze is suggesting to me that now he is completing his contacts quicker he is not as comfortable stopping on it, he is a big dog and he does pound into the ground on 2o2o with the Aframe, he uses the last raised slat to slide and jam his back paws onto and pushes his front legs into the ground, this is something that concerns me and I spent the winter thinking I would retrain it once I had an Aframe I could happily do repetitions on safely.
So new Aframe is on order and hopefully my entire season won’t be wasted without any Aframe criteria! Not ideal for a Grade 6 dog, but these things happen and I will not insist he runs a piece of equipment how it has been trained if I think he could be doing it more safely for his needs.

We are going to UKA this weekend followed by Vyne on the Monday, and I will update the bog after that as it will then be linked to our brand new SWAG website so one of my duties is to keep up to date with our news on here!
The video camera is charged and ready to go so if nothing else at least there will be some video footage! Thank you again to Pat for the videos on this post as they were all done by you not us! Don’t know how I am going to manage without my official video-er this weekend!!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

It's Finally here!!! The countdown is over!!

Well the 2012 show season has begun!!
We entered UKA NADs months back, mainly for Phaze to have her first chance in a ring and do some training and for Magic to get some training runs for her running contact work she has been doing over the winter.
We have treated ourselves to a trailer tent for the show season as we could not face putting up a tent every weekend again this year! We nearly ended up not going as Dan is just too busy, we can’t use the trailer tent yet as Dan needs to book his towing test (stupid rule in my opinion!), it was really cold the weekend before so we decided we wouldn’t camp. So that was it we weren’t going. Several days later we were going again as we really did need to train some runs! Dan’s parents kindly agreed to let us impose ourselves on them for the weekend so we could travel daily…….. then I realised that Phaze was in season! So we weren’t going again! She is very secretive about her seasons! I think she is actually coming out of season rather that into season so hopefully we won’t miss too much of the beginning of the show season.
We were still umming and aaahing about whether to go or not on Thursday but decided we’d go see Dans parents (have a lovely Indian Takeaway!) and compete Saturday and decide from there.

Saturday we trained a few runs, they were all a bit sticky on the rubber contacts, but generally some good bits, I was really pleased all my hard work on cueing turns and teaching Cruze to put in a check stride before a turn seemed to be working. We had a lovely time and it was nice seeing everyone so we thought we’d go back on Sunday! We came away with a 2x 1st, 2nd, 3rd AND on the last run of the weekend; we qualified for our first Final of the year! Cruze and Magic qualified for the Split Pairs Final in December at The Hand Equestrian Centre. So very pleased with that result :o)

Dan and I have lots of plans and hopes for this year, the dogs are all working well and we hope to put everything we have learnt at SWAT over the winter into practice this year.
SWAG is going really well, so well that I have been lucky enough to be able to drop some hours at work to give me a day to work for Dan! We have a trade stand at K9 Kernow Easter show this year, well at the moment it will literally be the Marquee with us standing inside it! Hopefully we will have had some time to make a few products to put in it by next week! As well as a few exciting new products!

Blade had the chance to meet up with several of her brothers and sisters at Newbury at the weekend, they are all so similar! She is one of the friendliest pups we have ever had, no ‘Poodle Phobia’ or running away from German Shepherds either which is a nice bonus!
We plan on getting her DNA tested soon, several of her brothers and sisters have come back as no collie at all which would mean she could compete in ABC classes. Blade’s agility training has not yet started! She will be competing in 12 months time and is now 10 months old so she will begin to do some training soon.
 Eco, Blade, Flicker, Vali


Blade and Vali comparing balls!

So it is Carn Brea on Sunday. Always a lovely show to start the year off, Dan is judging so I get Thai back for the day; cannot wait!
Then Kernow at Easter with a few more qualifiers, hopefully they go as well as the last one!

Monday, 16 January 2012

2012: What do you hold in store?

I have heard lots of people say 2012 is going to be their year, a lot of people I know through work and agility had a difficult 2011, but everyone seems sure that 2012 is going to be better! All the positivity seems to be rubbing off on me as I have had a great year so far! All 16 days of it!

Phaze has been my main focus for the last month whilst the boys have been on their winter holidays.
I decided to give 2x2s a go. I have never quite been happy with how to train weaves, and don’t believe any of ours fully understand entries, so thought 2x2s may be the way forward. I have certainly not worked up to 12 weaves in 7 days but I am happy with how we are progressing. She certainly understands her entry work, and she seems to be developing a nice stride in them and I am hoping we will be up to 12 weaves in time for our private lesson at SWAT next weekend.
I am really excited about Phaze, she has such a good work ethic and really enjoys learning; she is very bright and very fast so I have my work cut out for me!
I am hoping to breed from Phaze in the future and so will be spending a bit of time this season watching some potential boyfriends for her. I already have had a few people asking about puppies from her, so no pressure on us to look good on the agility circuit! Lol
The BVA have managed to send Phaze’s Hip X-rays back twice now as they can’t work out how to look at them on the CD sent. I knew I was in for trouble when the vets told me Phaze would be the first one they were sending on CD rather than physical X-Rays, so hopefully sometime this year we will get the results back!
I have a few ideas of some dogs I would like to know a bit more about, and have had a few suggested to me, I enjoyed watching all the Olympia runs on You Tube and thinking ooh that dog would compliment Phaze nicely!

We have also spent some time over the Christmas break sorting out our Show Diary for the year. Our first show of the year will be Carn Brea, Dan is judging so I will not only have 3 dogs to run but one of them will be Phaze! I have several people on hand already to walk me to the ring and remind me to breathe and then pick me up on the other side of the ring.
Then we are at Kernow K9 for Easter, always a good show and nice to be close to home as you never quite know what the weather will be like. We have a trade stand there this year, which will be a good chance for us to let everyone know that we have extended our range of products at SWAG and that we now own Bungee Dogs
We hope to have trade stands at a couple of other shows too this year. Both SWAG and Bungee Dogs are going really well at the moment and Dan is keeping busy, busy enough not to make me all the products I ‘need’ before the show season starts at any rate.

Dan and I went to a Training day at Coombe Park on Saturday, the home of South Devon Agility Club in the winter, we both really enjoyed it. It was a slightly different format to the usual workshops in that it was a 3 hour workshop with 2 different trainers, Toni Keating and Neil Ellis. We spent the first hour and a half with Toni concentrating on handling and contacts. The second hour and a half we then concentrated on jumping sequences, weaves and handling with Neil. This was Cruze and Thai’s first session back after being on their winter break, and we were both pleased with how they worked and took a lot away from both sessions. I would recommend Toni and Neil to anyone who wants a really interesting and varied training day; they are also both very motivational and provided e, which is especially helpful at the beginning of a new year.

I think this year might be an exciting one for us, agility training is going well, business is going well and future plans are all exciting. I like 2012 already J

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Should Olympia be everyones dream?

If I owned a cart horse I would not be aiming for the Horse of the Year show.
If I own a fat Labrador as a pet dog should my aim be Olympia?

I normally write about my dogs and my experiences but the recent news on various ABC Qualifiers has made me think about writing about issues in Agility. ABC classes do not affect me, I run 2 collies. ABC classes may effect Dan for the 2013 season, but as it stands at the moment we run 3 collies and a kelpie x (who we have always assumed is crossed with a collie, eventhough she was advertised as a lab x).

There has been much discussion on the new Large 1-5 ABC Qualifier for Discover Dogs/Crufts and I feel it is certainly a valid question to ask ‘why are the grade 6-7 dogs being missed out’? There is now also the ongoing debates about the alteration to Olympia.
If this is a chance to showcase other dogs other than collies why are we leaving out the very best dogs?
Time and time again people are saying well it’s only fair; some breeds will never be able to beat the kelpies and the beardies. Some collies will never be able to beat the kelpies – but we don’t exclude the kelpies from the Novice or the Large Qualifiers!!!
Isn’t the point though to be the best you have to have the best trained dog that is fastest on the day mixed in with a bit of good handling. Why are we penalising those handlers who have worked hard with their dogs and compete at the top level.

I can understand a new qualifier being set up, new rules, a chance to showcase breeds at Discover Dogs and Crufts, but I cannot understand why Olympia - which in my opinion is THE Final to reach and should contain the best dogs around. It is not a showcase opportunity in many people's eyes, it is a final that people have spent a lot of time, money and effort to reach.

It may sound harsh but I believe that competing at Olympia should not be everybody’s dream, at least not with their current dog. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would love to compete at Olympia or Crufts but understand their limitations with their current dog. Why are we lessening the criteria to allow lower standard dogs to qualify for these events?
Last season I competed in several Novice Olympia Qualifiers’, you needed to be in the top 1% in a class of 300, that is a tall order for any dog and handler combination. I would enjoy running in the qualifier classes if I had a dog I didn’t think was good enough for Olympia as the courses always tended to be a little more interesting, but unless I believed I had a dog that was capable of winning that class and gaining me a qualifying spot then my aim and dream would not of been to qualify! (I did qualify at Thames, and we did reach Olympia :) )
I put this theory into practice this season – I ran in 6/7 Olympia and Crufts Qualifers for the first time. My dream is still to run at Olympia again with my dog, but I did not in anyway expect to be there this year as my dog and I were not of a high enough standard now we are in Grade 6. I would not expect to be there as my dog is not of the standard required, I will work towards getting there, and if this means it is with a different dog then so be it. I will not be there ringside saying well this is unfair my dog will never be fast enough.
My point is if you have a dog good enough for Olympia or Crufts you are in the minority, you should be very pleased you can get into that top 1% in a qualifying class and keep working towards being able to stay there. If you have a dog that is just not going to make the grade then maybe it is time to alter your ambitions.

I am in no way trying to say that if you don’t have a kelpie you shouldn’t expect to get to compete in the ABC Olympia, what I am saying is if your dog is not in that top percent of really very good dogs then you can’t expect to get to Olympia regardless of what breed your dog is.

Many people start agility with their current pet dog, I started with my rescued Springer Spaniel 12 years ago. My dream has always been to compete at Olympia as I went every year when I was young as I am also a ‘horsey’ person. I would watch the morning semi-final every year in complete awe of these amazing dogs and wish that one day I might get there. I knew that the dog I had then and my ability as a handler would not be good enough to win at somewhere like Olympia (as it happens he did qualify for the Semi’s one year, the course was a helter skelter as they reportedly wanted the fast ABCs to get through as the course at the semi’s the year before had been really tricky and therefore some slower dogs had qualified and people said that it wasn’t a very good show for the size of Olympia and for showcasing the dogs……….but that is a whole other blog post!). I believe I achieved a lot with my first dog, he had 5 homes before we got him, he was my first agility dog, he reached the ABC Olympia Semi’s, we competed at Crufts several years in Junior classes, he came 2nd overall in the first UKA Grand Prix Nationals. So although I had a dog I could never win at Olympia with I believe we still achieved a lot and probably more than I could of expected to. I do believe I never once said 'I wish that ABC dog wasn't in the ABC class its too fast, its not fair!' It never occured to me that that very fast dog that was not a collie could be prevented from running in a final they had qualified for (I do remember several times saying that collie shouldn't be in the ABC class, but again that's another blog!).

  Olympia is the place to reach the ABC FINAL, how is it a final if some very good dogs that have fought through the qualifiers and gained their top 10 spot at Stoneleigh but then because they were the 3rd fastest for their breed they are not allowed to go to Olympia? What also worries me is how the crossbreeds will be thrown into the mix here? I would say Dan will be ok we can register Blade as a Catahoula Leopard Dog X - but there is 8 more of those to join the Agility Circuit next year!!
Maybe the final 10 should get tehir spots and then 5 or so other ABC finalists could be invoted to attend. The majority of the audience aren't aware of what the Finals mean to us Agility people so I highly doubt they'd question, or even notice, if the official placing rosettes were given to the original final 10. This would mean the Final 10 can run in the class they deserve to, but the audience get to see a variety of dogs on the day.
There are a lot of very good ABCs out there, as there are a lot of very good collies out there, but we can't all expect to have a dog that can make the grade to get to Olympia. I do not think it is fair to cut out some of the best dogs in the country just because they are 'sheperding' type breeds. As far as I am concerned there is a Novice Qualifier for 3-5's to enter, a Large Qualifier for 6-7s to enter and an ABC class for non collies to enter - how can we put further restrictions on any of these classes???
I would also start talking about the Medium ABC Qualifer.......... but that will probably just make me even more angry :P
I will get down off my soap box now, and jsut say that i am interested to see how the Qualifiers run next season!
Maybe I'll get an ABC next year.........

Friday, 21 October 2011

The end of 2011 Season

As predicted I ended up leaving a rather long gap between entries as the year went on!
So do I not bother anymore and close the Blog, do I try and be better next year or do I try to remember why I started this Blog and write about things that interest me, mean a lot to me, happen to me?

I have lots planned for the winter and even more planned for next year so it would be nice to keep a record of what I have been doing, but then I could just as easily write that in a word document.
So maybe I should try and write something that incites a reaction from people and get feedback?
Or maybe I should just carry on mumbling away and wonder whether people actually do read it or not!

So my last entry was the beginning of July – oh dear!!!
A quick over-view of the dogs for the rest of the season then………

Major struggles with swapping from ‘old’ spaced weaves to new spaced weaves week in week out – for such a big dog like Cruze it is a big ask to hit some of the weave entries they are expected to get in Grade 6/7 when they don’t where the 2nd pole is going to be.
The new spacing weaves have helped the boys get much faster, and is obviously more comfortable for them, but switching between the two has caused obvious confusion as to how to stride through them.

Both the boys end on 1 win in Grade 6 each this season and Thai is now Champ Performance and SC at UKA so he can do some Masters next year which I am really looking forward to…………….. oh no wait a minute Thai isn’t my dog next year!
It is fair to say I have struggled in Grade 6 this year, so I did as I told myself I would stay in 6 and struggle and if I was at a small show and going clear then hold my contacts (I was often not clear so not such a problem!). I do not see the point in getting all your grade 6 wins really quickly at small shows – as what do you achieve – a realisation that you aren’t quick enough or prepared enough for Grade 7! I think I’d rather learn that lesson in Grade 6 and know that my dogs are good enough against the better dogs across the country if we reach Grade 7. However Grade 6 wins are hard to come by and I think once you have proved yourself quick enough at a bigger show then why not get a slightly easier win in a small show – mind you have you seen some of the Grade 6 dogs we have in little ol’ South West at the moment?? WOW J
I don’t know that I am disciplined enough for Champ Classes and nowhere near good enough for Crufts/EO qualifiers so what would I gain by rushing to Grade 7? Where as I can gain a lot of experience, confidence and understanding in Grade 6 to hopefully make me as a handler better and in turn help the dogs be better at their job.

I know a lot of people say it’s not about the winning, it’s the taking part and for others it is very much the winning that matters. For me, I’m a little in between I’m not necessarily in it to WIN it but I am in it to do WELL in it – I am not happy if I can’t get round courses time after time, if we keep making the same mistakes over and over again, if I don’t see improvement in myself or my dogs. Agility is fun but it can easily become not so much fun when you are as emotionally involved in it as I am, and you don’t see the results you hoped for.
So Winter training is PACKED full of needs and wants from me! As Toni is well aware of!!!

Dan will be running Thai next year so that we have 2 dogs each to compete, I LOVE my Cruzer and  Miss Phaze more than possible – but competition-wise I’m not sure I got the best deal!! Dan will have Magic and Thai who are amazing dogs and really very well suited to Dan so I think an exciting season ahead of them.
The amazing Magical dog has gone from Grade 3 to Grade 6 this season and up to Champ SC and 2 points of her CSC Title and Senior in performance in UKA. All Dan’s goals met for this season – tick! Magic also reached the UKA Nationals Final in July and also qualified for the Pro-Plan G3-5 Final held at Bromsgrove in September – she came 3rd overall with a beautifully calm and controlled round just beaten by 0.5 and 0.2 by 1st and 2nd place respectively (2 dogs which are Grade 7 dogs and Magic was at Grade 4 at the time). Magic spent a grand total of 7 days at Grade 5 and won into Grade 6 at Chippenham Championship Show last weekend with a clear 1 second lead.
Dan has plenty of Winter planning trained for his 2 dogs as well; Magic’s is based around turning and contact criteria, whilst Thai will mainly be working on weaves. His turns are something to watch and with Dan’s confidence and speed I think he will turn Thai into the dog he should have been 3 years ago.
If I’m lucky Dan will sort out all Thai’s little kinks and then I can have him back for 2013 ;p Otherwise Dan will have 3 dogs to compete in the 2013 season and I’m sure that’s not fair!
For those of you that aren’t my personal friends reading this – we got another puppy.
Completely unplanned, thought fate had prevented us from needing to make a decision but fate (otherwise known as Virginia Harry!) had other ideas and we have another Kelpie x Collie rescue added to the madhouse

Dan enquired about the rescued litter as he had always said if another kelpie x collie became available it would be silly not to at least look, he was told the red merle girl had gone and so that was that……………….. until we get to UKA Week and hear a voice say ‘Oh Dan….. come see what I’ve got in the caravan…..’
So first morning at UKA and we now needed to get a cage and some puppy food as Virginia had brought 6 of the rescue pups with her – and low and behold there were 2 red merle girls :-o The rest is history, we have her, she is an absolute nightmare 80% of the time, and the other 20% of the time we remember why we thought it was a good idea to get another kelpie. She is smart, funny, quick, high drive and LOUD!!!! OMG Kelpies are loud!!
It will be an exciting (and loud) 2013 season when 9 of these bad boys and girls hit the Agility Circuit.

So November and the first half of December is full of training days, workshops and private lessons with all the dogs. We are going to Dartmoor Show as well next month, we weren’t going to as it’s always bad weather and orange mud gets everywhere, but Dan would like to see what Magic is like over a Grade 6 course (I personally would liked to have used it as my last opportunity to run a Grade 6 class without Magic being in it! But never mind!! LOL). I was also very excited to pre-order my iSS diary the other day so I need to go out and buy my new highlighters and start planning next season soon.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Diamond Show and ‘Straddle’ ‘Gert’ ‘Clumpy’ ……..

………are some new words that we all learnt this weekend!
Which is fairly suggestive of how the weekend went! I don’t know how a show manages to create certain atmospheres – but Diamond certainly seem to win hands down on the fun and laid back atmosphere vibe. The show is a nice size, 6 rings, with everyone closely camped to the rings and therefore lots of time to watch the classes. This is something I miss at the bigger shows as it is nice to see different people run the courses you are running and to support your friends.
I say support your friends – some people obviously have a different view and like to heckle their friends on the start line! How rude!!
The 6/7 Agility started quite late on the day and it seemed that a fair portion of the audience as well as the competitors had decided to make the most of the lovely sunny weather and very sensibly had a cool drink in their hands to prevent from overheating.
This will be the point at which my lovely friend developed a new nickname for me – of which she chose to share with me and everyone else in the close vicinity as I walked onto the start line with Thai. The words ‘ Here comes Cider Sarah’ could be heard as I walked out – I then had to try and stop giggling to be able to release Thai from the start line – and completed the course fairly well – I can’t actually remember what he did wrong – might have been a pole? Nevertheless he did all the hard opening sequence. I decided to layer a jump which we never really do so he got a bit confused by that but still did as I asked. I then decided to go and get Cruze and rejoin the queue. This will be the point at which my new nickname was amended slightly. I got a little bit lost and as I turned found I was pretty much on top of the DW, I somehow managed to get one foot either side of it and still get Cruze into the tunnel and Pat’s new favourite word was born ‘Straddle’!!.....and I was to be called Straddling Cider Sarah for the rest of the weekend!!

My highlight of the weekend was collecting Thai’s 2nd place trophy from Barry for his G6 Jumping and Barry asking if Thai was my blue merle and saying his weaves were awesome J I smiled for at least an hour after that J No one ever comments on my dogs and I was so pleased that a judge had said Thai was good – and this was about 4 hours after we had run J
Cruze went clear in the other G6 jumping judged by Andrew Dicker – it was handly in places, blasty in others and a fairly hard left hand weave entry – Cruze was lovely all day long and we both got it right on this course – another 2nd place J Unfortunately I gave Cruze a late command on one jump where we needed a good turn, a left flick around the outside wing – Cruze landed right, went to come in, heard me say left and did an about turn, looked at the equipment on the outside of the ring and then came round – probably lost me a good second, so pleased that we still came 2nd.

They were both good in the 6/7 Agility on Sunday as well – this was the sort of course that at the beginning of the season I would of felt over phased walking into the ring and seeing all the equipment so close together and pointing all in the same direction! But I walked it and was happy I could attack it. Thai just had a pole – completely my fault – spatial awareness again and I nearly fell over the wing while trying to push Thai left for the long jump. Cruze missed his see-saw contact – he can’t really work out how to slide a rubber seesaw – which is fair enough. This is the only gripe I would have with the weekend – and it is not directed at Diamond at all as other shows have also done this and I heard several people saying the same thing. I believe that shows need to either use rubber contacts or not – not have half the runs on rubber and half on normal contacts. I think this will really lead onto the fact that there needs to be a decision on whether the KC are going to put in a rule change or not.

I couldn't resist including this picture! My friends are so good at catching Cruze's personality! I am assuming there was a jump behind him - but it jsut looks like he is happy to see the weaves!!

Magic was amazing and had a flying round in the Olympia Qualifier – just unfortunately missing the weave entry which is a real shame as she was working really nicely.

I think Magic was certainly enjoying herself this weekend – she was a bit naughty in Neil’s class trying to do the see-saw, DW and A-frame all as one obstacle! She finally got a clear round last thing on the Sunday in the 4/5 Agility – but never the one to not stick something extra in she slipped and fell on her head and wasted a couple of seconds regaining her composure and working out which way was up! Still she came 4th J She also had a nice run in one of her jumpings – just slipping in the weaves and missing a pole – she seemed to slip on the grass in places where it was cut and really short – she looked totally surprised and carried on in them but obviously was eliminated.

Diamond is definitely my favourite show of the year so far, it was up there in the top 3 last year and I’m already looking forward to it next year! Diamond certainly chose some bl**dy good judges for their show; Neil Ellis, Andrew Dicker, Martin Cavill, Barrie James and Lee Windeatt all set some really good courses – I haven’t enjoyed being in Grade 6 as much as I did this weekend and Dan enjoyed having some courses to test his handling and all the work he has been doing at training – all the courses were enjoyable and testing and most importantly – do-able!!

Well we have a weekend off this weekend to be ‘normal’ people – I’m sure we will get bored and do lots of training! Then we are off to UKA week the week after.  SWAG sponsors the UKA Nationals and I also have my first judging appointment. We also have 15 runs a day! So I suspect I will need a week off to recover afterwards!!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Forgot how to get into my Blog Account and Broke my finger!

Where have you been??!! I hear you cry!!!!!
It’s silly really I didn’t start my blog during the winter as I didn’t think there would be much to write about without shows taking place. Now I have plenty to write but no time to write it!

So I have missed telling you about SWAT (busy) ,Hinckley (a long way away), Thames (Very WET and broken bones!) and Newton Heath (even further way), Lansdown (Omnipro Final and SUNSHINE ) and then weekend just gone was Tuffley. So there you go that’s what we’ve been up to – see you next week with a write up for Diamond!

Neither of us have been particularly successful these last few weeks – but there has been some brilliance inbetween the C**P for all 3 of the SWAG doglettes J

SWAT was a LOVELY show, although a little too windy on the Friday for my liking! Thank you to the 5 other lovely people who helped hold our tent down! This was our first trade stand of the year – and very successful it was too. We were busy the entire 2 days and when we got home we both said we couldn’t really remember any of the show at all! So understandably neither of us did very well, and we couldn’t really expect any different as the dogs were pretty much abandoned until we shot to a ring with one of them, we also didn’t both go to each run so the routine was upended further. Magic never queues with Dan – she prefers to stand on the sideline with me and screech from there! They all got a place in the 1-7 Jumping and that was it! This is why we don’t do too many trade stands as we know our runs will suffer however we still really enjoyed the show and was also great fun to watch and sponsor Dairin’s Challenge on the Friday and Saturday evening.

Hinckley was a first time for us – another lovely show – and definitely a benchmark show – by this I mean if you want to know where you stand in your grade go to Hinckley and learn a hard lesson!
My hard luck story of that weekend was Cruze in Lee Windeatt’s Large Stakes Olympia Qualifier – clear until the very last jump (a tyre). There was a HUUUUUGE crowd around this ring, lots of people were going wrong in several different places.the 2 tunnels and Dog walk and Aframe were all kind of interconnected in the middle of the ring and you could only go around them not through the middle. I really enjoyed running the course and Cruze was Ama-zing – right up until I pulled him off the very last obstacle - GUTTED – still am actually and it was a month ago! It would have been interesting to know where Cruze stood between all the best dogs in the country.

Thames is usually one of my favourite shows but to be honest this year I can’t really remember much about it – other than it was very very very very wet on the Sunday and I broke my finger Sunday morning (although didn’t actually get to A+E until Monday evening to get it x rayed and put in a splint). This is another reason I haven’t updated my blog for a while as I am now only just able to type properly again and by teht ime I have finished at work the last thing I have been wanting to do is anymore typing one handed!

Newton Heath is another show we really enjoy. We both enjoyed running Cruze and Thai in the EO and Crufts Q’s. Dan ran Thai really nicely in the Crufts run. I was surprised to see how many handlers in this class over managed the weave entry. It was a 180 angle from the right from a jump that was more or less at the last weave (there were 9 weaves) a larger number of people than I expected ran all the way past the weaves called their dogs and gave them a straight weave entry. So I was really pleased that both Dan and I were level with the jump and sent both dogs to the weaves and they both got it! Big Smiley faces J Thai had a lovely run in G6 jumping – quickest by a second……………. And the last pole down! I thought maybe we had lost my fastest 5 faults dog – but there he was again! There were several plastic poles marking a hole/ditch to the left of the last jump just out of the ring – and this is where Thai’s toy ended up – he clocked his toy and was obviously concentrating more on how he was going to avoid the poles to get his toy then where his back legs were currently – another lesson learnt. I have to say I am learning a lot of lessons this season!!!! Along the same lines Magic has started to clock the bucket at the end of runs – or before the end of runs several times this month so something else we need to watch with her.

We would then normally have the last weekend of June off – and to be honest from my performance I probably should of done! I had a small tantrum on the Saturday didn’t want to run anything and refused to run Thai in his agility until right at the end of the class, a nice straight forward course, left Thai to it and just called him for the one turn he needed some direction on, a fast course like that with no pushing from me and he came 3rd!!!!! Lesson learnt again – work every course and don’t be a baby!
Cruze wasn’t listening on  Saturday and struggled with the heat on Sunday. I enjoyed having a go at Barrie James’ Qualifier. Barrie is fast becoming one of my favourite judges, he provides testing courses but if you work it properly it shouldn’t be impossible. I got them both E’d early on by not calling enough to miss an early jump. I then really tested Thai’s 90 degree left weave entry – he failed – but I wasn’t surprised its something I know he struggles with and I really tested it by not helping him at all just to see what he did, he ran the rest really nicely. Cruze was a monkey and instead of entering the weaves shot back up the dog walk – however every cloud and all that – his DW was STUNNING – completely independent as I was still stood at the weaves, 2o2o and a rather quizzical ‘where are you mum look left to right’ and waiting for release, Barrie said what lovely contacts he had J I then released him, he still had no idea where I was so did a lovely scoop into the tunnel underneath the DW (another thing he is generally not brilliant at!) and then finally spotted me and came and did the weaves!
The reason we were at Lansdown was Dan and Magic had their Omnipro final on the Saturday evening. Dan was last to run and knew he had to go for it to beat the winning dog at the time; Tally and Roy had had a lovely round and Tally is a big powerful dog who eats up the ground. So off Magic went, absolutely lovely until she came out the 4th weave. Dan carried on and let Magic enjoy her run – she had the fastest time and it certainly would have been close had she bothered to do those two little extra weaves.

Dan is in the process of ‘tweaking’ his contacts and changing how he rewards the weaves at training and hoping to do some environment training with her and go to a few places for some training to try and get Magic over her weave phobia, it is such a shame as this dog is so amazing, foot perfect at home and then just can’t seem to process the weaves in the ring environment.

Weekend just gone was Tuffley, lovely show and lovely venue. The dogs were in heaven – swimming and jumping – their 2 favourite things in the whole wide world.
Best result of the weekend was Magic gaining a 4th in 1-7 Agility. Proof that this dog can do what we know she can achieve – we just need to persuade Magic now!
I felt sick watching Dan and Magic run in the Olympia Qualifier – she had been getting her weaves so far today………… and she got them in the Q – but she missed the middle part of a snake line as Dan was really pushing her and hadn’t quite given her enough time to pick it up. This was the first weekend Magic had been looking on form for a few weekends so hopefully a few good clears are just around the corner. Sundays Grade 4 Agility and Dan really pushed Magic, she absolutely flew, a second and a half quicker than the fastest dog………….. which would have been enough of a margin for Dan to let her do a 2o2o DW but he asked for a running contact and she missed the contact. Agility is hard sometimes you just never know what you need to do to achieve you goal. Sometimes what feels like your most amazing run will get you nowhere and other times what feels like an ok run could win you a class. You just never know! I stand by my belief that Magic is much better off in 4/5 this season. One of these reasons being a purely selfish one – I don’t want to be competing against her!!

Diamond this weekend. I actually looked at my running orders in the hope that all classes would be combined and I could then persuade Dan to stay at home instead. Unfortunately Diamond have provided us with an entire weekend of graded classes ;-)
So I was told to pull myself together and dive in with some enthusiasm that I have certainly been lacking recently. I am hoping Dan will take Thai for a few classes as they work really well together. I am also hoping Magic will get it together for an entire course or 2 over the weekend. As for Cruze – I just so enjoy watching him enjoy himself! It doesn’t seem like a year ago I lost him at Diamond as she bolted from a very ‘scary’ Deerhound and broke through the windbreak (like a lion in a circus breaks through the paper covered hoop!) and hid in the back of the tent with Dani until I returned! One of many funny events from Diamond last year – but most of the others can’t be written down without permission from other parties! ;p
So here’s to another enjoyable weekend and hopefully we can come away with some rosettes.