Tuesday, 31 December 2013

RVA Indoor Show - December

We had our final show of 2013 at the RVA December pay-on-the-day show. It had been the first agility we had done for a couple of weeks so we were looking forward to it.  Doople was running at grade 5, Shadow at grade 6 and Zazu in anysize (medium). We wanted to run Zazu over the lower height A-frame and dog walk as this is the first time he has done these at a show since we started clicker training his contacts.

Greg & Zazu right before their Steeplechase run
On that note we'll start with Zazu. We were keen to see if he would recognise the contacts at a show. He ran the dog walk but didn't stop at the end. I looked at the contact and he jumped straight back on, so he is recognising it, just not whilst running. The A-frame was the same. While I know it isn't a good idea to keep putting them back on the contact, I wanted him to see that it is the same at training. In the jumping he was working away from me nicely and we layered a couple of jumps well. He still hasn't quite got the drive that we'd like, as he's a few seconds off the pace, but that will come with confidence in the ring. The steeplechase was similar, he was working well, just needs a bit more drive.

Shadow was ready and raring to go as usual. The first class was graded(ish) 4-7 jumping. I say graded-ish as the class is split into 4-5 and 6-7. We were a little wide on a few turns but I got into the rhythm and we got better. I tried to layer a jump into the tunnel but think I got too close on the previous turn so was running away slightly. Shadow slowed as a result but still went into the tunnel. She flew through the weaves too which I'm pleased with. We finished just outside the placings by 0.1s! It was interesting watching some of the mistakes over the long jump with dogs going straight in the tunnel, especially large dogs. Most people were too close for the turn so the dog started turning towards them after the pull-through, lining them up with the tunnel rather than the jump, which was offset. It looked simple but a lot made mistakes there. The other common mistake was not standing still on the turn or turning their back on the dog, so the dog would take the wrong jump. I was struggling to see the benefit of doing a blind turn on a pull through there, everyone that tried it failed because they weren't watching their dog. That isn't to say that blind turns and the new 'in-thing' from Europe, Ketschker turn, are bad but most people use them in the wrong place. And this turn is the wrong place.
Anyway, enough of me rambling on. Shadow's other run was in graded-ish 4-7 agility. We made the mistake of going first. We were having a good round but the numbered cone was still in front of the weaves! We got another go and this time we were tighter. It was a good round, the contacts were good in both rounds. We were leading for most of the class but finished in 4th.

Doople was running in the same classes as Shadow but in the other classification. In the graded-ish 4-7 jumping +Susi Cooper and Doople were going well, good tight turns and running well. Susi tried to layer the jump into the tunnel but got a bit too far ahead so Doople jumped instead. It was a good tight jump, just not what we wanted! I ran Doople in the graded-ish 4-7 agility. She was still running forward well, we weren't sure what she would be like at the end of the day. She was running out and listening well. We messed up the weaves as I got too far ahead for the entry. We ended up in 6th place though.

It was a fun show and we got a lot from it. We know we need to work on Zazu's drive. He has the basics of working away and listening, we just need to do it faster now!

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Pachesham Grade 1-5 Show - November

We were down near Leatherhead this weekend at the Pachesham Grade 1-5 show. This is the first time we have been to this show. It was very well run and a nice relaxed atmosphere. It was a very small show with only four classes. They do a few different types of show throughout the winter, this one was only for grades 1-5. In good (read not too bad) weather they have two rings going, one inside and one outside, meaning we were home by 14:30! We took Zazu at grade 3 and Doople at grade 5.

Zazu wondering why mum has gone over there
First up was Zazu. He was the main reason we came to this show as we were looking for some more practice. He still gets a little distracted in the ring so we want to keep working him. He started off in the jumping class. We were pleased that there were only 6 weaves as we haven't quite cracked 12 without straps. He was a very good boy. He listened on the turns even though I was very slow. He drove into the tunnels which gave me some breathing space. He got distracted coming back down the line and missed a jump but he was still running well. His only other round was the steeplechase. He was really raring to go in this. I managed to send him into the tunnel and layer a jump into the slalom which I was really pleased with. The turn was wide as I wasn't sure if he would go out, so I made sure that we did the jump first. We were very pleased with him as it was more complicated than the things we have trained. He works away nicely which makes running him so much easier.

Doople seemed very happy at this show. Perhaps it was because we only had two dogs or that we were more relaxed not worrying about so many runs. Either way she enjoyed herself. We started with the jumping class. She was running well and driving at the tunnels. The weaves were a bit slow but she picked them up well. We ended up with a 4th place. Next was the first agility class. This had a couple of tricky bits, Doople picked up the weaves well and wasn't too slow. A good turn off the A-frame round the back of a jump and we ended up 5th. This was followed by the steeplechase. Doople seemed really up for this and got some wheel spin off the line. Unfortunately I got a turn in the slalom wrong and didn't push her far enough so she came inside. We ended up 6th. Finally Doople had her second agility round. Doople was tiring slightly but still running. That is until the weaves where she walked through as slow as she could. Never mind, still a good day.

We both really enjoyed the day and will be going back for some of their other shows. Hopefully Zazu will be running a bit better by then to get a place or two.

Doople before her last agility run

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

RVA Indoor Show - November

This weekend we went to the RVA indoor pay-on-the-day show. It's a nice friendly show that we have been going to for a few years. The venue is improved each year as it is being built. This year we had windows in the spectators area! This made it much (a relative term) warmer than it has been. We were running Shadow at grade 6, Doople at grade 5 and Zazu at grade 3.

Shadow started the day off with graded 4-7 jumping. It was a bit tricky but flowed nicely. We got off to a bad start as she broke her wait. Although we didn't go wrong it put me on the back foot for the first few jumps. We got back on track and she had lovely weaves, which is something we've been working on  a lot recently. We finished 7th in grade 6-7, it was a good fun run. Her last run was graded 4-7 agility. She waited properly this time and was charging round, picking up her weaves and also getting all contacts. We were eliminated when Shadow didn't pull through a gap but carried on going. I should have steadied her up before the jump so she didn't jump so long.

Doople was running in the same classes as Shadow. +Susi Cooper ran her in the graded 4-7 jumping. It was a good smooth round with Doople going quite well. Susi got into the wrong position at one point but managed to keep it going. They eventually finished 2nd in grade 4-5. A good result. I ran her in the graded 4-7 agility. It was hard work as Doople was slowing a bit. She still ran on but needed driving all the way. She knocked a pole when I tried to turn her tightly. It shows how she can find it hard work sometimes. She'll probably run less in the future to try and keep it fun.

Zazu was running a couple of proper classes to see what he was like. We avoided agility as we still want to work on his contacts at home. His first class was graded 1-3 jumping. This was a fast flowing course and one that he ran very well. He made it easy for me as I could just stroll into position with charging off the way I point. We didn't manage the 12 weaves but we haven't got that far at home yet, so no surprise. He also ran in the graded 1-7 steeplechase. He was a little tired by this point but still ran well. He got a little distracted on the way round but still focused when I called him and we finished with a clear round. We were both pleased with him today. He still needs to mature mentally to be able to focus for longer, but that will come.

We had a fun day and kept it relaxed by only running in a few classes. We still have more work to do with Zazu but he is coming along nicely.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Training with Lee Windeatt

No show this weekend, but instead we attended a training day with Lee Windeatt.  We got a lot more out of the day than we would do at a show.  Lee has a lot of good tips and was very good at explaining everything to the group.  We took Zazu to the 1-3 session and Shadow to the 4-7 session.

Shadow waiting to train
Unfortunately for Zazu, the weather in the morning was miserable.  At times I had to drag him out from the shelter so that he could run.  I wasn't too fussed about this as the day was more about learning new training techniques than perfecting our runs.  We can see that the main thing we need to work on is dog independence from the handler.  This applies to all areas of the course, jumps, weaves, contact equipment. It's about the dog being able to do whatever you ask regardless of where you and and how you're moving.  It's quite easy to train, but takes a long time to build up and keep the dog confident.  Another good training technique was how to encourage the dog to look at the poles to jump rather than looking at the wings.  Try setting up three jumps in a row, but instead of putting the poles on the jump cups, put them on cones at a random distance between the jump wings and you'll see what I mean.

Zazu's training was more learning how to train the dog better, Shadow's was how to train the handler better.  We spent a lot of time talking about the dog's lead leg on bends and over jumps, and how to encourage the dog to be on the correct leg before it needs to turn.  Being on the wrong leg over a jump will cause a wider or slower turn as the dog corrects itself.  Generally speaking, crossing in front of the dog will encourage a change of lead leg as the dog comes past.  The other thing we learnt about was cueing the dog to turn, again generally require you to be ahead of your.  The dog ideally needs to know a couple of metres before take-off where it is going so that it can jump longer or shorter as required.  If you can't get ahead of your dog for the turns, then you need to look at the 1-3 session for how to encourage the dog to work away better!

We both thoroughly enjoyed the sessions and have a lot to go away and work on with all our dogs.  If anyone gets the opportunity to attend a Lee Windeatt training day or session, I would definitely recommend it.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Poodle DTC Agility Show

This weekend we were at the Poodle DTC Agility Show held at Ockley, Surrey.  It was a limited show for poodles only.  We have been once before and it's great fun seeing poodles of all sizes running around like lunatics!  We were running all four dogs with Winnie running at medium height.

Zazu waiting (not so) patiently for his turn
Zazu started the day off this time running at his full height, medium, with me.  He has been getting much more confident at training and that showed in the ring.  The first class was the 1-7 agility.  He worked away very nicely and was listening for the most part.  He was very interested in sniffing the weaves which is most unlike him.  All got all of his contacts as well.  We were pleased with run, if not disappointed with the weaves. Next was pairs, he was running with Winnie.  We were impressed at how well he focused considering +Susi Cooper and Winnie were both in the ring.  He picked up the dog walk next to the A-frame nicely.  He again was more interested in sniffing the weaves so we carried on.  Next was 1-7 jumping.  We decided to avoid the weaves completely this time.  He was running well until about halfway when he decided to run full pelt across the ring and out!  He came back and finished though.  He was getting a bit tired for his last run, 1-7 helterskelter.  This is the most he has had to do before so we were pleased he was still going.  He was running a bit slower but still listening.  We missed a jump when he got a bit distracted but it was still a better round than before.  We have a lot to do with Zazu, mainly ring experience to get him used to the environment and keep enjoying himself.

Winnie was running at medium height to help build her confidence more.  She started really well and was enjoying herself a lot.  She flew round the 1-7 agility course, turning nicely and driving forwards.  It's the first time we've seen that drive in her at a show.  Susi ran her in the pairs.  She missed the weaves but they were very tight entries.  She still focused well with me and Zazu in the ring.  Next was 1-7 jumping.  She was a little slower this time and took longer to get going.  The tunnels do a good job of winding her up and she was flying out.  This was Winnie's last run as we didn't want to push it and her not enjoy her runs.

Shadow started the agility well.  I was using the time for a bit of training and was trying to get her to weave with me being further away than usual.  she came into me the first time because I was too slow in telling her to weave.  She then drove off and round, the second time picked the weaves up much better although I was still too slow in telling her to weave.  The pairs left some room for improvement as she was not really listening much, she missed the weaves and ran in the completely wrong end of the tunnel.  Sorry Susi and Doople!  The 1-7 jumping was a better round, but she looked like she was running a bit steady and not stretching fully like she can do.  The times showed and we finished fourth.  The final run, 1-7 helterskelter, was much better and she was really pushing forwards the whole way round.  We were much closer this time and managed second place.

Susi tried a similar tactic with the weaves as me, seeing if she'd pick them up better.  Doople also missed them for the same reasons, too slow at telling her.  It was good practice though and it's more about us getting it right.  Doople was let down in the pairs by her mad silver partner, but she ran nicely and was driving round the short course.  I ran Doople in the 1-7 jumping to see if she would drive better.  We started well and she barking for the first part.  Her speed tailed off a bit towards end so she needs to get a bit fitter.  She ran nicely in the 1-7 helterskelter for Susi, turning well where needed and following the lines.

We both enjoyed our day.  It's great watching all the mad poodles, especially the standards as they are all just mad but enjoying themselves all the while!  We look forward to next year hopefully having better functioning dogs.
Shadow earned her dinner for the week 

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Poodle Fun Day 2013

Last weekend was a slightly different weekend with the dogs.  Instead of agility we went to the Poodle Fun Day 2013.  This was just a fun day conceived by Sue Hunt, Lynne Land, Celia Bell and Patricia Wheeler (and I'm sure many others had a major input) to raise money for the Poodle Rescue UK.
Group photo
The day was designed just to be a bit of fun.  There we people from all over the place, mainly with poodles of all shapes and sizes.  There were probably over 50 poodles there, it was a bit mad!  We started the day with coffee and bacon and a bit of mingling.  There was an activities ring that had agility, egg and spoon race and temptation alley.
Susi and Doople in deep preparation mode
The agility was just a simple course (by agility standards) that people could have a go at.  There were people who had never done agility before just having a go running over jumps.  There was a competition for those who must compete, like me!  All our dogs had a go and all enjoyed.  Me and Doople won the class.  They were all a little excited as they'd been in a cage next to the ring for a while watching what was going on.

Zazu flying over agility jumps
There was an egg and spoon race which pitted two people and dogs against each other in a knockout competition.  One of the races was me with Shadow versus +Susi Cooper with Zazu, family rivalry!  Naturally I won.  Me and Shadow finished second beaten only in the final.
Greg and Shadow in the final of the egg and spoon race
This was followed by Temptation Alley, which involves running with your dog past four plates with some sausage on, round a post, and back again with the dog eating the sausages on the way back.  It was good fun to watch.  I especially liked Sue Hunt's black labrador who would run past a plate, then go back and eat the sausage, run past the next plate and go back to eat the sausage, etc.  Shadow caught the scent about half way up so I had to encourage her to the end, and then encourage her to eat as she was still following her nose.  Susi and Doople were really good, charging to the end and scoffing on the way back to win.
Winnie trying to find the sausage
There were also some fun showing classes, like best puppy, best dog, best bitch.  There were also some other games, like musical 'sits' where the dog has to sit when the music stops.  Last one to sit is out.  And don't forget the fancy dress competition!  It was a great day out that we all thoroughly enjoyed.  The dogs all had a good time and everyone went home home exhausted, not to mention raising a lot of money for charity.

Winner of the fancy dress competition
Here is a link to the photo album contain Around 1000 photos of the day:

Poodle Fun Day 2013 Photo Album

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Barking Mad Summer Show

We were at our previous club's, Barking Mad, summer show this weekend.  We said we would help out so we ended up being very busy all weekend.  The show went very smoothly and swiftly so it was definitely worth it.  We had Zazu running in his first proper classes at grade 3, Doople at grade 4 for the last time (at grade 4), Shadow at grade 6 and Winnie doing anysize.

Shadow was up first in grade 6-7 jumping.  Shadow got off to a flying start, she was really motoring.  I pulled her between two jumps nicely and round the jump.  She flew into the weaves but missed the last pole.  The pull through slalom was a bit much for her as she was still excited.  I should have run the other way, pushing her away through the gaps.  Next up was graded 6-7 agility.  We started with a large box which we negotiated well.  The weave entry was tricky but we managed, albeit slowly picking up pace as she went.  A lovely running contact at the end which she was doing well all weekend.  We ended up 1st!  This was our third win at grade 6 so we only need one more to go up to grade 7.  Next was graded 1-7 agility.  This was a little simpler than before but a similar course.  Shadow started a bit slow but was flying out of the first tunnel and up the dog walk, another lovely running contact.  She was listening well and I was really pleased with the round.  We finished 2nd, 0.019s behind first place! Ouch!  Finally we had combined grade 5-7 jumping.  Shadow was getting a little tired but was still running well.  Until the weaves.  She got a smell of something at the start and lost concentration the whole way through, basically walking.  She missed the last couple of weaves but ran OK afterwards.

Sunday was a very busy day as we were helping on a ring for most of the day.  We started off running in the Jewlnick Agility Pairs with +Susi Cooper and Doople.  Both dogs ran really well over the agility course and we ended up 5th, which is great considering that all heights are classified together.  Sorry to Ruth and Alan as they finished 6th, but placings only went to 5th!  Shadow's first individual run was graded 1-7 jumping.  She started a little slowly but picked up.  She was running away from me really well and I could get into different positions than a lot of people, which I think gained me a lot of time.  We then lost it all with a wide turn but nevermind!  We finished out of the placings but only 0.7s behind the winner.  Next was graded 6-7 jumping.  Shadow started quite slowly but it was because Susi was standing at the side of the ring filming.  Shadow was looking at her as we ran past, then we came back past again with Shadow still looking.  She was still running away nicely so we had some good bits.  Next was combined grade 5-7 agility.  She was a bit slow through the weaves and almost went in the wrong side of the tunnel, but carried on.  I messed up after the A-frame and got on the wrong side of her but still worked her from behind and it wasn't that slow in the end.  Another good runing contact and a clear round, but no placing.  Shadow finished up with graded 6-7 agility.  This was a very fast course so we weren't too hopeful, but still ran it well.  We had a dog-walk jump to finish, which is something that we miss every time!  I worked the contact extra hard to make sure we got , which she did.  I worked it a little too well though and she stopped at the bottom looking at me rather than running!  We did finish 2nd though so it rounded off a really strong weekend for us.

Doople's first run of the weekend was graded 3-5 jumping.  She backed jumped the third jump and then was running quite steadily.  There were some long straight lines but she could have run faster.  It was a warm day and as we already know, Doople doesn't like the heat.  Next up I ran her in the combined grade 1-4 jumping.  She was again quite steady and not driving like she does at training.  She missed the weaves like she often does in the heat.  She thinks that the weaves involve too much thinking so can't really be bothered.  Finally she had graded 3-5 agility.  She ran better here but again messed up the weaves.

Her first run on Sunday was in the pairs agility with Shadow where they ended up in 5th place.  Next up was the graded 3-5 agility.  She ran this one very nicely, still a little slow but with nice tight turns.  She ended with a clear round.  I ran ran her next in the graded 3-5 jumping.  She ran at a good pace, not quickly but steady.  She had good tight turns and managed the weaves again.  We ended up with a clear round.  Doople finished the weekend with combined grade 1-4 agility.  This was a very long fast course, not really Doople's cup of tea.  she did manage it all the way round until the dog walk jump to finish Susi didn't work the contact and Doople jumped it!  Ah well, still a steady round.

Winnie was running at anysize this weekend to help build her confidence.  She was running over small jumps.  Saturday's run started slowly but she still did everything.  After a couple of tunnels she picked up the pace and finished down the final straight nicely.  On Sunday again she started her run a bit steadily picking up in the middle.  She wasn't keen when I asked her to turn but when quickly down the final stretch again.  We'll be keeping her at anysize for a while until she's really going for it all the way around.  As long as she's enjoying it then we're happy.

Zazu was running in his first proper height (medium) classes this weekend.  He was only in one jumping class each day just to see how he gets on.  On Saturday, he started down the open stretch nicely and into the two tunnels.  We did a couple more jumps then he saw the tunnels again and was off!  After a couple of attempts I got him back over the jumps and we finished well.  He's starting to flatten out when jumping, especially when running straight and chasing me.  On Sunday, the course was a little trickier with 12 weaves.  He got a little distracted by the scorers tent but didn't run off.  He picked the weaves up second time, managed half and the second half.  He ran out well after the tunnel but didn't quite make it back in for the jump, but still really pleased with how he ran.

We have a few weeks off now with a wedding and other things.  One more show at Letchworth and then off the Hungary for the International Mixedbreed Championship Agility.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Dog Vegas - Chase the Ace Team Final

On to the second part of our mad weekend, 250 miles from our Saturday show we were in Scunthorpe for the Dog Vegas show.  The reason for the long distance is that both +Susi Cooper with Doople and myself with Shadow qualified for the Chase the Ace team finals, albeit with different teams.  Doople was running at grade 4 and Shadow at grade 6.

Meerkat outside the B&B we were staying in
The weather was even more unpredictable than on Saturday, perhaps due to being (much) further north.  It was fairly warm but with the odd thunderstorm!  We travelled up on the Sunday evening as I didn't fancy the prospect of leaving at 4:00 AM.  It was a nice little B&B just outside Scunthorpe complete with pigs, ferrets and meerkats!

The show was much quieter than the previous show with only 4 rings, one of which was dedicated to the finals.  There were a lot of finals being held for various competitions from teams, to grade 3-5 agility, to Anything-but-Collie (ABC) jumping.  The finals were held in very good spirits with people sitting around the rings watching.  This is a good experience for the more novice handlers as it can be quite daunting for both dog and handler with all the people watching.  They were good finals to watch with very good courses set by Alan Bray.

On Monday, Shadow was first up with graded 5-7 jumping.  Shadow started very well indeed but didn't run out enough on a long run and so came in missing the jump.  I tried again a she went out when I told her to.  She was very excited afterwards though.  Next up was the graded 5-7 agility.  This had a very interesting start that caught a lot of people out.  It was tyre then dog walk with a tunnel wrapped around the entrance.  I tried to walk to the other side of the tunnel and call Shadow up the dog walk so that she wouldn't look at the tunnel.  It failed.  I tried again but stayed closer her and she went up fine.  Apart from the weaves the rest of the round was lovely.  I was steering her from behind down a long run with tight turns so still very pleased.  Her last individual run was the graded 5-7 jumping.  She seemed a little steadier but still ran well.  She wasn't driving off the turns as well as she does so we lost some time.  We finished clear but unplaced.

Doople started with graded 1-4 agility.  It was quite a nice course, but perhaps a bit much for the grade 1-2 handlers.  Doople was a little steady but listened and ran clear, eventually winning the class!  That means Doople is now up to grade 5 which is brilliant, we weren't really expecting it.  Next up was graded 1-4 jumping.  This was a fairly straightforward course but still had some traps.  Doople was her steady self but still listening and running.  They had a nice clear round finishing in 2nd place.  Finally was another graded 1-4 jumping.  This had some straight lines, circles and slaloms.  A nice fast flowing course, but not really Doople's course, to much running!  She still ran well and got round clear.

Finally, at the end a long day was the teams final.  This is a relay race over a simple steeplechase course but run in two parts.  Dogs 1 and 3 run the first course, dogs 2 and 4 run the second course, which is the first course in reverse.  The results for all heights are combined together.  It's simpler than I make it sound!  First up for the small teams was me and Shadow running with some of the Poodle Training Club, Julliet, Mo and Heather.  We all had lovely rounds and they were all really going for it.  Unfortunately there was a dropped baton at the change so we incurred some fault which was a real shame.  We were still the fastest of the small teams in the end, 110s, but the faults meant that we finished 7th overall.  Susi was running with friends from Northamptonshire where we used to train, Wendy Donna and Sharon.  They all ran very well too and put in a good solid clear round, 113s.  This meant that they finished up 3rd overall, which is great.  The winners were a team of collies in 94s, 2nd place was a team of medium height dogs in 96s.

Greg with the Poodle Team

Susi with the Northants Team

It was a good fun day out, catching up with people that we haven't seen in quite a while.  IT was a good result for Susi in the teams and especially for winning up to grade 5.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Agility Club Chamionship Show

This was the start of a busy weekend for us.  We were at the Agility Club show near Crawley, West Sussex.  We were mainly there to run in the Crufts team, so we only took Doople running at grade 4 and Shadow at grade 6.  This was a Championship show so it was very busy and we were expecting some good courses and competition.
View of the scores of people around at the show
It was an interesting day with the weather, starting off really hot as it has been recently.  Fortunately we had half of our runs early on.  Then later on, the winds picked up causing a sand storm in the car park, followed by rain for 20 mins.  It all dried out and warmed up after that bizarre!

First up was Shadow in graded 4-7 jumping.  We put in a good round.  Still steady in the weaves but running the rest of it nicely.  She was working forward well which gave me time to get ahead of her.  We weren't placed but only 3 seconds off the pace.  Her next and last individual run was the combined grade 6-7 agility Crufts qualifier.  This was a tricky course with lots of interesting bits: running between jumps, me not running into the dog walk!  She picked up the tricky weave entry which was pleasing.  We did have one massively wide turn, I was driving her forward for too long and didn't steady for the turn.  We had a good run but again no placing.

Doople and +Susi Cooper started in the same jumping class as Shadow, graded 4-7 jumping.  They ran well with Doople charging down the first stretch.  She was wide into the weaves as she was distracted by ... something.  She ran well afterwards with some good cross behinds.  Clear but no placing.  NExt for her was grade 3-5 agility.  Unfortunately for Doople, this was in the middle of the downpour!  Doople is keen on rain so we were pleased with how she ended up running.  She was still pushing forwards with some good turns.  She missed the weave entry which can be a bit of a bain with Doople at shows.

We also ran in the Crufts team qualifier with the Poodle Training Club.  We ran with Sue and Heather Reaves.  We were only there for fun really and fun it was.  We got eliminated, a few times, but never mind.  The dogs all ran well so we were all happy.  Shadow missed the last weave but that was because I was starting to push her the other way.  Susi and Doople managed a clear round.

It was a fun and busy day but always good to see the top dogs and handlers.  Now from Sussex to Scunthorpe for the Dog Vegas Chase the Ace team finals on Monday, nothing like a bit of travelling!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Rugby DTC Show

Another scorching weekend at a dog, there are definitely worse ways to spend it!  This weekend we were at the Rugby DTC championship show.  We were looking forward to spending another sunny weekend outside with the dogs and so it was.  We had Shadow running at grade 6, Doople at grade 4, Winnie at grade 3 and Zazu at anysize.

We were prepared for the nice weather this weekend as it was very similar to last weekend at Wellingborough.  We did end up using a lot of water in the heat, about 100 litres in total!  It was a busy show with 10 rings, but that is to be expected at a championship show with Crufts and Olympia qualifiers as well.
Zazu leaping in anysize jumping
The high grade classes that Shadow was running in are always more interesting at championship shows as there are so many dogs entered, and this show was no different.  All of Shadows runs on both days were at the end so she had a relaxing time for the most part.  Her first run was combined grade 5-7 jumping.  It was an interesting course with a tricky weave entry.  I moved too much on the weave entry so Shadow went round too far and in the second pole.  A few jumps later Shadow decided to stop mid stride and smell something more interesting on the floor, something I've never seen her do in the ring before!  It was a little strange.  Next up combined grade 6-7 agility, a Crufts qualifier.  We got a few jumps in and I didn't send round a jump so she came in and over the wrong direction.  We were a little wide after that but I had relaxed a bit.  Finally we had graded 5-7 jumping.  Shadow was starting to tire but was still running nicely.  We started with a twisty bit which was a little slow but she picked up speed on the open parts.  We picked up the weaves nicely from the opposite direction and ended up 5th, only 3s off the winner of grade 6.

On Sunday, all of Shadows runs were at the same time.  We had a 10 minute break between but would have liked longer.  First up we had graded 5-7 jumping.  This was tricky but also quite a fast course.  We had a couple of wide turns but not too bad.  I took Shadow a longer way around some turns but I think it straightened her up better than a lot of others for the next section.  We were clear but unplaced.  Next was the combined 1-7 agility Olympia qualifier.  This was a bit of a disaster which was mainly my fault.  I managed to knock the fourth jump other with my arm, oops!  This put both of us off for the rest of the round with Shadow running around not really listening, and rightly so I think!  Finally we had combined grade 5-7 jumping.  We were both getting quite tired by this point.  Shadow was a little slower on her turns but was accelerating on the straights a listening well.  We ended up clear but again unplaced.  It was a good weekend with a few clear rounds over some tricky courses.  I just need to keep my flailing arms out of the way!

We weren't sure how well Doople was going to run with the heat but we had some idea from last weekend.  She had one run early on, first with +Susi Cooper in graded 1-4 jumping.  She started off well but Susi was a bit messy going into the weaves and Doople turned the wrong way after a jump.  They had a nice finish with pull-throughs round a box.  Not too bad and still a clear round.  Next up I ran her in the combined grade 4-5 agility.  She was a little slow again with the heat getting to her.  She listened all the way around and we did get another clear.  We decided not to run Doople her last class as she was out for count the rest of the afternoon!

Sunday had an early start with me running Doople in graded 1-4 jumping.  I was a fairly straightforward course and Doople was running fairly well.  I only got slightly lost and nearly went the wrong way, but managed to pull it back for a clear round.  Next up was graded 1-4 jumping.  This course was a little trickier but Susi managed it well.  They managed a back of jump and a good cross behind and ended up 7th.  Finally at the end of a long day Doople had combined grade 1-7 agility, the Olympia qualifier.  Susi and Doople had a much better round than me and Shadow, although that wasn't hard!  Doople was a bit slower by this point but still running and enjoying it.  she managed the tricky weave entry, albeit at a walk.  They ended up clear.  Doople ran quite well again this weekend considering the heat.  We knew Doople runs much better in the cooler weather but she is much better than this time last year.

Winnie is another one affected by the heat, but she also has less desire to run at shows than Doople, so it becomes quite tricky.  We gave her two runs on Saturday but decided she'd be best with just one on the Sunday.  She started with grade 1-3 jumping.  She was running forward fairly well, not getting distracted and not missing any jumps.  Dare I say she looked like she was enjoying it?  We also ended up with a clear round.  Next up she had grade 3 agility.  By this point in the day she was mentally very tired.  We did half of the course and then decided it was best to stop and she wasn't really running.  She did a few jumps and the dog walk but at this stage we are just trying to build her confidence.  Any time we go into the ring and she at things correctly we are taking a step forwards.  On Sunday we had grade 1-3 agility.  This was very slow, although she did run of the A-frame and kept momentum for a few jumps.

Zazu was running at anysize over small jumps, his last anysize before he is entered in a proper class!  Susi ran him of Saturday in a fairly straightforward course.  He ran ahead well and Susi turned him round jumps out of the tunnel from behind.  They ended with a clear round.  We need to keep working on his turns and learn to turn him a bit earlier.  He is really responsive when you tell him where we're going.  I ran him on Sunday and the course was much trickier but still fun.  He had a lot of drive that kept pulling him towards the flat tunnel.  We managed to go round the back of a jump out of the flat tunnel, which is something that a lot of grade 5-7 dogs were struggling with in later classes.  We'll just ignore the fact that we weren't supposed to do that!  He was really excited to be there and enjoyed his time running around.

It was an enjoyable show and makes us want to go to more championship shows next year, even if we're not running in the championship classes.  It's good to see where we need to improve and what we're up against.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Wellingborough DTC Show

It's been a few weeks since we were last at a show so we were really up for a good weekend away.  We were back in our old neighbourhood of Wellingborough, so at least we knew the way to go.  We had Shadow running at grade 6, Doople at grade 4, Winnie at grade 3 and Zazu running in his first show at anysize.

The weather for the weekend was fantastic, not a cloud in the sky.  It perhaps a little too warm for the dogs but they all coped well.  We had some coats made of towels so we could keep the dogs cool.  At one point Shadow was actually cold in 25 degree heat!  Silly dog.  It was a nice relaxing weekend and we got to spend a lot of time sitting around the caravan or watching the show.

Winnie preparing for a long day
On that note, lets talk about the show.  We'll start with Shadow.  This weekend I was hoping for a few clear rounds as the last few shows having provided very many, 2 in fact from the last 16 runs!  All of our runs on Saturday were in the afternoon.  We started with combined grade 1-7 helter-skelter.  This was a good flowing course and Shadow was flying considering the heat.  We have been practising weaves a lot over the last few weeks and it showed as she shot into them.  We were placed 14th out of ~150 dogs, which I'm really pleased with.  Next up we had combined grade 4-7 jumping.  This was a fairly straightforward course with 9 weaves.  Shadow ran well, really confident in the weaves again.  We were a little wide towards the end as I tried to run round the outside of a jump to pick her.  We managed but it was a bit messy.  Still we ended up with a 15th place.  Finally we had combined grade 6-7 agility.  This was a bit trickier being 6-7, but nothing we couldn't manage ... or so I thought.  We started well and layered a couple of jumps nicely.  We were eliminated on a pull through when Shadow didn't come through the gap, and also at the end when she came out the tunnel the wrong end.

Onto Sunday.  We started first thing with pairs steeplechase running with +Susi Cooper and Doople.  This was the coolest part of the day so they both ran really well.  Doople had her best run of the weekend and we ended up in 4th place.  Next up was combined grade 5-7 agility.  This was quite a long course with a tricky weave entry which Shadow picked up brilliantly.  We also managed to get all of our contacts over the weekend.  We finished the round in 6th place only 0.8s inside the course time.  It was a very tight time which is unfair in such hot conditions.  Most clear dogs were only 3s inside the course time.  Our final run was combined grade 4-7 jumping.  We had to wait quite awhile for this and still nearly missed it as they started it 30mins before they originally stated.  Shadow was a little steady but still going well.  Two more sets of weaves performed well and more jump layering.  We ended up in the placings again with 10th.  It was a great weekend with 5 placings from 6 runs.

Doople struggled with the heat for a lot of the weekend.  We knew she would do as last year in the summer she would just trot around.  We were debating not running her over the summer this year but she was performing so well at the start of the year that we thought we'd give it a go.  Considering the heat Doople ran very well.  She wasn't quite her usual self but still ran everywhere.  She started with combined grade 1-7 helter-skelter and was running forward very well.  Unfortunately she missed the weaves.  She wasn't really concentrating on them, probably due to the heat.  Next up was the combined grade 3-5 agility.  Doople started quite well but again missed the weave entry.  She was distracted by the number which only normally happens when she's tired.  We train with cones and other things lying around and she's fin with that.  She finished with combined grade 4-7 jumping.  Again she was distracted by the number in the weaves.  After that she ran quite well, not too fast but running nonetheless.

Fortunately, Sunday started early for us with the grade 1-7 pairs running with Shadow.  Doople was running more like herself and finished with 4th place.  Next up was combined grade 3-4 agility.  Doople was running OK, despite Susi trying to get lost before the A-frame!  Doople missed her weaves again though.  Finally she had combined grade 4-7 jumping.  She was a bit slower but still running.  I left her on a jump so she missed and followed me.  She did manage to do two sets of weaves however, but generally very slow.  Doople ran better than she did this time last year but she is really affected by the heat.

Winnie was running at full height this weekend, although we are reducing her to anysize next month to help with her confidence.  We weren't too hopeful this weekend, especially with the heat.  We were actually very pleased with how she did run.  She would sometimes lose concentration and wasn't running particularly quickly, but she wasn't missing jumps and she was trying to go over them.  In some of the longer straight runs she would pick up a bit of speed.  We even managed a clear round!  Which is the first for a long long time.  Overall we were really pleased with how Winnie ran and hopefully she can start to gain her confidence back again.

For the first time at a show we have Zazu running.  He was running in anysize, although on the Saturday we ran him over medium height jumps.  And he managed a clear round!  His turns were a little wide but he was running forwards and ran lovely diagonal zig-zag and didn't miss a jump.  On Sunday we got our timing wrong so ran him over small jumps, not that it makes a difference as he flies over everything.  Susi was a little complacent on a gentle turn as we expected him to follow but he went straight on.  Not a problem, we just have to work him a bit more in the ring.  He was still turning a bit wide but we can't expect too much from his first show.  We now know what to work on.

It was an enjoyable weekend with lovely weather.  The dogs had a good time and we managed quite a few placings with Shadow.  Still pleased with the others as they performed better than we expected.  Next week onto Rugby DTC show.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Abbots Langley Carnival

We had a weekend off from competing this weekend to give a display at the Abbots Langley Carnival with our training club, Watford ATC.  We had about an hour display to give in the afternoon showing off dog agility to the public.  It gained a lot of interest with lots of people cheering us on.

Everyone in deep preparation for the event
It was generally a very relaxing day.  We spent most of it sat around in the gazebo or wandering around the carnival.  Quite a lot of members of the club were there and it was good to build more club spirit.  We hadn't spoken to a lot of people at the club prior to this event so it was definitely good for us.

On to the agility.  We had an agility round to start with to show off the equipment.  Patrick decided to make it more fun for the audience by putting two tunnels next to each other under the A-frame!  It did make it more entertaining as quite a few of us went wrong, but then no one really cared as long as we all had fun.  We ran all four of ours, including Zazu.  All four of them ran nicely.  Winnie was running like she does in training and was enjoying it.  Zazu was also very good as this was the first time we have run him in front of such a crowd.  He did a few jumps, a wall, tunnels and the dog walk.

After this we had a team really race.  Just a few jumps and a tunnel, but two teams running against each other.  We ran Zazu with the small dogs and again he ran very well.  He only missed one jump when he was running at an angle, but after each run he got better.

There were quite a few of the beginner dogs and handlers at the display, and they were all very good.  It was the first time a lot of them had done anything like this before.  Everyone was enjoying themselves and so were the dogs.  There were no disasters.  We are going to another display in a couple of weeks at the Shenley Fete.  Hopefully that  won't be quite as frantic!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

PADs Agility Show

Another weekend, another show.  This weekend we were up in Walton-on-Trent, north of Birmingham for the PADs agility show.  This was the last show in a long run of four weekends in a row at shows.  I had a good feeling about the show and was really looking forward, especially as the weather forecast was great.  We had Shadow running at grade 6, Doople at grade 4 and Winnie at grade 3.

We had a pleasant dive up avoiding the toll roads and arrived in good time.  The show was nowhere near as busy as Nottingham last week, and the quality of the runs wasn't the same either.  The course were generally good and challenging, but there weren't very many top handlers and watching the classes wasn't as exciting.  That being said, I didn't have the best of weekends.

Pre-show relaxing at home
On that note I'll start with Shadow.  The first run in Saturday was grade 1-7 jumping.  Shadow was running forward and barking lots, always a good sign.  It didn't take us too long to get eliminated though.  Shadow spotted a tunnel about 10m away and that was it!  Her next run, grade 1-7 agility, had a similar ending.  Shadow got distracted by a tunnel after the weaves and missed the jump.  This was probably my fault for telling her where we were going as she powered forward.  She did spectacularly miss her dog walk contact and ending up in a heap at the bottom.  She must have lost her balance because she jumped incredibly far and rolled over twice after.  She was fine and came back to the contact wagging  Next up was the 6-7 agility.  The weave entry in this course was very similar to last weekend at Nottingham, going in from the opposite direction.  We almost managed but Shadow missed the first pole, something to practice there as it seems more and more common. We fell foul of a tunnel again as Shadow raced into the wrong end.  We finished the day with 6-7 jumping.  This was quite a 'naggy' course but also with big gaps.  After nearly missing the class whilst watching it for 20 minutes, we went in and had a good run.  Shadow was a bit wide on one the turns and I didn't pull her in far enough so we got a refusal, but it was a good end to day even if we had no clear rounds.

I was hoping Sunday would be better and we wouldn't have the same tunnel issues.  We started with grade 6-7 agility.  It had some tight turns and an opposite direction weave entry, which we managed well.  Unfortunately we missed the A-frame contact, which we haven't done in a long while.  Next was the grade 1-7 jumping.  This was a fast flowing course and ran well, but Shadow got distracted in the weaves and missed the last pole.  This was followed by the grade 6-7 jumping.  Again fairly straightforward and fast with a funny angled weave entry.  We managed the weave entry but Shadow came out half way down.  Still no clear round!  The last run of the day was grade 1-7 agility.  This was a good course to finish with and again quite fast.  This time we finally went clear!  Albeit a little steady but I'm happy nonetheless.  After 8 runs we had one clear round, nevermind!

Doople had a good weekend last week so we were hoping to continue this.  +Susi Cooper ran Doople's first run was grade 4-5 agility.  She started well but came out of the flat tunnel funny and seemed to lose a lot of confidence.  She didn't finish the weaves correctly though.  I ran her in the grade 1-7 jumping to see if I could get her running better, and avoid the tunnels Shadow was so fond of.  She ran well this time and was going for it.  We ended up 8th.  Next up Susi ran her in grade 1-7 agility.  She didn't seem to have much drive this time so it was hard to run.  We're not sure why, lost confidence or fatigue, but she occasionally does this, not very regularly any more though.  I ran her final round, grade 4-5 jumping.  She still wasn't running like she can do, and I pulled her off of the last jump because of that.

Doople's first run with Susi on Sunday was the grade 4-5 agility.  She started off well but had issues with the tunnel under the entrance to the dog walk.  Susi got too close to the tunnel entrance so had to back out, which caused Doople to miss the tunnel.  Then with the dog walk Susi pushed Doople to wide so she went in the tunnel instead.  Next up I ran Doople in the grade 1-7 jumping.  Doople started well but lost her speed towards the end on the long straight run.  By this point she looks like she is trying but flagging a bit.  This was followed by grade 4-5 jumping.  This course was similar to the 1-7 jumping, Doople was running it nicely but again looking tired.  We had some nice in's and Doople didn't seem to slow as much as she has, but we need to work on her drive with in's.  Finally we had the grade 1-7 agility. She again looked tired in this course but finished the weekend well so we are pleased with her.

Winnie didn't have a very good agility weekend.  She was in two classes on Saturday, the first of which she was barely moving, we missed a few jumps because I was ahead.  The second she kept going under the jumps.  This is in complete contrast to training when she is really excited and happy.  We forfeited her Sunday runs as she didn't seem to be enjoying her agility that weekend.  SHe was happy he rest of the time, especially when the we went to the dog treat vendor!  Although she was being picky about the treats he was trying to give her!  This will probably be the last show we do with Winnie for a while.  We may run her in anysize classes but only if she's enjoying it.

It ended up being a short weekend as we were on the road by 3 o'clock.  Thinking we were going to get home in good time, I promptly found a bridge too small for the caravan about 2 miles from the showground. Doh!  Luckily I didn't damage anything, but I did have to try to turn a van and caravan around in a small road.  I turned it part way around into a very convenient lay by.  Cue fed up motorists.  We had to man handle the caravan the rest of the way, but with so many stuck motorists at least there were a lot of people around.  Only they all stayed in their cars and watched the two of us move a trailer by hand, charming!  I also had someone nearly take the van door off as they were in such a hurry to go.  Note to self: don't blindly follow sat-nav when it takes you a different direction home!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Nottingham DTC Championship Show

This weekend we were off to Nottingham for a championship show.  Championship shows bring together some of the best handlers in the country with twice as many grade 6-7 dogs than at a normal show.  We had Shadow running at grade 6, Doople at grade 4 and Winnie at grade 3.

The weekend got off to a bad start when our 2 hour journey took 3 hours thanks to bank holiday traffic on the M1 bringing it to a standstill, twice.  Also a road closure on the A46 for a while after a car flipped over the central reservation.  Trying to find out where your camping spot is in the dark is always fun.

All the courses over the weekend were very challenging, but not beyond our abilities so they were very enjoyable  There were a few things that we haven't seen before but most of which we managed.

Starting with Shadow, we had some very tricky courses as there were many experienced dogs and handlers.  We started with grade 6-7 agility Crufts qualifier.  There was a common theme in the grade 6-7 courses over the weekend, interesting weave entries.  The first entry was from the opposite direction, the second set was immediately after and in the opposite direction again.  We managed the first set but I pushed her too far round the second set as I was also trying to avoid a jump that was in the way.  I tried a second time and managed so was pleased.  The second run was graded 6-7 jumping.  This was fairly straight forward, I felt Shadow didn't have as much drive as before, perhaps as we lost a bit of confidence in the previous round.  We still managed a clear round so that always helps rebuild the confidence.  The final round of the day was grade 6-7 agility.  This started with the back of a wall whilst avoiding the dog walk contact, which unfortunately was just too tempting for Shadow.  We carried on and she was running well, not always listening but running forward nicely.  She back jumped the long jump after turning the wrong way which was a bit odd.
It's a hard life being a dog
On to Sunday.  The courses were of a similar calibre so we had some good challenges.  The first run was combined 6-7 jumping.  The weave entry let us down again but I needed to straighten her up a bit more before sending her in.  Next was grade 6 agility.  Shadow didn't have much drive for this one to start with, again we had two sets of weaves but straightforward entries.  We had a back of jump after the see-saw but I ended up pulling Shadow right round the other side so we missed it.  She had a good running dogwalk contact which didn't help as I wanted her to come in and go in a different direction.  She came in eventually.  We finished with graded 6-7 jumping.  This was a very fast flowing course but also tricky.  We got off to a good start, picked up the tricky weave entry, almost got a refusal, then missed a jump entirely on a long run round.  Doh!  She was running well so I can't complain.  We finished the weekend with only one clear round but with some positives to take away as well.

On to Doople.  Doople first run was graded 4-5 agility.  This was an interesting course, very long.  9 weaves caught a lot of dogs out, especially large dogs.  Two parallel tunnels on a turn, lots of large circles.  Out of all heights, about 160 dogs, there was one clear round within the course time!  Doople put in a good run was really going for it.  She finished with 5 time faults, i.e. 5 seconds over the course time.  Originally the course time was 10 seconds shorter, but the judge reconsidered, just not very accurately!  Doople was still the fastest small dog, so she actually won the class!  The good thing about winning with faults is that you don't move up to the next grade.  We need some more practice at grade 4 before moving up.  In the graded 1-5 jumping, Doople was going well but missed an in on the slalom, Susi needed to turn her shoulders more to get her attention.  She was a bit steady after having gone wrong but picked up towards the end.  Her last run was combined grade 3-5 agility.  Doople had regained some of her lost confidence and managed a 6th place.

On Sunday, Doople had a long wait until her first run which was in the afternoon.  She started with graded 1-5 jumping.  It was a fairly straightforward course, but Susi did get a little lost!  She went over a few jumps, then had a mind blank.  Doople just wandered around for a bit not knowing where to go.  They carried on and in the end managed a clear round!  Next up was graded 1-5 agility.  Susi didn't feel up for running this so took the baton.  Doople ran well and had all her confidence back.  She was listening well but unfortunately I pulled her off a jump.  Even with this she was still over a second faster than the rest.  But the 5 faults for a refusal meant that we didn't win.  She finished with combined grade 4-5 jumping run with me.  Doople carried on her form, running and responding well.  We managed a clear round but just weren't fast enough at the end of a hot day.

Last but not least we have Winnie.  She has come on a long way in training, really driving over the jumps and starting to turn after.  At the moment, she doesn't have anywhere near that much drive in the ring.  The first jumping run she was going well, turning nice and tight and listening.  She got a bit distracted towards the end so missed a jump.  The agility round later was not as good, she didn't have any drive.  She did the obstacles in front of her and I just made it a simple course.  She did jump the wall nicely.  She started Sunday as she finished Saturday, again a made the course nice and straight.  When we got going in a straight line she started to perk up and run.  We finished with the agility, she started well with a couple of turns, into a tyre then round the outside.  She still seems to fatigue mentally throughout the weekend.

It was a good weekend with challenging courses.  We have a lot to take away and practice so it was definitely worthwhile.  Watching the top handlers shows that we have a way to go, but it's not out of reach.  The weather was gorgeous, which does help you relax over the weekend.  Next week we're off to PADS near Birmingham, hopefully the roads will better and the M6 won't be closed due to a bomb scare!