Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Spring at Shuttleworth

Another weekend, another show.  This weekend we were outdoors for the first time this year.  The show was held at Shuttleworth Park, Biggleswade.  The setting is in a very large grounds with lovely old buildings around, not to mention a grass runway airport with a road running across.  We had Shadow running at grade 6, Doople running at grade 3 and Winnie running in anysize over medium jumps.

After our last camping trip over Easter we were hoping for some better weather, or least no frost.  The ground was damp and soft but not undrivable, which meant we could at least park up easily.  The sun shone on Saturday morning but disappeared in the afternoon with rain setting in for the last few runs.  Sun was sunny but a strong wind blowing meant that some small dog agility course removed the dog walk to save the dogs from being blown off as happened to Shadow at a show last year.  The show was very large with 11 rings in total, circa 1500 dogs running over the weekend.  Small dog classes normally have around 50 dogs competing, here we had 150!  So it was a little larger than a normal show we attend, so need to keep an eye on more rings.
Doople and +Susi Cooper on the start line with their wind swept look

We'll start with Shadow.  After our fantastic running over Easter I was looking forward to this weekend, but the results were very different.  We started with grade 1-7 agility, which was a fairly straight forward course for us.  Unfortunately, Shadow had forgotten what to do at the bottom of the dog walk, i.e. touch the bottom.  This was a real shame after not missing a single contact in 3 days over Easter, but it was the first time we'd run outdoors since last year so that could be partly to blame.  She also lost a lot of confidence in the weaves last week so had to build those up again this weekend.  We followed this up with grade 4-7 jumping.  This time it was me who made the mistake on a pull through, I step forward into the gap so she carried on going over the nearest jump.  Grade 4-7 agility was similar to the earlier agility round with a missed contact at the end.  You'll see in the video that I was nice and still at the end of the dog walk but Shadow already had her sights on the finish line.  We finished the day with grade 4-7 jumping in the rain.  This was a slightly untidy round with a near refusal, but we did manage to finish clear.

It was nice to wake up on Sunday and not have icicles hanging from the caravan.  We started the day with grade 4-7 agility with our friend Ray Burke as the judge.  I could tell at first glance which course was Ray's as the start was ... unconventional.  Starting with a tunnel is perfectly legal but very rare to see.  We had no problems with that part of the course, with Shadow did avoid the end of the dog walk contact again.  We had to wait until after lunch for our next run which was 4-7 jumping.  We had a very good round but Shadow missed the last couple of weave poles.  We followed this with grade 4-7 agility.  This was another slightly messy round but the dog walk had been removed due to the wind, so that was one less thing to worry about!  We managed a clear round with some impressive wide turns that I should have controlled better.  We did manage right hand weaves which I am pleased with after training last week.  We ended with a nice simple 1-7 jumping round.  When I start a sentence with 'nice and simple', it usually means I did something wrong, and I did!  I got lazy at the end of the run and basically ran off passed the jump and Shadow followed me, it had been a long day!

Greg and Shadow

Doople had a significantly better weekend than Shadow, but then that wasn't hard.  Doople ran the same 1-7 agility course as Shadow and had a better result finishing with a clear round.  She was running forward well as she has been all winter.  We had a long wait until Doople's other rounds as they were at the end of the day.  In the first grade 1-3 jumping Doople was really going for it.  Susi had some good changes and the turns were tight resulting in 7th place.  Bearing in mind the were over 100 dogs in the classes, any placing is great.  Places are typically 10% of the number of dogs entered.  Doople had a few refusals in the grade 1-3 jumping as +Susi Cooper turned too soon for her, and she got distracted at the last jump.  The grade 1-3 agility was a fairly straight forward serpentine that Susi and Doople ran well and finished with a 4th place, just outside the trophies.

Doople had a lie-in on Sunday as she wasn't running until lunch time.  She started with a fairly simple grade 1-3 agility and ran well picking up a 6th place.  This was followed by another grade 1-3 agility in which Doople ran well again.  There was a wide turn going into the tunnel and the see-saw was a bit slow as Susi crossed behind, but still managed a placing 9th place.  Doople stops a little earlier on the see-saw when Susi crosses behind, so we need to work on driving her forward towards the end more.  Next up was grade 1-3 jumping.  This had a fairly tricky start for grade 1-3 with slalom worked up then down, but it was made easier by having a good startline wait.  Susi started well but got in the wrong place slightly and had to shoo Doople over the jump.  They both made up for it and ended with a clear round.  The final round was the same grade 1-7 jumping that Shadow faltered in, and Susi must have been watching too closely as she proceeded to do exactly the same thing!  Not the best way to end the show but the rest of the running was good.

Susi and Doople

We also had Winnie running at the show.  We ran her in anysize classes over medium height jumps to work on her mental stamina and concentration as well as building up her confidence in the ring.  On both days we had an agility round and a jumping round.  In the first agility Winnie was a little distracted with what was going on, especially when it came to turning but was still clear.  She was concentrating more in the jumping but I ran past a jump and a flat tunnel so she missed them.  In the agility on Sunday she was much better and far more confident.  Again, in the jumping she was looking like she enjoyed herself more.  She did manage more clears than Shadow in the end!

Greg and Winnie

I also ended up running a friend's dog in the last class on Sunday, 1-7 jumping.  This was Gladys Tomb's Benji.  It was good fun to run another dog a Benji was quite happy as he got to run.  I didn't realise his wait wasn't very good though so we were eliminated after two jumps, which I have to do at least once in a show!

It was an enjoyable weekend especially being outside in the nice spring weather.  We were both shattered after the long walk to/from the caravan as we were camped a few minutes from the rings.  Our next show isn't until May at Godmanchester so we have time to practice weaves and contacts.