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!