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.