I didn't much fancy going away for this weekend but Andy persuaded me it was a good idea so off we went on Friday afternoon.
I am glad I went as doing something certainly takes your mind of things. I had a few upsets over the weekend when anyone said anything nice about Abbey but it'll get easier and to be honest I need to hear these nice things even if it does make me blub.
Saturday was a very long day. Andy was judging the large championship class followed by the Agility Club juniors and starters finals. It was very hot so I took an umbrella to the ringside so that I could scribe in the shade. We were really lucky as lots of friends helped on our ring. It's amazing how many people put their names down to help (and in the case of the agility club get cheaper entries) but then don't turn up! Leah and Jay worked all day, Bernadette did a big chunk of scribing and Mac Card also helped with setting up courses and pole picking. Lynn and Mark Sheridan were brilliant also, they were on the ring all day long and in Mark's case right up to the end of the finals. It was Lynn's birthday and she didn't get to open her cards 'til 5.00 pm! Thanks to all our friends for their help on the day and of course to the rest of the ring party, especially Raine who I forgot in the first mention. She, Jay and I had a good laugh throughout the day!
The champ class ran well although I found the timing rather slow. We used the big display timer which is fantastic for the spectators but it is very slow to reset to "zero" and this means you have to keep the competitor waiting before you can set them off. I hate this because they are stressed enough in a champ class without extra hassle. I think they got used to the system but it isn't ideal. What we really need is a digital timing display linked to the usual timing boxes. Hopefully someone will produce one in the near future.
The courses were pretty technical with a few "European" features, hmmm wonder why!! When someone ran them well it was spectacular but they were the kind of courses that if a mistake happened then it was very difficult to pick up and finish the rest of the round smoothly. There were lots of subtle "alternative options" for the dogs to choose (I use this term as I hate the word "traps" in the context of course design.) I would love to have tried running them with Niamh as I really like lots of handling rather than courses that are too straight forward. I particularly like the jumping course as it was interesting. I always prefer to run agility over jumping classes but every now and then a jumping course catches my eye and this was one of them. Here are the courses in case anyone would like to try them!
The final was exciting to watch and I think everyone thought Nic Jones and Caleb had done enough to win until Lee ran with Bold. Their round was foot perfect and won the ticket; a very worthy winner over three challenging courses.
Now, in the words of Bernadette - rant coming so please don't go any further unless you want to! Actually is isn't a rant really, just my viewpoint (nothing to do with Andy):
The only downside of the class was that Andy had to eliminate a competitor who turned up late for their run. Some champ judges don't give a minute's waiting time and eliminate competitors immediately moving on to the next handler in the running order. Andy always gives a full minute waiting time for each competitor. Unfortunately the next competitor was also missing and so the second minute of waiting time was started half way through which the first competitor arrived on the line. Their ticket had already gone back to the tent with an elimination marked on it. Andy felt really bad saying that the individual couldn't run and made a point of finding them to say so later in the day. I agree with his decision; if you make exceptions for one individual then you are left in a position of having to do this for everyone who might turn up late. For the judge it's a no-win situation. The lesson learned from this, should Andy judge champ again, is that he will probably not give the minute's waiting time. That way, if someone doesn't turn up then the next competitor will run straight away and there can be no argument about missing the run as it will be obviously too late.
The saddest thing (and the reason for my rant) was that someone was overhead to say that it was just a case of Andy flexing his muscles, that's so unfair because it wasn't the case at all. He was simply abiding by the briefing he had given and in doing so attempting to be fair to everyone and not just one individual. You try to do the decent thing by competitors by giving this time and still you are deemed to be mean when you carry out the decision. That kind of comment makes you wonder if it's worth the effort of judging. You give up your time to try to design interesting courses, you give up your day's competition, your dogs have a lousy day without you and in this case you stand out in the baking sun all day long and end up with heat stroke. There you go - my mini rant is over! This is in no way directed at the individual who missed their run (thought I'd make that clear!)
Moving on, after the champ class was finished then the course had to be set up for the Juniors and Starters finals. These ran until nearly 7.30 pm so it was a very long and tiring day. I felt so guilty about my poor dogs. They didn't have much time from me at all. It was very hot so they were probably best off resting in the shade but even so they didn't have much company.
Agility wise: I ran Naughty Niamh and she got clear in the Crufts singles but out of the places because I made a couple of handling errors which cost us time. We missed the weave entry in our G6 jumping (my fault as I got right in her space) otherwise she worked beautifully and in our pairs we had one pole down. Poppy got clear in her allsorts although it wasn't very smooth as she was wild!
Phew, what a long day and not one to be repeated in a hurry!