I just got a letter from the Kennel Club saying that the person who won a G5 agility class that Niamh and I came second in at last year's KC festival has been disqualified and therefore Niamh and I move up to first place.
I knew someone had been running at the wrong grade at that show because they qualified for Crufts in the same final as Niamh and on the day they weren't present and rumour was that they had been disqualified. It must have been this same person in this class. Now I have to send back my trophy and rosette to get the first placed ones instead! Um, where is it?
Good girl Niamh, I will give you an extra biscuit!
Andy wanted me to set a course that he could walk and run without practising and specifically he wanted a straight weave entry included. We don't often train straight weave entries and they can be deceptively difficult. There was a string on agility forum recently discussing that straight weave entries are a difficult thing to set for the lower grades and I agree with this sentiment.
I designed a course that included this feature, plus three jumps where we could practise pull throughs, push throughs and snakes. A tunnel where we could practise a go round entry from the back, a long jump into nothing and some other "nice" features.
We had two course designs and some exercises using the three jumps. The puppy class ran the course in light circles first and Kizzy did really well. Their only mistake was when Andy did a front cross at #9 to bring Kizzy round the right wing to the A-Frame. He moved off too soon and Kizzy took the back of #6. Then they ran the second course in black circles which I think was slightly tougher. Kizzy ran the course faultlessly and got a clear round.
We also did the exercise in red circles which included the push through and then a go round to the tunnel. Kizzy did this exercise without fault.
I really enjoyed my class with Niamh. We did the same exercises. Her push throughs and go rounds were excellent. I was really happy with our training last night. Her weaves were faultless and her contacts were good. All in all "good job".
It was a good course to train on so here it is in case anyone wants to try it. It can be used for much simpler sequences but we chose to go for the tougher options in order to push ourselves out of the comfort zone. This training session gave Andy a lot of confidence for Kizzy's first outing at Dordale at the weekend. Now we hope for the weather to improve!
As mentioned in the previous post, we had a good day at Newbury on Saturday. I had only one clear round and that was spoilt by a very long turn out of the collapsible tunnel (although I'm secretly pleased that Niamh is driving on more confidently); I also over worked her weave entry in the same round which lost me some time. I'm trying hard to eliminate the problem we have with Niamh missing the second gap. We had 100% success with weaves at Newbury and overall I was happy with how I handled the courses. I'm trying to be much more proactive and it seems to be working. I was particularly pleased with the Graded 6/7 agility round. Sadly I rushed the dog walk and we were marked 5 otherwise the round was good and would have given us 3rd place behind Murphy and Leah (sob!)
The only downside of Saturday was Poppy being attacked by a collie that left the Allsorts ring. It was a horrible experience but Poppy seems none the worse for the experience. I am so glad it didn't happen with Niamh as she would have gone straight on the counter attack and there would have been a fight. Al and Jay were the heroes and plucked the dog off Poppy. Sadly the handler of the dog didn't handle the situation well and didn't even both to ask if Poppy was OK. Luckily she just sustained a couple of bites that didn't break the skin and ended up with a load of slobber all round her neck. Poppy is such a sweet little dog and never fights back, she just submits which is possibly a good thing.
I was very tired when I got home, my legs ached from all the walking! See how far from our car the rings were. You can't even see them!!
The weather forecast wasn't good for this show but the forecasters were proved wrong. Apart from a few spots of rain we had a lovely day. The trek to the rings was better than the day before but still quite a long way as the car parking is in a separate field to the rings. It's so much nicer when you have parking round the rings but not all venues can achieve this, a real shame!
We only got one round on video from this show. It was the graded 6/7 agility. I really liked the course that Don Nunn had set and decided to have a real bash at it. There was a section after the weaves where most people were putting in a front cross but I walked the course with Marc Saunders and decided to go for a "go round" and push through. Sadly in going for this I moved off the weave entry too quickly and Niamh skipped the second gap (damn, my own stupid fault!) In both her other rounds she did faultless weaves so I guess one failure out of six across the whole weekend is not so bad. I didn't correct the mistake as there's no point and I wanted to attack the sequence after the weaves. I think we did it quite well (it's not my normal style so I'm still way out of my comfort zone) I turned away from the jump in the corner too soon and she knocked that which is unlike Niamh. Despite the elimination I am pleased with the way this round went.
We had a 21st place in the helter skelter (I almost got lost in the middle, these classes make me dizzy) and I was most pleased with 7th place in the G6 jumping where Niamh worked beautifully despite my getting the opening sequence wrong. It worked but cost us a bit of time as I took her the long way round a jump to get to the tunnel because I forgot what I was supposed to be doing and turned into her rather than pivoting. I sometimes despair of myself!
Andy walked the small dog classes that Kizzy would be eligible for just to get an idea of what he might come across. Based on what he walked we think that Kizzy will cope with the patterns without too much trouble (he'll probably curse me for putting this .......)
Here is a little film from the weekend including a little play session with Al and Kizzy. I think he would look good with a sheltie!!
On Saturday I went to WBSDS show at Newbury. Andy stayed at home to get some work done in the office and also do some mowing and tidying in the garden.
We had a lovely day for the show but it was very tiring as the car parking was such a long way from the rings. We were parked up by the entrance gate and it took 20 minutes to get to the rings and back. The show was fun but the layout could have been so much better. Apart from anything else you feel very vunerable leaving your vehicle with dogs inside such a long way each time you go to the rings.
We had an enjoyable day though, the highlight of which was Leah & Murphy getting 2nd place in the G6 Agility. They did a fantastic round, I only wish I'd got it on video but sadly I forgot to take it to the ring with me.
I'll post more on WBSDS and Lewes in a separate post with some video.
On Wednesday Leah and I took ourselves off to Bernadette's to play with the puppies; do some training but most importantly to deliver some much needed newspaper. I had no idea Bernadette was so into current affairs and suchlike.
We had a good play with the puppies and a tiny little bit of training with Kizzy (but don't tell Andy). Then we did some tricky sequences that Bernadette had set up in her garden along with some positive push through training facilitated by Leah.
I found it really useful to run Herbie on the push throughs, having such a competent dog made me relax a bit and concentrate on what I should be doing (despite the fact I got it wrong on the initial go round - too complacent). What I found very useful was seeing Bernadette and Leah run Niamh over the sequence as it made me fully realise how well she now understands the process. This has given me a huge confidence boost.
I also found it useful watching Bernadette do Niamh's startline set up. She was more relaxed than me (ok I know it wasn't at a show) and Niamh was so cute offering her kisses and little paw swipes. I'm going to try to lighten up a bit on her to see if I can get her to relax. She is getting more and more tense on startlines as each competition comes and even at our own training school. I tried it at Leah's last night and it really helped. Will I be brave enough at WBSD on Saturday ...... I'll let you know!
Last night at training Niamh and I had a really good session. Leah had set up some weave training which we found really helpful and also a hexagon of jumps where we could practise our pull throughs and push throughs. This was a really useful exercise as we were able to concentrate on our physical and verbal cues being spot on for the dogs without the need to move as much as you would in a straight line. It's a really good way of honing your skills on these exercises. I've often done this sort of thing on a box but a hexagon is a much better idea. Niamh and I came home very happy - thank you Leah! As reward you get to run Murphy again on Saturday - tee hee!
We had a really good night at training. I set up another handling exercise from Greg's dvd this time working on wrong ends of tunnels. As always we added bits into the sequence so we could work on other stuff. We added the weaves into the middle of exercise so we could practise weave entries later in the evening.
It's a very good exercise to do and was a lot of fun because the dogs get a real good run on the straights and it's nice to see them open up on a straight line as we do quite a lot of twisty turny stuff!
The puppies did exactly the same class and they were fantastic. Kizzy was amazing, really powering down the line to the tunnels and she had 100% success going into the tunnels without any stuttering. Most of us worked on our physical cues for this exercise without too much vocal command. Kizzy took one jump so quickly that she knocked it and did a head over heels. Andy was mortified but she just got up and shot through the tunnel!
Here's the pattern in case any one wants to try it.
For the blue square sequence we all had a go at working the A-Frame and Long Jump wide and sending our dogs over #4 on our left hand, collecting them over #5 on our right hand and pushing round the corner to the tunnel #6. It worked very well. Some brave people also sent their dogs into the tunnel #6 and front crossed #7 and pushed into the weaves. This also worked really well provided you got into position as soon as your dog committed to the tunnel.
We had an enjoyable day at Wallingford last Saturday. We were a little dubious about going as the weather forecast was dire. However, I'm really glad we went because we actually had very little rain compared with what had been expected. It was a dismal cold day but mainly not too wet!
As far as agility goes it was a mixed bag really. I loved the courses that Miranda Frankham had set they were really interesting and quite tricky. Overall I was pleased with our efforts; it's frustrating that the two courses I worked best we had a glitch with our weaves and the one course where I made a handling error Niamh did the weaves correctly! We didn't film the jumping class as it was raining at that point but Andy got both my agility rounds and also Poppy's allsorts.
Poppy got an extra run because the tunnel had come out of its cradle and the judge let us have another go which was very nice for Poppy. However, we got eliminated in the same place on both goes. I should have layered the box but I got over excited running Poppy as she so enjoyed herself!
Andy ran Murphy in one class and he was rather naughty knocking down five jumps, Leah ran him in the agility and he did some lovely contacts but no clears. I also ran Jay's little Shy in the G5-7 agility, she was such a good girl and we got 17th place!
It was nice to get home in the warm and light the woodburner.
On Sunday the weather was lovely here and we took the dogs for a nice walk in Eridge Forest and then paid a visit to Mum. Kizzy came along and sat on Mum's bed, she is a brilliant PAT dog and so gentle and well behaved. Not the little monster that she can be at home!
On the way home we stopped off at the pub and sat in the garden with Kizzy and Abbey and had our lunch. The others were parked near by and were very jealous that Kizzy and Abbey were out in the garden with us.
After lunch I had to go off to Dartford to do a final training session for some of the BSD's off to their World Champs in a couple of weeks. I picked a tough course to work on and they were all brilliant. If they all run that well at the World Champs they should do well.
Here is a little film of Wallingford. I am quite pleased that I'm running Niamh better and more proactively. Even when I got eliminated in the G6 agility I was determined to finish the course as I'd walked it and I'm glad I did because I feel much better when I get positives out of the round even when it's gone wrong. Leah has been helping me with some different handling techniques and I think it's starting to pay off. I am gradually moving away from my comfort zone of hanging off my dog and pulling; it's very hard though!
Here's our training pattern from Tuesday evening which others might like to use. It was good work shop session.
The jumping sequence was based on an exercise from Greg's latest dvd which works on cueing your dog to "go round" and/or "come inside". We worked on this sequence #1-13 and then added in the red numbers so we worked #1 - 23.
We all worked #17-19 as "push throughs" and stayed back at the A-frame in order to work #21 as a "go round". It was a really fun class and we're going to repeat it in a couple of weeks working on the mirror image of the pattern.
As previously mentioned a couple of weeks back we met up with Leah and Jan at Leah's sand school for a training session. It was good fun and I think we all got a lot out of the session.
Leah has been very patient with me recently in trying to teach me "push throughs". This is very hard for me; other people including Toni and Lee have tried to help me with little success due to my gross ineptitude in this task. However, Leah has put a slightly different spin on the process and something has clicked in my brain (a rare occurence). Rather than viewing this handling technique as the opposite of a "pull through" i.e. a "push through" I am training the sequences as multiple "go rounds". I have never taught my dogs to "go round" for some reason known vaguely to myself. Anyway, I have now taught this skill to Niamh and she is proving very good at it. Now I can apply it to the so-called "push throughs". I still struggle to move myself along the sequence but I have the same issue with "pull throughs" so this is still work in progress. However, I now have a set technique in my head and something I can practise. Slowly, it's starting to come together!
We (royal we) have also taught Kizzy "go rounds" and she enjoys this exercise. We have also been working hard on tightening up her turns and this too is improving. Still we have a few issues with the down dog walk but Andy has adapted things slightly and things are improving at a rapid rate.
Kizzy has been a little off colour over the past few weeks and I really think this is post season issues. She was the same after her first season. In the last week she has really come out of it and is much more her usual self. In the video clip she was still in this state of mind and wasn't really firing on all cylinders plus she really struggled at the top end of the school in the deep sand, especially in the weaves. That said we think she did really well on a very difficult sequence which Leah set up for us. It was loosely based on the previous day's champ course at Scunthorpe. Andy is keen to practise tough sequences with Kizzy along with her more simple drills in order that he is as prepared as he can be for Beacon when Kizzy has been drafted into the Crufts team (YIKES!)
Anyway enough babble, here's the video! Oh one more thing, I have included some bloopers and have plastered "oops" on my video clip. Readers of a certain magazine will appreciate (or not) the fact that I have done this; or indeed the fact that I've published my video on YouTube!
Oh dear, I haven't updated the blog in over a week. Just been too busy. Last weekend was hectic with Andy going off to the Midlands to judge the European Open trials. He over nighted with Dave Ray so we didn't see him from Friday morning until late Saturday evening. He was pretty tired when he got home and then we were up at 5.00 am on the Sunday to judge the sheltie show. This was fun but very tiring and the day was a long one. Consequently on Monday we were very tired!
From a personal viewpoint the EO trials were a success as Andy's courses seemed to work well and importantly our friends qualified for the event in Germany. Namely: Leah & Herbie; Bernadette & Hex; Helen & Henners; Sarah & Tigg and Lisa & Chi. Yippee! Go gals! I won't publish the courses as Leah and Bernadette have done so. I think we might use them for training in due course!
Manda and Kodak had a fantastic first show at the Sheltie show gaining 6th place in the Helter Skelter class which I judged. I was so pleased for them. Kodak really enjoyed his first show as did Manda!
On the Saturday Karen came over for a bit of training and lunch. We had a good time training Todd and Kizzy. I did confess to Andy that I had a little session with his precious girl! I was good and didn't do any contacts (well, just one A-frame). I did some go rounds and some jumping sequences. She was great fun and I am going to steal her and if I fail then I am going to steal Todd. Karen kindly let me have one go with Todd and he was great. I think I am a very good sheltie handler - ho hum!
Rather than doing one of my megga updates I'll do some individual entries so you can choose what to read and what to ignore!
In the next post I'm finally going to post the video I took when we trained at Leah's a couple of weeks' back together with a little update on Kizzle's progress. Then separately I'll do an update on our day out at Wallingford today!
Happy Birthday to my precious Poppy, 11 years old today.
Poppy is the sweetest little dog I've ever owned, she has no vices and would work until she dropped. I love Poppy so much it hurts.
I got up at 7.00 am this morning and took the dogs outside and then fed them and took Andy a cup of tea (nice of me.) By the time I'd done this the snow was falling and settling. We rang Leah to see if we were still on for training and she said that Jan had left home already so the answer was yes! Before we left I took a few photos of the garden. I can't believe the contrast from yesterday. Crazy April/British weather.
Training was brilliant. I'll do a separate blog entry about that (right now I'm off to Dartford to do a training session with the BSD team members.) I got some video so hopefully there'll be something to post from that. The most important thing about the training was that I did ........ wait for it ............ PUSH THROUGHS. I can't believe it. Leah helped me and for the first time I achieved it for three jumps and on the run. I think Andy managed to record it so watch this space. It is truly a miracle.
The weather has been pretty good today, colder but we had only a few spots of rain. Andy had to get up several times in the night as Becky wasn't well and kept crying to go out. When he got up at 6.00 am to let her out it was pouring down. By the time we got up at 8.00 am though it had stopped so I was able to do my 10.30 am lesson.
After the lesson I took Niamh out and did a bit of training. I took my clicker out and a tub of sausage so that I could work on the weaves. To start with I clicked each time she came into the second gap and gave her some sausage. After that we did lots of repetitions of full sets of weaves without fault and I clicked the finish and fed her at the end. We managed to build up to some really flat weave entries (which is what seems to have started the problem) without error. So it was a positive session with a high rate of reward and a happy dog. We also did some work on our down dog walk finished position. I have taught her to feel for the dog walk with her back legs. She loves this game and I love watching her do it. I can now lay her down about 2 yards from the dog walk and ask her to "find it" and she creeps backwards feeling with her back legs until she touches the contact, then I click and feed her. I'm doing this mainly because I want to reinforce the rear leg contact with the contact equipment. This is the part of her body I want her to focus on in terms of staying in touch with the equipment.
After lunch we all went out into the garden to do some work (well the dogs don't help much, they just play!) The plan was to give the ivy a really good trim but Andy had just started to cut it back when we found a nest with a black bird sitting on her eggs. So that meant we halted and will have to wait until later in the year to do this job. It really needs doing as the ivy is very thick and out of control but it's not the end of the world. Instead Andy tidied up the edges of the lawn and did a bit of mowing in the agility area, just around the edges really as the grass isn't growing that much yet. I did a few bits of tidying on the decking and in the alleyway at the side of the house. I got a massive splinter which really hurt but I did manage to dig it out. Ouch.
After we'd finished fiddling about in the garden we did some training with Kizzy. She had a really good little session. We worked on her left and right turns and then put them into a sequence and also did loads of weave entries. We also did some back chaining on the dog walk to speed up her drive to the finished position. I restrained her for Andy and this made her quite mad so she was really driving well to her target point. We did a couple with the perspex in place and then removed it. We did some reinforced contacts with repeat target commands and extra food and some quick releases. All the jumping sequences and weaves she did for her fleecey tug toy.
Andy did a couple of sequences with Poppy whilst the jumps were down and this made Kizzy really jealous; when he did her next sequence she went up several gears even though she was quite tired as she'd already done about 30 minutes of solid training. We had to shut Abbey in the summer house as she wouldn't stop barking when Andy was training Kizzy, she wanted the fleecey tug for herself. When Andy finished training Kizzy I did a few tunnels with Abbey and she loved it. Bless her little heart.
Here is a diagram of the sequence we were training this afternoon.Kizzy was pretty tired after her afternoon in the garden and then her training session, she is now resting and getting her strength back ready to cause maximum irritation when we sit down to watch the box this evening.
We also had a play in the garden last night when we finished in the office. The dogs had a nice long walk during the day and then at 5.00 pm we took them out in the garden for an hour. We were going off to Dan and Mac's for supper so wanted the dogs to be nice and tired. Abbey came with us but the other five stayed at home. Here are some pictures from yesterday:
Plants growing in the fish pond
A lovely pink flowering tree in the garden - you can see the out of control ivy behind it!
After her little training session last night Kizzy would like some snacks and some beer please!
She's so cute
Poppy exhausted from her busy day, asleep beside me on the bench.
Naughty Niamh waiting for somebody to please say "OK" so she can get that damn toy!
The beautiful magnolia which will probably get ruined if the weather forecast for Sunday is correct!
Abbey just keeps going under jumps, anyone got any advice please?
She still loves to play and tug!
Four of the Hudsondoglets on the back lawn
The view from the end of our agility area - things are starting to green up!
Kizzy doing a little bit of training last night. Here Andy was getting her to turn left or right over this jump without moving, just releasing her and giving her a left or right command without any physical aids. This is easy for Kizzy but hard for Andy!!
Well that's about it for now. Tomorrow we're off to Leah's sand school to meet up for a bit of training. We're going to set up some FCI type sequences mainly for Leah to practise with Herbie prior to the EO try out but Niamh and Kizzy will be joining in. Dan and Tig might come along but we haven't heard yet. Then in the afternoon I'm off to Dartford to do a training session for some of the dogs and handlers who are going to the BSD World Champs a little later in the year. I think it's going to be very cold but at least we're indoors!
Andy is very excited because the new series of Dr Who starts tonight (Torchwood finished last night). Oh joy, thankfully I've got a good book on the go at the moment!
We had a lovely walk in Eridge on Abbey's birthday. I took four dogs with me and Andy walked Becky and Murphy locally. I took Kizzy as we had an appointment at the vets and that is only 5 minutes away from my Eridge walk.
Here are some pictures, they're not very good because it was rather a dull day. Abbey really enjoyed the walk and it gave her a good appetite for her dinner!
We went to the vet for Kizzy to have her rabies jab. In three weeks' time she'll have blood tests. The results of the blood test will take about a week or so to come through and if positive her passport will be issued, back dated to the day the bloods were taken. So we have about a month to wait and see if we're in time to have the option of going to the sheltie agility show in Germany in October. Fingers crossed for a positive result.
After the vets I popped in for a visit with Mum as her nursing home is just a few minutes from the vet. She was quite well but not very communicative.
Both yesterday and today we have had lovely clean dog walks. It's such a treat coming back from the walk and just letting the dogs straight into their beds in the kitchen rather than ferrying them out to the washing area. They couldn't believe their luck as they all hate being washed and dried - especially Niamh and Kizzle.
Last night I went training at Leah's for the first time. I really enjoyed it. Both Niamh and myself were really exhausted by the end of the lesson but it was really good. Niamh did her funny thing in the weaves a couple of times but mostly they were good. I was really pleased with her efforts, she was full of herself and did some really good stuff. I so need to get fitter. It isn't helped by the fact that I was struggling with this wretched cold but I can't use that as a complete excuse; I must lose weight and get fitter. Maybe once the spring comes along I'll feel more motivated, this awful weather just makes me miserable and then I eat things I shouldn't!
Abbey is my once in a lifetime dog and very very special to me.
She hasn't been very well just lately with little appetite but today she woke up much brighter and barking for her breakfast. For her birthday she'll have a bowl of pasta for lunch with sponge cake chopped up on top. These are currently her two favourite foods. I have a couple of lessons today and then we're going off to her favourite walk in Eridge Forest as a special treat.
It was good to get back to training. I didn't go last week due to being ill. I've still got this wretched cold, it just won't go. Although I enjoyed training I was out of breath after about ten obtacles. By the end of my class with Niamh I was exhausted.
I was happy with our performance in the main but the weird thing was that she skipped the second pole again. This started two weeks ago at club but she showed no sign of repeating this behaviour at home or at the Easter show. Last night she did it again. It's very hard to stay calm and not get paranoid or irritated by this. At the end of the class I took her to the weaves with a handful of sausage and did lots of repetitions. To begin with I slowed her down and each time she came back through the second gap I praised and fed her. We did about 20 successful repetitions so at least I put her away in the car feeling more positive.
We picked an FCI course from the 2001 world champs in Portugal. It was the large individual agility and was a challenging and fun course to work on. For our class Andy split the course into sections and then we ran the whole course at the end.
I did a similar theme with the puppy class (I really need to rename this class as they're not puppies any more!) and all four of them finished by running the full course. Two of the dogs aren't weaving yet so they did a slightly different version but Evelyn and DeeDee and Andy and Kizzy did the whole pattern. Evelyn was clear apart from one wrong turn (in front of the tunnel # 10) and Andy chose to run the course by pulling to the weaves # 14 (rather than putting in a front cross) and Kizzy just missed the entry which she had got each time in practise :-( I was really impressed with all of them as this is by far the most complex course they've achieved and the most obstacles sequenced together. Whilst we split the course into sections prior to running it in full the class members kept busy when it wasn't their turn by practising start lines and wing wraps. I think they were all tired but happy at the end of the class!
The pressure was on for me to put on a good class because Leah took their class last week when I was ill and Andy (being Andy) came home and told me how good the class was, much better than normal. Sob. Nobody loves me. Jenny was very sweet and said that indeed Leah's was a very good class but so were my classes; they were just different. I go into too much detail for Andy's liking; he likes to keep moving and have loads of "goes" at everything. Maybe something to do with the fact that his bad dog barks when not busy!
The last two classes we ran slightly differently but running the whole course to begin with and then analysing and practising and then running again at the end of the class.
Here is the course for those interested:
After training Leah and Jay came back with their supper (chips and salad in a pitta bread) as they often do. Andy and I declined as we're trying to be a bit sensible about what we eat. What am I saying, we both scoffed "Wendy" cake that Mac brought along after his win with Spud at the Easter show. Oh well, it's the thought that counts.
Leah and Jay won't thank me for these lovely photos, but there you go!