On Friday we went to Ardingly to set up my agility course ready for Saturday's Mid Downs agility show. I judged one part of the Burgess qualifier and the judge of the other part had agreed to use the same course so we also set up her ring. I ran Niamh round both parts and was happy that it ran well and that both parts were as similar as we could possibly make them. I was also lucky that Mark agreed to run his young dog round the course (he was not competing with either of his dogs) so that I could be sure of my ability to judge it properly. I find that very helpful and it boosts my confidence hugely.
It's much less stressful to get your course set up the day before rather than trying to do it on the morning. I know it isn't always practical or possible but this time it worked out as Ardingly isn't far from where we live and I knew that the club members would be there setting up the show.
I also took Zeki out and had a little play with her. It's really nice to have the opportunity to get your young dog into a different environment to see if you can transfer learned behaviours to new places. Zeki was good and did a little bit of weaving and some tiny jump sequences. Again Mark kindly ran his young dog round a couple of sequences whilst I got Zeki working with me and she was much better in terms of paying attention to what I was asking her to do as opposed to chasing another dog. I think we are making progress on this front but I know there is still much work to do! At the moment I rely heavily on food as a reward when in new/different places. At home she will do just about anything for her toy so I know she finds a toy rewarding and it gives me hope that I can gradually increase the value of a toy as reward as we progress together.
The day seemed to go well. I had a few nice comments about the course (always good to hear) and a few negative ones in that some people found it hard to remember the pattern. I can relate to this but it's very difficult to be creative in such a small space. You really have to re-use jumps and I guess that always leads to possible confusion. I had one bit of feedback that really made me sad. Somebody asked a person who trains with us how many times they had practised that course. I have no idea who that individual is but I was affronted that my integrity be questioned in such a way. It really does make me think that judging is becoming more odious with each passing year. I judge only because I feel I really should give back to the hobby I so enjoy but I'm really beginning to question just how much longer I can be bothered to give up running my own dog only for comments like that to be made. Hey ho!
I saw some brilliant rounds of agility and the class was won by Leslie Osborne with wife Sarah taking second place. Sarah, you should have run faster .......go the girls! I also judged the medium 3/4 agility and this was won by a brilliant little rescue dog. I can't recall the name of the handler but it was a cracking round (as Ness would say!)
I finished judging at lunch time and was taken across to the pavilion for lunch with my scribe Sara (thank you Sara, it's nice to have someone you know scribing for you). We had a very nice lunch along with Helen and a friend. Very civilised and pleasant. Then we went back to the show and I spent the afternoon socialising and making sure each of my girls had some time with me. Zeki was pretty good as long as I kept her busy doing tricks or stays. If I tried to chat to anyone she immediately became fixated on the ring and was lunging and barking. So, I had to work hard with her to keep her occupied and reward only good behaviours. We watched Andy and Kizzy run and the best thing for me (apart from Kizzy's run itself!) was that when Zeki saw Andy and Kizzy run she actually got so excited she wanted to tug! Hurrah, it is in there I just gotta keep working on it!
Back to Kizzy. To be honest I didn't expect a lot as they haven't trained much due to Andy's injury. The course was interesting and I would say quite tricky. It was G5-7 but perhaps more leaning towards 6-7 in terms of difficulty. Anyway, little Kizzle went out there and did her stuff. She won the class despite her pilot instructing her to turn right (which she duly did) after a jump instead of left. I was quite impressed that Andy had the wherewithal to stop Kizzy back-jumping as he corrected his mistake. It cost quite a bit of time but they still won the class as the rest of the round was so smooth. So, that means Kizzy is into G6. This was Andy's goal but I don't think he expected to achieve it quite so quickly. At this point I should also say well done to Neil and Bex who also won into G6 at Chippenham! That little dog is going brilliantly. I saw them run at Crufts and was very impressed. I also heard that Manda and Kodak had a win at Chippenham, that is great news! All in all a good day for the Obays with Timmy and Peggy coming 2nd to Andy and Kizzy and then Bernadette and Zen winning the medium class. Sadly Todd and Karen had a tiny glitch but I was well impressed with Todd's contacts they looked just about perfect to me. Andy watch and learn!
The downside of this is that I now have to change all Kizzy's entries (Andy never does entries) and it's a pain. It must be a nightmare for show processors and now it will be even harder with the new rule.
I was glad I saw Hex and Leah run in their G3 jumping. They won the class and looked very impressive. Well done also to Lesley and Toot winning the other part of the same class.
All in all a really good day, just wish I had been running the Naughty Niamh! I can't wait to run her at a show.