Well, off we trecked to Letchworth. We had a nice camping spot, again courtesy of Jan. We drove up separately as I was off to the pairs final on Sunday and so it made sense for me to have my own vehicle.
I like Letchworth show as there are lots of nice trade stands, the atmosphere is good and there is a huge exercise area where you can give your dogs a really good run. I love venues that have a good exercise area, too often there just isn't any space for a decent walk. I like my non-competing dogs to have a good time and also I think it's important for my competing dogs to wind down with a nice walk. The downside is that there is quite a bit of walking to and from the rings but do you know what I don't care because on the Friday we actually won a jumping class. This made our fourth win and at last we're into Grade 7. I can't tell you how happy I am!
My previous three collies (Bess, Abbey and Poppy) all competed at advanced/grade 7 and so it's a matter of great personal pride to get Niamh to this level also. I had competed in the championship classes since they first came into being and have missed being a part of this competition during the last two years since I retired Poppy. I am really looking forward to Scunthorpe which will be Niamh's debut in this class. I don't care what happens, I'm just so delighted that she has made the grade.
It was my goal to get Niamh into grade 7 this year and hopefully before Zeki started her KC competitions. I just made it as Zeki's debut is fast approaching this weekend at Burnham show. More about that in a future posting.
I don't much like blogs that are just boast boxes but Niamh was such a little star this weekend that I am going to do just that! On Friday she got 1st in G6 jumping and 4th in G6-7 agility and on Saturday 5th in G6 agility; 6th in G6 jumping and best of all 2nd in G6-7 agility coming second behind Dave and the lovely Rusty (one of my favourite partnerships).
On Sunday I headed off to Stoneleigh with my three girls. I arrived in time to have a look round the trade stands and bought myself a new jacket and a new bed for Zeki. Oh and a pink fluffy turtle for Niamh (her present for winning into Grade 7!) I will post a picture of Zeki's new bed in due course. It's wonderful!
We had a warm up jumping round first and I decided to take it fairly steady in this round in order to keep the poles up and not wear myself out! I didn't do any fancy front crosses or the like, just worked her from behind and she put in a good clear round a second or so off the winning time.
The pairs final was more or less a reverse of the warm up run and a very quick course with my dreaded wrong end of tunnel. This time I knew I would have to get into position much quicker by using front crosses and work hard on the wrong end of tunnel which I am so bad at. Leah and I were running #9 and we followed two stunningly quick pairs (one of which went on to win the competition.) We looked at each other and concluded we would do our best but hey, we'd have fun. We truly didn't believe we could come anywhere near the times of either of the two rounds we'd just watched.
Well, we did. We beat those two runs and I am so proud of Niamh and Herbie. Niamh worked the course like a dream and her line to wrong end of tunnel was the best we've ever achieved! Sadly our pairing gained five faults with a knocked pole but I still cannot believe how we performed. I had mentioned in my commentary card that it was sixteen years to the day that I had won the event with my beautiful Bess and my partner Pete Bishop with his lovely dog Tom. I truly didn't believe that all those years later I could still put in such a good performance. Our time was beaten only by Mr Derrett and his partner. Greg's young dog is very fast and their partnership had 10 faults in a slightly quicker time.
This is a rather boasty blog entry but it doesn't happen often and I just want to get across how very proud I am of my beautiful, gorgeous girl - the Naughty Niamh.
On the journey home from Stoneleigh I reflected how many times I have made this journey for all the different events over the years but more so how very lucky I have been with my wonderful dogs. Even my very first little dog Lizzie got to the team and pairs finals. Thank you Lizzie, Bess, Abbey, Poppy and now Naughty Niamh for giving me so much fun and joy.