Monday, 30 April 2012

A pictorial account of the south-east drought

The drought we are currently suffering in our part of the country.  

Having been for a lovely pub lunch with friends yesterday we got home and took our two groups of dogs for their separate walks.  I distinctly remember saying to Andy that I was going to do a shortish walk as my girls had been on a huge walk the day before.  However, this wasn't to be as I decided we would wade through the floods for fun.  We got right to the end of the floods but couldn't get through as it was too deep.  The water had already gone over the top of my wellies.  We had to about turn and wade all the way back.  So, our quick walk turned out to be 2.5 hours!  Still, it made for a peaceful evening!

So fed up with this drought!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Not long to go until the WAO's

Yikes, not long to go now until the WAO's in May.  We are travelling out on Tuesday 15th May and then there are training sessions on the Wednesday and Thursday with competition three days Friday-Sunday.  Zeki is in nearly all of the events as we have recently been called to do the games classes.

I have been working on jumping courses and trying to get a better mind set when I step on the line.  I think it's coming but I'm not there yet.   We set up a good course on Tuesday night, again thanks to Greg Derret, it was a version of his masters jumping course from Easter Monday.  Once more it was different from the original because of the shape of our arena.  His course was designed to a square and we had to adapt to rectangular.  It was a good course which had plenty of handling but flowed for the dogs.

Still I didn't manage to go out and run clear first time round.  Zeki did a brilliant run but on my first attempt I lost her into the weaves # 11 instead of the tunnel #5.   I started again and she ran clear.  However, that is not going to be good enough.  I have to run a jumping course clear first time before I depart.   The course turned out to be a good training pattern as there were so many different ways of handling the weaves #11 through to tunnel #17.   We ran the course the way we thought we could run clear and fast and once we had done that then we tried different things.  Both Leah and myself found our final attempt at running the course to be our personal best attempts.  In both cases it wasn't the way we chose to run it first time.  So we took away from this not to be blinkered about how we handle certain sequences.  

Last night Leah set up a jumping course for me at her club.  It was very tricky and testing.  I was reasonably pleased with my performance in that I actually got round to #17 before going wrong.  This is further than I have been getting and it was an exceptionally tricky course.   We worked through our errors and on my final run we managed to go clear.  This is my best attempt at replicating the pattern we ran:

I am hoping to set up an extra training session at our school before the WAO in order to get some more practise in before we leave.  I am also hoping to get in two competitions before the event both with champ classes for Zeki which will be good practise plus of course I so want to win that third ticket!  We are booked at both Vyne and Beacon shows and subject to this wretched weather improving we will be there trying hard to give our best performance.

I got my tee-shirts back from Marilyn's mum who has made the most fantastic job of altering them.  They now fit me and no longer look like tent dresses!

Here is a link to the WAO magazine in which Zeki and I feature on page 54.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Happy twelfth birthday to our little 'Tri-Pawd' Becky

Happy birthday to our dear little Becky who is twelve today.  She is so much happier than this time last year when although she had four legs she was in so much pain.  Now she is smiling every day and back to her old happy-go-lucky self.

The hair on her operation site is really growing back thick and fast and I think once a bit of top coat comes through it will be hard to tell that she is in fact a 'Tri-Pawd'!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Spring garden and strange sighting

It has been so wet and I think we have quite a bit more rain to come.  We were booked into Wallingford for one day this weekend by I don't much like Newbury in the rain so have decided to stay home.  We've been quite busy this week so I'm really looking forward to lighting the fire and catching up with some t.v. with a glass of wine.  Shortly off to walk the dogs so hopefully they will be nice and tired and will chill out by the fire too!

Managed to get some pictures of the garden to cheer the blog up.  The garden is loving the current spell of wet weather and I think it shows.

For a couple of weeks now a little Blue Tit has been visiting our garden and we noticed it has an extra long beak.  We have sent a picture to this organisation as they like to keep track of weird things like this.

Here is a picture of our little feathered friend and some of the garden:

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Final WAO training session and what I need to work on

On Sunday we trekked off to Gloucestershire for our final official WAO training session.  I have found these sessions really helpful as they have pushed me but also highlighted things I really need to work on.

Now all I need is for the weather to be a little kinder so that we can get outside and practise some of these things: sending Zeki onto an obstacle with me starting to pull away ready to run off in another direction; weaves into a solid obstacle e.g. side of a tunnel and more important that anything jumping courses period.  I always do better on agility courses and really need to find a way of getting the right focus for jumping courses.   My mind set is poor where jumping classes are concerned and I really need to work hard to change this attitude.  Possibly this is because jumping classes have never really had much importance in British agility, even with our current championship class it isn't always critical to do a first class jumping run and so I tend not to take attack jumping courses the same as I do agility courses.   Also, we rarely train over jumping courses because people want to train contacts and we tend to set up what the majority wants.  Perhaps we need to change this practise and once a month set up a tricky jumping course.  Anyway, all I know is that I have to change my attitude and fast.

So far I have used my new rubberised contacts just once, they have been wrapped up under their new covers since the day after I got them as we've had quite a lot of rain.  Typical April weather really but after the very warm, dry March I think we all thought summer had arrived!  Sadly not, although I am not truly sorry for all the rain because here in the south of England it is badly needed.

Colin Knight very kindly did some videoing at the weekend and here are a couple of Zeki's rounds as a result.  Thank you Colin.

We picked up our WAO clothing on Sunday.  Love the jacket but it was hilarious when I tried on my polo shirts.  They were like dresses on me.  Not far off knee length and miles too big in the body!  Oops.  Luckily Marilyn came to the rescue and took the shirts with her for her Mum to alter.  What a super star.  I honestly couldn't have run in those shirts as they were so huge.  It provided a good laugh and I wasn't the only one, was I Bernadette LOL!

Last night at training we set up this course which is a take on Greg Derrett's UKA Masters agility course from Easter Monday.   We had to adapt it because our school is rectangular whereas Greg's course was designed to a square.  I expect some things were made easier and others more difficult as a result.  All I know is that it was certainly testing but that I loved running it with both Niamh and Zeki.

It certainly tested two of the things I need to work on with La Beek: #4 to #5 where you had to commit the dog to #4 but be starting your move to get up the line and get into position for #6 and #17 weaves into the back of a rigid tunnel.   Niamh popped out at the tenth pole but did it after rewarding with her ball, Zeki was foot perfect, clever girl.   I also found I needed to handle the run up to the A-Frame differently for my two dogs.  With Niamh (who has a stopped A-Frame) I layered #9-10 to the seesaw, got right up beyond the seesaw to recall over #12 so I could push to the rigid tunnel and then peel away from the A-Frame, recalling over #16 and scooping to the weaves.  I did this with Zeki also and it worked well but I got a better running A-Frame if I didn't layer and actually worked the sequence slightly from behind.  This meant I had more acceleration approaching the A-Frame and the pull away wasn't so obvious to Zeki.  I love how this course made me think and how there were lots of ways of handling the various sequences within it.  In my view a perfect course and I just wish we saw more like this at our shows in G7.  Well done Mr Derrett I think you should judge more often .........

Exhausted by the end of the evening but really happy with how my girls ran this course.