So here we are, 6 weeks into our UK lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Needless to say, it has been a very strange time, but I've been enjoying my hour a day of freedom to walk the girls and appreciate the beautiful countryside around us. Here are few pictures of our adventures so far:
For a long time I've been following a photographer called LM Photography - a very talented lady called Lara Maskell. Her photos of dogs are incredible and I was lucky this year to have my family contribute to a photo shoot with Ruby & Pepper.
We had the shoot on my birthday, just before the UK went into lockdown due to Coronavirus so the photos that I have received will forever be a happy memory of a very strange time.
On Friday I travelled to Orsett in George, with Ruby and Pepper to take part in our first Axstane show.
The traffic was awful, and I'd embarrassed myself falling over in the M&S foodhall on the A303 on my way home from a meeting, so I was feeling battered and bruised and wondering if I should have even bothered. But a chilled evening drinking wine and putting the world to rights with my friend Marianne soon had me sorted.
On Saturday, I had a Graded 4 - 7 agility to run with Pepper first thing, which was good as she has started to self-release from her contacts so it would give me a training opportunity before the Champ Agility. The course wasn't that nice - if I'd been G4 I would have probably cried if I'd been faced with that, but I like a challenge. I decided to run the course to try things that I'm not confident with - the start was jump, pull in, jump, tunnel. She did the pull in, and I was so delighted, I stood watching her and forgot to ketschker the jump, and she nipped in the wrong side of me to take the dog walk instead of the tunnel! E before the 3rd obstable - ooops! Still, I could then make sure we did the training criteria I had set, and she did her contacts really well.
Next was Champ Agility - here's the course plan:
I was feeling quite confident and had a plan how to run it. From 7 I planned to rear cross 8, and then German 9 - this worked really well, and she got her weave entry. I wanted to rear cross the weaves but didn't wait until she was fully committed and she popped out - we got 5R. We then picked up another 5F for knocking a pole of the spread - the last jump!
When it came to the Jumping I decided that I just had to go for it. The course was tricky, with lots of traps - here's the course plan:
We were drawn to run 80th, and watching the dogs before us I realised that the line from 15 (a wall), to 16 and 17 was going to be better if I handled round the right wing of 15 rather than the left - it was all going well to that point, but when I got to 15 my timing was a bit off and she stopped which got us a 5R, and then another 5R, but then she took the jump and we completed the course with 10 faults.
We'd finished all of our runs (more news on this later) and were ready to go home when they announced the finalists, and I couldn't believe it when I heard my name called out first! How did that happen!
So we had somehow achieved one of my agility goals - to take part in a Champ Final. It was more daunting than I had anticipated! The course walked well, and I was looking forward to running it. Here's the course plan:
As we went round the course, I thought my legs were going to give way completely. We picked up 5F for the weave entry - I needed to take one more step to help her, but realistically I need to train weave entries to make sure this doesn't happen again!! And then right at the end, I nearly fell over and caused Pepper to knock the second to last pole - another spread - more training required!!
So, we finished with 10F - the theme of the day! There were only 2 clear rounds, so we were in good company and were placed 7th overall. Here's a video of of our run:
And here are the results:
And so to the rest of the day:
Both dogs were entered into the ABC Olympia Qualifier - Ruby ran first and had a glorious E, needing to be put back on the dog walk and the A-frame. Pepper also had an E - there was a pull in between 5 and 6, and for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to handle it completely differently to how we train it,so she took advantage and took jump 6 the wrong way. The rest of it was lovely!!
Ruby had a graded Agility, and contacts were once again our nemesis - I E'd us putting her back on the A-frame. But she was clear in the combined G1-4 jumping, and I was delighted to find that she had been placed 6th.
It was a tiring day, but I was delighted to have taken part in our first Champ Final! Here's to the next one!
We had an epic trip to Wye Valley for our first Champ Show!
Pepper and I left for our road trip on Friday afternoon and arrived in lovely weather to get set up for the night. Sadly the weather turned on Saturday morning and very quickly the ground turned into a quagmire.
We were 7th to run in the Jumping, but the ground was dreadful and I nearly fell 3 times. The first time was just at the entry to the weaves, and my slipping caused Pepper to go in the wrong side. Further on, I just couldn't get where I needed to to guide her round the back of a jump so we were E'd. But there were lots of positives in the run - she did a nice pull in, and drove on to a tunnel well. Here's a video of our run - no laughing:
Following this I was considering going straight home, but I had a look at the Graded 6-7 Jumping, and the course looked nice, and the ground was pretty good, so I decided to give it a go. We did a lovely clear and came 3rd.
We then ran the Graded 6-7 Agility where the ground was awful, but I wanted to use it as an opportunity to do some contact practice. Somehow we were clear - it wasn't pretty - and we were placed 6th.
By now Pepper was caked in mud, and no amount of towel drying was going to get her clean enough to go back into George, so I had to resort to giving her a shower! I started packing to leave while waiting for the prize giving to take place for our other runs.
I didn't see the point in staying for the Champ Agility, but by the time I could leave the course was ready for walking and had been moved to new ground. Seemed silly not to run it seeing as we were there! We had an unfortunate E as Pepper took a jump the wrong way, but I was delighted with how she ran the rest of it - really good contacts, nice weaves, tight turns! So despite the E I was glad we had stayed to run it.
Sadly, leaving turned into a bit of a drama as George became stuck in the mud and I had to be towed off the pitch. This brought about the questions: What is a towing eye? Where are the tools in the motorhome? How do you remove the cover from where the towing eye has to go? All of which I managed to answer with the help of my friend Sharon's husband, Robin. The lady from Wye Valley with the 4x4 was being kept very busy with pretty much everyone in day parking needing to be towed, but we were eventually rescued and on our way.
It was definitely a weekend to remember! What a lovely community we have in the agility world! From the support I received from my friends while there, and those that sent me good luck messages, to all of the people that helped to rescue those that needed it.
The Paws at Play Winter Series came to a close yesterday with the final show in Guildford.
It was a mad busy day, after being rescheduled from last weekend due to the snow, but somehow we got through it and I managed to get the league results updated and presented before dark!
Running Ruby and Pepper is always a challenge when I am involved in running the show, but we managed to come away with a good haul of rosettes to add to our collection.
Unfortunately it was Pepper who suffered the most from my rubbish handling, as I added in 2 extra jumps and a tunnel in one run, but she contributed with some knocked poles before we finally got our act together to win the Senior Steeplechase 2.
Ruby had a fantastic day coming 3rd in Novice Jumping, 2nd in Novice Steeplechase 1 and 3rd in Novice Steeplechase 2.
As for the Winter League - both girls came 3rd in their respective leagues, but Ruby was runner up in the Paws at Play Members League.
We had another successful day at the latest Paws at Play show!
Novice Agility - 3rd
Novice Jumping - 1st
Novice Steeplechase 1 - 2nd
Novice Steeplechase 2 - 2nd
Senior Agility - Clear (2nd)
Senior Jumping - Clear
Senior Steeplechase 2 - 1st
After a long Christmas break, and not much training due to the weather, we had a fun day at the latest Paws at Play show. Both girls did me proud:
Novice Agility - 1st
Novice Steeplechase 1 - 1st
Novice Steeplechase 2 - 2nd
Senior Agility - Clear (2nd)
Senior Jumping - Clear (2nd)
Senior Steeplechase 1 - Clear (2nd)
Senior Steeplechase 2 - 1st
We had Sean Cameron at the show taking professional pictures and I was delighted with these:
It's that time of year again when I take down all of the rosettes we have won, ready for the new competition year ahead.
Highlights this year have definitely been Pepper winning into Grade 7 and seeing how many rosettes Ruby has accumulated:
Wow! What can I say! Our first trip to this show and I can now understand what all the fuss is about! It's one of the friendliest shows I've ever been to and so much more than just an agility show.
We arrived at the show on Monday and having got plugged into our electric hook up (a rare luxury at agility shows), Ian got his laptop set up for work and I set about getting our camp established. The show was huge, but I could see we weren't far from the rings.
The competition for us would be Tues, Weds, Fri and Saturday. Thurs is programmed as a day off unless we qualify for the DINAS Classic Tournament Final.
I'm not going to run through every run, there were so many, but needless to say, both girls were amazing and we came home with a vast haul of rosettes and trophies.
The highlights included both girls qualifying for the DINAS Classic Tournament Finals in their Grades. Ruby took it in her stride but we were sadly E'd. Pepper was a little star and scraped into 3rd place with 5F for her dogwalk contact. It was a great experience and was proud of them both.
Definitely one for the diary for next year!