Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lincoln & Sing

Agility season is definitely into the full swing now, I have been going to an agility show every weekend this month, KC and UKA! I live up to my new name, agility addict! hahaha ...

We went to LAE (Lincoln Agility Enthusiasts) this weekend. It was a long way from home so Colin has to take a day off from work so we can travel up on Friday morning. We woke up at 5am and left home just before 6am. We were lucky that traffic wasn't too bad but we were slow towing as there were a lot more road works that I expected and we also got stuck behind some big lorries most of the journey! We got to the showground around 11:30am, we did have an hour break on the service station though.

Lincoln people make all of us feel so welcome, this is my 2nd time at this show. My first time was 2008. I love the showground, the ground was very good to run on, flat, no bumpy lumpy and it is HUGE. We had a massive secure exercise area for the dogs to run around.

I need to say a BIG THANK YOU to Lincoln especially Trevor with his PLATINUM SERVICE who helped us with the caravan. I usually charged up the battery when we got back from a show so we are ready for the next camping trip. Unfortunately, we think the charger has gone his best date, so we had a FLAT battery! Anything battery operated is not working!! Arrrrggghhh ... Colin and I are quite an easy person, we don't fuss about luxury when we go camping. We always use the minimum from our caravan. We have never use the toilet, we use the toilet as a storage for doggie stuff. Now, it didn't get dark until 8:15pm, so we can still sit outside in the warmish weather until 9pm before going to bed. The only inconvenience bit is we cannot trigger the water pump! I need water especially when it is hot. Trevor was very kind to lend me his spare battery and took my battery away to charge, we got all the lights and ignition to work but not the water! I had a good check up on the caravan yesterday, everything is working fine, hopefully it behaves his normal self this weekend.

Saturday was lovely at Lincoln, beautiful blue sky and sunny weather, I've got sun burn almost straightaway! We also have a free entertainment from the Red Arrows! There were two red arrows practicing and they kept drawing a heart on the sky, at one point I was so distracted that I nearly miss my run!

Sizzle had four runs each day and he pop out from the last weave pole in three classes per day, the one that he didn't miss, he either win it or got placed. Homework this week is WEAVE! I tried to watch the videos over and over again but I can't quite see why, I have a feeling it was me and my body language. I remembered when Sing used to pop the last weave, it was me being IMPATIENT and wanted to rush to the next obstacle. That's me! I am always in the RUSH, I need to learn to be PATIENT.

Sizzle was on fire this weekend, especially on Saturday. I have not seen him running in full speed for a long time. He woke me up at 6am with his energetic self, he wanted to play. He brought me his toys, I ignored him and he kept bringing me more toys! His first run (Graded 4,5 Agility) was very powerful, he was so eager to go. Unfortunately he pop the last weave and I didn't swing him back to redo the weave, then we went off course as I lost my momentum. Our 2nd run was the Graded 4, 5 Jumping, again he did that beautifully and pop the last weave! I asked the judge permission to redo the weave. Our 3rd run was the Combined 4,5 Agility. It was a Jump to See-Saw to start with, I knew his see-saw is still not perfect, so I tried to lead out and hope to catch him and he knew what my plan was so he hesitate to go all the way, so he has a very slow see-saw. After that, he flew the course, got his weave but we got faulted on the A Frame!!!! To me, he GOT his contact but maybe I did the blind turn (which wasn't the way I walked the course) he hit higher than usual, so the judge raised his hand. It was a shamed but hey ho, this is the game. You need to play with the judge's rule! To me, it was a very good round from Sizzle. The last run of Saturday was the Combined 4,5 Jumping, judging by the same judge. Sizzle had a wide turn, you can hear me shouting "left left left", that cost him the 2nd place. We were so very close to the winner!

this is Sizzle's combined 4,5 Agility run:

this is Sizzle's Combined 4,5 Jumping run:

The weatherman said it would the hottest day of the year so far on Sunday but we got RAIN instead! I woke up at 6am to let the dogs out and by 6:20, I can hear the rhythm of the rain falling on top of our caravan roof! Where is the hottest weather they have promised? I thought I won't be able to run on Sunday as I hate running in the wet condition. I can't have another injured dog.

The judging started at 8:30, luckily by then, the rain has stopped but the shower/drizzle been on and off all day on Sunday. I was very lucky that each time when I ran my dog, the rain stops. Sizzle's first run was the Graded 4,5 Agility. He started off well, it was jump-DW-weave to start the sequence. I don't really like this course as all the contacts are off angle especially from the AF to the SS. I was very worried that the dog will slip off the SS as it was very wet on the ground and the contacts. I was very happy Sizzle got his weave entry as it was a right turn into the weave, with running contact, you ran all the way down from the DW in speed, I am worry that he won't be able to pick the entry but he managed the entry and pop the last pole again! I should have ask him to redo the weave but I didn't again! Then, we went off course! I decided to take a longer route to do the AF (have him on my right) to give him better run up and then do another front cross on the SS (but I didn't get that). I saw a few dogs having trouble on the SS due to the angle, especially those fast dogs. Slow dogs were alright.

Then, in our 2nd run, Combined 4,5 Jumping, he pop the last weave pole again and I make sure I redo it. In our 3rd run, it was the Combined 4,5 Agility. Rosie Pearson's course. She set up an interesting handling course, there is an obstacle discrimination. We did very well until the jump before the obstacle discrimination. I pulled him away too hard that he missed the jump he supposed to jump, then we went off course! His last run was the Graded 4,5 Jumping. I really do not know what to expect but I tried my best to make sure he stays in the weave and he did and he won that class!

Well, Saturn and I only managed one clear round this weekend. All his runs were eliminated! I did ran him in the Agility though, he was kinda good and bad. He didn't miss his contacts but at one class, he hesitate on the DW into the position. I think we are slowly getting there. We just need more practice!

Here is a little good note about Sing. I have not train him, compete with him after Crufts. He has a complete rest and at one point, I thought I never get to run him again. He has some good times and bad times but I continuously give him massage and swimming with the help of Back on Track coat , Catrophen jab and Yumega ... anything you name it we have tried most of it.

When I started the season without him, I was very emotional. He is my first agility dog, we started everything together. I have never assume I will go to an agility show and not running him. I remembered we went to Downlands in March, I cannot run him, he was winding and crying each time I took Sizzle or Saturn to run. I can even hear him crying when I was inside the arena (we parked very close to the arena). It broke my heart!
He does agility to please me and he want to please me!

Last week, he was full of bean. I trained him at club for 10 minutes. We did some low jumps and weave and tunnels, he flew around, until we did the DW, he was so fast that he fell off the DW, on his bad shoulder! Ouch! That hurt! I gave him arnica straightaway! He didn't look bad at all. When we got to Lincoln, he ran around like a lunatic in the exercise area. I thought I will give him a run on Saturday to see how he copes. This was his last entry. I have withdrawn all his future entries but I can't cancel Lincoln as it was already closed by the time I decided not to run him. Since this was the last entry, and he was looking good, so I picked to run the Graded 6,7 Agility.

I just wanted Sing to go out and enjoy to be with me, I knew he loves to run with his mummy. We both ran our heart out and went clear. I then put him away and didn't even bother to check his time. There were some good dogs competing in the same Grade and I never dream of getting a place with him. Later, I met one of our fellow competitors, he told me Sing has won the class! What? You must be kidding? I can't believe it. I ran to the score tent to check but they have taken the result away. I was left hanging in the air guessing was it really Sing has won that class? Later at the presentation proved that Sing has actually WON that class! WooHoo for my cripple boy! I want to cry and I did cry! How many times over the last couple of years I said I want to retire him? He isn't giving up yet, you know?

I have not yet decide when to run him again, maybe not for a long time but for now, he continues with his massage and swimming to get him fit, oh yes, he needs to loose weight if he is going to do agility again! Hahaha ...

We got to meet up with Tig-let again, Sally was there competing with her Border Collies on Sunday. I managed to take a quick photo of her with her mummy and daddy. She has her daddy's smile, didn't she? The season has started, I will get to see some of the puppies! Yeah!

I missed my last Jumping run with Saturn on Sunday, we wanted to go home at 3pm but I was still running Sizzle until 4pm! We managed to leave at 5pm and got home at 9pm without stopping. It was tiring but good weekend.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Agility @ UKA Prested Hall

Last weekend we went to UKA Prested Hall. I didn't realised it took us two hours to get there, this tells you never rely on me with directions, I am totally hopeless! If I were to know it takes me that long to get there, I would have booked camping. Prested Hall is very nice and the weather was lovely on the weekend. I got terrible sun burn on my face after Saturday!

We had to wake up 5am on Saturday morning as I have two classes to walk. With the UKA show, you need to walk your course eventhough it is not your height. I generally did badly at the UKA shows because by the time they lower down to my height, I forgot the course already! Especially when I have to run three dogs and they are at different levels!

It was quite a foggy morning to start with, the ground was a little wet but as soon as the sun burnt off the mist, it was lovely and sunny all day. Saturn was the first one in, running in his Novice Time Fault and Out. He has enough points to go Senior last year but I didn't do any Game classes. We need some Game points to take us up to Senior and I think it is about time I be brave to do the Games.

Saturn and I are still in the re-train progress for his contacts. I have not enter him in Agility at the Kennel Club shows. I want to make sure we both are confidence before we run the Agility at KC shows. At UKA, you are allow to train your dog in the ring if you wish, that is a big advantage for a young and problem dog.
At home and at Club, Saturn makes a big progress in all his contacts. I cannot say he is very fast running over all the contacts but I can see he is gaining more and more confidence each time he does his contacts. He knew his position, no hesitation at all. The only problem we have at training is he is still slowly walking over the peak of the A Frame. I cannot speed him up over that peak! I try to roll the treat down to let him chase the treat but didn't get a great response!

Back to our UKA, with TFO, you gotto run and run until the judge shouts TIMED or blow his whistle, then you need to run the faster you can to the finish jump to record the time. If you get a fault, you are out. Saturn was good (his standard), he didn't hesitate on the DW, he ran all the way down, maybe not as speedy as a good dog can be but I am happy that he didn't hesitate. We did the DW twice and both time he was good. He was looking around on top of the A Frame the first time but I managed to get his attention back to me. I did released him fast the first time to get him over the hesitation, the second time I got worried when the judge suddenly shout "TIMED", I lost my mind and ran and I forgot we are still in the training process. I wasn't too happy about his see-saw but there you go. He won the TFO and gain himself enough point to move up to Senior.

Later in the Agility, he blew everything off, he hesitate the position on the DW and freeze on top of the A Frame. I have to carry him out of the ring. 

On Sunday, we have Power & Speed as first run for Saturn. In P & S, you need to go clear in the power section before you are allow to do the speed section. In the Power section is consist of all contacts and weave and the judge allow you certain time (in this case, 38 seconds). I knew I am taking this opportunity to train Saturn's contacts. He was good on the A Frame, got into position and wait for my released word. See-saw ok and a little hesitate on the DW position but I gave him time to figure that out and he was good. I didn't carry on running onto the Speed section. I want to praise him when he took the last jump in the Power section. When we restart for the Speed section, I kinda confused where the 2nd jump was so we got eliminated! How funny! All the other got eliminated or faulted on the Power section and I am the only one that got eliminated on the Speed section! But I was pleased with Saturn. I know he needs more time to gain his confidence on the contacts.

Later in the Agility, he blew everything up again! Now, I beginning to wonder ... he can only do the contacts right first thing in the morning? mmmm ....

here is Saturn and some of his runs:

Sizzle was a good boy, he is always so keen and enthusiastic about Agility. We had to wait for a long time before his first run on Saturday. He did a very nice round in the Beginners Agility but got eliminated in the Beginners Jumping. It was my fault, I wanted to pull him but I was too far behind and too late, he went into the wrong end of the tunnel (yellow tunnel), otherwise it was lovely. I have never done clapping when he was weaving but I knew I was already eliminated, so I thought I will try to see if that affect/distract him but it seems that he weave faster? Then, we have another long wait before the Beginners Steeplechase. This Beginners Steeplechase Challenge is a Heat, the top three dogs will go into the Final held in August. There were some very good and fast little dogs there. Sizzle came 3rd and qualified for the Final. 

On Sunday, Sizzle won the Beginners Jumping. He moved up the Novice Steeplechase. It was a big course, long way round. I nearly run out of puff. Sizzle got a 3rd in that. Then, we have another long wait for the Beginners Agility. This Agility is CSJ Grand Prix Heat, the top three of the same height dogs in all levels (from Beginners to Champ levels) go through. All dogs run over the same course. I thought since all levels run over the same course, the course shouldn't be too hard but when I walk the course, I immediately saw the trap for me. DW to pull through over the jump. I knew I am still practicing the pull through and with the running DW, it is not easy especially the beginning sequence didn't allow me to be ahead of Sizzle on the DW ...
 this is my own draft, the scale may not be right especially after the see-saw:
I walked the course many times and in many ways. I am hoping to come through between #2 and #3, but then I will stuck behind #4 and give me no chance to catch up with him on the DW. I decided to go the long way, so I can send him over #4 and RUN as fast as I can to beat him to the DW. The set up of this course was a bit weird, the end of the DW was very close to the metal fencing, the fence is probably on top of the line 12! My option was if I can beat Sizzle to the DW, I will do a push through, if I am so far behind, I will try the pull through. Luckily I wasn't that far behind and I lost a little bit of time to do the push through. I know doing the push through mean I am stuck behind the A Frame! When Eleanor set up some cross behind the A Frame for us to practice, I always moan about it. I told her we don't need the cross behind with running contacts, how wrong was I? Now, I really appreciate she made me do it! 

Oh yes, Sizzle won that class too. He got a 2nd place in the Overall, just half a second behind a Grade 7 dog. I am really pleased! And yes, he also qualified for the Final in August! 
Now I feel much better, I can't wait to go back training! I haven't done any training for 4 weeks!! Lian and the shelties need training!
here is some of Sizzle's runs:

Monday, April 19, 2010


 Colin with his girls ... Samber & Skye

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

good news, bad news, up and down since Easter ...

I am not a bad blogger but I have been extremely stressed since Easter.

The weather wasn't great for Easter but we still went away in our caravan to the Easter Egg-gility at Solihull. We left on Friday morning, the weather was dry and sunny. Just as we came off M42, it started to pour! This is our first time going to Bretford Show, so we were a bit lost in directions, Sat Nav wasn't very helpful either! We managed to find the venue ok. As we pulled in with our caravan, I have to say I was shocked. I saw quite a few caravans already there, parked on the hard standing. We were directed to park on the hard standing too. With the wet and muddy condition, I was actually quite happy to park on the hard standing. This also mean no garden for the dogs! I cannot really complain as everyone is the same. I think we were lucky that the show still go ahead for us, agility addicts!

This photo was taken from our caravan front window. This is our view, Colin has a great sense of humour, he said we are overlooking at some beautiful lakes (puddles!) and the golden mountains (those piles of sand in the far end for the stable used!)

 side view from our caravan

Sizzle got very bored stuck inside the caravan

He really wanted to go out!

The ground was very wet, muddy, soggy, swampy ... The shelties all turning brown instead of sables! You can't spot any difference in Titan as he is nearly all black! Sizzle and Saturn looked really dirty on their white ruff. Sing and Seagull turned brown after their walks in the field. Samber was in season, so she stayed at home.

Our first day at the Easter show started off poorly. I woke up early morning with a text message from my nephew back home to say my mum had another stroke and she was rushed to hospital. You can imagine how I feel after reading the text message. I tried to get in touch with my family but no one was answering my phone/message. I was extremely stressed, not knowing what was going on ... luckily I managed to talk to my mum around noon. She was ok. Phew!

Our first run was Saturn in the Combined 6-7 Jumping. The course was quite challenging, lots of pull through and push through. By the time I managed all the pull through and push through, I forgot which jump to take and turn my body in the wrong direction and got Saturn eliminated. Poor Saturn, I let him down again and again!

Next up was Sizzle in Combined 4-5 Jumping. With the ground condition, I cannot run in my full speed so I wasn't able to switch/front cross in the box so he took the wrong jump and got eliminated!

After two eliminations, I thought my Easter Agility will be full of Eliminations but Sizzle always surprised me to what he can do. He won the Graded 4-5 Agility, this win takes him up to Grade 6! WooHoo! That gives me some confidence to run again!

 here is some of Sizzle's runs at Easter, I tried to include all runs in one video but youtube thinks my video is too long! At the end of this video, in Sizzle's Monday Combined 4-5 Agility, when we missed the last jump, it wasn't me that made the complaining noise! Someone must have felt the frustration! Hahaha ... I meant to do a front cross on the jump after the see-saw but I didn't and I do not know why I tell him "back"? He did what he told to do, so I cannot complain!
 here are some of Saturn's runs at Easter:
Saturn and me are not back as a team yet, we made quite a lot of silly mistakes together and I know it is all my bad handling. I have been very emotional since my mum had her stroke, I knew I wasn't running the way I used to run my dogs. I cannot tell them how sorry I am but I am trying my best.

I really enjoyed my Easter Agility, most of the courses I ran had lots of pull through and push through. I tried very hard and my very best to do every pull through and push through. I knew I messed up some of my runs but I am very happy with what I have achieved. The weather wasn't too bad, Saturday probably was the worst as it was wet and cold, Easter Sunday was dry. The show organiser was very thoughtful, they reserved some areas and moved the rings around so we don't have to run on the thick mud and soft ground. Monday was very windy, at one point, I don't think I can even run Sizzle in the agility ring, I was so afraid that he is going to blow off the Dog Walk.

Sizzle was great, he always tried very hard to run his best. I know his see-saw isn't perfect yet, at show, I tried to recall the see-saw if I get the chance, so I can make sure he gets the see-saw. Now, the weather has improved, I can get him out in the garden more to practice our see-saw. From our Easter show, I have found a new weakness which I need to practice on.

We got home from the Easter show on Monday evening, just before dark. The traffic and weather has been very kind to us so we can get home without any trouble at all.

I have spoken to my mum a few times during the week. She sounded very tired. Most of the time, she was silent when I talked to her. It was heartbreaking knowing that I am thousand miles away from her. I knew she is missing my late brother so much, she kept asking me where is he and why is he not coming home to her? I am so upset that I do not know how to answer her ...

My week went in a blur, I was depressed and upset, I felt awful. I told Colin I don't want to go to Spring at Shuttleworth show. I don't think I can cope. Colin thought I would be better off going to the show instead of staying at home and get worried, so off we left on Friday night with the caravan to Shuttleworth.

I was feeling tired on Saturday and I really don't feel I have the energy to run a dog but I did tried my best. Sizzle did some nice runs. Our first run was Graded 4-7 Agility, we managed the wrong end of the tunnel after the DW and into 2 sets of 6 weaves but we got faulted on the see-saw. I knew our see-saw is always hit and miss, I determine to train the see-saw to its perfection!

Later in the Combined 1-7 Agility, Sizzle did a nice left turn after the DW, but I was left behind and I lost him the jump before the A Frame, he nearly took the finishing jump but came back when I called, he struggled to climb the A Frame, so we finished in a hairy way:
By Sunday, I was feeling very awful and hardly concentrate my mind, I did do the Agility with Sizzle but I misjudge my call off the DW, so Sizzle came off too early and miss the contact! This is the first time at show he missed his DW. I have to restrain his turning off the DW.

We also managed our pull through in our Jumping round! Yeah! He wasn't place (he just slipped out of the placings) but I was more than happy. I think to be able to do a pull through mean a lot to me!
At the end of morning, I can hardly stand my ground so I asked Matthew to run Sizzle in the Combined 1-7 Jumping for me. Sizzle is a mummy's boy, he kept looking back for me on the startline. He was unsure about running for Matt but he was a good boy, he ran clear with him.

Saturn and me still can't get a clear round! There is always something stopping us getting a clear, either he refuse a jump or he took the wrong jump!

I've been to the doctor yesterday, got some anti-biotic, hopefully that will make me feel better. For now, I am wrapping up warm and have lots of cuddles from the shelties!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Happy Easter

The KNIGHTs Shelties would like to wish everyone a 
Happy Easter!