Sunday, 29 November 2009

Sexy van :-)

LOVING the van!! It is wonderful. So powerful, it makes me giggle every time I tap the accelerator and off we zoom. The only problem is when I overtake, I have no idea if we have passed the car or not, so it takes me a while to cross my fingers and pull back in. I have got 2nd mirrors on each mirror (blind spot mirrors?) but not sure how they work... all seems a bit confusing really! Saying that, today I drove it in the morning in the dark, and then this evening in the dark... maybe if I drive it in daylight it will be easier?

Had a horrible encounter with two deer this morning, I was more scared because the road where I met them, I am usually going along at around 40 - 45 in my Fiesta, so wouldn't have been going slow enough to stop, however in van aka pride and joy, I was only doing about 25, as I was going around a corner (little country roads) and did not want to drive too close to the hedge and risk scratching it... anyway two deer were in the side of the road, but fairly hidden until last minute, one ran out infront of me, so I slowed down, then it's stupid friend ran out at the last minute and literally just missed my bonnet, phewf, I nearly died, would have been so mad if it had left any dents in the beautiful silver paintwork! I don't think I will ever be able to get out of 2nd gear again down that road, I have driven along it fairly regularly for the last couple of months and never seen any deer, and the one time I met them, I was driving really slowly... someone was looking down on me today!

Garth and Lee very kindly installed my 2up2down cages today (that I bought back in September :-D) and it is so fab putting the dogs straight in. They also removed the top half of the steel bulkhead as it was a bit rattly and also meant I couldn't see the babies. It is still pretty quiet and once I have the radio on I can't really hear anything else anyway :-) I just love it, I have to keep it tidy though!! Going to get some storage stuff for the middle section of the van... want to get some coat hanger type things, but the hooks which I can hang over the bulkhead, so I can just reach in and hang said coats up. Know what I mean but can't remember where I've seen them! I don't think I have ever got so excited about a car/van... I even gave it another clean/polish today, even though it was already sparkling... probably would've been better spending that time on my car - will be sad to see it go, it has been great, but unfortunately it isn't big enough for me, 3 dogs, and all my luggage that I take to shows!

Took Scandal to the ltd show at Conquest Farm today. She managed to sit through the prize giving, at the back, and only barked twice (clapping is very exciting). Then once both rings were finished I took her indoors and had her doing waits and heelwork (our version of it anyway) in the arena and she was lovely, once she'd had a very intense look round for any sign of movement of people/dogs that may be walking or running round a course. Unfortunately at the moment even people walking the course is enough to make her scream... and make me want to scream at Scandal. Once she had been in the arena for a couple of minutes you could see her visibly relax and she wasn't looking so manic, she was concentrating on what I asked her to do instead of squeaking and shuffling and looking like she's about to pop. I am hoping at the show next week we can get quite near the door to the arena, but doubt we will go in unless Scandal's behaviour is perfect... which it won't be, therefore we won't be going in (setting self up to fail?!). At home if she knows the dog who is training in the field, I can have her off lead and she won't chase - she will be excited, but not so crazed up that she's beyond taking any notice of what boring mumma is saying. Hopefully we can build on that and have two dogs training at once with her milling around - I think she'll find this uber hard, as 2x movement = 2x as exciting. Might be at this stage for a couple of months I think!

Still glad the control of dogs (ie the queue test) won't be in place by June 10!

Friday, 27 November 2009

Great week

We spent the day in Kent yesterday and I had another lesson with Dave. I soooo could not concentrate, and handled appallingly, Scandal was tired as had spent an hour chasing round with another dog beforehand (which in hindsight, was very stupid of me, but I didn't realise they were racing round the garden until they'd been out there for about 45 mins) and so she was quite sluggy, and very herdy, wanted to run round every first jump, which was really annoying, there were some bits she was soooo fast, and then other bits when she barely got into 3rd gear. Know lots I need to work on which is good.

Did some with Tia aka Mrs Keen Bean, she so funny, absolutely wild and sooooo wants to do agility, which I just think is great. We did some work on when to use the stop arm, and when I need to stop using the stop arm and teach her to come with me using my shoulders... she's so reliant on my stop arm that it slows her down too much but because she flicks off so easily I've used it too much to compensate for my poor training. She still gets tired very quickly and was knocking poles but that is partly due to lack of training and lack of jump fitness I think.

And now my most exciting news.... I have bought a van... YAHOOOO!! It is a Ford Transit Connect, LWB, SILVER :-D and I'm uber excited (apart from going down to get it and having to drive it home, major ahhhh!). I bought the cages for it about 2 months ago, so will be able to put them up (or, I will get a very kind person to put them up for me :-)) quite soon, it will be sooo great just being able to bung the dogs in the back rather than having to spread them throughout my fiesta in the footwell/back seat/boot. And hopefully the middle section will fit my bike in so we can go down on to the cycle track more often and take them (aka Scandal) out for a good run. Well chuffed, never thought I would find one. Not lookin forward to making the transition from car to van, losing use of all my windows!! And having to use my mirrors, oh and parking... hmmm it's taken 2 years for me to learn to parrallel park the fiesta so got no idea how I am going to learn to park a van!

Happy beans :-)

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Happy days

Sometimes I just have these days when everything seems so perfect and I couldn't be happier with my dogs.

Yesterday I went to the Honiton v South Devon league match, I just took Ricky and Tia as I thought as Scandal needs so much attention when we are at a show, I will instead just give more attention to T and Rix as they can be a bit overlooked when I have the naughty pup. I have to admit it was lovely to have two such well behaved and easy going dogs, they are such a breeze to have around!

They had 4 runs each, agility, jumping, tunnel fun and agility steeplechase (which had a dw and af). Tia ran at large G5-7 and Ricky ran at anysize G5-7 medium. Ricky hasn't had 4 runs at a show for about 3 years so I was excited to be doing so much with him!!

Tia: agility - trained her contacts, lovely 4offs, had a pole then I didn't cue her with my shoulders for a turn and she went round a jump and than ran off into a tunnel.
jumping - was doing a cracking round until I got LOST!!! What a prat. It was a bit of a tricky course, involving a push through (which we did perfectly - yay!) a couple of pull throughs which we also did, and then I had to send her through a box and recall her round the back of a jump - she did this wide, which put me/her out of position so instead of flicking her into a tunnel, I turned round and sent her down a line of jumps. I just can't believe I couldn't remember the course, it wasn't even like I had any excuse of lots of rings to walk! Tia loved it tho, was a mad girlie and put in two bounce jumps which I was uber pleased with.
tunnel fun - just a pole, was FLYING, loved doing big send outs to the tunnels. Came 7th even with 5f :oD
agility steeplechase - in this run, there was something about it that just made me so relieved I made (imo) the right decision to put Tia through months of rehab, she looked fantastic, even if i do say so myself :oD her confidence was awesome, she was completely bonkers, soooooooooo wild, and attacked every jump like she meant it, she did 2 bounce jumps, which considering the ground was soft, and 18months ago she couldn't bounce jump at all, is amazing. I saw so much enjoyment from my girlie in this, loved working, did everything I asked and just ran her heart out. I won't lie and say Tia is my favourite dog in the world, I do really struggle with her (as a pet) but I know that training her in obedience and agility and then doing the rehab stuff with her has totally transformed our bond, when I am training/working her she has no fears, no spazzy 'herd the cat/sheep/ferret/chickens' moments which rule her life, and we have so much fun. When she comes out the ring with her hollee rollee toy and comes out leaps at me to play with her I smile and think at how far we have come. We still have many moments of 'TIA... WHY IS IT ALWAYS YOU IN TROUBLE!!' but agility is definitely something where we can both forget all those moments that we clash and just have lots of fun. Oh dear this is turning out to be another rambly post, but I am just so chuffed by how she is running, how happy she is and the buzz I get from running her. I think it was the first time I have gone for it, since April 08, instead of running her cautiously as if she is about to break, and it was so good to really get into the courses rather than half working, half watching her!

And then good Mr Ricky, who was a great boy today. I wasn't sure whether to run all 4 classes but decided to as will probably be the last chance we ever get of doing 4 classes, he hasn't been too stiff this week and no lameness or anything like that, also the courses were all 5-7 and of course we are used to doing anysize straight up and down, so I was just a bit excited as to have something to really work!
agility - did stop-go on dogwalk and aframe and he did a lovely run, hard work getting him to turn tightly but he was fab and came 1st beating all the other 5-7s large med and small :-D
jumping - knocked a pole when I dropped my shoulder recalling him through a box but he was really tight and no hesitation from me about which frickin direction I was running in, no way was I getting lost again! Got 3rd in this with 5f.
tunnel fun - super boy did a lovely clear I think this run was his favourite, all the massive send outs to tunnels he was sooo fast! Got 2nd in this.
agility steeplechase - held his contacts, did lovely dog walk then knocked 2 poles, maybe he was tired I am not sure. Ran into 4 off on aframe, I held him there for a couple of secs before releasing. Good boy he tried sooooo hard in his runs, ran his little socks off. He is blooming hard work as when I use the cue arm for Tia she understands it and it doesn't feel like I am fighting her all the way round but with Ricky you have to almost stand in his flight path before he will put a steady stride in! Was so great being able to work him on hard courses, he was so up for it, I wish I hadn't had to retire him at the age of 8 but perhaps it's why at almost 11 (and no doubt with the help of Lowri) he is working faster than ever.

What a pair of good dogs I have, I am looking forward to two KC shows next month and then they are having a bit of a break till March/April time, when hopefully we will be doing quite a few shows, oooh the excitement :o)

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Rubbishy weather

I DONT LIKE THE RAIN!!! In fact I quite hate it. I have trained today for 2 hours and got soaked through to my pants, my coat is no longer waterproof and the waterproof trousers I was wearing evidently are not waterproof either.

The only agility training Scandal has done this week was yesterday and 5minutes today. Both times working on contacts, we did some running ones going from the middle of the middle plank of the dw, her first session yesterday of 8 reps she did 7 perfectly and was a little high on one, second session we did 7 and she did 6 perfect and one a little high. Today we just did one session of 5 reps and she was 100% perfect. We also did 1 session of targeting yesterday, and 1 session today and she was great. As I am still only doing FP with her as haven't phased out the target yet, I am making sure I just do lots of varying my position and time I click her, sometimes I ask her for 2-3 nose touches before I click. Did some work with no target and she is getting there now, she does do the "sniffy make sure my target really isn't here" and then once she realises it isn't, targets the ground really nicely. Only bad thing was where we have been doing lots of FP work over the last 2 weeks I have churned up the end of the dog walk area and she ended up with a really muddy nose and mouth poor little princess.

Took all 3 of the dogs over the Mendips yesterday and Scandal had her fluorescent coat on, she looks uber cute!! She's been strangely well behaved this week, no jumping up at people on walks, no running off, and even good in all her agility training.

I worked Tia yesterday and she was good, I can't seem to click with her and so we just do lots of straight lines and then separate work on her turns, rewarding sharp turns/pull throughs, she's very rubbish with her commands, generally because she is barking so much I am sure she cannot hear a word I am saying. I am hoping when we go to Daves this will give me lots of ideas on how/what to work on. I think realistically we are not going to be at all competitive in grade 7, I can't train her as hard as I need to, she has had a lot of damage done to her body these last 6 years, so is not going to be as agile as a 2year old who's never had an injury. Tia is working faster than before her injury, which while is great, is worse for me as now not only have I not worked her for a year, but I also have a suddenly speeded up dog who now turns like a ship and just takes her pick at which jump she's gonna do and off she goes.

Ricky also worked really well, Imogen did some work with him too and he was a good boy, infact he was really good as he held all his waits first time perfectly, which he never does for me!

We have a match tomorrow, taking Ricky and Tia, and Imogen is taking Honey, I am looking forward to it :D

Monday, 16 November 2009

4 x 4

I've started Scandal's weave training off now. I was tempted to give 2x2 a go but decided not to as I don't feel I know enough about it having only watched the DVD and spoken to a few people who have used the method. If I had my very own 2x2 instructor over here then maybe it would be different :o)

I decided not to use v weave as Scandal is very leapy and I think she will just bounce through them and I don't want to encourage her to be high in them. I got a set of channels at the beginning of this but haven't really used them on any dog let alone Bandle, however decided to give it a go this week. I brought 4 poles home with me as they are in sets of 2, they are open about a foot now. We've done 4 sessions of about 5 minutes in the last 3 days. Scandal is now finding 90 degree entrances from both sides, she has cottoned on SO quickly bless her. At the end of this week I am planning on adding another 4 and possibly another 4 after that so she is doing 12 open. Then the plan is to go back to 4 and close them up, then add another set of 4 etc. Very pleased with progress so far, she lurrrrves the weavies :o)

Oh and I am saying "poles" rather than weave. After reading another blog, I realised why after all this time Tia still doesn't understand the command "weave". Well, it sounds too much like leave, she gets told to leave a lot (leave the cat, leave the ferret, leave the chickens etc) so weave/leave sound way too similar. Scandal is therefore learning "poles" :o) xx

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Honey, Scandal and Be

Agility training in Blagdon, November 09. Starring Honey (who I was looking after), Scandal at 11mths and Be at 18mths. Be and Bandle are half sisters.
They are so much fun to train :o)

And Michèle made a video of Ruby and Ant in Holland, how loooovely is Ruby :o)
For those that want to see it:

Sunday, 8 November 2009


Todd's almost 7 months now, I had him to stay for a day last week, he was good as gold. He is Astra Layce x Astra Keyne bred by Pam Duncan and Dane Redford, he is such a scrummy puppy.

And another pic of Scandal, coz she's just so cute :o)

Friday, 6 November 2009

Scandal's first lesson

This week me and Laura with Be went all the way to Kent for a lesson with Dave Munnings. Laura drove, so I got to chill all the way there, thanks Laura :o)

The lesson was fantastic, it was the best agility lesson I have ever had, I learnt SO much, me and Laura filmed each other, and we are going to watch it all back and make notes (geeks :)) as there was so much to take in I am sure my brain has only remembered a tiny bit of it. Scandal was so good, there were only a couple of times I thought she was slow, and Dave said she isn't sluggy, so that's good too :o) I do have to work on getting her to drive forward away from me and I have done too much of running with her, so a bit like Tia she will only get into 5th gear coming down the last couple of jumps. I love training her and just find that I click with her, she doesn't have masses of drive, but it is coming, I find her very easy as she doesn't everything I say like Rix did, but she wants to do it more than Tia did. I now understand properly how to train her rights and lefts, as well as a few other things such as Scandal learning to stay on the line I am running, not cutting behind or infront/to the side. Oh and how to front cross properly so Scandal actually gets to see the jump before she jumps it, poor girl.

I think the 18 months or so I have been out of competing has done me the world of bad!! I feel absolutely hopeless handling, I have no idea where to be, my timing is out, I release Scandal from the start, and by the time she has come to me I have forgotton what I'm meant to say to her!! I could remember the (very easy) sequences Dave had set, but kept forgetting when to move across to do a front cross, etc, all things I was able to do at the age of 12 but it seems that in my old age it's gone from my brain now! Luckily Scandal is very forgiving and gets her bally anyway while her silly mum tries again to get it right in her head before giving Scandal another go!

I can't wait for our next lesson, I feel like I know where I am going with our training now, have lots to practise, and hopefully by the next time we have a lesson with Dave, we will see some improvement. It took ages to get home as some idiot (a.k.a me) booked it so it meant by the time we finished and got on the M25, we hit rush hour pm traffic, ahhhhhh! However as we were both on such a high, it didn't matter quite so much (esp for me, as I had a lie in the next day :))

Was hoping to go to Sharon's today and train with Toni, which I was so excited about, both at having a lesson with Toni as I have never trained with her before, and seeing Sharon's Diesel, however unfortunately as my car broke earlier in the week and I had to have it fixed (altho they didn't, it just cost loads and it is still broke) I couldn't justify more expense at travelling to Sharon's as she's soooo far away. Why do so many great people live in the South/South East?? Hopefully we will be able to meet up in the new year, although it makes me nervous already as it will be Scandal's first time training with another dog! 

After Helen's advice in earlier blog post re: chase drive, it got me thinking as to how I could set up more challenging areas to work in where Scandal would find it harder to concentrate. We have been working on our waits with the chickens as the 'chase'. Scandal lurrrrves the chickens, I bring her in to the field which has the chickens hen house in, it took several goes before Scandal was able to sit calmly enough to open the hen house door, she was squeaking and shuffling around JUST like she does watching agility. She gets so excited when the chickens all come out, her head bobs up and down and she is shuffling her feet around, but she isn't going into a down and even when the chickens have flapped their wings she didn't break her wait. So we are now going to work on improving her sit position, holding a nice upright sit rather than getting lower and lower. Then we will move on to practising on the cows, if I could rank in terms of excitement, the ferret is a 7/10, the chickens a 8/10 and I think the cows a 9/10. And watching anything that is running at speed is a 10/10! But I hope if we can work on Scandal's behaviour and control around chickens and cows, and I can recall her away from them, and ask her to perform her tricks when they are near, then I will be on my way to getting improved behaviour watching agility, and her recall when she is off lead on a walk. Thanks Helen :)

Sunday, 1 November 2009


Scandal has redeemed herself and has been good the last few days! We did UKA Cheltenham yesterday and while I can't say Scandal was good, she was a lot better than at Shrewsbury, did some sit and down waits, held her static heelwork position for a good few seconds, and didn't bite me (yay :D). 

Tia was WILD. Actually, Tia was great, but we just aren't clicking, she is so much more enthuastic and my brain isn't functioning in the slightest bit fast enough to do her justice. In the first steeplechase she broke her wait (Tia NEVER breaks her wait) and much as I lecture everyone I teach to put the dog back if it breaks, I broke the golden rule and put my arm out and simultaneously said "go", Tia went on my arm movement, hesistated, and then spannered the first jump, I can't remember the rest, I think she took another pole. Then the second round it was going ok and right at the end she had 3 poles, got her stride a little wrong, tried to bounce jumps that should definitely have been 1 stride. In the last round she was beautiful, just a pole at the end but was 3 secs faster than the winner, it was nice to see that :o) I think I am going to have to start doing more courses with her in training as all the poles came towards the end, maybe she is getting tired. Steve was here the last few days of this week and we got some pics of Tia on Friday, had her running around and jumping etc, maybe it was too much for her doing jumping Friday and Saturday and her legs were achy I do not know. 

We went for a lovely walk today and walked to the highest point on the Mendips. It's amazing for the dogs, bracken to run in, rocks to climb on, and in Scandal's case, cows, sheep and horses to stare at through the fences. The only thing that has got me worried is as we were walking up the track, must have only been about 100m from home, Ricky looked slightly lame on both his back legs, and then looked like he was going to collapse, I caught him and held him, but he was completely fine within seconds, perked up again and has been fine all night. I am not sure what happened but I do find it quite worrying, he is only 10 :o( poor Rix. I hope it was a one off and it doesn't happen again. x