Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Imogen and Honeybear

I'm so proud of this pair, they came to me this time two years ago for their first lesson, Imogen had just turned 10 and was such a shy little girl who would barely say a word to me, let alone to Honey. Honey was 2 years old, with a very strong hunting instinct, I remember at the end of the lesson talking to Garth and Imogen and saying 'where's Honey?' she'd gone through the fence and had run down into the valley after pheasants. I gave Imogen lots of homework each week and Ims was always the perfect student coming back having perfected everything that I'd asked. They did a few shows in the summer of 2009 but hit problems with Imogen being even quieter and shyer in the ring than at home, sometimes managing to do the entire course without talking to Honey - Honey responded being the sensitive little soul that she is by trotting round next to Imogen's side and occasionally stopping for a sniff or a wee mid-course :) towards the end of 2009 their ring-confidence started to grow and Honey had broken into a canter, they won a couple of jumping classes in August and then at Dashin Dogs in September won several classes including a 1-3 agility taking them out of grade 1.

2010 and a couple of small limit shows to prepare them for Crufts, Honey more speedy and Imogen louder. Crufts came and went, Imogen getting a 4th in the semi final (top 3 go through to the final) their downfall being Honey didn't understand a quick release in the ring having never done one before and didn't want to release from her contacts!

Two weeks later and Honey was hit by a 4x4 the first time I'd taken Imogen to a show on her own, she ran off chasing pheasants - the screeching of brakes and her screaming as she took off in the opposite direction to where we were will stay with me forever, as will the comfort in so many people immediately coming out to look for her and the relief when I was 'tresspassing' through private property with big 'keep out' signs when she came happily running towards me through the reeds, seemingly completely fine. She went to Lowri's and was pretty much ok apart from some bruising, we think she must have bounced off the car rather than being underneath it.

Their agility success continued and they won out of grade 2 the following month and then grades 3, 4 and 5 pretty much each time they became eligible for the next level. They hit problems in June/July with Honey being in season and deciding she wanting to naff all to do with agility and it was as much as Imogen could do to get her off the start line let alone run with any enthusiasm. This continued all through July and poor Imogen accounted for all of their efforts in the Agility Club Starter finals and the Agility Club Junior finals where Honey wouldn't have looked out of place back in grade 1. Imogen had luckily gained confidence ten-fold and had no problem giving Honey loads of encouragement in order for Honey to donate any energy that she had to running the course.

Finally at the beginning of August with Honey having the enthusiasm of a dying fly, I decided that action was required! For those of you that can remember dad's Bex before she was spayed, she was incredibly hormonal and did not want to be anywhere near agility after her season. Last August dad got her a vitamin jab and she was a different dog, absolutely flying, in fact dad couldn't keep up with her! So Garth took Honey to the vets and gave her the jab a week or so before KC fest.

Well, that's certainly something worth remembering if anyone else has a similar problem! Imogen and Honey had the most succcessful month in August, at the KC fest they won the YKC Jumping Semi Final qualifying for Crufts, qualified top for the KC Novice Final although Honey broke her wait so they were e'd on the 2nd jump in the final! But better than the previous month where Honey did not even want to go! They also qualified top in the International Junior competition as well as winning a grade 5 agility. I think one of Imogen's highlights will be beating Bernadette in the KC novice cup jumping, I think Imogen had a 2nd and B and Itz were 5th, Imogen was soooo thrilled as Bernadette is one of the few people that Imogen will always spot from miles away (or maybe hear the shelties yapping hehehe) and want to watch, so it was great for Imogen to realise she could be competitive against her if she really put her mind to it.

We followed this on to Dogs in Need where Honey was just fantastic getting a clear in all the classes she entered and I think she had a top 5 in all these classes. The icing on the cake was Imogen winning the DINAS Junior Under 12 final with Honey doing a brilliant run and showing what they were made of.

Grade 6 certainly hit Imogen hard with Imogen realising she had no time to let Honey break her waits, and Honey was now giving Imogen no let up and 'breathing time' to remember the course mid way round! They got their first win towards grade 7 mid September and then had a couple of close calls with 2nds, one of which was absolutely stonking and probably the best round they have worked in terms of difficulty... with Honey breaking her wait at the start and catching Imogen off-guard - Ims certainly realising that there was no room for error with just 0.1 between her and 1st!

We then had Honey spayed in October as can't be doing with those horrible moody seasons! Honey is looking fantastic now and has lost a lot of weight as she was looking rather porky by September. Much to my amazement she also has lots more self control with Garth able to call her off a pheasant which is rather remarkable considering last year she had no recall regardless of whether there was a pheasant there for temptation or not, lol. Imogen has qualified for 3 classes at Crufts 2011 - YKC ADOTY, YKC Jumping and YKC Small Agility. We've not been able to do any agility because of the snow but I know Imogen is looking forward to her lesson with Dave on Thursday and then we've got a couple of training days booked in with him over the next couple of months.

All in all it's been a fantastic year for Imogen and Honey and I am just so proud of them. Imogen's now Miss Confident (and Miss Argumentive too at times ;)) which is a huge difference to the little girl I first met two years ago who wouldn't say boo to a goose. 2011 will hopefully be a great year for them and I can't wait to see how the pair develop in grade 6/7.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

First weekend back training

Scandal's had almost 13 weeks off agility and I thought what better way to celebrate her 2nd birthday than to do some training - didn't bank on lots of snow and frozen ground though!

We did some training yesterday on an almost flat plank and I am thrilled (not) to say that Scandal seems to think that the contact is electrified and should be leapt over at all costs. Something to work on at least!

We also did Honey's first training session since she was spayed 7 weeks ago in October. She faired much better than Scandal and was pretty much 100% with her contacts. Vid of her below.

I also uploaded a viddy of Scandal training in the ring in August doing her contacts how she is meant to - soon as I take the toy in the ring I am miss confident so Scandal is too. At least it gives me hope we may get there.

Today it was a beautiful day and the ground finally defrosted completely. We did some hill running this morning - this is fast turning out to be Tia's favourite game in the world - she squeals like crazy racing Scandal up the hill to the tennis ball, bless her. This afternoon we did the balance grid - we back chained starting with rewarding after 2 jumps, then 3, then finally 4, to which she could not decide for the 4th whether to bounce or clear both the 3rd and 4th in one go. She did not make the decision quite quick enough so went for a combination of the two and landed on the 4th one, ouch. After that she was fine and jumped beautifully, but I think we have a long way to go :)