Monday, 12 September 2011

Olympia Semi Final

This is Scandal’s run from the Olympia Semi Final at Stoneleigh. I have watched it back lots, I think all the hits it has on youtube are me watching it on repeat. I think Scandal looks like she is driving a lot better in this. My handling was a bit dopey on 3 – 4, I thought the turn was HUGE but although wide, she didn’t waste 5 minutes as it felt when I was running it. And she drove on to the dogwalk really nicely. Love the acceleration she gets after the aframe. Very pleased with her weave entry. I think this is one of my favourite runs of the year. What a good Scandalbeans.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

What a weekend

Scandal's champ runs from Prestbury Park

Well, that has to be one of the best weekends that I can remember. On the Friday, Scandal had the Novice Olympia qualifier, and Honey the Small Olympia qualifier. Saturday was Scandal’s first champ at Prestbury Park, and Sunday was the Senior (6-7) Olympia qualifier.

Friday my alarm went off at 4am and I promptly switched it off and went back to sleep. Eventually managed to get up and was ready before we planned to leave at 5.30 (those who know me will know this is a record).

I had decided to do something a little different with Scandal this weekend. After KC Fest, where she just exploded with excitement and I couldn’t keep the lid on her, I decided (especially with 3 days of agility) that I would not queue at all, keep her right back away from everyone, and see if it helped with both her and my stress levels. I’ve found Scandal very hard work this year with the two incidents of a dog running into her and another dog attacking her, she has been quite nervous when being approached by strange dogs and more so in agility, which has made her quite reactive to a handful of dogs, although she is improving and is much better than she was in June. Out on walks etc she is fine, but I need to manage it better at shows.

The first class was the warm up for the Novice Olympia. I was excited and a little apprehensive knowing how disastrous last year’s semi was with Scandal bottling out of the big jumps. Well she was great – not fully confident but was very giving and did a lovely clear and came 4th.

Then the real thing. We ran pretty early so did not have the luxury of knowing how many clears there would be. She took a pole after the flat tunnel which proved to be the ‘bogey jump’ of the class with many dogs taking it. So I had to push it, and Scandal flew. Up to 15, which was the easy part to the course… dogwalk tunnel and then a long straight home… Scandal came to me after the tunnel instead of doing the jump… and it was the Joint Aid jump which I should have known she wouldn’t want to drive to. She flew straight past it and over the long jump. So that was that, our hope for the Novice was not to be!

Then a fairly long wait till Honey’s semi. She was fairly excited for the warm up and came 5th. Then in the real thing, she did an ‘ok’ round, got a bit caught in the flat tunnel and was generally sluggy and felt like she didn’t really want to be there. We had run early, so had a long wait as there were quite a few clears, and was delighted that we got in with 8th (top 10 qualify). Clever Honey.

Saturday, Scandal’s champ. I was soooooo excited about this, and perhaps it was a good thing as it meant that the semis weren’t the be all and end all that they were last year. I had my own goals from what I wanted from the champ, and was hoping that the courses wouldn’t be too hard for me to remember.

Champ Jumping first – massive course, really spread out, and a few subtle turns that would see half the class get e’d. Scandal did a lovely run apart from getting slightly caught in the flat tunnel and came 3rd, which I was uber chuffed with. It was one of the first courses where I have felt that she has almost caught me out (at the rigid tunnel) with her speed, infact I thought she was going to take my legs out when I said ‘tunnel’ too early. She loved doing the huge course.

Champ Agility next – again fairly big course and I decided to do a 3 obstacle recall to get a better angle to the long jump, which worked really nicely. I took her seesaw steady as didn’t want her to try and slide it as she hasn’t been on that many rubber contacts. Such a good little girl, luckily for me after the flat tunnel you could put them in either end of the rigid as Scandal had other ideas to me (I was more concerned with her going straight on over the wall.) She did a lovely clear and came 7th… and then it dawned on me that we would make it to the final!

Champ Final – we ended up 2nd over the first two courses combined so ran 19th out of 20 in the final. I did not watch any of the other dogs as have been keeping Scandal away from the ring and other dogs, Will Rolfe was running 18th and I watched a tiny bit of his run, and knew he was clear as were a few others. I took the first 3 jumps a little carefully as 2 was the wall and Scandal has never jumped it on an angle before. How she managed to keep her feet up on the jump before the weaves I have no idea as I completely mangled the turn, got in her way and she had no idea what I was doing. But she saved me and looked pretty neat over it, then through an angled box where for some reason I decided to shout “go go” as she was doing the long jump and I think she had thought she’d finished as she took off over it, lol. Dog walk into tunnel, I had decided to run it and she caned down it so fast I nearly didn’t make it over to the next jump in time. Managed to steer her round the last bit and we went CLEAR! We got the reserve CC. O M G. I am still smiling about it. We were 0.2 off Will and Scoot who won. Ant and Gass were 3rd, Ian and Bobbie 4th. Go Scandalbaby. Soooo happy.

Olympia Qualifier final day. We were in the 6-7 semi. Our warm up course was the same as the 3-5 invitational – really nice. It did not go well. Scandal completely demolished the spread, which was number 5, took off miles too early and just ploughed through it. Scandal so rarely takes poles and is not a careless dog, and her confidence can get knocked sooo easily that the last thing I wanted was for her to potentially hurt/scare herself. Checked to make sure she was ok and then we carried on. All going well until the flat tunnel, long jump, where she ran past the long jump. I called her back to re-do the long jump and then she cut through it coming out the side, so had to re-do it again…. Ahhh there are times I just wanted to hurry up and finish and this was one of them lol.

So, the semi final. Our running order was half way down, and by then there were around 15 clears so I knew that a fast five would not be good enough and it was more likely that a fast clear would be needed. Scandal was amazing. I just tried to say the minimum but give her clear enough commands. I thought two of her turns (3-4, and the box after the weaves) were huge, but they weren’t too bad looking on the video, but something for us to work on. She did a lovely clear and came 4th, so has qualified for Olympia. WOW. I have wanted to qualify for Olympia ever since seeing agility probably 13 or 14 years ago at Olympia, got to the semis with Rix and Tia but always blew out in the qualifiers. And then this year I qualify two dogs! I am soooo happy.

The only slight issue is I now have to get seriously fit. I was exhausted running Honey on the Friday so goodness knows what I will be like at Olympia with the ring about a million times bigger. So much for my planned winter of utter laziness! We just have Gillingham and Chippenham left and then a couple of months off. I am very happy with how the dogs are running and have met all my goals for the year... now to write some more :-)

Tia still doesn't think she is 9, thinks she is a puppy, is sooo bouncy and happy... and still very silly. I think this year might be her last at full KC height as watching her runs back with Imogen at KC she does jump squiffy on a couple, but then that is something she has always done from taking off far too far away. She will have the rest of the year off now as it's unlikely Imogen will be able to run her at the UKA Finals in December, so we will see what next year brings.

Ricky is doing well at 12 and a half, he has been a bit up and down in the last couple of months but he seems much better now (shame the same can't be said for my bank balance lol), he has enjoyed going round the rings at KC Fest, oh and he was at the prize giving for Scandal's Olympia on Sunday and got in on the group shot :-)

Love my dogs :-)

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Olympia Agility video and Scandal the Sheepdog

Here is a (slightly delayed) video of Scandal winning the 6-7 Olympia Agility at Agility Club, and some of her other runs including her G6 Jumping win in Barrie’s class (cooool course).

Two weeks ago I took Scandal Tia and Ricky down to Cornwall for some sheepdog training (for Scandal) and some walks on Bodmin Moor too. We did 4 days of sheepdog training, and I think Scandal was delighted that we had traded in a weekend of agility for a weekend of… heaven.

She’s so natural and focused when it comes to working sheep. It took her no time at all before she was going out round the sheep and bringing them back to me, and if I changed direction walking backwards, she would go the other way to keep the 12 o’clock, sheep, 6 o’clock position. The best bit was on day 3 we were out in the field and had *finished* the training session and were stood chatting in the middle chatting, and Scandal decided that we hadn’t finished, took herself off, beautifully collected the sheep and brought them to us, and then kept them with us. She would have worked until her legs dropped… now… if only I could get the same dedication to agility, lol.

Last weekend Ant very kindly let us use his field as Sian was down, and I got to do an hour of agility with her on Saturday and Sunday. I worked Honey too… training with Honey has not been going well lately, she really doesn’t like me, wants Imogen back I think… and I find it pretty hard to like her, when she gives absolutely nothing unless she has to. Not like my lovely little ‘what do you want me to do mum’ collies. But still, I am persevering because I get glimmers of this completely awesome little dog. And sometimes (occasionally) at home, she’s quite sweet… when she’s not barging past me, catching pigeons, jumping on the furniture, barking/whining, running round with my shoe, etc etc. And this weekend showed me why I do persevere – Honey was CRAZY for agility. Well that just knocked me off my feet with surprise. We got ‘squeaky spaniel’ who squeaked/screamed her way through the weaves, the aframe, jumps, like a total nut. She thought Sian was great fun. I got a bit carried away with my enthusiasm, I don’t think Sian could work out which of us screamed the loudest. But wow Honey totally rocked.

The problem? I have no idea why she decided she was going to go similar speed to training at my field, no idea why she was so excited, wanted to work, wanted to do agility. But hey guess that is the ‘fun’ of spanielsaurus J

Scandal was soooo lovely, I am so pleased with how she is turning out. I still couldn’t get my brain to operate fast enough sometimes, but when it did, we did some nice stuff. She is a very happy Scandalina at the moment, I think she’s still in euphoria from all the sheepwork we did J