Thursday, 16 May 2013

Agility Champion Honeybear

Well that’s been a rather busy few weeks. I have a couple of weeks break and no shows until Nottingham… I wish I could say I will enjoy lounging around doing nothing; instead I will be spending every spare minute studying for my exams which are less than a week away......

I have kind of given up blogging… I just don’t have time. And then I think 'ohhh I really want to mention that' and then don't mention it until about 2 months too late.

Honey is now Agility Champion Ochtertyre Bonnie Heather. I decided early on this year that I would only be entering her in champ classes in Scotland. We always joke that Honey knows she’s back in the country she was born in and always runs differently (i.e. much better) up there. I know that Honey doesn’t respond well to pressure (unlike Scandal who seems to rise to the occasion) and the more pressure I put on Honey the slower she goes, however when we get to Scotland she is just different. Excited even before we get to the show. So I only entered her in three shows across March – June; Kernow (ok, not a champ show, but Honey always goes crazy at this show), Kingdom of Fife and Woodside.

As predicted, Kernow she was pretty crazy in the two classes we did and got E’d lol. I actually love it when Honey gets eliminated like this as it’s from her craziness and me not being able to be quick enough to respond to it… I’d rather get eliminated like that any day than get a painfully slow clear. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to communicate this message across to Honey.

I have changed my warm up routine with her - I have tried most things, but it seemed the more I did with her had the opposite effect… she would play happily before her run and then meander round the course completely uninterested. At Kernow 2012 I couldn’t be bothered to do any of that and Honey absolutely flew round and won her classes. Laura suggested that maybe I was stressing Honey out through my attempts to get her excited. I kept this in mind but was convinced that she needed to be wound up and Kernow was simply a fluke and Honey must have been in a funny mood that weekend.

So this year, we got Crufts out the way (again Honey not particularly interested, in fact one person thought she was injured as she was so slow – they clearly didn’t see her training 2 days before when she was screaming round the course as fast as her little ginger legs could go!), and then it was on to the three shows, one in March, April and May, before she had a couple of months off.

Kernow we just did two runs but she ran beautifully (albeit E’s). Kingdom of Fife the champ jumping was *very* hard and she managed a fairly scrappy clear. Champ agility was a fast and more open course and Honey decided this was right up her street and won it. Champ final she again was running really well and then towards the end decided to cut behind me to ADD in a jump. Honey NEVER adds in jumps… she usually goes out of her way to miss them out. But it was nice that she was running so well.

On to Woodside – I loved this show last year and couldn’t wait to go back. Again I didn’t play with Honey in the queue – Garth warmed her up for me just by walking her around, we kept her away from the ring and then I took her when there were two dogs to go. This seemed to work perfectly as a) I wasn’t stressed as I was in Scotland = CHILLL, and b) any subsconscious vibes would hopefully not have too long to be transmitted to spanielly. Honey started off well by winning the champ agility by two seconds. She was then 2nd in the champ jumping, 0.1 off the winner. This put her to run last in the champ final. Once I had convinced her to actually do a start line wait (glad they weren’t judging to FCI rules… we’d have been eliminated before we got off the startline ;-)) she ran well, and started to do a huffy-squeak half way round. Actually, how she ran the 2nd half of the course wasn’t
far off what I get from her in training. She won the final by quite a way, giving her her third challenge certificate and making her up to Agility Champion! Soooo Honey now gets to retire from having to run with me. Lucky spaniel. Imogen will be running her in the shows we can get her to, although not sure yet which ones they will be. I will be able to put my time into Scandal and Jed, poor Jed has taken a bit of a back seat in the last month, and he gets SO excited when we get to a show and he thinks he might actually get to run.

Here are Honey's run from Woodside...
Honey has also made breed history by becoming the first agility champion cocker spaniel, I know there are quite a few spaniels on 1 or 2 CC’s but none have actually been made up to agility champion.

I must say a very big thank you to Imogen for letting me run Honey. Honey was Imogen’s first dog and together they went from grade 1 to grade 7, before Imi had to move 200 miles away, and very kindly let me run her. Hopefully Imi can get lots of training in when she comes up to stay with us in the holidays and will be ready to do some more champ classes.

1 comment:

OBay Shelties said...

Congratulations! Quite an accomplishment to be the first Ag. Ch. Cocker spaniel!
PS I have been to Scotland 3 times and it always rained!