We had a lot of rain, the occasional hailstorm, and some thunder at times. The showground has a fantastic well drained surface though, and after a judges meeting on Saturday morning, the show went ahead. The ground for the agility rings was amazing and remained in good condition all weekend. However, around the outside of the enclosures the paths turned to liquid mud, and I was pleased to get home after a cold weekend where everything got soaked and muddy! Fiberglass caravans with lots of air vents are not the best thing to camp in when it is cold and wet!!
I judged Saturday.This was the original course I had designed:
I altered it to take into account the conditions; I decided to redesign the section from 8-12 to take out sharp turns and make the long fast run to the dog walk a bit more controllable. So I moved the tunnel #10 closer to jump #11 so that the approach to the dog walk had a shorter and more controllable approach, and made the course a bit shorter and took out the sharp turns to and from jump#9 out so the course went straight from the weaves to the tunnel instead. This made it safer while still keeping most of the elements in that I set the course up to test. Once on the ground I also added another jump #17 as the back of 13 wasn't quite as I wanted, and as it was very close to #13 but at a slight angle to it, this worked well in creating a need for a little more control in the run off the dog walk #12-#13 as well as on the run home from the A frame. I really enjoyed judging this course, and there were some fabulous runs round it. Only one dog slipped and that was only because it jumped off the A frame from a height. I had lots of good feedback about it, so thank you everyone for that, I hope everyone did enjoy running it. When I was designing it I really enjoyed running it.
It was a very long wet and cold day! I judged small, medium and large over this course before setting up a large g4,5 jumping course:
Again I really enjoyed judging this course, the first on the line, Pat Brown handling her lovely youngster beautifully, stayed in the lead until the last dog ran, which was Dave Munning's Boss, who absolutely stormed round to take the lead.
Sunday, I was pleased to be competing, and my dogs were glad to be out of the van! I do feel terribly bad and guilty that they are stuck in there so long when I judge. Zazzy did some good work, and I enjoyed the courses that I ran. Deece had a couple of poles and came out the weaves once. I was happy with my weekend and ready to go home and get clean and dry, I was hitched up and ready to leave, when I got chatting... and then I noticed that Deece's last agility course was ready. I thought, if they let me run early, I will take him round and use the opportunity to praise him on his contacts, then go home. If they don't let me in I will just leave now (it's along drive home from there!) Well, they did let me in, I did praise him for a long time on each of his contacts, and I do remember thinking on the last contact, hmm he hasn't knocked a pole of come out of the weaves.... but I have spent as much time on praising these contacts as is polite, without taking the p. I didn't want Deece to win out because the only thing I have planned this year is to enter him in lots of novice qualifiers, and the next couple of months have been planned completely with this in mind. So I looked back over at the ring while I was getting ready to leave, and felt slightly uneasy when I saw that not many people were going clear. I went over to the tickets and saw Deece on top of the pile. Feeling very sick and uneasy I started hanging around willing someone to beat him, then nervously going back to look at the tickets. We didn't get to leave for another couple of hours, clever Deece, but stupid me, he stayed in the lead and is now grade 6. I'm a bit shocked and gutted that he won out so easily, but I think there is a problem with our grading system as I know lots of people in grade 5 are taking precautionary measures to not let their dog win out too quickly! I hope introducing the proposed new requirement to win more classes to move up will help by making g5 more competitive and larger. Meanwhile, I have lots of grade changes to sort out, and am cursing the 25 day move-up rule which means shows that I cannot change a number of shows that I would change if I could, but have already closed.
I originally trained Zazzy to have a running A frame, but had all sorts of problems when Zazzy had her terrible hormone problems. She was so flat and depressed that she did not 'attack' the A frame with any 'oomph', so her stride got shorter and therefore she was not striding into the contact area. If I did not reward her and asked her to try again she went flatter and her stride got even shorter. If I tried to get her to run faster, she leapt from higher (leaping off is the easiest way for the dog to go faster). I learnt a lot, but her A frame performance deteriorated!! I decided to teach her a two on, two off (stop) contact, this suited her better because the criteria was clearer, and she could be rewarded (and have a rest!) at the bottom, just like on her dog walk or see-saw. I wish I had had her spayed sooner, but I had no idea at that time that a dog could suffer so terribly with hormones. It was like the worst PMT I have ever suffered, but it lasted not only through her season, but all through her following phantom pregnancys (so 10 weeks or so). She was depressed and couldn't cope with the slightest problems. She only got a few weeks where she started to 'come back up' before the whole cycle started again. Poor Zazzy. Since the op she gradually got happier and happier, even though it took the best part of a year (my vet said it might take that long). So we had a good year last year, Zazzy was happy which made me happy, which made her happy.... so we had a lovely positive feedback loop. By the end of last year I had a happy, more 'robust' dog, and decided that after her post-agility competition season rest, during the 6 weeks of getting her back to fitness before Olympia, I would see if I could get a running A frame again. So here we are at the beginning of this season with a running or stop A frame on cue. In this clip you can see that I first told her to 'go' which she did perfectly, although I had actually meant 'go left'! (I have been working on verbal cues recently, especially on 'go' meaning go in a straight line!) My mistake, we carried straight on, and you can see that mistakes don't knock her any more, horray! I was also trying out a front cross to see if that would affect her running A frame.