Sunday, 28 December 2008

Olympia 2008

Well , what a day it was last Monday- can only now start to get my head round it!
I'd been working for the past 3 weeks on a new contact method for Ruby, one that I can feel confident with and for it to be faster and more reliable. Ruby seems to be enjoying this method as it directly impacts upon what drives her on in agility- ie the next obstacle, it makes me more focused as ruby is so focused on what is next, when I release her she is visibly happier with this method! ( more on this later !)
Marie came to London with me for once as Madeleine's big brother looked after her and remaining dogs for us, her support for the day was fantastic, and so nice to have her there to see the finals !
Speed jumping was up first, the course was to be the flavour of the day- up and down! Ruby was the smallest dog in the competition, and I knew we were up against it on the huge Olympia surface, she ran her heart out, and the weave was the hardest part as it wasn't properly anchored to the surface, and the bars that steady the weaves were in some places 2-3cm off the surface. Ruby did me proud- she always throws herself fully into her competition and won the event despite a couple of times being taken wide by her inept handler trying his hardest to keep up with her.

Olympia 2008 ABC speed jumping from Mark Douglas on Vimeo.

If you get a chance watch these videos on their respective sites as it gives you the option to view them in HD - so much clearer!

A few hours wait and it was the final- 15-20 minutes earlier than I was expecting! We were running last as we won the semi final event. The course was quite simple, directly up and down with dog walk and a-frame on to nothing! As I'd said we'd been training a new contact method and obstacles behind contacts had not been covered yet !guessing the courses beforehand I thought that these types of courses may have been more for the senior/novice finals as they had a few "running" contact dogs in them and this style of course may have been put out by the judge, I didn't think it would have come up in the ABC, I knew it would be bigger than the other events, and not as difficult, to try to put on a show for the crowd and for the bigger dogs to get a chance to strut their stuff.
Ruby was a bit non plussed as all our training had been on the release and me getting past her on the contacts- this course would not allow this, so I had to think on my feet - literally as the course was still being majorly adjusted when we were told we had to get off and run the final !
Sheries run was fabulous, and put pressure on the others as it was a fast run with running contacts. Dave's run was superb and well controlled, finished off with a fabulous weave, Rusty you could see ( as well as shadow) revelled in the atmosphere and both picked up a notch or two.
Ruby's contacts were good in the first run, but I made a bit of a hash of the dog walk to flat tunnel-jump combo, as this had happened I had to go for it , but still get the bloody a frame- ruby looked at me on this obstacle and came down it slowere than she had been doing in training. I had just enough puff left to push her through the weaves and to the finish, big cheer, looked at the screen and it said rank 1, then I heard the commentator say same time and we had to run off!
Still reeling from this I watched as Dave ran a faultless run to beat his first time- I knew we could beat it as I'd made mistakes on the first run, but would I be able to run as well? I was jelly legged and completely pooped from the first run, and here I was with no recovery time having to go again! Ruby had given her all and looked as confused as I did on the line, tried to break her stay, and I could see in her that it was worrying her if she'd sone something wrong !
I tried to push her dog walk this time, but it was a bit creepier, and stupidly I handled it the same as the first run, and had to push her out to the jump- her see saws were as good as I've ever had them- a tribute to haw we've been training them, and in to the rigid tunnel, nice turn , but the legs were failing and I was running out of puff, into the tunnel again- i looked back for her and she wasn't there! I sensed she had slipped in the tunnel and fallen over ( she does this occasionally) On the eurosport footage you get a feeling that the cameraman anticipated her coming out of the tunnel sooner, and she wasn't there! As a consequence I had to wait for her at the a frame, and she slowed down, I had enough puff to get one more directional out, but I saw her "climb" the jump , looked at her in the weave and saw that for once ruby was slowing down, I couldn't gee her up as I was struggling myself, and had nothing in me to shout any commands ( Olympia is so noisy that all commands must be louder than normal!) Running to the finish I knew it was slower as she was struggling, whether she was knackered- I know I was! Or if she didn't get enough encouragement from me at the home strait I don't know- but from the A frame to the finish she lost about 1 and a half seconds! On the video I see her weaving style change from 'swimming' to 2 footed, and this indicated to me that she'd slowed down!
She did me proud this day, ran her heart out and put on a historical show. The timing apparently did go down to 1/1000th of a second and Dave Ray did say we had the same time- but what about the manual timing? I know it would be hard to explain to a crowd of 8000, and it was best to run off- but I would have liked another 5 mins or so to get my breath back- but it was the same for Dave and he coped magnificently with the pressure, and Rusty was brilliant!
Next year it'll be trying to get to the Agility Stakes event for Ruby ( decided this before the event) I am very happy with the new contact method as is ruby, so look for decidedly improved contacts from her next year, and I am feeling confident that we can do even greater things next year for this fabulous little dog!
Puck's knackers are coming off in the new year- I want a full year of competing for him without the testosterone distraction! He's far too good to waste and would have loved the ABC course at Olympia- funny that all the other years I've had Amber at Olympia and wished I had ruby, on this course it would have suited Puck! He'll be getting worked on to inhibit the wild child and get a more "working' head on his shoulders. A wait is being worked on ( thanks to Susie J for helping with this), and we'll see what the season holds in store for him!
Draco I find difficult to train as he is such an airhead, but we did a bit of traing with Susie and we have started on the 2by2 weave method with huge amounts of help from Marie he's very slowly coming on, he won't be competing until the end of the year probably despite being due out in April- we've still got a mountain to climb.
Thanks for reading this, and may I wish all bloggers a very happy and successful new year!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

It's been too long

Apologies, blogger's, I've been far too busy to sit down and write about my mundane little life with the woofs.
Work has taken me to the 4 corners of the UK recently, I sometimes feel that I'm a part-timer at home, Marie probably would say that I was!
Work has been turmoil recently, lot's and lot's of people have been made redundant, but- touch wood- I am safe, I daren't think of what would happen should I lose the job, a) for the money,but as I actually enjoy it so much I struggle to think what could I do should it go tit's up!
What about the dogs?
Draco has started to be trained up, but this has frankly been a struggle, due to lack of training facilities for a dog of his age and my ability to actually get to train him, but I'm on holiday for a week or two, so we'll make huge in-roads into the essentials. He's come in now, to develop the bond and to get him to chill and mature a little bit.
I have a new addition, - nugget Blossom's pup, he'll be mine to do agility with and Marie's to show ! He is a little noisy live wire and he'll be great fun in the future!

Puck has been difficult of late, just a bit too mad - even more so than usual- so we're considering 'nut-removal" - watch this space!he went to a david Munning training day and we thoroughly enjoyed it- I whole-heartedlty recommend David as a trainer, gave me loads to think about and to work on- and improve my own training.

Ruby has been busy, she went to the supadog final in October ( directly after having a season) she did well, coming home with a bit of crystal, but naughtily popped off the side of the see-saw ( 2nd last obstacle) but she did as well as I hoped, so I was happy with her.
All is now geared up towards Olympia and I truly feel we are ( for once) ready for the final and in tune with each other, I'm beginning to get my enthusiasm for the sport back again, and I am very much looking forward to getting back on track with Ruby next year and challenging for more CC's etc- she has learned the contacts and is fired up to win! and Win and win again !!
Olympia now looms large and we go on Monday, her first time there, my 4th, all other times with Amber the aussie, and everytime I've been there I've always wanted to have Ruby there, now she has the chance to show me and the world what she can do !
We had her last competitive event last weekend and did well with 3 wins from 3 classes- I can't ask for more now- can I? needless to say I am excited and looking forward to it, marie will be with me for once - so the support will be most welcome, and i'll tell you all about it when I get back!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

LOST in Ireland

Well here i sit in a hotel bar in cork Airport having missed my flight back to the UK, long story , but i had a 2 hour drive in a gutless hire car from Waterford where I had been lecturing the previous evening, got up at 06.45, left hotel at 07.15 ( no breakfast as it was too early) and proceeded, listening to an RTE radio programme with a couple of eejits called "colm and jim-jim" prattling inanities to each other. Now when I had arrived in Cork i had driven through an area called Douglas- and thought it funny to have found another place named after my family ( huge fan of my family name Douglas- so this was interesting to me) any way traffic report came on the radio mentioning south side ring road in Cork around Douglas! An 8 car pile up had occurred and i was headed directly into it! Any way have missed my flight so I'm catching up with stuff such as this blog, missed having to travel directly up to peterborough for an evening meeting there! No flight back till tomorrow, so in for a boring day in a hotel!

No blog for a wee while as I've been a tad too busy for it, not done much agility in the meantime.
Puck seems to have turned a bit of a corner ( helps not to have any bitches in season)and just as our season ends he starts to work very well and is coming into his own. At a funday event recently he beat ruby in a jumping course by 0.2 of a second- and took what I would describe as the slow route! And this week at a mini competition night we had up at The FC headquarters, nice to have Suzie josty and Barry James come up with us- very welcome new input to what we do. Anyway we set up a judge (Nick Josty) and a timer etc, Ruby ran the first course very nicely, but was a tad too neat and knocked a pole down, but was timed at 28.2 secs.
Puck came up , all fired up and very excited that there were some new black and white doggies there, off he set powering round the course, finished with me trailing behind him- and no destruction in his wake- and Nick was clapping- he'd gone clear- but no one told me the time! When I looked I nearly choked - His time was 25.02!! 3 seconds quicker than Ruby!! now i know he's fast and powerful, but maybe, just maybe we're turning a corner, he's worked magnificently recently, so with all the things I have planned for the winter we'll see, maybe now is the time for him to get the snip, it's only this year he's been bothered by sex, but it disrupted him greatly.
Ruby has the Supadog final this weekend, now this event I hoped to get to this year- one of my objectives! So fingers crossed she'll do well.
Draco has started to be trained and at the moment he is a bouncing, gangly fool, but he'll also be going to Golden valley to be trained as from next weekend.
isn't it funny how the plans you lay down for your pups go arigh as they grow up- I'd intended on training Draco on the lead, the same as Puck, but Draco is much more sensitive and has to be off the lead so lots and lots of hard work ahead.

Blossom about to drop her puppies, she's now trying to work out why she's not so nimble and as full of energy, she's slowed down a lot and has ( relatively) lots of goodness for the pups to feed on when they decide to come and see us. Marie said she felt the pups inside bloss this mornign so hopefully the pitter patter of tiny feet soon- And in a few weeks a cacophony of little noisy shelties.
Well hope I haven't bored the pants off you, and hope to catch up soon!

Monday, 1 September 2008

Pedigree pairs final 2008

Thought I'd share our triumph at Stoneleigh on Sunday, winning the pedigree pairs final- our first pairs final !
The first two runs are from the singles warm up event- Ruby finished 2nd- by 1/100th of a second ( manual timing)

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Summer ?? holiday

We set off earlier this month on our trek around the country to go to Peterborough, Ipswich and Chester for the dog shows there- I reckon we had about 2 full days without any rain, and the wind was appalling all the time. It was like running in the Autumn/winter, with lots and lots of mud.
It wasn't a great time away as far as the agility was concerned, we had a couple of good runs, with lots and lots of bad runs. KC festival was a mixed bag, blew out in the qualifiers for the British Open and won the other run we had for the day! (Typical Ruby). Blossom our sheltie was away on a bonking holiday, but also whilst we were away our Smooth Collie Beryl came into season. Puck was dramatically affected by this. He has shown in the past a bit of interest in the girls- but never excessively so. But he was behaving like a sex mad maniac whilst we were away. What I always liked about Puck was that he wasn't sex mad, but here we were at the start of our holiday with a dog who wasn't focused on the job. I worked out why he was so bad, earlier in the year we lost our Alpha male dog Io- I believe having him there kept Puck's desires in check, so I have now to deal with Puck as the Alpha male dog in our household.

His behaviour in the ring manifests as missed weaves and a love for tunnels- invariably the wrong end. He ended up at the end of our holiday with one clear round to his name!! A good one it was though, coming second in the EO qualifier at the KC festival.

On the Saturday at the festival I judged and I enjoyed this- especially the 6 and 7 smalls and mediums. Though found the presentations frustrating- announcements for them were made so poorly that hardly anybody turned up for them- and I do try my very best to get to presentations.

DIN started well- champ jumping- finishing 2nd! Then the wheels fell off the week, E'd in the champ agility at the end of the round, and subsequently many more E's the rest of the week- Ruby's worst sequence of events- ever!

DD wasn't much better- but we stopped the rot slightly with a 6-7 agility win, her A frame started to go off the rails , and in two jumping courses she inexplicably missed jumps out on the course- so video's in the next round or two!

Pucks weaves are in the process of being retrained now I'm home (grass cut yesterday) to many runs being destroyed by his impetuosity and poor wait!

For him I'm putting this season down as a learning experience- not much more than this that I can do !

A week or two off now ( thank dog) I have the pairs final with Tom next week his dog panic has finally gone grade 6 with the 3rd jumping win coming at DD- well done to them.
Saw all of the pups ( except Qui) when we were away and I must say I am so very proud of the way they have all grown up, all very striking kelpies in their own way.