Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The shortest day...The longest night...

Its a pivotal day the shortest day and the longest night -  I am always thankful to celebrate the return of longer daylight days. 
The Winter Solstice a celebration of light returning and the earth awakening.  A time of togetherness and glimmerings of hope for the new year, and toasts to those we have loved and lost. Of remembrance, thanks and celebration.

A festival of lights - twinkling brights, welcoming the light with candles and also lit for remembrance of those loved and lost. An Evergreen solstice thanks to the garden which happens to have holly. (but I do need to introduce mistletoe )

A celebration of all good things had and to come - to be enjoyed and treasured.  A friend knowing my appreciation of the Winter Solstice sent me this poem called The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper

'So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!'

Sunday, 11 December 2011

UKAgility Finals - Dec 2011 :-)

Back in May at the UKAgility Show 2011 - Zev and Me qualified for the Tug-e-Euff Performance Challenge Final to be held on the 3rd December. On the 2nd December 2011, on the friday evening I was nervous and cranky - not of me and Zev, but I had no idea what it would be like - it was a new event and on paper seemed a really good idea.  Could all the costs such as petrol/hotel etc be justified?
The Grand Entrance
 UKAgility Finals Weekend 2011
I need not of worried - it is the best agility event in the UK that I have been too. It was professionally run - the team of helpers - combined with Greg and Laura's experience. It is the first time for me in Agility I have seen the emphasis on the agility and the competitiors and their dogs. For the presentations at the end all the competitors were included which I thought was a really nice touch.

I had just a fabulous day - Zev worked his little sheltie paws off for me as always - how lucky am I to have such an incredible sheltie. He won the jumping round. Here is the video...

Which meant we went into pole position in the final round. But I cocked it up, the angle on to the dog walk - I should have helped Zev with it more - assuming he would take it - and he did not - and the gutting part of it is his times even with so much time wasted was still so good - how exciting. The results can be found on the UKAgility web site - so we ended up 5th overall. Huge congratulations to Ziga and Liz (Zev's brother) who won the event overall.

However, it was no matter - yes as a human being sure I would have luv to have won - but I will have to do it next year instead - the big step for me here is that I have been hit by the 'finals' bug - I wanna be in more with Zev.

The day was full on nice bonuses catching up with friends, meeting a potential sire of my next border collie puppy, making new acquaintances, met Zev's half brother Gimzo who just like Zev is too handsome and cute for words. I was so wishing that I have another but I am just gonna have to wait...but but the temptation.....

Then Bernadette as thoughtful as ever gave me and Zev our own sheltie charm...

Like I say it was just one of those fabulous days full of nice bonuses. With special thanks to:
  • All the helpers that did such a great job
  • Laura and Greg Derrett for having the vision and drive to deliver a great standalone final event - specifically for agility
  • Marc for putting up with me being cranky on Friday evening
  • And my Zev - always the showman :-)

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Rivi and Raised Plank - the Project Continues

As we reach the end of November I reviewed our project's progress. Originally I planned with Rivi to progress with her RCs as quickly as possible so that we could get back to competing in the new year and coz I was concerned about the plank raised on a table. However, the winter daylight hours have totally screwed my project time line up. Two good things have come of this [1] it has made me get use to the plank on the table [2] the fact that it has taken  until now in a training session for Rivi not to offer 2o2o position which has been embedded deeply.

It will be more realistic to think about heading back into the agility ring in the spring. It is a long time to be out of doing the most favorite part of agility. Jumping classes are good and give a buzz, but to me Agility is Agility when the contacts are in the course. It is what it is all about.

With teaching Rivi RCs I have learnt so frickin' much, even just stuff like the foot(paw)fall, the speed , using the reward mark to get the desired footfall (3 paws plus) and the impact if I change the location of where we do it. Then, progress this week is Rivi is really starting to shift, by that I mean starting to actually run and she is not offering 2o2o.

It is blooming gratifying. And if I can get her to like RC as much as the poles and jumping I will know my babyoli is a happyoli :-) and that is the ultimate for me.

The next step is to progress to the dog walk....

p.s Also in the video it is Zev and Nuts having a real good time watching Rivi doing her RC training

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Rivi and Intro to Raised Plank - Project Continues

As mentioned previously my education in training Rivi continues - We hit a real low the previous week as she would not even go on the plank. We worked through it and I decided to raised the plank height as the 'inbetweeny' height was just not for her.

This is Rivi's sixth session on the height that is set so that the angle is fairly close to a standard height jump. I want to move off this raised plank as quickly as possible, as I am concerned about safety. Although I always keep risk to the minimum and make it safe as I can.

The main progress is Rivi is getting to understand that bounce or jump over means no reward. I had to sort out a criteria. Which has come to be at the moment:-
- leap over - no reward marker
- two paw hit equal one reward
- 3 paw run through equal jackpot

This criteria is suiting me and Rivi at this stage, as it really is engaging her brain in a very positive and determined way. As she wants that MM to keep dispensing. (good progress after her initial reaction to the MM) It also provides 'building blocks' towards our end goal and gives us a chance as a team to work together to achieve that aim.

At the end of the day, far as I can work out the dog is targeting the contact zone at speed. There is no reward for leaping/bouncing over it. What I need to achieve in the end product is a definite drive down to and through the contact zone with ideally 2 or 3 paws hitting the said zone. It is going to be an interesting few months as our journey with this progresses.

The pressure is on for me as I must achieve this goal, as Rivi is such a fabulous dog and I want the bonus of us doing agility well together -  No bias there then!!! ;-)

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Rivi and Intro to Plank - the project continues

The retraining of Rivi progresses. With the intro to the plank, our biggest thing to over come here is for Rivi not to think about stopping at the end of the plank. We have been through a real learning curve this week.

This retraining is about complex levels of interpretation, stringing behaviours together and encouraging Rivi to have belief in offering new behaviours that are in conflict with 3 years of previous training. It reminds me very much of the crossover stage when the use of clickers became available to reward mark. I’m trying to achieve something and not sure what the end product will be.  I have to think about my judgement calls in terms of  - how to progress, what to reward and jackpot. In the great scheme of things it is very early days. However, we will continue the project...

Monday, 24 October 2011

Go ape...!!!

Went 'Go Ape' this weekend - a birthday activity organised by a friend. It was a mix of emotions from 'nerve racking' to 'exhilarating' to 'why did I worry about doing that?'. My language did turn the air blue initially. Although I did try to say "flipping nora" instead. But I got calmer and more rational as I completed each course. My senses were heightened literally by the height, the tiny ropes, hoops, logs and barrels that you try and use to get from one tree to the next. I really had to talk myself through a couple of them.

But now looking back I have to look at the video as I can't believe I have done it. Especially knowing what I am like, I think Marc was surprised too.

What a great way to spend a few hours with friends, and then walk the dogs afterwards :-) what next???????

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Running Contacts with Rivi - getting started

Well, it was hard to be good at Chippenham, Rivi worked beautifully in the champ jumping. Oh the temptation to run her in the champ agility - but I was strong (methinks like being on a diet!) and did not subcumb.... I know it is really important that I remain focus on my goal to retrain - it is really critical if we are going to be even more competitive next year...

The outline retraining stages so far are:-
1] introduce to MM
2] run to MM running over a bit of carpet
3] to running the carpet to MM with me in differing positions
4] to angles on to the carpet and maintain criteria on carpet

And that is where the complexity creeps in there is the speed, the judgement, can you say well that one was a bit high or the paw pattern not quite right, can you try again please. Can I try and train the dog, watch the dog, run at the same time, click and reward spot on and not be in a tiz? ha ha could make you dizzy just thinking about it.

Once over her shock of meeting the MM - Rivi has 'cottoned' on to the fact it involves running and she loves to run. She is really enjoying the training, and that is always my overall goal. I signed up with a Daisy Peel - classroom and that is quite a nerve racking thing to do i.e costs/group mix/trainer approach. A bit of a leap of faith - but I like what I have seen on her blog etc.,. and took the plunge. So far it is really good, following the steps that I expected and can work with.
- Plus there is the sharing of the learning curve which is really cool even in a virtual world.
- Plus it made me buy a MM and it is a brilliant tool which had been on my to buy list since Zev was a puppy! I wish I had got it sooner now I just need two of them ;-)
- Plus Zev has just as much fun joining in although he already does running contacts

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Chippenham - the 2011 Agility Season finishes

DAMM, what a good way to finish the agility season. Final ticket show of the year and I had the good fortune with Zev to be awarded the Reserve Challenge Certificate. Sure I am totally human and would have preferred to have won it, but being corny but true I am just so chuffed to have the opportunity to share my life with such a fabulous sheltie. Sure at times I am a wee bit frazzled as previously mentioned he sure does know how to press my buttons. Which is a great thing or life would be a trifle dull ;-) So this year two RCCs and also I need to sort out claiming our Agility Warrant Gold, as Zev he achieved enough points at the beginning on the season.

This is the video of the final round:

I want to fine tune his contacts - this season with lurching from wood to rubber surfaces has been at times 'hair raising' and disconcerting. Whilst I like the rubber - I do feel it would have been safer and better for the dogs if it had been a overnight change to one type of surface. Hopefully next year all the agility shows will do rubber contacts.

I really don't think there should be another year of 'mix and match' it is a risky situation especially when its wet weather. How the heck to you tell your dog that is going like crazy, "watch out the contacts are wood this time!" On the plus side its been good as it made me convert Zev to full running contacts. It is such a buzz not to think about having to stop and go, it is just so exhilarating.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Dixie Licks Does Good.....And Marc too;-)

We headed to Bromsgrove for the weekend, it had a Adams Derby Qualifier which is a nice final for young dogs if can qualify. It is power and speed, so the first section is contacts and maximum spread and long jump. The speed is poles and jumping. Then crikey I missed Dixie and Marc's run, as our runs clashed. Bummer, not only did I miss them run, they did a good 'un' and won the qualifier. No mean feat for Dixie, who must be one of the smallest 'large' dogs in KC agility.

But look at Dixie, she says she born to pose too
 :-) She is now 21 months and is well cute.

All the guys did good, but this is Dixie's time to hog a blog posting as I know it is usually my guys that I write or should I put rave about?

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Rivi second champ final and the stutter strikes!!!!

Well, the Rivioli was not gonna be left behind at Wyre, and I was so pleased to get her through to the final too. I don't like to leave a dog behind, in any sense. I want to get her through to the finals at much as Zev. Heres the jumping round (the twiddle being entirely my fault - wrong directional cue):-

However, what has been looming and despite my best efforts I have not cracked her aframe performance. Her see-saw is good and her dog walk performance has really come on. This is the agility qualifying round

With the aframe, the stutter has come back affecting this final and the one at Prestbury - it is so so frustrating.....

I am now conscious of it, can you imagine having such a gorgeous dog, that has one performance issue. It is like a loathsome acne spot on one's face!!!! So at Wyre I made the decision to devote from Oct to Dec 11, to retraining the aframe and the dogwalk. I even declined a call up to the semis, for the same reason. We have improved so much performance wise in other aspects I just need to sort this issue out.

No semis. No WAO tryouts. Yes to developing a contact that suits Rivi and enables us enjoy it even more. And who knows a side benefit of being a more successful partnership?

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Reserve Ticket for Zev at Wyre :-)

Wyre - Stunning location
August has been a cracking month, with Zev already making two finals at DINAS. But frustratingly, I did not deliver the handling/focus required in the finals. At the end of the month we went to Wyre a new agility show, with Champ Classes. And what a weekend, torrential rain on Friday, which saw the Saturday Show cancelled and rightly so. It is always a tough call, but the right decision as the ground was just so waterlogged in parts. The irony is Saturday was actually a beautiful day and some people arranged to walk to the local village with their dogs so we went along. The stroll into the villeage turned into a walk up the fell, well I called it a fell as it seems to be high enough to me. The guys had a great time and so did we, a real holiday 'day', finished at the pub for a cold lager and chips - naughty!!! Sunday dawned and it had rained again, there was mud in places, but the show was going ahead. Luckily the Champ Ring had the best ground and we decided to see how it goes. This is Zev's and mine champ qualifying jumping round, as you can see my handling is 'way wide' on a couple of turns, could have got an 'elephant' though, never mind a medium sheltie!

The champ qualifying agility round, this vid really makes me smile, as you can see progress in Zev's performance for running contacts and his drive. We came second in this; our highest place so far in Champ qualifying rounds.

We made it to the finals, as I did with Rivi and Marc with Big.  What an exciting day, all the guys in the finals. Zev would be last but one to run. Would I hold it together? "Yes I did", and actually for the first time, I felt more in control of my excitement and just generally more focused. This is Zev's and mine run and led us to be awarded the Reserve Ticket.

This is our highest place so far in a champ final. I was so thrilled and so excited, and so was Zev - excited that is ;-) The people running Wyre made great efforts despite the conditions and I luv'd that they awarded the CC and Reserve CC Tickets, there and then with a proper presentation in the ring. Everybody watching could celebrate and applaud, I hope this is copied at other shows, as it is a totally fab thing to do. And really celebrates what is a fantastic agility moment.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

x 2 for Rivi ;-)

Rivi and I finally got our grade 7 wins - two in one afternoon. We don't actually need them in terms of qualification for anything, but it is nice to do and was one of our goals for the season. Having had seconds and thirds and and some really excruciating off courses during the past few weeks, it has really been a rollercoaster ride this season.
So we have gone and done it and, it was not just one win but two :-) even as I write this it seemed a totally surreal afternoon, especially when on the Saturday it was like I had been sucked into some weird arcade game and the controls were malfunctioning. Then all of a sudden the malfunction was over and it was as if it never happened.  

It gave me a good lesson in resilience and working through stuff at a competition, because sometime you just have to. Just gotta step up and sort it there and then - best you can. Because how you react when things go 'wrong' from a handler perspective, has a critical impact how you grow as a partnership.

Because as the weekend proved tomorrow is another day :-) 

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Big's is Back at Weardale - Yahooooooooooo

Saturday at Weardale Mister Big's first run back is champ jumping. I was almost sick waiting for his run and filming it. The nerves, and I was not even running him. Big's has had a total of 11 weeks out of agility, and for the weeks 8 to 11 was raring to go. But we were determined he was not gonna be a what I call a 'boomerang dog' and a careful fitness regime followed before we were ready to unlease him back to agility. And blimey what a run:

He won this class and needless to say Bigs is well up for doing agility, happy to discharge his lapdog persona of the past 2 months. Whilst an off course in the agility due to pilot error meant no final. It did not matter for Mr Bigs is back well and truly :-) and the cheeky git still wants to be Sir Shag A Lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! boy oh boy has this tiny poodle got oodles of character as well as looks. Crikey this is official I am gushing - cue red cheeks as I write this. Still a little gushing - harmless, methinks.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Weardale - Zev is de Man

Well, what can I say. This is Zev's 5th final this year. I was 'bummed' at Rugby we qualified for the final, and just as I was about to walk the champ final course someone queried my placement. Needless to say, I trust and rely the score people so I suggested that they speak to the judge. This then made me worried, should I be in the final or not? It turned out my placement was correct, however I lost valuable course walking time checking my results and it ruined the fun of the final for me and usually I luv being in a champ final.  However as always onwards and forward, I chucked this years Rugby into the memory dung heap and looked forward to Weardale and what a day it was with Zev.  We were 4th in both the agility and jumping qualifying rounds.Heres the Jumping round:-

Heres the qualifing agility round -

In the final we came 3rd. I was so thrilled, that is the thing with Zev whether we run good and clean or not, he runs his heart out for me. And that really does give me such a buzz. And actually there are so many aspects of our performance that I was pleased with, from pull-thrus (not his favourite), working ahead, dealing with changes in contact surfaces (rubber whilst brilliant, has affected Zev's style which is scoot and go considerably - major retraining having to happen.) We are evolving as a partnership for sure. This is the final round -

My thanks to Weardale for such a great show, scenery, location and people. And you could check your scores easily and quickley, which is fab and very helpful. Plus the black, pink and white equipments looked really smart. Just what agility should be - enjoyed :-)

Sunday, 10 July 2011

The garden and agility - bliss

Yahooo, at long last we can use the whole bottom area of the garden for agility. OK, it is not the perfect lawn but it is so much better than it was, and as we had another weekend at home we could properly put it into use. I must admit I was quite daunted, I don't want to overtrain and the garden is our R&R area too for all of us. Where do you start, when one of the things that you dream of starts to become a reality? Oh, the responsibility of being able to do proper stuff in your garden, for when the weather is good at least.
Zev - shaking his toy - good 'n' proper - July 11
So Marc set a course and I handled it 3 times. As if the guys had three runs at a show. And I am really lucky that not only we have a garden where we can now do this, but Marc set a course that contained what I need to work on, which is setting the correct line for Rivi and Zev, when there is a nice 'handlers trap' to fall into, especially of a fast, technical course.  And the guys loved it. It was like "wow can do this at home too not just little bits" :-) 

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Newton Heath - Rivi's and Zev's tale

Rivi and me - having a fab time at NH June 11
Newton Heath - I wrote in Rivi's and Zev's training journal - it has just been an amazing day, as the agility season so far has been zooming high and then crash and burning ...metaphorically of course. Rivi and I got to our first champ final and came second in the Championship Jumping. I so needed that as I needed to know if I handled good then a good placement would be the outcome. I admit I find it hard handling Rivi as we have been of late a less consistent team, but I am fast learning how sweet it feels when it goes well. And that enables me to focus on what we can do.  It was great to be in two finals. Zev and Me in the Champ finals. Note to self need new baseball hat!

In the final I had five faults with both of them. But my goal of getting them both to a final and achieving some good handling was achieved. And as you can see with the photo of Rivi above, its just so awesome that togetherness that you can share. Sure I could have a better photo of me, but it just captures the sheer joy and bliss of a great day with the guys.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Dixie Licks makes her KC Agility Debut :-)

Well my excitement levels for Dixie's first KC show was fairly high, even the British summer weather could not get in the way of that. And here is Marc running her in her first agility and they came 3rd :-) Here is the vid...

She handled the whole debut with great aplomb and took it all in her stride as did Marc!

p.s Mr Big still out for at least 4-6 weeks...hmmp!!!!!!!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Hinckley...Great but Bigs Still Out

Hinckley, always put on a great show, it proves that a quality show does not need to be massive. It only had five rings with champs and qualifiers. And I pretty much had similar results to Nottingham. Rivi worked beautifully, we are improving and consolidating. Really enjoying the runs, just need to progress to making them flawless.  Zev and me made the Champ final too, not a terrific run handling wise but Zev had a brilliant time.

Update on Mr Big: -Previously I had made light of the daft reason for Bigs having to have a little rest. How foolish was I? Two fridays ago getting ready for Nottingham we discover it was not just the rear end. Cue Bigs screaming in the garden, cue emergency trip to vets with us thinking he had broken himself big time (excuse the pun) . We had one stressed Biggles and two very stressed humans. Fortunately no breaks and Bigs stress/pain eased by morphine and other drugs.

Good news is that two weeks on vets are no longer classing his front right shoulder as having a partial dislocation, which means he wont be needing an operation. But he will be missing more that two weeks of action for sure. But the main thing is he is feeling better in himself. He is also now miffed that he not allowed to run amok and cause poodle chaos where ever he goes!!!!!! ;-)

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

I feel good

Yahoooo, I am back. I had a brilliant weekend at Nottingham Champ Show. It was hard, as the 3 heights of champ were in split over two rings, and along with cruft singles in another separate ring -which I blew. (Mind you Nottingham DTC are really good and put all these rings together). Then I made a mental note to self "stop worrying about it - the juggling of key runs is a skill I need to learn."

Rivi worked super,  however we went off course - my fault. But the Rivi is really liking these rubber contacts, she looked so more confident and sure 'pawed' and we worked so well together. And we also faced our Nemesis with a team run and we ran clear - so needed that after the big 'e' at Crufts.

Then Zev what a little star, with myself sorted out, he was on top form speed wise and I luv it when he is like this - on the edge of the seat ride around an agility course. We went into the final 5th from pole position, which was a great result. Unfortunately due to how they place - we got no rosettes :-(  How I wish they would do finalist rosettes or even a card like Rugby DTC used to do, it would just be nice to have a memento of such a fab day and doing so well.

And for me I just could not stop smiling, for the first time I felt like I belong in Champ or Grade 7 classes. Plus I was enjoying my agility and that is really important to me as it was a shock at the last couple of shows not to be in that mind frame.
With the confidence issue I had always had a conflict about positive mantras and affirmations, despite my understanding of psychology and applied behaviour. By sheer chance I was reading Glamour - Fashion Magazine  June 2011 Edition (which is great for fashion and other girly stuff) and there was an article called 'YOU can do anything' Which was a frickin' brilliant read and the tip 4 'Don't Fake It' was just what I needed to read. It says in the article for some people the affirmation/mantra approach can have the opposite effect of its intention.  All the sport psychology that pushes this affirmation/mantra approach , can actually creates more self doubt in some individuals. 
Since I read this article at breakfast on Saturday morning it stayed with me and it was just what I needed. That was £2.00 very well spent. Thank you Glamour
Summing up: I was just feeling so good and proud of me and my guys - yahooo indeedy :-)

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Mr Bigs out of action....for a daft reason ;-)

Mr Big - Power Mode
Mr Bigs....out of action as his recent new nickname of Sir Shag A Lot because he was delirious and seriously a humping whilst Dixie had her first full season. He has sore muscles in a certain region. Hence the lost of form, hope to resume form in about 3 to 6 weeks.

Tiny and cute - Mr Big as a puppy
So its true you can have to much of a good thing...and now I think he addicted as he still wants to be a humping...a daft reason to be out of action for sure ;-)

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Ready for.....another Nuts

Yep it that all important decision time, to think of getting a puppy in 2012.
Sometimes with great bonds I think perhaps you only come across it once or twice in a life time, like a great love . I have already been blessed - with my guys can it happen again?

So the hunt is on for a puppy to join me and my guys next year.  Rivi will be five and by the time you factor in 3 years before edging to the top level if it all goes well the next puppy would not be in enroarching on Rivi in agility terms until Rivi is eight, which should be a nice progression. Worked out with the extensive gap I had before Nuts retired in 2007 and now in late 2010 finally back in Grade 7 but first full season 2011- that is a long time out at that level. But will have to focus on less is more - rather like training - quality not quantity ;-) that is to be the focus. No more worrying about lack of experience and time out. I am so over it :-) da da a light bulb moment, whilst writing my blog!!!!

This puppy plan will probably be totally mad really with work, studying and the guys and general day to day stuff. But if you wanna do it you just gotta otherwise your life is forever on hold and its to short for that. As a friend said "if you wanna make it work, then you will".

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Getting the blip Perspective

Me & Nuts - Switzerland 2006
Its odd how one blip, starts a chain reaction in my thinking processes, on a subconscious level that I was not aware of until I analysed why my handling was going 'haywire'. Confidence can be so fragile, it is easily shattered, but so resilient it finds a way to resurface. This year sees me with the first full season of having two dogs at Grade 7, in Champ class and thinking of qualifiers. They are good enough for us to do well and I think this rather smacked me in the face the other weekend....I found "doubting thomas" was back subconsciously....hmmmp!!!! Had not seen him around for a while, and it took me a while to realise he had hitched a lift ;-)

Nuts and Dixie - How do you do :-) May 11

I think the difference for me this year is the lost of naivety. With running Nuts the world was my oyster, and I was blissful in complete naivety. Now with Rivi and Zev, I realised what I know now I did not know then. And realised my source of conflict in myself.  The doubting of the way I wanted to tackle a course. Confusing my guys for sure...which mortified me even more.Yikes, they so know if I am not 'full throttle'.

Nuts and Dixie - May 11
Then I remembered what I learnt i.e LB book that helped me take me and my guys in the direction we are going. Then I remembered something that I loose occasionally and then find again and it comes to the fore. Which is resolve, determination and belief. 

So at training, I tackled the courses at training and hurled myself into them ....I choose my own handling way that suits me and allows me to be consistent and confident... and most important of all to have an absolute blast with my guys. And I am sure Rivi and Zev would probably have said "phew....our proper Christine is back, lets rock 'n' roll"

Nuts turning on the charm for Dixie - May 11
 Needless to say it was a good night of training and "doubting thomas, hit the dirt". Now I just need to hit some competitions, which I will at the end of May as it is time to Rock 'n' Roll as it is all back in perspective.
 p.s The pictures are of my darling Nuts with Dixie. Totally cute :-)

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Yahoo its bank holidays galore...and a blip hits

Rivi, Zev and Mr Bigs April/May 20011
Luv the extra bank holidays - means I with the guys more and less guilt trips about having to work. Plus we were crazy and booked four days of agility at Newbury. In the depth of Winter it seemed a good idea. The weeks are hurling along - and crikey, getting to grips with Grade 7 - the season has started so well - with so many rosettes and Zev and me managing to qualify for one of the UKA finals in December. However amongst all this I started to lose my nerve irratically, the busier the ring i.e crowded, the less confident I was. This was the blip that hit. Which is interesting from a behavioural perspective as success should be reinforcing - but no my brain which I always seem to be training to be positive was rebelling .....The blip that hit was:-

"......... at the point of several wins ... went into the agility with Rivi and as she starts to do her poles a dog flew out of its ring.... and made a bee line for Rivi and it was not knocked my legs in its determination to get Rivi...'lucky I clocked it'....I told it to 'get out' in no uncertain terms.Which it did..... Have the whole incident on video, unfortunately you can't see the handler, as Marc was videoing me and Rivi.... the handler of dog was so gutless as not to even apologise to me and Rivi. Thankfully Rivi is fine, due to my intervention and bravado. Over in a matter of seconds this whole incident. But for me, it stressed me enough to make my stomach hurt on the rerun and really shook me up. I have horrid bruises on my legs where the dog impacted on my legs. Still onwards and forwards - time to bounce they say 'another day, another dollar' and the main thing is my Beautyoli is absolutely fine....

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Yahooo it the Easter Holidays....

How lucky am I last weekend Zev's breeder Bernadette kindly video'd my Zev - we won this class. I was so chuffed. Indeed his season has started off almighty well - three wins. This is not a flawless run but it sure was committed and his weave entries are now started to come good. I am thrilled with how my man is starting to become a 'grown up'. We did have some off course runs as I continue to push for that extra edge, but I was totally buzzing:-)

Rivi and me what a mixture, I must admit after our first run I was gutted as she froze on me, and with the bits of training and how she is maturing into a happyoli I was so not expecting it. I was did not know what to think, friends commiserated and the 'jellyfish' people were 'oh a controlled round, not much omph, has she!!!!'

Well did I jack it in - heck no. The rest of our rounds were scrappy, but I was not giving in. Rivi is too beautiful to quit on, and on a good day she is a dream. She is what she is, and I adore the days she is a dream to run. And on the crappy runs she is still none the wiser, all I have to work on is her believing she is awesome. This is only our 5th grade 7 show, we need to get some experience and settle into this level of competition. We ended up with a 12th and a 5th, a great bounce back. Hoping Marc will video her runs over easter:-)

p.s jellyfish people - from Bridget Jones -  a complement with a sting in the tail!
p.p.s it is going to be an interesting season for sure
p.p.p.s Happy Easter Holidays....................

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The Zevman has his turn...

This shows Zev and me having our turn based on an exercise from the Clean Run Exercise Source book by Pamela Green. And Rivi aka Perfectoli is waiting on the sidelines.

Our training was been tougher than usual this past month as we are going through that transitional phase of speed increasing, and my timing then being out of sync, or I am seeking more independent weave and go outs and Zev would happily be superglued to my side. This has probably been work in progress since we started our journey together. He will also tell me in his own sheltie way his opinion, which is invaluable feedback.

I think it would be safer and easier to stick within a comfort zone, but that would not be as exhilarating, and I do luv that buzz when it starts to come good and the challenge of pushing us as a team.

Two weeks to go to our first weekend show of the year = Yipeee.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Dixie Training and Recallers be inspired

As the agility circuit has not really kicked off, we have been working hard in the garden and it is really starting to pay off as we can start doing more agility focused training. The first vid is of Dixie and Marc doing their 'poles'. Purists of the 2x2 will have to look away ;-)

Then we laid out an exercise from the Clean Run Exercise Source book by Pamela Green. Really useful little book of sequences to tryout. Next year we hope to get a whole set of agility jumps. But to be honest, when we train, we don't worry about height if we may be focusing on other skills, or we may mix and match. When we get to club the guys get the opportunity to jump their height for KC competition.

Then, catching up with blogging I came across with the recallers video on Susan Garrett's blog, and so I watched and voted and heaved a sign of relief, my guys do that. Then got the email ''Psst, Your Dog Wants You to See This . . .'' it was pre subscription and I was curious, could we be better? So, I get to watch the "evaluate your dogs recall'' and it made me smile. A great summary of foundation basics to build a great bond and recall. And no excuses, get on an do it approach. Great stuff and accessible. How cool is that :-)

I also liked that Susan clarified the 'ruff love' as I do not agree with this book and its good to see concerns being recognized and a recognition of more controlled freedom, regarding more opportunities to make decisions and rewarding the desired behaviours.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

High and Low and High

Wings in the Snow
Went to Crufts with the Rivi and Wings. The team qualified for the final so that was the high. The low was me and Rivi went off course on the last but one obstacle,  so not expecting that. But my Rivi was super,  and the high was I know now she can cope with the big arena, and she was just an absolute joy to be with, and we had a great time together. Although the low as going off course had a big impact on the team members and of cause the results, we ended up 3rd, and that is oh so gutting and for a second a bit crushing too :-( But you just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and prepare and know that next time it will be the perfect run. Agility performance for me is partly defined by how you bounce back...

The Perfectoli
I have ordered the runs from dfs Crufts so hopefully I can post them 'warts and all'.  When I first watched the runs, on dfs Crufts catch up video service, I felt like I was gonna watch a scary horror movie, yep - I was clutching a cushion to hide behind , waiting for that split moment of an agility run, when the ecstasy of a run turns to shitsville. Watching it really put it back in perspective especially watching Rivi, her beautiful coat gleaming under the lighting and moving so swift and smoothly. Ty to Marc, who said I really did need to watch it, he was dare I say it "right!!!!!"

In the meantime,  I thought I would load a photo of us posing and the team dogs wearing their Dog Games  harnesses. Unfortunately I could not get the photo to load. We also had great team tee-shirts kindly sponsored by Johnson's Dog Wormers.

So onward and forward to the coming agility season only only a few weeks to go :-)

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Zev...I'm smitten and bias ;-)

Its incredible that Zev is now 3. One minutes an impossibly cute sheltie pup and now an incredibly handsome sheltie grown-up. Below is an extract of what I wrote about Zev for the Agility Club magazine due to coming 2nd in his grade in what is I guess a national league for members of the Agility Club.
"....He is my forth agility partner and I wrote the following when he was 8 months old and it is still true now (he will be 3 in March 11) Zev came into my life, when he was 8 weeks old. His personality is determined, endearing, and pushy but never overt, quick, bossy, thoughtful, noisy, quiet, affectionate, and at times impatient. His temperament is to die for; if I could get a border collie with his temperament it would be just perfect. He is so light on his paws, has great movement and so totally handsome. I will be bias about this, as he is mine, and I am well and truly smitten. His sheer excitement at doing something is truly infectious. If he could, he would join in when I do my wii fit in the lounge, as he always wants to be doing. He has impeccable manners and canine body language. I can take him anywhere..."
Yep, I guess you could say I am well and truely smitten, hence the bias :-)

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Economy Gym...It works for me! :-)

The Zevman - 2011 - just luv the expression
I decided not to renew my gym membership, a tough decision coz I actually enjoy working out and feeling fit. However, I felt so guilty leaving my guys  again in the evening, even though they had Marc with them, their reproachful looks was such that I needed to find a better solution. Plus a tough winter making it also impossible to go, which meant I was paying out hard earnt cash for something I could not use. My gym programme was making me 'bigger' in turn of muscle and was not a look I wanted. (vids in the summer - not good I looked heavy and I was heavy muscle -not a good look even if I was fit - yuck and yuck!!!) I needed an economical and effective way of being fit, that would help me a achieve the body I want and feel good both for agility and life in general - not an easy task - believe me. 

Zev - Gonna get the ball
Nuts is not up to running any great distance so that was out of the question and again the weather! Also, to be honest I love walking my dogs enjoying their antics, and savouring the relaxation of it. I did not want to turn that into a regime as that is my chillin' with my guys time.

In January, I googled fitness DVDS, which I used previously, but now I needed something that offered cardio, tone and strength for someone where the battle with time needs to be won. Would I be able to get such a combination, and enjoy the routine enough to keep at it. And blimey I found it. Yep, a fitness DVD that lives up to its reputation and some. Its the Davina Body Buff - it is totally brilliant - for the first time I am doing effective abs workout and  I get the stretching exercises because I can feel the effectiveness.  I am losing the muscle bulk, as the intensity of the cardio even when doing the arm section, means that it is a leaner look.

Zev - I got the ball :-)
The DVD is 7 segments in all, and you can pick and mix or do it all.  Need an economy gym this is it, already had arm weights so for me the cost was £12.97 for the DVD - I have already gone down a dress size and my target is to get down another so I will be the same as I was in my 20s. Now that will be totally cool. And Marc is totally appreciating it and he did not want me to lose weight! -  and it makes me feel fab and it will so benefit my agility and in turm my guys as I have more energy and stamina :-)

Totally random photos  - but Zev photos so well, and well I'm hardly gonna put pictures of me working out just yet!!!!!!!! ;-)

Monday, 21 February 2011

DixieLicks @ 14 months :-)

Well I guess I have not written much about the Dixie, so what is there to say? So far she is a very cute, bright, swift and dinky border collie. Loves mud and wet and wears the lawn out quicker than all the other guys combined. It seems like forever the conversation when agility folk met her is she going to medium?  And fortunately her 'unofficial' measure puts her in the large height category for KC, which is a relief. We think she is about 17.5 inches - phew! However as you see the height is no issue for her, as her build is good for agility and is incredibly strong for her size, rather like Mr Bigs but scaled up ;-)

This was her second attempt at full height on a 3 jump combination.  Then there was what to do with the contacts. Marc has decided for the time being Stand TOTO will be the starting point. Hence this vid, of Dixie doing her version of Stage 3 in training her position. Ignore the hop over the dog walk plank, it did make me chuckle ;-)

And you see agility training proper has commence, she has even started her 2by2, and is now at 6 poles, which hopefully I will get on vid when they do them next.  Marc is what I call a '2by2er' - it just suits him. It still makes me ask more questions than I can answer, especially the right hand hook round entry. But it works, and I will have my channels and be a 'channeller'. Different methods same results. I guess it is the optium mix of method, application, suitability, value and buzz. As for Dixie, she is just having the bestest time.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

"By gove", have we got it?

Whilst at training, one minute I am thinking and appreciating how well the retraining of Rivi's AF has progressed.  Then brought back down to earth with a 'bump'  as Rivi's DW contact was commented on!!! I was really embarrassed. I don't know why, as it was given in a constructive way and meant well. But what it did do? - thanked them for their feedback as it enabled me to go away and think.  It occurred to me:-

That with the snow and flu, I had simply not thought about the DW. Rivi was quite rightly was offering her down TOTO on the DW as I had not explained to her the change, indeed I had not even thought about it.

So three times last week I used a step in the house to allow Rivi to offer the stand TOTO, then today I transferred it to a plank. (I'm lucky to have a single step, as it seems to look very awkward when done over more than this.)  This to me was stage 1 and 2 and "by gove" we got it.  Then Stage 3 - within 2 sessions of 10 minutes, Rivi was offering me the stand TOTO, even when doing the plank at a run :-)

Then this week at training, she offered it on the DW - yahooooo!!!  And Zev benefited from the refresher. Reinforcing basics - fun and just as vital as me needing to keep 'raising my game'.

As for the RunCon I have not resolved them in my mind from several perspectives including behavioural, physical, ethical and a coaching point of view.  I luv'd this post about contacts Agility - The Chaos Theory as I very much mixed feelings about them and won't do what I consider to be over training.

Trying out RunCons, has been a good learning experience and Rivi has taught me so much about being creative, focused and keeping moving forward. For me it is great that I have found a solution, that most importantly means my Rivi is flourishing. She happy I happy - end of :-)

So "By gove", have we got it?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Handling like this???

Handling, handling, handling. This week I have had the good fortune to have two great training sessions. Opportunities to explore different ways of handling turns in a supportive environment, where you can try different things and analyse how it might work, how does it feel - does it suit you style, does it have flow, does it suit suit your partner, does it help turn acceleration or provide better clarity of where turning to?  To talk things through, articulating and discussing it, embeds learning processes. So refreshing, challenging and exhilarating.

So I tried some handling cues the turn through the gap of two jumps in a style that I had seen whilst watching last years FCI Agility World Champs.

Just love training and it has been such a buzz being able to get some done.

Zev did some training on Sat, kindly arranged by Bernadette and held at Lesley's place. See the OBay blog for the video's from that. Really enjoyed being with the shelties, and the collies, and the honorary poodle. Variety is the spice of life!!!!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

The smooth'ish' groove....

Well, another and this time local show, and onwards and forwards with getting some jumping practice in. We had 3 clean runs, and we got a 3rd in this jumping and a 5th in the agility. The jumping was was an exciting course, and not much room between obstacles for sure. Or at least that is how it felt.  I was so pleased we pulled it off in a smooth'ish' fashion, and it was so lovely that we got a round of applause for getting round.


I was so extra pleased with the weave entry as training wise I wanted to believe that she could do it, but so many handlers had their dog on the right. Should I have Rivi on my left or right – decisions to be made. My 'reverse' thinking skills told me Rivi ideally should really only be on my right if I wanted her to take the pipe tunnel in this scenario. My grateful thanks to Lesley Olden who taught me this concept as it enables me to think more clearly if I have a debate on handling options, due to the way a course is laid out.

Really looking forward to getting us some more Grade 7 and Championship experience this year. Having already started entering some summer shows!!! :-)

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

How do you know?

How do you know to get back into the groove? Is there a best way or is it trust your instincts?

The weekend after the tryouts, we had another show. Do we go, yes. The weather forecast was for light rain. Well gosh knows that the forecasters version of heavy rain is as it was raining so hard and so windy. To me it was torrential. Thank goodness for waterproofs for humans and dogs. Apart from our extremeties we stayed dry and snuck. Its madness I thought but actually it was OK.

The first two runs with Rivi, well we were like bottles of shaken fizzy pop. Rather ironic since I have given up fizzy drinks except as a treat at the weekend. The excitment was in her eyes. But bugger, still poles down. Should I run her in the 3rd and 4th runs? Much debate, should I run her, she was totally sound - the issue was getting back into the groove. We are just rusty, so we decide to press on,  and all the poles stayed up.  Which means the last two shows we have done, we have had placements. But most important, the jumping skill she has is coming back.

Then last night at training, the rustyoli had gone and smootholi is back, no poles down, her speed is back both over the ground and her contacts are the fastest they have been. Plus she is a very very happy doggy :-) Yipee that is a win-win situation. I do like the guys to be happy.

As a friend said. "Bring on the season and the wins-oli :-)"

I luv how friends are getting Rivi's endearment names and making them up too.
A sign of relief from me, as we are this week back to training twice a week and that means the guys are entertained.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

WAO England Tryouts 2011

After blissful day on the 26th Dec, the flu strikes. I am sick and I am shocked as I have not been sick like this since decades ago!!!!! So between the snow, the winter darkness and flu, Rivi's preparation for the WAO Tryouts was around 3 training sessions in 8 weeks - not good. Still tired...and with a niggling cough, I ummm and arrgghh do I go or not?  Due to the heights being different at the WAO to the Kennel Club, UKA and FCI rules, we did not enter Zev and Big as they would have had to jump a higher height which in relation to their size was wholly inappropriate. Should I just go with Rivi, I felt mean for Zev and Big and then as Marc said the hotel is booked the entry paid, lets go.

So go we did, I was thrilled with the Rivioli, and I was pleased with myself. Sure I will always be loud when I run, all control of my voice is lost. And now I just have the attitude it is part of me and my guys don't care as they know loud voice equals great fun. There was fantastic courses to run, and bar one run, where I did a stupid handling error and sent Rivi off course, I handled good.  But it was a good lesson for me, as now I know how to deal with that type of sequence. Rivi's showed the lack of training by having an uncharacteristic number of poles. It was a shock for me being out of breath after a run, the flu had really taken its toll on my fitness. I think we ended up about 12th overall. The event gave me lots of handling experience, dealing with the hanging around, how to deal with it from a psychological perspective. Just so productive all round.

I was smitten with agility all over again. In the depths of the flu I had consider knocking agility on the head, thinking rational thoughts about the ridiculous cost of fuel and lack of money to do other stuff.  But after the first run I was buzzing and chuckled that I ever entertained the notion of giving it all up.

Rivi did her utmost for me, took the hanging around in her stride and was just so cute, I came away from the runs so happy, once I got over a blasted coughing fit. This was the first major tryout she has attended.
 Why was I so happy, coz Rivi had a great time and I for the first time in agility felt like a 'grown up'. Coz despite the many wins and how well we do. 'Doubting Thomas' always wanted to get on my shoulder and I would argue with myself to remove the doubts but the niggle remained. And I knew that until I resolved this niggle it would have the potential to jeopardize my progression as a handler. But this weekend exorcised the 'doubting thomas' demon. Me and Rivi deserved to be there and that increased my enjoyment, the realisation that my handling has improved, so had my determination and belief.

I guess this probably is a bizarre read, as people say I come across as really confident and loud. Loud I am, blame my Essex roots ;-), the confidence has been as they say work in progress.

So to the organisers of the WAO Tryouts, thank you for a fabulous weekend. It was well organized, realistic and a fantastic experience.  The people on ring duty did an excellent job.

To the individual winners and the opportunity to represent England, congratulations. There were awesome established teams and newer ones coming through.

Let the weather improve and training recommence :-)