Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Agility Update

As I am back online am, albeit very slowly, I will try to catch up with results and performances to date as the 2015 season unfolds.
Whilst we pride ourselves in training to a highly competitive level and judge much of our successes on reaching National or local finals ,sometimes what appear slight achievements fail to stress the excessive amount of work that has been put in by handler and dog and I will highlight one such case as more important than any that follow.

Clare Hudson and Sacha recorded 4 clear rounda at the UKA show in Cambridgeshire last weekend and the accumulated points have taken the pair half way to Novice level. What is remarkable is that the pair came to me 12 months ago having all the faults typical of those trained by so called "Fun Agility" instructors. What this term usually means is " I as an instructor dont have a clue about agility but its a good way to make money" and the result was a dog that stuck like glue to its handler,couldnt jump anything higher than small height and attacked weavepoles only if the handler were waving an imaginary piece of cheese from side to side whilst walking backwards. Now Sacha an 8 year old springer  x labrador is producing these results at Standard height, and is a lesson in perseverence and positive attitude by Clare. Easily the most improved dog we have trained over the past 12 months and she will help Clare enormously as she trains her young collie.

Now for the catch ups and I will mention the highlights and apologise in advance if I have missed anyone. Firstly Hayley Tindall having spent the winter reducing her dog Fifi s see saw time from over 4 secs ( another result of well intentioned but unknowledgeable trainers) to 1.6 seconds, gained the two Agility wins she needed to make Grade 7, in a day, and joins an ever increasing group of our handlers competing in Championship Classes. Catching up quickly is Sarah Peall with another small dog JRT Megan who has now reached Grade 6 to accompany Hayley in walking the majority of courses.Her border collie Tilly had some top 3 places too at the larger shows and we will mention more of this later.Third member of this super group of smaller dog handlers Suzanne MacLennan reached Grade 4 with Clyde whilst George continues to win consistently and just needs a little fine tuning before competing in Agility classes.

Of the more experienced handlers Hannah Houldsworth continued her good form that saw her 2nd overall at Olympia and 3rd in the international jumping round at Crufts with a debut win, running Ann Hinz,s Twix,and 3 wins at Lincoln with recently speyed Belle,Jenny Lambert ,2nd in the British Open ( medium height) at Crufts had numerous wins ,whilst the effort of 60 year old Ray Lambert outrunning Evie on Good Friday earned him and Rosie good placings. Evie made her Championship debut with Ace and reached the Final whilst also gaining points towards Crufts qualification on the Sunday at Scunthorpe finishing 7th against the best of British Agility,whilst also gaining 2 x 2nd places and a 3rd with.Roxy . Laura Wilson also made her Championship debut and recorded a clear round in the Agility class whilst Mistys strange refusal to take the tyre in the jumping round restricted any progression. They did however produce a very good clear in the Crufts singles class,not quick enough for points but a 15th place ,one behind Greg Derretts World Silver medal winner Detox.

Another of the unsung heroes Helen Jones gained her 2nd Grade 6 win with Belle her 6 year old rescue dog and anyone who knows both dog and handler can have nothing but admiration for this result whilst her even more difficult rescue dog Mac won the Beginners steeplechase at Bakewell,a truly superb performance not only because of the level of competition but because he was traumatised by an unsolicited Rottweiler attack 2 months previously. Still a little nervous of many things he has shown what he is capable of and is a credit to Helen.At the same show Veronica Wilson put her winter training to good use with wins for Ice and a 3rd for the difficult Mr.Celt,whilst Amy Pearce beat Evie and Roxy to 2nd place in the Novice jumping class

Continuing the unsung heroes line, Helen along with 16 year old Amy Pearce,and Veronica Wilson joined forces competing in the UKA team tournament and after the individual rounds were 3rd behind two other Field of Dreams teams consisting of much more experienced competitors with higher graded dogs . In the end the Field of Dreams team consisting of Hannah/Rye,Evie/Roxy ,and Ray Lambert/Rosie pipped Jenny/Wizz,Evie/Ace,Hannah /Belle to reach the national finals joining Hayley Tindall whose long drive to Reading proved worthwhile as she qualified for the UKA Beginners Steeplechase final. Other finalists already are Sarah Peall with Tilly in the G1-3 Vegas final ( won last year by Evie),whilst Hannah with Belle and and amazing run by Ann Norton with Rods Billie joined Evie and Ace in the final Adams Jumping cup. For a G5 dog to beat G6 and 7 dogs to qualify is testament to the work Rod has put in over the winter.

Whilst talking about reaching finals probably the best performance came from Linda Leaning and Standard poodle Benji who finished 9th in the Vegas ABC qualifier and is 1st reserve for the final Considering Linda is in her 60,s and Benji G3, not one of the renowned agility breeds to come so highly placed against allcomers is again a credit to the pair.

Whilst we can look forward to a busy and successful season I need to finish on a sombre note as sadly Jayne Wilkinson lost Percy and Nicky Jessop,Evie to very aggressive cancers, ,both at young ages, 8 and 4 respectively and whilst both were in their prime. It is events such as these that should make us realise how every moment with your dog is precious.In a recent magazine interview Evie was asked to give 3 tips for success and replied ,pick a handling system that suits you and your dog,be consistent, and thirdly "dont take agility too seriously,its supposed to be fun"" Wise words from a young head and epitomised bythe two ladies who suffered such tragic losses.

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