Our final trip to Catton Park this year. We rocked up Saturday morning late and missed walking two courses. I had the Grade 1-4 Agility and Combined 1-7 Jumping straight away. The 1-7 could have really done with a walk. I watched the Agility, exercised Guinness and went to run it.
I had him off lead before the previous dog was over the last jump and we stayed calm and rewarded outside of the ring and then into a down and in the ring. He waited, I paused, we went. Perfect. We were running well but then he didn’t push out to a jump on a turn and came over the wrong jump. Eliminated! Onto the weaves and he did 12 beautifully. We held the dog walk contact and finish. A positive run!
I watched the Combined 1-7 Jumping for a while and we went in to run it. The course was stunning, exactly what I like to see from a 1-7. It was doable for Grade 1s but gave the Grade 7s lots of handling options and chances for them to find the fastest line. We did some lovely front cross and rear cross work, pulling off the tunnel, 180 turns, then it finished 12 weaves and jump. Into the weaves and as he was halfway through I was thinking “We’re going to do this. We’re going to show these Grade 7 dogs what we can do”. I was running for home and Guinness skipped the last weave! Damn!!! I took him back and he did 12 perfectly.
Despite high entry numbers the day was feeling quite quiet and relaxed. The weather at Catton Park changes as often as a woman’s mood and we varied between sunbathing and huddled in a jumper! Be prepared for four seasons in one day at Catton.
Grade 1-4 Jumping next up. I pushed for distance but Guinness didn’t agree and instead pulled off a jump and took the wrong one for an elimination (again!). The rest of the run was lovely with a cheeky blind cross and I rear crossed the 12 weaves just for training purposes and he nailed them! Finally following Lou’s advice of getting something out of your run, even if you’d been eliminated.
Last up was Combined 1-3 Agility and Combined 1-3 Jumping. I concentrated on the Agility run. On a 180 turn he ran wide around the jump, then over the jump and he decided to aim for the seesaw that was miles away rather than the aframe that was right in front of us. “Where are you going?!” I laughed at him. Weirdo.
Finally onto jumping. 4 straight jumps to a tunnel. Time to push for a real sexy wait! I walked to the second jump and glanced at him, he stood up and ran around the jump. I took him back and this time walked to number 4, paused and then released him. That’s more like it. Front cross into weaves and he missed the entrance but 2nd attempt was great and he did all 12.
A successful day of near misses! A nice early finish and a relaxing evening.
Back at it on Sunday, I really struggled with my 6am alarm clock and I missed walking my first course yet again. It was a nice, fun Grade 1-3 Agility. A lovely course with some great tunnel entrances and a male Judge in a kilt!
We set off from another beautiful wait, and as Guinness was on the down plank of the dogwalk I could tell that he wasn’t going to stop. I didn’t want to command him to steady or stop as that is not our training, so I kept running and he flew off it and I saw the judges arm go up. I should have taken him back over but I wanted to run the course and we carried on. The rest was lovely and he drove into both tunnels with distance and I was running away shouting for him to chase me, which he loved. Gutted for the 5F but what a fun course. I checked our time afterwards and he was the 2nd fastest dog out of the 100+ Grade 1-3s, only one Grade 3 dog beating us by 2 seconds. Zoom!
We had a big break now and I watched the Adams Jumping Cup 4-7 Qualifier for a while, and was very chuffed to see a girl in a bright green hoody, the same fluorescent shade as mine! Hurrah I’m not the only one with a taste for bright green. It was fun to watch the higher graded handlers negotiating the course, but I started to feel a little disheartened after seeing quite a few people leave the ring as soon as their dog went wrong, never rewarding nor speaking to the dog. It made me a little sad about our sport. Then in another ring I saw an incident of harsh handling and from the sidelines I watched the drama that followed it. Now I was really feeling glum.
After lunch I had three runs bunched together. First up was the Adams Combined 1-3 Jumping Cup Qualifier. I entered this purely because it was a 1-3, not for the cup. But the idea of qualifying was quite exciting and it was a nice course. We set off but as I turned for the 180 on the third jump Guinness ran forward and over a jump. Eliminated at the third hurdle. The rest of the run was perfect, story of my weekend! I front crossed 6 weaves and we did a lovely pull in, something that we haven’t seen in a course or at training for a while so good to know we can still do them. What an almost-exciting weekend it was being! Waits were also perfect so far.
Grade 1-2 Agility, our last chance at progression! Four jumps in a straight line then seesaw then jump, and he ran wide past the top jump rather than over it. Wtf Guinness. Into the weaves and I needed to get ahead to set the line for the next jumps, but he popped out about halfway through. Second attempt he powered through all of them and the 11 remaining obstacles of the course were done in style, of course! I held and pushed his aframe and dogwalk contacts to really make up for the mornings missed one and came out of the ring very pleased.
Last of the weekend, Grade 1-4 Jumping. As I stood in the queue I joked with the handler in front of me who was queueing without his dog, commenting that he may run better without it. I later found out that it was Ian Jackson! Oh the shame! But what a nice bloke! He heartily bantered with me without appearing to take any insult. Some people are just instantly likeable. Into our run and Guinness went 1st jump, 2nd jump, wrong end of the tunnel! And so we ended on a run that summed up our whole weekend, it was a perfect run except for that one mistake!
What a fantastic two days! The best we have had for a long time. Waits were almost perfect with only one or two niggles out of a total of 9 runs. Plus what an improvement to our weaves!
As I got to the car to go home for the day the Jumping Cup Finals were starting in about half an hour. I wavered between going home and getting my blog writing done or staying to watch. I decided to stay, it’s not every day you get a chance to watch some of the top handlers. Laura Chudleigh and Lee Windeatt to name a few. I pulled up a chair along the picket fencing and loved every minute of it. Not just because my friend, Audra Hurst was running in the 1-3 Jumping Final. Go Audra & Cara!
Two hours later, time to go home! Feeling great!
But… as I got Guinness out of the car on Sunday night he was limping, not putting his back left leg on the floor until he had hopped down the length on the drive and into the back garden. On Monday he seemed fine. Late on Tuesday evening he limped. On Wednesday Lydia came to look at him. Today we went to the vets.
A cruciate injury. Not serious… but serious enough for restricted exercise of walking only for 8 weeks, a change of diet to Hills JD and we were advised that physiotherapy would help. I asked to be referred to Physio-Vet.
As it happens Adams was our final KC show until Shrewsbury in October, but we will not be entering that. I hadn’t pre-entered UKA at Dig It next weekend but I planned to pay on the day. Now we are off agility training for 8 weeks and shows for longer.
A new chapter is now starting in our training as I look for alternatives to keep that collie brain stimulated throughout his rest period. I’ll know more once we have had our initial consultation at Physio-Vet and I will keep you all updated.