Norfolk Easter – Highs and Lows, 17 April 2017

Easter weekend and time for the first big Kennel Club show of the year. I woke excited but then the nerves kicked in and by the time I was at the showground I had managed to knock my confidence by stressing about the day ahead. Not a great start and my tension fed straight down into the dogs. Merlin picked it up the most and flattened. Sparrow was just confused when my handling was hesitant and not confident like in training. The result was some rubbish runs in the morning, though I picked myself up enough to improve somewhat in the afternoon.

Saturday night I gave myself a good pep talk and reviewed my attitude. Sunday I arrived at the show much more confident and ready to run. My handling was far better, Sparrow ran like in training and had two really awesome runs. Her jumping was close to a perfect clear and Merlin had two really good runs in agility. No placings this weekend, but as always I learned something about myself and the dogs and enjoyed some tricky courses. Even the weather was kind, only raining late in the afternoon of Sunday.

Saturday – Merlin

Medium Combined 3-5 Jumping

Stressy handling leads to a stressy Sheltie. Merlin’s jumping run was hesitant. He managed the first ketchsker lovely, but not the second. He failed to turn and so back jumped. A shame because it was a going clear before then.

Medium Combined 4-7 Helter Skelter

The Helter Skelter was a challenging but nice course, I had managed to get Sparrow round clear already and thought I would get Merlin round. I did not expect him to find the far end of the last tunnel rather than the near end. I think if I had front crossed I would have prevented that, but it was not a trap I expected.

Medium Graded 1-7 Agility

I really liked this course, not too complicated but with a twist. The tunnel caught a lot of dogs out, many failing to go in the correct entrance the second time. I ducked my shoulders left and Merlin went in correctly. We went clear and came unplaced third. Thanks Vicky Brown for the video.

Medium Graded 3-5 Agility

We went straight into the next agility course, but things fell apart again, so I am glad there was no video of it! Merlin went a little flat again, I think the start being so open didn’t help.

Saturday – Sparrow

Small Combined 3-5 Jumping

Sparrow only had five runs at the weekend, the first I was a poor handler and Sparrow argued with me the whole way around. The first ketchsker I moved off too soon and Sparrow pulled right instead of left. However, we almost went clear, only the run by at the weaves that fluffed it. The judge was kind enough to say we were unlucky.

Small Combined 4-7 Helter Skelter

I was still not running my best on this course, I faffed and Sparrow questioned my directions, but we managed to get round clear. We did not place, but I hardly expected us to in a 4-7 combined.

Sunday – Merlin

Medium Combined 3-5 Jumping

Day 2 and time to improve on the day before. I was determined to run Merlin properly, unfortunately he was still flat and when he came out of the tunnel and spied the judge he freaked, lost connection and went around a jump. But the rest of the course was brilliant and I made sure to big Merlin up at the end

Medium Combined 4-7 Steeplechase

No video of this. Merlin missed a jump because I failed to push him out and then went in the wrong end of the tunnel. I asked the judge if I could repeat that bit and he agreed. The second time it was a lovely tunnel pull-off. I finished with lots of praise for Merlin.

Medium Grade 1-7 Agility

By the afternoon I was determined to run clear. The agility had a tricky bit with a tunnel dogwalk combination, but Merlin ran well and we had a nice clear. Not fast enough to place, but I was so pleased we were back on form and he was moving well.

Medium Graded 3-5 Agility

With one clear under our belts we went straight on to the next agility course and Merlin ran fast and clear again. I was so pleased with him and my handling, and he nailed his dogwalk contact and weaves all weekend! We did not place, but was delighted that my friend Anne won out of Grade 4 on this course.

Sunday – Sparrow

Small Combined 3-5 Jumping

This course had enough tricks to make it interesting and I loved it. I handled Sparrow properly and she ran beautifully. Sadly I waited too long to give my tunnel command and Sparrow skimmed past the entrance picking up 5 faults, then she argued about doing it again. But I was much happier with our performance, this felt really good and I think if we had got that tunnel we would have placed. Thank you David Morrison for the video.

Small Combined 4-7 Steeplechase

Sparrow ran the first part of this course beautifully, even pulling off into a tunnel from a straight line, but then I failed to push her out far enough for a jump. I opted to keep going rather than put her back and because he had gone wrong there I tried a tunnel pull-off with her. We are only just learning these and she had to think about it, but then she nailed it and I was so pleased with her. Always leave the course achieving something, even when you have been eliminated.

Small/Medium Pairs

Sparrow finished the day in a pairs competition. This was a fast and furious course. I was concerned I might not pull her off the first tunnel, which was tempting a lot of dogs, but she listened and I got her into the weaves, whereupon I forgot where I was going! I managed to get us back on course, but then Sparrow drew so far ahead of me that I could not get her around the back of the jump before the tunnel. Then things fell apart and she back jumped before finishing. But she flew! And she was happy! She came off the course and did her happy spin and then I knew she had loved every moment!

It has been an amazing weekend with good friends and lovely courses and judges. Perhaps the best part was finally managing to get Sparrow her second measure, so she is confirmed as a small and I no longer have to fret about her going medium.

I’ve promised the dogs I shall not get so stressed in future and be a better handler! Can’t wait for the next show now. I am sure Merlin will get his win to Grade 5 soon enough and Sparrow… well, when her mum gets herself in gear there will be no stopping her.

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