If you read my previous blog about the Beachside Finals you’ll know that this week I have been competing at Waxham Sands, a beautiful, yet windswept venue, where you definitely know you are right next door to the North Sea!
This was Merlin’s first show at Graduate level, while Sparrow was still Novice. I knew both sets of courses would be challenging and in all honesty I had my reservations about whether Sparrow was ready for them. Merlin I was certain would muddle through as usual.
I competed both Saturday and Sunday, but I have no videos for Saturday. Perhaps not a bad thing because Merlin was full of mischief and kept finding the tunnels when he shouldn’t do. He did however win his Game for a Laugh class with 5 faults. Sparrow amazed me by winning Tunnel Torment, a class I would normally consider awful for her. What a shame there was no video of that!
Sunday I managed to find people to film us, of course, that was the day Sparrow had 4 Es, though I am certain they were all my fault for poor handling. I look back at the videos and cringe at my ridiculously late commands, though at the time I thought they were pretty quick. Merlin was back on form, 2 clears (including a win), 1 5 faults and 1 E. All in all, I learned a lot this weekend and took away things I definitely need to improve upon.
Graduate Agility (5 faults, unplaced 2nd)
Can you say ‘late command’? Oh boy, were my commands late and that front cross at the tunnel really confused Merlin because I had not informed him that he was turning right. I have just been watching Susan Garrett’s workshop on drive and I can see how my late commands and sudden turns are slowing Merlin down just when I need him to speed up. Ok, so I found this course hard and I really wasn’t sure how to handle the turn out of the tunnel to pull him off the jump. I thought, at the last jump, I would rear cross him, rather than ask for a tight wing wrap, but I think the latter would have worked better. Definitely a course I would like to re-run!
Graduate Jumping (Clear, unplaced 2nd)
Merlin’s turns were awful and lost us time – I blame late commands again, definitely a project for me. This was a lovely course judged by Denise and I really enjoyed it, especially the blasty end. I was pleased Merlin got the weaves as they were near the blue fencing and Sparrow had struggled with them. I was glad to have our first clear of the weekend!
Graduate A-Frame Enjoyment (1st)
Merlin loves these courses, and we usually do well at them mainly because he has such a good a-frame contact. Adrian was judging and had placed a sneaky trap at the top end where you had to pull the dog to the inside of a jump, effectively a pull-in. I really manhandled it with Merlin and instead of carrying on straight as I expected he came back around the jump, but he did it correctly and the rest of the course was lovely, including a nice wing wrap, where I even managed to get the command in early enough!
Novice Agility (E)
I was so close to going clear on this course, but, unfortunately I ended up too far behind and Sparrow drifted off her line and everything went a bit pear-shaped. But, hey, look at that running contact! We managed 3 of those over the weekend and I am utterly thrilled! We need to go back to basics with her tunnel drive, at the moment she is not quite there, but she was listening and had I been in the right place she would have done a cracking run.
Novice Jumping (E)
Another lovely course by Denise. Shame Sparrow could not find the weave pole entry. We messed it up and then she lost focus, but she pulled off tunnels which has been one of our challenges and there was a really tempting tunnel trap. I actually had a few commands in the right place too. Proud of my little girl.
It really was a good weekend, lots to mull over, but so many positives. I forget that at Sparrow’s age Merlin had only entered one competition, did not know what an a-frame was and had the commands ‘jump’ ‘here’ and ‘Merlin’ in his repertoire! In contrast Sparrow can do such amazing things. We are learning together and enjoying the journey. Onwards and upwards!