The weather was hot, hot, hot. Oh, but then it rained because this is England and we couldn’t have sunshine for a whole weekend? Lol! And we were at Red Run’s UKA show, the only UKA show near me these days, sadly. But while it might be the only one, it was definitely a good one. Lots of trade stands, lots of friends and lots of qualifiers!
My original plan was just to run the steeplechases with Sparrow and Merlin and also the Circular Knockout. I didn’t expect Merlin to get far in the CK, but I thought Sparrow stood a chance. However, when I looked at the schedule I noticed the Canine Massage Guild Challenge, another opportunity to qualify for the Grand Finals. As this consisted of an agility and a jumping run, I thought Merlin might do alright and entered both dogs on the day.
No videos of all this, unfortunately, but I do have pictures and I have done plans of the courses for those interested in trying these qualifiers in the future. (Any judges reading this, these courses are from memory and any mistakes are my own when re-drawing them!)
Canine Massage Guild Challenge
Beginners/Novice Jumping. Judge Jayne Widdess
The jumping course began with a trap, the first jump was pointing at jump 3, but you actually wanted the dog to slice the jump and go into the tunnel which was almost parallel. I did this two different ways; with Merlin, as he does running starts, I set him up level with the far wing of jump 1 standing parallel. I lined myself up on the other side of the wing, so when he started he was jumping towards me and I then pushed him into the tunnel. With Sparrow I set her up in a similar position and then walked out from her right side to the far side of jump 1, called her and front crossed immediately pushing her into the tunnel.
The next trap was 3 -4. The far tunnel entrance was a pretty big lure. Looking at the angles, bringing the dog around the left side of 3 set them straight for the weaves, as long as you could bring them tight. Sending them around the right wing put them facing the tunnel entrance and would necessitate pulling them into the weaves.
Again, I worked each dog differently. Merlin does not have a ketschker turn; to bring him around the left wing of 3 would involve a pivot, necessarily sending him wide and opening up a whole new trap in the form of the near tunnel entrance. I therefore opted to push him around the right wing of 3, front cross, and send him for the poles. Thankfully Merlin is steady and he got this perfectly. With Sparrow I did the ketschker around the left wing and sent her into the weaves, this proved perfect for her and she didn’t even look at the tunnel.
The final problem was 14-15. Because of the speed the dogs were clocking up, it was hard to get on the far side of the line of jumps 11-14. Some people managed to front cross and pull their dog over the right wing of 11, but it was tight and I knew I could not get there. I aimed to scoop my dog’s left. Merlin managed it, but Sparrow hesitated and picked up 5 faults. My bad!
Beginners/Novice Agility. Judge Pat Last
I loved this course! The start was testing as the dog had three options of where to go and the dogwalk was not in a straight line. Once over the dogwalk there was a spread followed by a sharp turn over a wall, which tested a dog’s coordination and ability to jump. The first real trap was coming out of the tunnel, where the start jump threw up a big tempter. Neither of my dogs even clocked it, but I gave their a-frame command while they were in the tunnel.
The real test came after the a-frame, where you ideally wanted to be on the right hand side of the weaves, because of the next obstacle being a tyre. Equally, the line from the a-frame to the weaves was not straight and if you failed to turn the dog they could miss the entry. This is what happened with Sparrow, as I tried to keep on the left in the hopes of rear crossing the weaves and it all went wrong. With Merlin I front crossed after the A-frame and he picked up the entry.
The last tricky bit was 16-18. The dogs were on a straight run and could see the end jump, but you had to pull them back off and up the seesaw, before pulling them in again tight (by the way, 15 should be a tunnel and 18 should be there rather than on 16). Both Merlin and Sparrow did this without a problem.
The final result was Merlin: Double clear. Sparrow: 5 faults, E
And the winner was….
Merlin was the only dog in either Novice or Beginners to get a double clear, which means he is off to the Grand Finals in November! Not bad considering I wasn’t even going to enter him! He also gained two 2nds in Novice Steeplechase to round off his weekend.
The Circular Knockout Challenge
Judges Galen Boldero and Steph Ayres
The Circular Knockout is fast and furious! There are two dogs on the course running identical courses that mirror each other and can overlap. It is the first dog over the finish line that goes on to the next round. Merlin was knocked out in his first round by a very fast dog, which didn’t surprise me. Sparrow, however, took the course by storm! I had to layer jumps at the weave poles, just hoping she would keep going and not miss the jump. The gorgeous girl didn’t miss a beat and stormed through the rounds to qualify for the Grand Finals. She was also the CK Toy height winner!
She also won three out of three steeplechases, meaning she now progresses to Novice level.
Meanwhile, the little Swiftlet was not missing out on all the fun. She spent her time socialising and meeting the ladies from the Canine Massage Guild. She thought their treatment table was definitely a great place to be!
I couldn’t have asked for more from my dogs this weekend. Now to prepare for the Grand Finals in November! It has definitely been a shock to qualify both dogs and hopefully we will be able to hold our own when we get there. But, whatever happens, just qualifying is a massive achievement. This has been one of the best weekends I have had in agility!