Monday, 30 April 2012

Bonny Scotland!

The week running up to my trip to Scotland had been horrible weather wise. It was raining every day and the wind was terrible. Brax was hating going out for walks and poor Brooke had sliced her paw pad running on the fields. It almost impossible to keep a very energetic young puppy lead walking calmly with a bandage, poo bag and sock on her foot! She was a very good girly about her bandage - I think she liked the fact is was pink!

My Mum and sister Amy had awful weather as well up in Aberdeenshire but fortunately it decided to be sunny for the weekend when I visited. On saturday we took a trip on the Keith and Dufftown railway and saw so much wildlife - herons, buzzards, red deer and another bird of prey that we weren't sure about. Tresca (Amy's dog) was a really good girly on the train and enjoyed a walk round Keith. 

This is our local hill Bennachie - it is gorgeous to walk up and stand on the 'Mither Tap' (sharp pointy bit!) We didn't walk up it this time as it would have been muddy but drove past it on the way to an amazing pub meal. We were much entertained by a cat in the beer garden stalking a crow which then turned round and had a go at the cat!

 On sunday we went for a two hour walk round the old part of Aberdeen. Despite growing up in Aberdeenshire and having regular trips into Aberdeen, we didn't get further than the cinema, shops or beach as teenagers! Walking along the side of the river Don we looked down and were watching a heron when the 'boulders' the other side of the river moved - it was about ten seals all sunbathing! You can just about make them out in the photo! The pups were soooo cute rolling around in the sunshine :)

This is the oldest bridge in Aberdeen and was so pretty I couldn't resist a photo.

On our walk, Tresca got thirsty and found a fallen tree to drink out of. For those who don't know her story she was a rescue who my Mum and Amy had a only a few weeks before she got a scare and ran off. They searched forests, buildings and posted flyers all over the place but it was such a hard winter and eventually it was feared the worst had happened. Imagine the surprise when THREE years later, the dog warden turned up at Mum's cottage with Tresca!! As they had her microchipped she was traced back to them after being cornered in a farmers shed. She is amazingly well balanced and they have done a great job training her. She still shows remnants of her life as a stray for three years - she prefers puddles for drinks, wees in running water, rolls in anything and gets very hot in houses! Bless her!!

Thanks to my Mum and Amy for having me to stay - had a brilliant girly weekend and was spoilt rotten!!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Love my Boys!!

My boys did me so proud this weekend!! Brodie had his turn on saturday as we went to a UKA show at Prested Hall. We did three runs and I swear he got faster the more he did! I've been careful with only doing two runs at our two shows so far this year but thought I'd try three. Agility was up first and he ran very enthusiastically and I didn't get there in time for a push out but contacts and tricky weave entry were all solid so v pleased - great dog, shame about the handler!! Power and speed was next and he ran his little socks off winning the speed section by 5 seconds. The last two jumps were through a box and had to be layered as you couldn't squeeze through the gap. I just told him go and kept my arm out and he was great :)  I tried to get Brodie to pose with his rozzie but was too busy chewing his rawhide!! Steeplechase was last and again, little man was so fast that I didn't quite get there and we got a refusal but so pleased as up the last line of jumps he was taking one stride where he would have taken two. His confidence in jumping midi height is so obvious. We have a KC show coming up so it will be interesting to see how he does over the higher jumps. 5cms is quite a lot extra to jump when you aren't very big!!

I have to say well done to Heidi and Jenson (JR) who had two nearly brilliant runs. Only his third show but clever boy got his weaves in every class :) Unfortunately his jumping run was spoilt by someone playing with a squeaky ball right behind the scrimer so Jenson did a detour. Almost clear in the steepechase as well so getting closer to that clear every time - keep up the good work! I have to also say well done to Jane and Robbie dog who did the double at Wallingford and won his agility and jumping. He also won agility last weekend so is going grade 4 in style - sheltie power!!

Anyone just interested in dogs I suggest you stop reading now...

Anyway, onto dressage! On sunday Maxi pony and I hitched a lift with my instructor Kate and her gorgeous andalusian mare Speedi (also Max's girlfirend!) to do a dressage test. My first time in about 4 years doing dressage and I was soooo nervous compared to agility. It was worse than doing a champ final!! This is Max and Speedi sharing hay with Max sticking his head through the jockey door of the trailer!

The problem with doing horse competitions is the amount of time to get ready! Lots of cleaning and scrubbing (especially with a grey!) whereas with the dogs you throw on dog clothes and pop the dogs in the car and you're off...

Anyway, suitably smart and dressage test remembered off we went... and WON!! Can't believe it as didn't expect it at all and really enjoyed riding my test. Kate took a video and I'm smiling trotting round and didn't need oxygen at the end!! What a clever pony - love him!! The professional photographer took lots of pics so when they are online I may have to by one or two :)

To be honest, the best thing was that five of us from our yard went and we all had such a fun, relaxing time. Horses enjoyed it too and it was a gorgeous sunny morning. All five of us managed to go home with a rosette so well done to Kate and Speedi (who also won their class), Heidi and Slipi, Claire and Finn and Hazel and Bridie. The photo below was kindly taken by Kate and is L-R Claire, Hazel and me. If you click on it, it comes up bigger.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Spring yet??!

We had such lovely warm weather and now its turned cold and wet again. Better not complain as we have a hose pipe ban so could really use the rain! The poor horses and plants don't know whether they are coming or going. In the woods we ride through, the bluebells have come out which is so early. I'll try and take the dogs up there for some photos soon as they make a lovely back drop. Max was a naked pony for a few days and enjoyed having the sun on his back - this week he is back in rugs again. We have been entered a dressage competition for this weekend for the first time in ages. He loves his jumping but isn't so keen on dressage but his schooling has been coming along so well that I thought he deserved the chance to strut his stuff! Might try and do some jumping with him as well this year and incredibly he can do veteran classes at showing from May. He doesn't act his age though ;-) As he is getting older he is going fleabitten (horsey term for coloured 'spots' coming through his white coat) which in a dog I would call 'naughty spots' - very apt in Max's case!! He is not actually naughty but just very mischievous - he makes me laugh, especially when he grabs peoples zips and undoes them!!

This crazy bundle of fur is Brooke and our house guest Jamie (a pap) asleep on the sofa. Brax was on my lap as well so it was very snuggly - Brodie gets too hot so can't be doing with sofa snuggles! We were supposed to be going to Spring at Shuttleworth on the sunday but for various reason decided to give it a miss and went for a long walk and pub lunch instead with my friend and her two dogs. All six dogs had a brilliant time and really enjoyed walking together - they were shattered when they got home. Its nice to know ours welcome house guests so readily, it will make it much easier for when dog number 4 comes along :)

The 3 B's came into London with me during the week to visit an old school friend of mine. We have known each other since we did chemistry together at Standard Grade! Its nice to catch up with old friends as I live soooo far away from where I grew up. The sign of a great friend is when you haven't seen each other for a couple of years and still chat solidly for hours like it was last week you last saw them!! Wendy has a gorgeous garden in Ealing and a lovely flat that is just like a wee cottage inside. The dogs enjoyed her tranquil garden and I couldn't resist taking a photo of them posing (before stinky puppy decided to roll in something - grr!!) We had a lovely walk to a park and the dogs had a good time watching the kids in the play park while we had a coffee. I was really proud of them and how they coped with the hustle and bustle of the park.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Easter and training

Well I can safely say that Brodie looked NOTHING like this after our training session yesterday!! Matt and I shared a lesson at Dan's with Caroline - sorry no videos as the weather was appalling. It was great to be training Brodie, it makes my day playing agility with him :-) It was also good for him to train on grass. Everywhere I normally would train him is indoor school or astroturf, which although lovely, flat and mud free doesn't prepare the dogs correctly for running on grass at the majority of shows. Brodie shared his lesson with Bobby (his lab x staff girlfriend) and they both worked really well - Dan gave me some great tips and we really enjoyed it. I do need to trust in my training more and I know I'm guilty of helping Brodie too much sometimes. Training is the place to try new stuff so now I have to be brave enough to try it in competition! I trust Brodie totally but do lack confidence in my ability to get my handling/timing right. Its so good to have a fresh perspective on things as there is always something new to learn in agility.

Brax stayed at home while we were training as she doesn't like doing anything in rain - even agility! We were going to do Easter UKA but because of the weather decided there was little point in wasting petrol money if she wouldn't enjoy it. Brodie and Brooke on the other hand love working whatever the weather whereas Brax is solar powered and likes at least 30 degree blazing sunshine!! Here is a video of her training last year, please turn the volume down as there is a 15 week old Brooke screaming in the background! In the video Brax is doing 2o/2o on the dog walk and 4 off on the A-frame but we are retraining her to running contacts as a project. She sometimes reverts still so its very true that what they learn first they learn best.

Anyway on to Miss Brooke. She was a superstar puppy in her lesson at Dan's! She shared with Caroline's younger dog (possibly sheltie cross) Ripley. I love this little dog - great drive and enthusiam so mediums better watch out cos he is FAST!! They had been in a puppy class together before and spent a bit of time barking at each other so it did them good to share a lesson. This time they were much more focussed and there was no barking at all. It was a great, session and Brooke and Ripley worked really well and there was lots of take away and work on. Brooke managed to string together seven obstacles (jumps and tunnels) and do some front crosses on 180's which she finds hard (herdy puppy!) Dan wanted to see them do a dog walk plank off a chair as well which made Matt and I panic initially as we hadn't bought the manners minder cos of the rain. We used a target instead and bingo - perfect running contact! Nice to know she remembered her criteria - clever girly.

I should stop waffling as I could go on about the shelties all day! The picture below is for my Mum. I originally started this blog for her as she lives in Aberdeenshire (where I grew up) and it meant she could keep up to date with our news. Anyway, I told her I was making Easter Nests and unfortunately they are all gone now but I thought I'd prove I did!! ;-) I didn't think they would travel to Meikle Wartle very well in the post so we thought we might have to eat them...

Monday, 2 April 2012

Socialising never stops...

We love taking the dogs new places - they really have to be take anywhere dogs and we never miss an opportunity to take them somewhere new! Brodie and Brax have been all over Britain on trains (including the Tube), walked round the parks in London, gone on boats, on buses, up munroes in Scotland, on beaches, down caves in the Peak District, done demos in local hospices and day centres and in numerous hotels on agility weekends away. We take it for granted that they will cope with any situation and they take everything in their stride and generally they do. Brooke hasn't been on so many adventures yet so if we have a free weekend we do try to do something a bit imaginative with her. She has been doing demos since 11 weeks old so working in a strange place and being applauded is fine with her! and she has gone on three long road trips to Peak district and to visit my Dad in Scotland where she LOVED the beach!!

However, this weekend we stayed closer to home and took all the dogs into Hemel town centre. They often go to St Albans market on a saturday but we thought Hemel would be a bit different. They loved being spoken to by lots of people and especially liked a man on a motorised shopmobility scooter who had been eating a pasty :) This is Brodie looking very serious being a bear!

I practised Brookes downs, waits and 'watch' while Matt was in the shops. She was a little star and nothing phased her, even taking a lift was fine. I love having 'take anywhere' dogs! Today a friend and I had coffee out on Harpenden High Street. I only took Brooke and she had her little Kelpie pup with her - they got lots of attention while learning to sit quietly. Did't take any pics as too busy eating cake!! We also did some jump work in the garden yesterday but I can't load the videos yet - I will try and put them on during the week.