Tuesday, 24 December 2013


It only seems like yesterday that I was writing a blog post for Christmas last year. This year I am not very organised for Christmas-wrapping still to do, house to tidy, washing... the list goes on!

Looking back on what we have done this year with the doglets makes me happy and exciting about next year :)

 Our little diddle pocket rocket started her treatment for thyroid problems and decided that retirement wasn't for her! She managed to win a masters, win a circular knockout heat and get through to a champ final. The icing on the cake is that she has qualified to represent Britain at the IFCS World Agility Champs next year!! The toy height jumps suit her tiny size and we are so looking forward to training her again in the New Year.

My handsome toad has had a fantastic year, he has managed to win a masters round, win the overall masters, win several G7 KC classes and like little Brax he is on the IFCS team to represent GB next year!! Wow what can I say?! Our older two can teach our youngsters a thing or two :) Above all he is always at my side, my best pal and great little companion.

Bean has had her first proper grown up agility season and won into G4 very convincingly. She could have gone up more grades but sensibly Matthew isn't pushing her-what is the point? She needs ring experience and to get over her ditzy runs when Grandma Lian is around! The next thing we are looking forward to with Brooke is the pitter patter of tiny paws at some stage in 2014!!

Haha!! Where do I start?!! She was a twinkle in her mummy's eye last year and I can't believe that she will be a year old in January-crazy, happy bundle of fun! We have had so much fun doing puppy training, socialising and starting her agility training. She is a clever little girly :) Looking forward to starting contacts and weaves in the next few months-exciting times! 

From this...

To this..my grown up young lady!


Monday, 16 December 2013

So much homework!!

Last weekend we went to Lian's beautiful farm to do a training day with Toni Dawkins with Sparkle and Brooke. The weather was very kind to us and although it was a bit chilly we were warmed up by lots of warm soup, hot drinks and Roz's yummy cakes! Sparkle was a good little puppy, she was the only collie in the puppy group, the others were all shelties including Brooke's nieces Tula and Rae. It is a good thing that Spark thinks she is a sheltie!! This is a little compilation of the exercises we were working on

It was good practice to not run all the time and do a combination of dropping the toy in on a tight turn and driving them forward to a toy. I was really pleased with Sparkle as her turns are coming on nicely and she was getting better about being restrained.

Brooke was a different story bless her. She worked quite well and then saw her Grandma Lian and could NOT string a sequence together :( It was even affecting her jumping style to the point she was over-jumping and not reading Matthews cues at all. After Lian went back into the house Brooke did some amazing runs and her jumping style improved no end. If anyone has any ideas about how to rectify this issue I would be really grateful! Lian has tried ignoring her and telling her off verbally for coming near her but it makes no difference. I am sure she will grow out of it at some point but it drives us nuts!!

We finally got round to doing some Christmas shopping yesterday (without dogs) and had all you can eat Chinese for lunch. Only Matthew would voluntarily put a sprout on his plate!!! Apparently it was horrible-what have I tried to tell him for years??!

Matthew got out one of the shelties favourite toys yesterday evening-squeaky egg that Sarah (who has all the lovely hounds) gave us. Brooke won it off Bracken and Spark decided she quite wanted it...

...So Sparkle and Matt had a little chat about who gets to play with the egg...

...and Matt decided to steal it off Brooke bean...and give it back to Brax!! Poor Sparkling!

And Brodie didn't care about who had the egg :)

Thanks to Caroline for filming all our dogs runs-good thing really as we didn't have time!

Here is Brodies Masters jumping (3rd)

And his Masters agility (1st)

And little Brax in her Masters agility (4th) with her new running dog walk :)

I love the way that on the same course, Matt and I do totally different things, lol!!

Monday, 9 December 2013

Master Toad!

Last week passed by in a haze!! I can't really believe it so maybe writing about will help it sink in a bit!

We went to the UKA Grand Finals last weekend and we had Brooke in beginners steeplechase, Bracken in circular knockout and masters and Brodie toad in masters. Brooke was up first and from the moment she entered the ring you could tell she was distracted and a bit overwhelmed. It is quite an atmosphere with the commentator, viewing gallery, electronic starter and LOUD music! We think in hindsight she was probably distracted by having her Grandma Lian there (more on this in another post) but her brother Sonic was awesome winning the midi height Beginners Steeplechase!! :)

Masters jumping was up next and Brodie was the second dog to run in the first height-eek!! The course was pretty fast and flowing (see below-click to see better) and I took a gamble doing a serpentine on 7-9 but it paid off and stopped me cluttering up the box and getting in his way trying to get my dodgy knees to front cross!! He was an absolute dude and ran clear finishing in third behind two other shelties (Fudge is in a league of her own, lol!)

Brax ran the Masters jumping like a wee rocket but sadly got E'd by going back over the wall instead of chasing Matthew to 11. It was a real shame as she was flying and she had the fastest split time. She went to run the knockout after the jumping and got through two rounds which wasn't bad going on a fast course :)

Masters agility was an interesting course and I couldn't wait to have a crack at it! I was one of the last to run and Brodie was soooo excited and up for it. I stood in the tunnel waiting to go out just grinning at having the opportunity to run my amazing little dog at such a great final. Well my little buddy only went and did a nice clear round! It turned out that he was the only one that went clear meaning that we had not only won the agility but won the overall Masters!!!! So he is now officially Brodie MA, UKA Masters Champion!! Bless his little socks, I am so proud of him my one in a million boy. I better not start getting soppy about what he means to me as I won't stop but I owe him so much for making our agility journey so fun. To all of you handlers with nervous, steady dogs please ignore anyone who says you will only get to Grade x, y or z - my little toad used to freak out and run like a snail in the ring (after being attacked at training) and look what he has achieved!!

Brax did really well in the Masters agility coming 4th with her new running contacts. She was possibly a bit tired having worked herself up doing a few runs already but I have never seen her run so fast than up the last straight to the finish!! My friend filmed their runs so will post when I have them :)

This is Master Brodie on the podium looking very happy as he has a sheltie girl each side of him! Well done to Apryl and Amy for their places. It turns out that Brodie finished in second place for the win on spot for the WAO team next year! Amy and Fudge will do a fab job representing England-sheltie power!

Brodie enjoyed watching the action from the stands!!

Excuse the rude picture but his is how he spent the evening after his fun day at the Finals!! :D

Monday, 25 November 2013

Fun sheltie gathering!

On Saturday, Lian, Roz and Jo came to the field for a get together and to run some steeplechase courses with Brooke, Sonic and his kids! It was great preparation for Brooke and Sonic particularly as they have the Beginners Steeplechase next weekend at the UKA Finals. It was great to see everyone and two of Sonics puppies Rae and Tula had fun running the course on baby height too. Sparkle also had a go and I was surprised that she got round the whole course without batting an eye or questioning anything :)

Lian took some amazing photos of the shelties working, this is my absolute favourite of Brooke bean on the end of the seesaw - just LOVE it!!

You may notice that she has a new harness on - well Grandma Lian very kindly got it specially made for her for going to the Finals!! Here are the siblings modelling their matching harnesses

Brax and Brodie have been doing a bit of work in preparation for the Masters next weekend. Matthew and the two girlies had a great lesson with Dan yesterday (Matthew was fairly rusty on Saturday and so was Brooke not having done much for a while!) The girls worked really well and absolutely loved their lesson and we have some good homework to get our teeth in to! I forgot video camera for Matts lesson which was a shame.

I took the doglets on Harpenden common for a run this morning-it was bright and chilly, such a lovely morning. Here are a couple of pics

 Ginger blurs!!

Brooke posing again!

Its a hard life being a teenager :)

Monday, 18 November 2013

Happy Holidays!

We have just got back from a lovely weekend in Northumberland staying in Beadnell. Loads of fantastic sandy beaches, dog friendly pubs and beautiful walks. The dogs had an amazing time and slept soooo well every night! The weather was very kind to us as well, only raining once during the night. Here are some of our holiday snaps!

The youngest two found playing on the beach was very tiring!! 

Just to prove that Matthew and Bracken do have halos!

 Brooke looking adorable trying to stay awake :)

Matt and the gang at Lower Newton by the Sea - I'm basically standing on the beach! Beautiful tiny village with an excellent dog friendly pub (back of the village green)

More snuggly sables...

We visited my Dad on one day - he lives right next to the beach near Edinburgh. The doglets enjoyed going loopy in his garden! (would be perfect for agility!!)

The windswept look!

Bamburgh castle out of the car window (aka Hogwarts)

Beadnell lime kilns on the harbour

Matt and princess Brooke watching the waves

On our last day we got up early for a beach walk, shame my phone didn't pick up the beautiful sunrise.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Agility but not as we know it...

I did agility all day on Saturday. Not that unusual I know, except it was HORSE agility!! Poor Max was my long suffering guinea pig for the day and I learnt such a lot about working with him and our relationship. The day started out with some leading exercises. I guess you could liken it to recall and wait! Max has always had very little regard for my personal space but Martha who ran the clinic had him standing patiently like a lamb within five minutes. VERY hard for a mega hungry Highland pony!

We did lots of in-hand work in the morning, introducing them to the obstacles (standing in hoops, walking through a flappy curtain, backing up between poles, walking over tarpaulin, 'weaves' through cones) and ridden work in the afternoon. Max was a dude but was brain fried after the first five minutes. I think he slept like a log through the fireworks that night! The other lovely thing was that all the in-hand exercises I could do with Miss Diva as well :)

Ok on to the doglets, sorry for the non-horsey people for that brief interlude! All our dogs have time off doing agility for a month in winter. Sparkle hasn't done any agility work for a while and won't until the middle of November. I am still working on her balance and strengthening work and building up her walking gradually. She is now doing longer walks with some of my walking dogs. Here she is being a good puppy :) Even with dogs that don't like other dogs she just walks along not fussing at them which I'm really pleased about.

The older dogs are still doing bits of agility work as they are all qualified for the UKA Finals at the end of November. They will probably have their agility holidays after that. The weather usually has a say in how much training is possible as well! Hoping that Brooke will be on maternity leave at the start of the year as well :) 

We are trying to retrain Brax's dog walk to running as a winter project as her A frame is looking pretty ok now. We started to train her to run in 2011 but once she started to get poorly we retired her. We didn't think to try training running again when we got her working again at the start of this year. She has an awesome 2o/2o in training and can do it in the ring but it is very slow. The problem is that once Matt quick releases her once the wee bugger just pings it on the next occasion! So in Chippenham Champ her dw in the agility was creepy and slow but then she self released in the final and only just got it. We figured at the age of almost 9 that she needs to run to keep up the speed and she stands a chance of missing it either way anyway! Poor girly being our first agility dog started with 4 on contacts and no shaping work whatsoever so no wonder she makes up her own rules occasionally!! 

We started plank running with her last Tuesday just using her command 'run' to see what behaviour she gave us - she remembered! Jenni very kindly filmed it and also did slo-mo which is so helpful when you are watching something that resembles a flying hamster! Her hits weren't bad and got better as she went on. She still does funny little 'leaps' quite a lot so if anyone has any ideas please let me know. Her hind foot separation isn't brilliant but is coming and she is a short dog so doesn't have a huge length of stride. She is running to a food target at the moment :)

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Getting chilly!

I have totally run out of time to blog so far this week! I went to a wedding at the weekend and it was lovely to catch up with old friends, the weather was a bit grim but at least the whole day was inside the church! On Sunday Matthew and I had an obedience lesson with Anna with the two youngsters. The dogs worked really well and we have lots of things to do for homework. So when we get all the piles of snow they are warning us about, we will be able to do lots of constructive work in the house! We had some exciting news earlier in the week which means I will have to sit down and concentrate on sorting out some winter training plans, more news in a future post :)

Brodie posing!

Ickle diddle!

Brooke doing her froggy legs - her tail never stops!

Dolly practicing waits, she is really getting it now! We had a fab training session at the end of last week. She did some great weaves and lovely contacts :)

My little Bumble bear is 9 months old tomorrow-eek!! What happened and where did that time go?!

I got her a new toy this morning and she loves it, she like to lean on my legs or feet to chew her toys! Its a pink 'log' that you can pop treats in - haven't put treats in it yet as it seems exciting enough without them!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Wet weekend :(

No shows this weekend, just horrible rain which seemed never ending. I was supposed to be doing horse agility yesterday with Max but it got cancelled as the school turned into one giant lake and I would have needed waders to work him!!

I ended up walking my little Sparkler in a storm, poor girly! Her first experience of hail, thunder and lightning and it all came together. The hail was the worst in her opinion as she felt she couldn't possibly open her eyes and look at where she was going!! The lightning came next and I geared myself up for the thunder not knowing what she would do. I guess walking her near the clay pigeon shooting place has paid off as noise doesn't phase her generally. I found a manky bit of sausage at the bottom of my treat bag so by the end of the walk she was looking forward to the thunder-crazy pup!! :) The shelties are all totally laid back about storms, fireworks and shooting so I'm glad Sparkle is too.

This is Brax after having a bath and tidy up at Auntie Jenni's last week :) She is sooo cute!

There was lots of sofa snuggling at the weekend - Brodie is the only one who doesn't because he gets too hot!

I took some photos this morning as the younger girls were making me laugh so much about the pink ball, there was no squabbling but they both wanted it!!

Sparkle had it first...

Then Brooke pinched it...(note the smug tail wag!)

Sparkle plotted to get it back...

Brooke wasn't going to give it up easily...

But the sneaky collie got it back when Brooke went for a drink!