Thursday, 17 December 2009

Brodie's new trick!

Since going to Spain and watching the horses performing a movement called Spanish walk, I decided it would be a fun thing to teach Brodie. It looks very elegant when done by a horse but I'm not so convinced about Brodie achieving elegant! Here is a video of him managing a few steps in a row. I taught it by teaching him to touch a pen with his paw. The problem was getting him to use alternate paws and then walking as well - serious multi-tasking!!

Clever Brax!

We went to our Letchworth Agility Club Christmas party on tuesday evening and had fun seeing everyone and playing party games! They did some of the club awards for the club match nights and points from the Letchworth KC show. I was very surprised that Brodie came third in his section of the Medium league but Matthew and I was totally gobsmacked when Bracken won the overall best Letchworth member rosette and trophy. I think we are still in shock and the rosette is absolutely HUGE compared to Brax! I have to include a picture of it as its so pretty.

Holiday time!

We had such a lovely time away on holiday in the Peak District and very busy time since we have been back! Earlier in the week we met up with my Mum and sister and their dog Tresca and we had a fun but soggy walk and meet up with friends in Cheshire. Here is a photo of the (really wet!) walkers. I love the fact that my Mum and Bracken are wearing co-ordinated coats!!

The cottage that we stayed in was fantastic and very dog friendly. There was a huge selection of walks to do from the doorstep and we did about 12 miles every day. The cottages are called Wheeldon Trees and they are well worth a visit for a great dog holiday. The dogs came out for meals with us and even got to go down into some caves on a guided tour which was a new experience for them! Here is a selection of pics from our week away, including a funny one of Brodies crazy ear hair in the wind!

Monday, 30 November 2009

As far as agility training goes, we have not got much done recently as the weather has been so vile and muddy! While I was in Spain, Matthew went to the Agility club AGM to receive Braxs trophy for winning the small Grade 3 league. The piece of crystal that she got is enormous!! Clever Matthew and Bracken. To show she is not always posing and looking stunning, I thought I'd include a typical Brax photo as well!!

I've just got back from a wonderful few days in Spain with my friends Kate and Claire. We went out to Seville to a HUGE horse show only for Spanish bred horses. It was so big that even after walking around the show for two days, we still probably hadn't seen everything! Its a bit like Crufts but for one breed of dog only and much bigger. We saw everything from in-hand and ridden show classes, masses of shops, grand prix dressage, in hand work and an evening performance show. Unlike UK shows, we could wander round the mares and stallions stabling areas and the breeders had their own exhibition area with copious amounts of sherry!! The evening performance show was really unique, I can honestly say I've never seen anything like it before. One of the acts that bought tears to my eyes was a single horse being long reined and the harmony between handler and stallion was breathtaking. It was great to meet different people and it was lovely to have the chance to meet Kates mares breeder. Both him and his wife were so welcoming and you could tell they really care about their horses. It was lovely to go out to Spain with my friends and share such an awesome experience. I can't really do the trip justice in words or photos but here are some I took on my phone.

Monday, 16 November 2009

We have had a lovely lazy weekend even if it was a little bit wet! The dogs had some very soggy walks and I seem to be doing a lot of washing at the moment as my work clothes get soooo muddy. I decided it was time to get their coats out as Brax feels the cold and both of them take so long to dry out when they are wet. Here is a pic of Brax looking smug in her coat!

A big well done to Jane Emmett and her dog Millie who won the Starters Cup at Discover Dogs on saturday!! Wow what an achievement and having watched her run on you tube Millie didn't seem fazed by the atmosphere at all. Also well done to Sam Lane and her lovely cocker spaniel who won the medium starters cup on his 2nd birthday! I wish I could have been there to watch but I was at work getting wet and muddy again!

Monday, 9 November 2009

I did a really fun Trec competition yesterday with Max and my friend Kate on her horse Speedi (who also happens to be Max's girlfriend!) Its basically an obstacle course with points awarded or penalties deducted for how you tackle each obstacle. The lovely thing is it is soooo relaxed, nobody gets dressed up for it and every shape and size of horse can have a go. Some of the obstacles include a narrow corridor of poles to ride through (without touching the poles), going under simulated low tree branches, riding over a bridge, going over a ditch, bending in and out and immobility. There is also a control of paces section where you have to canter as slowly as possible and walk back as fast as possible. Max absolutely loved going out with Speedi and they got a 5th in their pairs (mainly because Speedi can canter beautifully slowly!!) and Max and I got 5th in the indivdual competition. Wow didn't expect that!! He was a superstar though as nothing fazes him (apart from the scary people in the hedge outside the school!)

Here is the pair of them sharing hay-it has to be said that Max doesn't normally share ANY food!! The other picture was after they had finished and they look shattered!!

Bracken can fall asleep anywhere. She sat on Nicola's lap at breaktime and dozed off-crazy dog! She fell asleep on Matthew last night and just look at the grin on her face! They competed at Barking Mad agility at Keysoe and she did very well getting a 2nd in jumping and a 3rd in power and speed. Brodie got a clear but as usual was out of the placings!
We have been practising hold it with different objects and one of the hardest so far has been a rawhide chew! I did manage to get them to hold it for long enough to take a picture!

We have had lots of gorgeous puppies to play with at work recently! The handsome young Springer puppy is Sykes who belongs to my friend Eve. This was the first time he met Bracken and decided to stay right next to Eve! His 'big brother' Flint has qualified for Crufts in the breed ring again and I'm sure Sykes will do very well once he's old enough to go to parties!!

The Bull Terrier puppy was staying in the kennels and we decided to have her visit us in the staff room for some lunchtime cuddles!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

I had a lovely walk this morning on Harpenden common with Brodie (Brax is staying with Matthew at home today as I think its great for them to spend time with us on a 1-1 basis.) It was so misty when we got out of the car that I had to put Brodies high-viz gear on! I took a pic of him wearing it as he looks soooo cute (and a bit funny!!)

I was practising the 'hold' command with the dogs yesterday at work just in case we feel brave enough to do some obedience! They were so good and remembered what to do.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

On saturday, Matthew took the dogs to Shrewsbury for a KC small/medium show.

They had fun by the sounds of it despite the appalling weather! Brax got a 3rd in the pairs with Lians fantastic young dog Sizzle, she also got a 2nd in the graded agility, 4th in the combined agility and WON the grade 6 jumping. Now she only needs one more win to be Grade 7! Matthew drew me some of the courses and they looked challenging but fun.

Matthew also ran Brodie in the G1-3 jumping and the C1-3 jumping. He came 3rd in the combined class which again wasn't straightforward. Brodie was one out of the places in the graded class so thats now the 18th time that has happened this year! I was really pleased with 2 clear rounds though and that Brodie is running so well for Matthew.

Today (sunday) we had the annual sheltie society agility training day and this year it was with Natasha Wise (new World Champion!!) I was a bit dubious to begin with as I'd been put in the more advanced class but I quickly felt at ease as Natasha is really helpful and encouraging.

The first exercise we were working on was getting tighter turns round wings. This is a bit of a problem for me and Brodie and he demostrated his wide turns by going off up the dog walk (miles away!!) We repeated the exercise and as I improved my handling his turns got much better. My lack of coordination became apparent - Natasha was very patient luckily!! Matthew and Brax were superstars at tight turns and Matthew got some good tips to improve her turns even more.

I was really proud of Brodie on the next exercise as we worked on push throughs and I was brave enough to work the A-frame from a distance which paid off. Natasha liked the consistency of his running contacts although we did find he was a bit 'sticky' on the see-saw so I've got a few tips to improve his speed over it. Brodie's push throughs were ok but again my handling needs some work. Luckily one of my trainers, Lisa with her super fast sheltie Tyler was also at the training day so we can practise some of the sequences again!

One of the things that was a real weakness for me was (as usual!!) pull throughs. I need to be giving him an 'in' command much quicker once Brodie is committed to the jump and make sure I'm in the right place!! As we will be getting more pull throughs in shows I know this is something I need to work on without slowing Brodie down too much.

Brax was fantastic at most of the exercises but contacts again were her major issue! Natasha said she felt that contacts had become tense for both Matthew and Brax as he gets worried and shouts touch and she isn't sure about what he exactly wants. More work needed over winter!! Here is a little video of Brax getting her dog walk contact. Sorry about the quality of the videos as they are on my phone!

All the shelties had so much fun and it was so nice to catch up with all our sheltie friends! Here is a picture of Brodie trying hard to impress Genie (who is actually his half sister) but she only had eyes for Lisa's Tyler-there was some serious flirting going on and Brodie does look a bit put out!! I have also added a pic of Tyler looking very chilled out at lunchtime.

Wow what a busy couple of days Brodie and Brax have had!!

On friday Brax wasn't so busy as she was at home being spoilt by Matthew as he was working from home! Brodie had more fun though! My friend and work mate Megan brought her super terrier Hattie up to work to have a run round as she has had time off with a cut paw pad. I got to have a go running her and she such a cool dog as she works so well for anyone, she just gets on with it and knows exactly what to do. Here is a video of me having a run round with Hattie.

Then I had a run round with Brodie and he loved it but had a refusal after the A-frame as I forgot to say 'go' and then he got distracted. Good dog, shame about the handler..! I was really pleased though as he did go off like a rocket! Here is a video of Brodie having a race round. Hattie makes an appearance at the end of the video as she had realised by then that I had sausage in my pocket!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Brax had fun at the Barking Mad show last saturday! She did really well getting a 2nd in the C6-7 jumping (which included an impressive somersault half way round!) and she also got a 3rd in the C5-7 agility. I took a photo of her with her rosettes and unfortunately they clash with her new blanket!!

Brodie didn't do agility at the weekend so he just got to be silly and snuggle in the new blanket!!

I have been trying to get Brodie to do some tighter turns round jump wings this week on my lunch breaks as he has a tendency to do very wide turns! He has this amazing toy which is helping to speed him up. Its a perfect agility toy as its small, furry and has a long tail to play with. Unfortunately the box of toys was called 'roadkill' which is quite appropriate as they are very 'flat'!

Monday, 12 October 2009

I just went out for a lovely walk with the dogs and they had a great run around the fields which have are still nice and dry! Yesterday we had a fun agility show at the kennels where I work and I enjoyed designing some nice courses and watching our clients having so much fun. I felt very proud of how they all did, some have not been doing agility for long and to see them get a rosette was great. I even ran Brodie at the end for fun and it was the first time in three weeks because of my back. I think we both enjoyed every second!!

I risked a ride on Max this morning and so far the back feels OK. Fingers crossed!! I'm hoping that it will hold out for the Sheltie club training day in two weeks time. I'll see how I get on at training this week and try not to overdo it.

Monday, 5 October 2009

We have had a weekend relaxing!! Its been lovely to have a lie in and a long dog walk. The dogs look a bit confused about not going off to an agility competition but I think they are getting into the swing of chilling out!

Brodie has finally got to grips with his 'shy' command and I managed to catch it on video

Monday, 28 September 2009

I couldn't resist this pic of Brax who fell asleep on my trainers at the hotel on Saturday night after a hard days competing!!

Brodie also had fun at Dog Vegas but didn't get any placings as despite being told by my physio NOT to ride or do agility, I did two runs on Sunday and have been suffering since. I just couldn't get to where I needed to be quickly enough and got poor Brodie eliminated for back jumping. I took the opportunity to practice some movements that we haven't been brave enough to try while out competing. In the jumping, the tunnel was in front of three jumps so I tried layering it by standing in the middle and shouting 'OUT' and hoping for the best!! I'm so proud of my little boy as he did it!! I took a couple of pics of Brodie this week being lazy and the one of him yawning is hilarious and the other one is him in Brackens 'cat' bed.

Bracken had a fun weekend at Dog Vegas!! She was really on form and got placings in 5 out of her 6 classes, including a 2nd, two 3rds and two 4ths. I know its a girly thing to say but the rosettes are really pretty!! Here is a picture of Brax with her girly rosettes

Thursday, 24 September 2009

I'm all out of sync this week as I had to work on Monday so I'm very confused!! We actually managed to get to training at Letchworth this week which was great as we got to practice some of the more difficult movements that people were struggling with while competing. The lesson gave me lots of ideas of what to work on over winter, especially flicking the dog away from you round the wing and getting tighter turns. Just don't mention dog walk contacts..!

I'm so excited that Natasha Wise is our trainer on the Sheltie agility training day (run by the ESSC working section). I watched her run with Dizzy that won her the title of World Champion and it was very emotional and fantastic to watch them working together. (Its on agilitynet and well worth a view). I just hope that Brodie behaves himself on the training day!!!

Brax had a good day at Stour Valley and Matthew got a 5th in the jumping with Brodie. Brax and Saturn got 2nd in the pairs and also got 7th in the pairs on the Sunday at Trent park. Bracken managed a very good 9th in the mini agility challenge at Trent park. Brodie did a lovely clear round in the agility and was one out of the placings but we messed up the jumping. The jumping was won by Lian and Saturn who was going like a rocket and won by seconds!!

Monday, 14 September 2009

I clipped Max today as he is getting soooo hairy so I thought I'd pop one last hairy pic on the blog. He is still staying slim and its actually got to the stage where we need some rain!

Brax had a very up and down weekend at Burnham Agility show-literally! The 'ups' included a 2nd in the C4-7 jumping (again just tenths of a second off another G6 win) and a 2nd with Andrew and his small very speedy poodle Ollie in the pairs. The downs came on Sunday as she flew off the see-saw in her agility class without tipping it at all - idiot dog should have had a parachute!! Amazingly she seemed fine afterwards but didn't go clear in her next two classes so she'll be taking it easy this week.

Brodie was a good boy and despite being lumbered with his mum as a handler we managed to win the C1-7 snooker class. I think I needed oxgen after I'd finished!! I was so proud of Brodie though as he had never seen the wishing well and just flew over it three times. I was also really pleased that we were 7th in C1-7 agility (placed to 6th!) out of 57 dogs behind some very fast dogs. Well done to Lisa with Tyler who got 4th in the agility and with her young collie Dillon who won his jumping class!!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Brax had a great weekend at Letchworth show getting another grade 6 agility win!! She also managed to get two 2nds and a 6th in the C1-7 power and speed. Matthew managed really well despite being ring manager for two days and having two dogs to run! (He got two clear rounds with Brodie on the Fri and Sat in jumping.)

Brax and Saturn got a very good 13th in the Euk pairs and a 6th in mini/mixi pairs on Sunday - what a team! Brodie was going to be having his pairs debut with Lians Sing but poor Sing had a sore back after his agility run and Brodie was quite tired after 3 runs so they didn't compete. Brodie did a lovely run in the C3-5 agility but his silly handler didn't push him out enough over a jump so he had a refusal. Shame as he was going really well - totally my fault! He came out the weaves in the C1-4 HS and was clear in the C1-7 power and speed but no placing. I wasn't on form as my left foot was very numb and running wasn't great for it! After a visit to the docs on monday I have sciatica so poor Brodie has a crocked up mummy!!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

The dogs had a fun four days at the Summer Open show at Ely. Matthew ran Brodie in the C1-3 jumping on friday and saturday as I was a work and they got clear rounds both days just out of the placings. I'm very proud of my boys!! On the friday Bracken had a cracking day as she won her Grade 6 agility (it was her first weekend in grade 6) and had a placing in the Euk pairs with Lian and her super Saturn. Fingers crossed this means they'll be off to Crufts next March!! :-)

There is a video of their pairs run on Lians blog -

I went on the sunday and had two agility and one jumping run with Brodie and again we had two clears but were just out of the placings. On the monday we had a fun day with four fun classes each. Brax did very well with a 4th in tunnel terrors (not bad for a dog that doesn't really like tunnels!) and a 5th in the C5-7 power and speed. She would have got a great placing in the steelpechase but she knocked a brick out of the wall which was the last jump. Her take your own line course was brilliant but against some of the fast G7 dogs she was 0.1 seconds out of the placings!!

Brodie unfortunately had all four of his runs in 30 mins. He went clear in the first three and then I got muddled up in tunnel terrors so not his fault! He got a well deserved 2nd in the power and speed and he ran like a loose cannon but we got round clear. He did a fantastic round in TYOL and ended up in 4th behind three G7 dogs so I was really pleased with him. Well done to our fab trainer Lisa and her super sheltie Tyler who won the TYOL!

Monday, 24 August 2009

We are back from our agility holiday, feeling tired but relaxed! Bracken had an amazing three days at the KC international Festival. She got faster and better the more she did so managed to collect quite a few placings, including one amazing jumping win. She also qualified for the final of the novice cup where the top four dogs qualify for Crufts. Brax decided that after the commentator was saying how nice she was that she would run past the A-frame!! Poor Matthew was gutted although she did end up 5th despite her detour! Big congratulations to Jane, Jacqui and Helen who all made it to the Starters Cup finals and did really well in that scary main ring!!

It was a huge venue with 20 rings and unfortunately Brodie seemed to find it a bit much and I think I probably did as well! He did get three nice jumping clears and was literally one out of the placings in two of them. Not bad considering there was between 60 and 100 dogs in each class. All of Brodies agility classes were in the same ring and that particular ring seemed to spook him - not sure why! He even ran past the A-frame in one class which is most unlike him (unless he'd been talking to Brax!) I think it goes to show that if the handler is tense then the dog senses it - poor Mr Toad!

We spent two days at Pembroke after visiting my aunt and uncle in Carmarthen. It was lovely to catch up with them and my cousin and we went out for a lovely meal and good chat! The weather was kind to us the first day although it rained solid on the wednesday. Brax got a first on both days and a 3rd in a very competitve steeplechase. Despite being open to the public and part of the attractions, Brodie was much braver and did four lovely clears so I was really proud of him. Shame was that the same dog beat Brodie into 2nd place four times (only just!) and they only placed to 1st!! Such is life!!

We spent Fri-Sunday at Dashing dogs in Cheshire after a day off in Shrewsbury relaxing! On the friday there was two jumping classes and Brodie got a 2nd in the graded 1-3 jumping, he also went clear in the 3-5 combined and was just out of the places. On the saturday they was four classes and Brodie got a 2nd (g3-5 agility) two 3rds (c1-4 helter-skelter and g1-3 agility) and a 5th in c3-4 jumping. On the sunday he got a 2nd in g1-3 jumping and 5th in c3-4 agility. Clever boy!!

Brax did very well and won her 3-5 agility and g5-7 jumping on the saturday and also got a 2nd in the c4-5 agility. On the sunday she won her g5-7 agility and her c4-5 jumping and came 2nd in the 3-5 jumping. We worked out that she has now won into grade 6 twice on jumping wins and 4 times on agility wins!! Next weekend she is out of the 25 days and into scary grade 6!!

I got some photos of Brodie I ordered recently so thought I'd pop them on the blog. Also pics of their rosettes from pembroke and dashing dogs. They are very tired puppies now!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Just to prove that our generally polite shelties can be quite rude, I thought I'd pop on a picture of each of them in their normal state while at home!!

All four of us weren't quite on the ball yesterday at Milton Keynes! The two mistakes in my agility and jumping runs were def my fault whereas judging by the video of Matt and Brax the probs he had appeared to be Brax taking her own line again! Its not a surprise really with the jumping course as there were so many tunnels to go through!!

Both dogs did their only clears in their 1-7 jumping classes. Brodie was just out of the placings but Brax managed a very good 8th in a strong class. A big well done to Jane and Jackie who both got great placings and to Miranda who got 1st and 2nd in the 5-7 agility. Go shelties!!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Brodie has got his certificate back from the Kennel Club today so he is now officially Chandling Ebony Charge AW(B)!! Ok, he has a long way to go before reaching the dizzy heights of the gold award like Brax has but I'm so proud of him in his first season of competing!! :-)

Monday, 3 August 2009

Thought I'd pop on a pic of Brodie trying to decide which new toy to play with, while Brax thought she'd curl up on a pile of my socks that had just been washed-nice!


We were at JDA show at the weekend and not being too biased as JDA is our club but I think its the nicest show I've been to all year! It was a lovely showground that fortunately drained well on saturday after the rain. It was a big show without feeling too big and losing a friendly feel. Well done James and Dave and all the other team members who made is such a success. Also big thanks to Matthew and Lisa who spend all weekend in the secretarys tent sorting the paperwork and still managed some cracking runs with their dogs!

Brax did well on the saturday with a 5th in C4-7 jumping, 4th in C3-5 agility and 2nd in the G3-5 agility. On the sunday she did a cracking run in the very competitive C4-7 jumping and as I was ring party on that ring I got to watch. Imagine the disappointment when we found worked out that she would have to do a run off for 6th/7th place. Well, she went in there and did it faster the second time round to get 6th place! Then I was too busy to watch her C3-5 agility but clever Brax won it!! We are so proud of her as it was the last class of a long weekend.

Brodie only competed on the sunday and I admit I was quite nervous at the thought of having to tackle some 3-5 classes for the first time. At least I have been walking them with Matthew all season so I knew what to expect. Fortunately our first class was a C1-3 jumping that was straightforward and a bit of a blast. I was thrilled to come 5th as there were 47 in the class including some very fast spaniels that seemed about twice Brodies size!! We then tackled the G3-5 jumping which had a fairly tight course time and were thrilled to go clear as there seemed to be sooooo many twiddly bits!! It turns out that although there were a few clears in grade 3, only two of us were within the course time and we came 2nd - clever boy!!

Brodie's C3-5 agility was a nice but trappy course and we had done all the hard bits so I was a bit gutted when the judge freaked him out by racing up behind me while he was on the A frame to check he got the contact. He then went over the jump and onto the see-saw but fell off it whilst trying to keep one eye on the judge. He was OK after and finished the rest of the course well so we do need to practise having people running behind him. She was a nice judge and came over after his run to feed him a sweetie!

He went straight into Richard Brains G3-5 agility course (I love Richards courses as they are always quirky!) and did a very nice clear but was slow on the see-saw understandably so we were the only unplaced clear. If he'd been quarter of a second faster he would have been 4th but I can't complain as he tackled all four courses with enthusiam and to get three clears was better than expected!

I just have to say a massive well done to a couple of people after the weekend. Firstly well done to Megan and Hattie who had an amazing 7 clear rounds out of 8 runs and came away from JDA with three 3rds and a 4th. Clever Hattie!! Also Brodie says big congratulations to his lil' bro Sizzle and Lian who won a Beginners steeplechase at UKA. Its a brilliant win as Sizzle is only 16 months old and it was his first show-yay Sizz!!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Let me introduce Tresca who has an amazing story which highlights the importance of having dogs microchipped!! Three and a half years ago my Mum and sister Amy adopted her from a rescue shelter in Aberdeen (they live in Aberdeenshire!) and although she was nervous she settled well in the following month.

Unfortunately one day in Feb 2006 she bolted and despite hours of searching, radio alerts, posters and knocking on doors she disappeared. Around that time I travelled north to have my wedding dress fitted and the countryside where she escaped was hit by very bad weather. We checked sheds and woods but no sign of Tresca. Anyway, eventually you expect the worst has happened so imagine Mum and Amys surprise when the local dog warden turned up with her a couple of weeks ago!!! It it was the microchip that reunited them. If only she could talk, I bet she has a few stories to tell!

I'm looking forward to meeting her as she looks lovely!! Sometimes I wish I didn't live the other end of the country as i'd love to be on hand to help with overcoming some of Tresca's worries. She is a bit wary of noises and traffic but all credit to Amy and Mum for quietly working with her to increase her confidence.