Monday, 20 December 2010

Snow puppies

We have had a HUGE load of snow over the weekend which makes everything take twice as long to do but is sooo pretty and Christmassy! Brodie is a real snow puppy and would run around in it chasing snowballs all day, he really doesn't seem to feel the cold. Brax on the other hand is a real diva about the snow and refuses to go to the loo unless she is REALLY desperate! She has been a bit better since she has her Hurtta coat on which stops the snowballs on her tummy - awwww!

After a snowy walk, Brax likes nothing better than curling up with her 'mooey'!!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Naked pony!

I've spent the morning clipping Max pony's thick winter coat off - what a huge amount of hair!! He resembled a yak!! He is a very good boy to clip fortunately but it is still a huge job.

The shelties are still recovering from their holiday I think! They took over our sofa yesterday and made themselves comfy :)

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Somerset Holiday

We are back after spending a week in Somerset. We had a fantastic time doing a lot of walking, eating out and drinking cider! :) It was probably the best place to be in the country weather wise as although we had some beautiful frosts, we escaped the snow!

We visited Bath and Cheddar during our holiday and the dogs really enjoyed going down the caves in Cheddar. It was nice to go to a place where the dogs could go into all the pubs and attractions. They are very good at lying under tables in pubs! We did some spectacular walks including one with the thickest frost I've ever seen.

We went for a walk round Bath and although we didn't see much from the hill, it was very atmospheric! Here is a pic of Matt and the small ginger one by Sham castle (so called as it is just a wall, not an actual castle!)

Here are a couple of pics from our walk round Cheddar gorge. If you look closely, you can see a couple of Exmoor ponies grazing.

We were meant to be doing agility last weekend but it was cancelled because so many competitors couldn't get there because of the heavy snow. We had decided to try out for the England squad for the World Agility Open Champs that are being held next year in May. The heights suit our two shelties well, particularly Brax who will actually be at the top of her height catergory for a change!! Brodie and I entered to gain some experience of doing some more technical courses and to stop me getting ring rusty! The event has been postponed to Jan which means I can't go :( but hopefully Matthew and Brax will still have a try.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Sheltie Visitor :)

Jenni bought Rommy round last Monday to visit and go for a walk with my dogs to practice his recall. He was a little superstar and really loved going out for a 'big dog' walk with other shelties! He also had great fun playing in my flat with lots of toys - awwww!

Brax took great pleasure in telling him off about playing with her toys while Brodie decided Rommy was the scariest thing he'd ever seen and just wanted to sit on my feet - he is the biggest wimp ever!! Wait until we get a puppy next year - he won't know whats hit him!! :)

Rommy got tired after a while and was trying so hard not to fall asleep! He also came to visit Max and Megans pony Al at the yard and he took it in his stride. He is growing into such a handsome boy!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Agility Club Annual Awards

Yesterday we went up to the Kennel Club building to collect our awards from the Agility Club. Bracken won the Small Grade 6 catergory and Brodie won Medium Grade 3 (Brax won small grade 3 last year so its family tradition!) They had to have baths so they looked smart enough in their photos that are taken for the Agility Voice magazine!

I am so proud of our shelties, they really are amazing little dogs and I feel priviledged to be owned by them! Next year we will be doing less KC agility and possibly more UKA so the agility club awards won't be on the cards. So it really was a once in a lifetime moment to receive such a lovely award.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Seriously hairy shelties!

I have been having a serious sheltie tidy up this weekend by trying to get some of their dead undercoat out. It can take ages but fortunately our two are very good about being brushed. Here is Brodie with his pile of hair from one grooming session! Anybody want to knit a sheltie jumper?!

This time of year the dogs are always more into having cuddles as they like the extra heat I think. If you sit still for long enough, Brax will snuggle on your lap like a cat! They both managed to have a lap at the same time the other day!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Brax Training

The main aim for Brax's training was to get her A frame contacts more solid and get her striding better over grids as she is not the most confident about knowing where to put her feet! We spent time earlier in the year retraining Bracken to do a 4 off A frame. She can do a perfect 2on/2off dog walk but always found it hard on the A frame so we thought a 4 off would suit her size and shape better. A few people have asked whether she jumps contacts as she is so small and the answer is YES! Sometimes she looks like she needs a parachute!! Here is a video of her doing her 4 off A frame.

The other thing we worked on was her gridwork. She has almost always refused to bounce jumps (not put a stride in at all) and pops in an uncomfortable little stride that is not necessary. Obviously it not only wastes time but can't be good for her physically as she has to jump in a very bizarre way!

The only way we could get her to bounce through the grid was if Matthew was moving alongside her. Obviously this isn't ideal as she should be able to do it as a recall but its something to work on. What I think we need is to attend a gridwork training day to get her confidence up, any suggestions gratefully received!

Both of our dogs are jumping slightly smaller heights than normal on the videos as they are both competing in a qualifier in a few weeks time that has different jump heights to KC shows. More on this later...
A massive WELL DONE is due to Maria, Paul and Chester the fab beagle who competed at Barking Mad last week and came away with a 1st and a 2nd and their second ever show! The cakes at training were great! :)

Brodie Training

We took the shelties to the kennels yesterday to do a bit of training as we have been finding it difficult to get to group training - we seem to be chasing our tails at the moment! We had a couple of goals to work on with each dog, both needed practice on contacts with tunnels underneath but Brodie needed some tricky weave entries and Brax needed some A frame contacts and gridwork.

Here are a couple of videos of Brodie running. The first is trying to get him more independent finding weaves entries at 90 degree angles. The first time he does the weaves I help him quite a lot but the second time I let him go off more by himself. You can see on the video that he is more hesistant without his mummy there!

The second video is us just having a run round, practising a couple of crosses but mainly to speed up his seesaw which was done with the help of cheese! I also worked Brodie doing obstacle discrimmination with the tunnel wrapped round one end of the A frame. He did have a couple of times where he got it wrong but generally was better when I only gave him a verbal command and hung back to let him make the decision.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Lazy Days!

I can't believe that it has rained so much over the last week, as a result Max pony is now stabled at night and I have been washing muddy clothes like crazy! Fortunately now we have an artificial grass arena at work to train on I don't get muddy paws on me at work :) We are starting to get lots of people hiring the arena for winter training and Crufts practice - it is fabulous and in all this crap weather it hasn't been waterlogged at all, not even the hint of a puddle!!

I had a run round with Brodie earlier in the week and worked on tricky weave entries and going round the back of jumps, next on the list is practising tunnels under contacts in case we get brave enough to enter any champ classes next year! With Brax we have been working hard on gridwork as she is not that confident of her striding and will always pop in an extra stride if shes not sure. Here are a couple of videos of her doing rainy day gridwork - the first one is her first attempt and she squeezes in an extra stride and the second video is her being braver on her second attempt!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Tired Shelties!

My Mum came to visit me last week for a couple of days and we had so much fun spending some quality time together. We did some nice dog walks and had happy but tired shelties as a consequence :) In fact, they decided to make themselves at home on my Mums bed!

On one of our walks we found what looked like a huge dock leaf that was the same size as Brax!

We also went to a local Butterfly centre and had a very interesting morning wandering around. I made my Mum have her pic taken with a giant ant, hehe!

This is me posing by a giant garden fork!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Brax does Obedience!!

Brax had a very exciting saturday, going off with Matthew to compete at obedience. Yes you did read that correctly - Brax doing obedience!! The venue was the Championship breed show at Stonleigh and we had entered her in Pre-Beginners and Beginners. She has done a tiny bit before but certainly not at such a big show. In typical Brax style she got stuck into learning how to retreive her tiny dumbell and bring it back. On the day she was let down a bit in her heelwork in pre-beginners as there was lots of crumbs on the floor that were tempting! She only lost 1/2 a mark in her recall and her stays were perfect so she came 5th overall. In her beginners she did her retreive very well and did better on her heelwork and ended up 6th overall. One lady came 1st - 5th with her five shelties that compete a lot so we thought Brax had done very well!! Here she is with her rosettes.

Exciting news is that my Mum is coming to visit me this week. I can't wait to see her and the shelties will be beside themselves! She lives up in Aberdeenshire and they have already had snow so I'm hoping she doesn't bring any with her! Here are a couple of pics from my Mums where I grew up. The mountain is called Bennachie and it has some lovely dog walks when its not snowy!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Winter is here :(

It really feels like winter is here now, digging out thick coats, loads of layers and woolly socks! Max has had his first clip of the year and I gave his tail a good brush through this morning - this is what it looked like after I had finished!!

Brax has definitely been feeling the cold more recently as anyone who sits down for long enough acquires a furry lap warmer!! I was going through some photos recently and found this great one of Brodie on holiday last year - I wonder what he is thinking about?! (Click to enlarge and see the silly expression on his face!!)

Oh and a big well done to our friend Jackie and her young spaniel George who have qualified for the Agility Club Starters Challenge 2011 - what a good year they have had!

Monday, 11 October 2010

New videos and puppy pics

We felt a bit lost this last weekend as it was our first non agility weekend for ages. We took the dogs for a really long walk instead which cheered them up a bit! We have been doing some fun games with them in the flat just to keep them mentally and physically ticking over. Here are a couple of videos of Brodie doing some gridwork up the hallway! In the first video he isn't very confident of his footing or particularly fast. After a couple more goes, I took another video and he is much more confident and therefore faster (unf this video wouldn't load on here - grr!). I think work like this is so good for their coordination and motivation - he thinks its great fun!

Last week Jenni brought her 9 week old sheltie puppy Rommy up to visit us at work - he is soooo cute!! He met Brodie and Brax and thought Brodie was far less scary! Rommy and Brodie are cousins as they are both grandsons of the lovely Blenmerrow Barnaby. Rommy made himself at home in Brax's bed and had a good chew on her rawhide!

This last video is of Sykes who is an English Springer Spaniel. He is a show dog and has qualified for Crufts next year. As a younger dog he did a lot of obedience and foundation agility work in his private lessons with me, mainly to help with his coordination for showing. However, we discovered he loved the baby agility work so his owner has just started proper agility lessons now that Sykes is over a year old. This is a short video of him in his 2nd ever agility lesson - it also highlights the importance of a wait! He is an incredibly powerful, driven springer and I love the way he can already work his striding out over a line of jumps.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Well done Tasha and Dizzy!!

What an exciting weekend for two of my favourite sports - Great Britain have done so well!! The eventing team won gold and an individual silver at the world equestrian games and have got silver medals in dressage as well. Natasha Wise and the phenomenal Dizzy have done it again for British agility - MEDIUM WORLD CHAMPIONS for the second year in a row!! Her runs are on U-tube and are just amazing. Not forgetting all the other GB competitors, including Dave Munnings and Dobby who came 2nd in the large individual event!

On a more down to earth note(!), we went to a relaxed agility competition just a mile up the road at the Herts showground yesterday. Brax didn't do any runs as the grass was very long and she was in danger of disappearing under it!! Brodie only did one run in C1-7 jumping and came 2nd but we got soooo wet that we didn't stay for the agility. We were however, cheering on our friends including Megan and Hattie, Sue and Dab and one of my saturday class regulars Chester the beagle who was doing his very first show! They all did really well - Megan got numerous places and a win with Hattie qualifying her for 'Starter dog of the Year' finals next year. Paul and Chester did so well for their first show only 5 faults in each run and fabulous weaves in both classes. I think he is the fastest, most focused Beagle I have ever seen - watch out for them competing next year! :)

Matthew also got talked into doing the 'have a go' agility with my friend Kates terrier Dougal. He is a flyball dog so I think Matt was a bit surprised when he let Dougal go and he did most of the obstacles by himself! By the time we got home we were drenched and it took ages to dry the dogs off - Brax was sooo happy to be snuggling on the sofa for the afternoon!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

End of Agility Season :(

Everyone should have a helpful sheltie!!
Last weekend we had our last KC agility show for ages at Hare n Hounds. The weather was kind to us and the dogs had a great time. Matthew ran Brodie for me as I (as usual) didn't compete until the sunday. I think its fair to say that the depth of talent in the medium classes was immense!! Hare n Hounds is a relatively small show so all of the classes bar one are combined 1-7 or 4-7 with only one graded agility class. Brodie was up against Steven Richardson's Sweep, Cathy Shaws amazing Toller, Adam Wildman and his Kelpie Zoom, Sue White and Bug and Gary Cummings with Ellie so altogether a very strong bunch of grade 7 dogs, not to mention the ones I don't know! I was thrilled with Brodie getting a 4th with Matthew in a C1-7 which he repeated with me on Sunday (on a easy course with no weaves!). He also got a 3rd in C4-7 agility and would have won the graded agility if he had been in any grade but 7!! Those fast dogs on easy courses meant we were 5th, out of the placings but still very proud of my wee man!!

Brax was great and got a couple of wins and numerous places although possibly wasn't on full power. We are going to get them checked out by the physio now that the main agility season is over just to give them an MOT! Our winter training is going to concentrate on some groundwork exercises to get them spatially aware and using their brains as well as their muscles! The video is Brodie learning to co-ordinate walking backwards over a pole, perfect training for wet days!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Trent Park

We had a flying visit to Trent Park show yesterday as we left at 10.30am to pick my Dad up from the airport. We had a lovely time with my Dad going bowling (I was hopeless and got totally thrashed!) eating lots and catching up!

Matthew and I both did pairs at the show but with not each other! I ran with Megan and Hattie and Matthew ran with Lian and Saturn. It was only the third time I've done pairs but it was great fun and Brodie and Hattie went clear! I managed to run the graded 5-7 agility quickly before I left. Brodie was still on rocket fuel after Burnham last week and managed to go clear on what I thought was quite a fast and not too technical course. Anyway we dashed off and was very surprised to hear later from Megan that Brodie had won G6!! It was his last weekend in Grade 6 so I'm glad he is goin into Grade 7 in style :)

I took some funny photos of my animals recently and thought I'd pop them on here as they make me laugh! The photos above of Brodie were taken by my friend Jenni at work. She is getting in practice taking sheltie pics as in a couple of weeks she is picking up an adorable blue merle boy puppy - awwww!!

I haven't clipped Max yet but he is getting to the woolly thelwell pony stage so think I'll be digging out rugs soon!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Relaxing Sunday!

It was my idea of a perfect day yesterday! We went to agility at Burnham show in the morning (9am start) and had done all three of Brodies runs by 10.30am! We then came home and went for a lovely dog walk. We took the dogs across our village common and there was a huge 'do' on which turned out to be a celebration of our village being 900 years old. There were horse and carriages, a stage with bands playing, guess the weight of the bull and some cricket as well as all the normal village fete things!! Later in the afternoon Matthew walked the dogs while I rode Max pony and we did some serious blackberry picking!! It was lovely and warm so it was nice being outside for most of the day.

Bracken did well in her C4-7 agility and came 4th. Brodie came away with no clear rounds but mostly because he was faster than normal and it threw me a bit! Also, he missed his first contact of the season :( He was going so fast into the dog walk in the C1-7 agility that he didn't stride it right and missed the down contact. He would have come 4th if he had got it and there were some fast dogs there so I'm pleased with his new found turn of speed - I just have to control it now!! Here is Brodie curled up on Brax's 'mooey' after his busy day!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Holiday catch up!

We had a great time away but it seems so long ago now. We saw my Mum and sister and my Aunt, Uncle and cousin in Wales as it was my Aunt and Uncles 40th Wedding Anniversary. We had a lovely time staying with them and wished it could have been longer but we packed lots in to the time we spent there. We probably haven't eaten so well in ages either, especially my Aunties home made ice cream! We had a family meal out on Sunday and I took this pic of my Mum and Amy which I think is cool! They had their dog Tresca with them and all the dogs seemed to be quite happy with each other.

We had a fab walk on the beach at Ferryside and then an AMAZING steak and stilton pie at the Ferry Cabin (well worth a visit!) The dogs had so much fun on the beach and Brodie did his usual getting soaked and filthy!

On Tuesday we went to Dashin Dogs in Cheshire and did three days of agility. Brodie was a really good boy and ran well, getting placings in combined 6-7 classes as well as getting his final Grade 6 win! The standard of competition was very high in all three sizes and we had some fantastic courses. Brax did really well in her jumping and gradually got better on her contacts. As they organise their show really well, most days we were done competing by 3pm which meant we could explore Chester a bit and relax. We had a great meal out on night that did a 'pudding platter' to share and it looked so good that I had to take a pic of it!

From Dashin dogs we went on to Summer Open show at Ely and again the dogs did well, both getting placings. Brax in particular was really on form and got some good places considering that most of the top small dogs were there for the DFS events. Brax was so tired one night tho that she curled up on my jumper and went to sleep!

Since we have been back, we had our club show Letchworth over the weekend. I could only go on Sunday, when Matthew and I were ring managing. It surprises me so much how many people do agility yet so few people help. It seems that some competitors don't realise that shows rely on people to volunteer to help or the shows couldn't be run in the first place. People who help often give up runs with their own dogs to ensure everything goes smoothly and even if everyone did an odd hour here and there it would take the pressure off the regular helpers. Sorry rant over now!! Anyway, I did manage a couple of runs with Brodie and amazingly he won the C6-7 agility. Brax also ran in the pairs with Lian and Saturn and they were fab and won by two seconds!! Here is a pic of the shelties with their Dashin dogs, Summer Open and Letchworth goodies.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Brodie has won into Grade 7!!!

This will be a short update after our mega agility holiday as I need to sort out videos and pics. We went to Dashin Dogs for three days and then onto the Summer Open show. The dogs worked really well and Brodie got his last Grade 6 win on a tricky 6-7 course at Dashin Dogs. I can't believe he has only been Grade 6 for 5 weeks!! He will be Grade 7 in time for the end of the season so we will get some training in over winter and who knows, maybe try our hand (or paw) at a couple of champ classes next year?! Quick well dones to Megan and Hattie who won into Grade 2 at Summer Open and also Lisa and Dylan who won into Grade 4. Both very well deserved wins!! Proper update soon...

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Hare n Hounds adventure!!

We had decided after doing the KC Festival last year that we would try a different show this year that wasn't quite as big and stressful. Hare n Hounds was a lovely show (although it was a long way to go) it was worth it for a 2 min walk between the rings and the car, a real ale tent and a relaxing atmosphere!!
Brax did really well and got six wins and numerous placings! Here is a video of her winning a C1-7 jumping class. Brodie got 8th on this course as well.

All of the classes were C1-7 or C4-7 apart from one graded class on the sunday. Brodie did well to get three placings considering he was up against 3 agility champions (and 3 fast collies) in all of his classes!! Considering the courses were relatively flowing and not too taxing, I was most pleased by the fact that Brodie was one out of the places 5 times and the majority of the time he was the fastest clear that wasn't a Grade 7. This is Brodie doing a C1-7 agility and me being a bit rusty after a couple of weeks off - looking back at the video I didn't give him enough warning about the turn before the weaves!

Big congratulations must go to all our friends who did so well at the KC Festival, in particular Jackie and Mr George who have qualified for the Starters Cup at Discover Dogs :)

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Weekend off!!

We have had a relaxing weekend without doing agility but it did feel weird on Sunday not to be getting up early! We decided to go off to the cinema after taking the dogs for a nice walk. I had a fab day yesterday, catching up with an old school friend. We had a meal out and did a couple of nice dog walks, including one to the local pub as the weather was lovely :)

What was really obvious was that the shelties were far more unsettled than normal as they hadn't been out at a 'party' all weekend! Oh well, they'll be busy enough in the coming weeks!!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Brodie gets 3rd G6 win!!

Wow we have been chasing our tails this weekend! On saturday Matthew took the dogs to the Agility Club show in Ardingly. Brax was a good girl and managed to get through to the Champ final but unfortunately flew her dog walk contact. Back to the contact school for little Miss B! However, we did realise that she has made it to final of every champ except one so at least she is relatively consistent!

The big news is that the Medium ESSC team has QUALIFIED FOR CRUFTS!!! The team was made up of Lian and Sing, Lisa and Tyler, Bernadette and Zen and Eleanor and Smo. What a great team!! Unfortunatley the smalls didn't qualify but I'm sure the meduims will do us Sheltie fans proud :D

I drove round the M25 on saturday to get to the show in time for the Starters Challenge which Brodie had qualified for last year. He started really well and was the fastest dog until the point that he fell off the seesaw! Awww poor Toad had a wimpy moment as the seesaw was pointing towards the crowd and it just spooked him. I made him go back on it and he was fine although he went into the wrong end of the tunnel as you can see him on Lians video looking at the crowd. He came 2nd in the final last year but was really affected afterwards and wouldn't run at all the next day. In fact it took over a month to get him running properly. I was hoping that the same wasn't going to happen this year and I'm pleased to say he was brilliant on sunday so major relief! Whereas many people struggle with contacts or weave entries, I know that Brodie is far more likely to spook at a judge running too close or someones dog barking at the ringside.

We went back to Catton Hall on sunday to the Derbyshire show. Brodie was really on form, winning his graded 5-7 agility, getting 3rd in graded 5-7 jumping and a 4th in graded 4-7 jumping. That means that Brodie has now got 3 of his wins towards grade 7!! Although the show was in the same place as last weekend, the classes were much bigger with almost 50 in grade 6 mediums so I'm very proud of Brodie as there were some very good dogs there. Brax did a lovely agility run and then just missed her dog walk contact again (conact school asap!!) She did some fast clears in some other classes but missed out on a place. We are having a weekend off next weekend before the manic august and sept shows start! I think the dogs deserve a well earned rest too!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Adams agility show

We had a busy weekend away at Catton Hall for Adams show and didn't get home until Monday hence the lack of blog updates! The dogs were travelling in style in their new car crate

The poor dogs were definitely ready swop us for new handlers on sunday! We had a cracking graded 6-7 course which had tunnels under A frame and dog walk and required the ability to work your dog at a distance. It also included the weaves and dog walk twice each! I was so proud of Toad as he was one of the few dogs to get round all the tricky bits and he was fast and clear until I pushed him over the start instead of the finish - arrgghhhh!!! I knew there was a chance of that happening and I had meant to be on the other side of the dog walk but he surprised me by working faster than I had anticipated. I was very proud of him working so well despite me!! Brax got a jumping win on the sunday but her and Matthew really got it together on Monday winning the G7 agility and jumping and getting 3rd in the helter skelter. This is a video from my phone of her jumping win on Sunday

Brodie ran like a star in the Graded agility and won by over two seconds, I can't believe he has a second Grade 6 win already! He was going nicely in the jumping and unfortunately I just dropped my arm on a 90 degree turn and he did what he was supposed to and came in to me. It was my fault for trying to front cross before the weaves whereas I should trust that I can rear cross on the weaves (which he did perfectly after he'd been eliminated). He ran well in the helter skelter and was clear but just out of the placings.
There wasn't any videos of Brodie doing agility but I thought I'd video one of his little habits that makes me laugh! He has this funny quirk about rubbing like a cat on the feed bins at work - it always concerns me that he likes the Bakers one best!!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Puppy pictures - awww!!

Matthew and I were sorting out some of our photos the other day and I found some adorable pup pictures! Seeing as I didn't start this blog until they were competing, I thought I'd pop a couple on here (also it may help my case for number 3..!)

Brodie was 10 weeks when we collected him but right from day one he liked sleeping on his back with his feet in the air! This is him relaxing at Brax's first agility show

This is Brodie age 4 months at his first 'Sheltie Camp'