Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas Everyone!!


Merry Christmas everyone and hope you all have a fabulous 2013!! 

We are having a quiet Christmas at home with Matthews family. It is nice as I'm on horse duty and it means I can walk to the yard and check the boys and still enjoy a Christmas tipple! I have been v poorly this weekend but am starting to feel more human today, I'm just glad I got all of my pressi buying and wrapping done last week :)
2013 looks to be a very exciting year for many reasons - in fact thinking about it all makes me so excited I can't help grinning! Firstly little foal Dakota (now Diva for certain reasons!) is coming beginning of Jan and I can't wait to start teaching her stuff. Brooke will be making her KC debut this year as will Dolly, Brax will hopefully be back in the ring, Brodie is going like a rocket and loving his agility and I have the bestest hubby a girl could wish for! Oh and the possibility of some more four legged smalls...

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Brooke Training Day

Brooke went on another Toni Dawkins training day at the weekend. It was indoors on loose rubber chippings so another new venue and surface to work on. She hasn't worked with different dogs for a while so that was also a good experience for her.

Toni was working on tight turns and accelerating out of them, really interesting stuff! It is nice to hear other trainers ideas as I don't believe in a 'one method suits all' approach to dog training. All stuff to put in your mental tool box! Watching people do the exercises, it is apparent that Toni's handling style works very well for people whose dogs are a hell of a lot faster than they are!! I love learning from and watching lots of the top trainers but many of the people I admire the most in the agility world have long legs and run like proper sprinters unlike me :) Matthew never had that problem with Brax but think he might with Brooke!

Here are a few videos for the workshop

Acceleration out of a turn - I love the way Brooke strides the grid!

Box work - she slips a little on the turn but still manages to bounce across the box

Sorry about the sun in this video although I couldn't complain as it was nice and warm! Brooke doing a short sequence including a 'grab turn' where you don't waste loads of time front crossing on your dogs line - it was definitely faster than a traditional front cross. (You can't tell from the video but the tunnel was a tricky angle from the 3rd jump) Grab turn meant you were ahead of your dog as it came over the last jump and already shaping the line to the tunnel more effectively.

Brooke is booked in to a Lucy Osbourne session in January for weaves and a Dave Munnings training day in Feb-what a lucky girly! :)

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Visit to Grandma's house!

On Sunday we took the dogs to Lian and Colin's farm to spend a day with the Knights shelties. We got thoroughly spoilt and we treated to a lovely roast lamb dinner and long sheltie walk followed by another yummy meal and then sitting chatting in front of the fire with loads of tired shelties - perfect!

Lian took some amazing photos of our bunch, here are a few of them :)

Little diddle with her muddy face - her hair is growing back in nicely now.

My lovely Brodie - he just LOVES tennis balls!

Whereas Brooke puppy is more of a cage ball fan!

Who me?!! Muddy?! (Out of ten all shelties, she was the worst!)

Brax trying to kick Brookes butt!

Almost all of the shelties - little Seny was too wriggly to sit still! The wind caught all of their ears in this picture - they look funny! The house in the background is Lian and Colins farm house on the Ridge. We had such a lovely sunny day :)

My little toad posing!

I have been really busy this week, it always seems mad running up to Christmas. I took a minute out to video Brodie doing some proprioception work indoors. He loves earning his breakfast doing fun things like this! 

Monday, 3 December 2012

UKA National Finals

Brodie, Dolly and I went to Somerset over the weekend to compete at the UKA National Finals. Brodie had qualified in the CSJ Grand Prix and Dolly was in Beg Steeplechase. I was so pleased even to qualify them as only there are only 20 places in each nationally.

Brodie did his run on Saturday, he was flying! He was really raring to go and I just love running my boy, he is a little dude!! I knew we would struggle with the weave entry and I hurried him too much and made him run past. In hindsight I should have handled it with him on my right and sent him which would have been easier for him but I was worried that he would take the back of the long jump. Thats what I love about agility, its a huge game with your dog and the tactics of how to run things make it so much fun. You can always learn and  improve - I think dog walks and weave entries will be on the winter training list!! :) Brodies little brother Sizzle was a star and it was lovely that both of them went through to the evenings grand final.

Here is a video of our run in the Semi's (thanks Lian for the video). Promise not to laugh at my enormous T-shirt, I had four layers underneath it as it was freezing!!

Here is a cool action pic from the Semi

I loved the courses for both rounds - I really went for it in the Final and raced him too much on his dog walk to get to the 'wrong' end of the tunnel. I knew he would struggle with the weave entry so we collected more faults there but still managed to finish 6th! In the video you can see him pause on the seesaw - it was facing the glass of the cafeteria and he caught sight of the sheltie in the reflection!! Dippy boy - love him!! 

Here is Brodie's run in the final

I have always wanted a photo of him jumping a wall so I had to buy this!

Sizzle and Lian finished 6th as well - these brothers are like peas in a pod!!

Dolly had her turn in the limelight on Sunday in the Beginners Steeplechase Semi. Bearing in mind that this was our 5th show together I had decided I'd be happy if she stayed with me in the ring!! The start was set up right in front of the speaker which had a loud electronic voice saying 'Ready'.  Luckily it didn't phase her and I even got a lovely wait which allowed me to get a head start! I was an idiot as I helped her too much into a couple of the tunnels which left me too far behind and she got a couple of refusals. I was over the moon though as she was fast, focused and really keen, I couldn't have asked for more! More sprint training I think for me and 'go on' training for her! She finished 11th out of 20 and the top 10 go through to the final - shame as the course for the final was more of a Dolly course. Never mind, she is still in Beg so we'll have another go at qualifying next year :) 

Well done to everyone for their runs there were so many amazing dogs and handlers there! The organisation was very good and the atmosphere was electric. I'm never going to compete internationally but it gives you a good idea about what it must be like and what a great experience for the dogs as well :)

Monday, 26 November 2012

Girls training videos

Yesterday we went to the field to do some training with the sheltie girls and Dolly. Jenni's sheltie Rommy is taking it easy as he has been having physio for a sore back so she ran little Brax for the first time. Since Bracken has been on tablets for her thyroid problem the difference has been amazing! I have been getting her agility fit by gradually increasing the jump heights. This video is her first proper run at 300mm (UKA toy height) for a long time. No measuring, stuttering or lack of confidence - our Brax is back!! Still love her seesaw :)  Please excuse the shaky video!

Matthew ran Princess Brooke and thought he'd try some harder stuff with her - I was particularly impressed with this run. You may want to turn the volume down though!

And this is one of her getting with weaves and A frame. She was a bit unsure of her weaves yesterday and kept coming out at the 10th pole but we realised once we'd got home that she has never done weaves with her carpal wraps on so her legs probably feel a bit weird! There were three things in particular that I loved about this run - Matthew was fab at cueing her early with his feet which gets her soooo much tighter, she 'hugged' the apex of the A frame instead of launching herself into space and she is starting to tighten on her rear crosses as you can see her turning in the air over the jump before the weaves. In four training sessions she has only had one pole down and her jumping style is so much better since her back was sorted.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Holiday pics at last!

This was us trying to pack for our week in the Cotswolds! Brax got in the suitcase first and Brooke followed thinking there may be food. We asked Brodie to get in too so he wasn't left out-his bum looks huge in this photo but its all fluff (honest!)

We stayed in a dog friendly self catering cottage. Brax approved of the big sofa! I love this photo as Brooke is in the background showing how lovely her tail looks when its just been brushed out :)

Doglets waiting for dinner. We lovely the dog friendly tiled floor and the fact we were staying on a network of lovely bridleways and footpaths - perfect walking!

Matthew walking the girls down the hill into Upper Slaughter. How such a lovely place can have such a horrible name I don't know!

The very pretty village of Lower Slaughter - don't quite know what Brax is up to in this picture?!

We did about 14 miles per day so we had very tired shelties :) The girls both snuggled up on Matthew!

Brooke became a proper pub dog on holiday and learnt to sleep under the table!

Brodie has always been a pro at falling asleep anywhere!! Brax is fighting sleep in this picture as we are eating the most amazing luch!

Brodie on guard dog duty at the cottage - he takes his job very seriously even if he does look like a girl!!

Brooke posing in front of Barton Abbey. It was totally stunning and the weather was very kind to us except on the first day when it rained.

Now onto the new arrival! Introducing Aztec Dakota who is a Azteca filly (Spanish x Quarter Horse) born in June. She is just beautiful and will be coming to me when she is weaned in December. She is a lovely, bold curious little girly and I'm looking forward to having fun with her. Max isn't going anywhere, he will be 16 next year so by the time she is ready to ride he'll be ready to do a bit less. This is a photo of when I first met Dakota at 2 months old :)

We went back to visit when she was 3.5 months old - she LOVES a good wither scratch :) I think she could wrap Matthew round her little hoof!

I can't take the credit for this awesome picture - Dakota's breeder Karen took it. This is Spirit (Dad - Spanish) on the left and Belle (Mum-Quarter Horse) on the right with Dakota in the middle. I love Belle's expression! Karen is an amazing breeder - all her horses are so well looked after and chilled and the stallions are out in the fields with the mares and babies. I just love their temperaments :) I must thank my good friend Kate (Dolly's owner) for finding Dakota for me. Another good friend Cathy is having Dakota's brother Silverio which is great!

This was Dakota (aka Diva!) on friday when I went to see her. She looks like a woolly bear in these photos! I know this is a doggy blog really but its a diary for my Mum as well as she lives so far away and I know she'd appreciate pics of her newest furry grandkid!!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Post holiday catch up

I have been meaning to write a catch up since returning from hols at the weekend but never seem to find enough time to sit down and do it!

My phone will not connect to my laptop at the moment so no pictures this time - will do a proper holiday/agility workshop catch up when technology working again! We had a fantastic time in the Cotswolds (not very far away I know!) just Matthew, me and the dogs. Lots of beautiful places to visit but best bit was the amazing walks from the door. Three days we did 12-14 miles from the door and the bonus was we found some lovely dog friendly pubs :) It was my idea of heaven being able to walk miles just chatting and laughing at the dogs antics. Brax particularly made me chuckle as gone is the little shivering diva and back is a proper madam with serious attitude!!

New hairy addition to the Burdett family coming soon - watch this space as photos are on phone. I forgot that I had not introduced her on my blog - oops!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

All better now! :)

Well when the vet said that Brax would be back to full power and will be like a different dog I didn't think we would see the changes so quickly! Since she has been on her tablets she hasn't shivered (despite the cold weather), she has been striding out in front on walks, playing with the others and 'killing' her toys constantly! I ran her round at the field and she was back to her pocket rocket speed - yay!! :)

Brax hasn't done any 'proper' training for a while but she is going to be coming back into work and helping a couple of people learn more about handling. She is a great 'schoolmaster' as unless you give her the right commands she will not get it right. Brodie bless him will guess if he is unsure of someones handling whereas Brax just stops and barks!! If she was a horse you would say she is not very 'honest'!

Brooke has had the all clear from the physio today and is allowed to do agility again as long as she has the appropriate warm up routine and wears splint boots. Sally (physio) thinks that as she is so fast and has such long pasterns and delicate legs that she shouldn't jump without carpal wraps/splint boots on as she risks tweaking an important ligament if she lands awkwardly as she has a carpal deviation (knocky knees!). Sally has made her a pair of wraps that look very smart.  The above photo is a still from a video on my phone from a couple of months ago - as you can see Brooke isn't slow about anything she does!!

I am a very proud trainer this week as one of my clients went to her first show with her super Lab Bailey. He is a very clever but quite anxious dog and tends to run on his adrenaline. Bailey can be reactive with high energy dogs but his Mum has done so much work with him and he will now focus on her when close to other  dogs. I was going to a UKA show and suggested that she should enter as he could do Nursery and Beginners Steeplechase and if he was too worried about the other dogs then he could just get used to the atmosphere. It was a perfect show as it was only three rings and well spaced out. I had Dolly and Brodie with me and they were both little stars - Brodie WON champ agility and Dolly spaniel got weaves in the ring which was my goal - super doglets!! Anyway Bailey was very good in his Nursery and got his contacts and more importantly focused on his Mum. She put him in Beg Steeplechase not nfc and he only went and came 3rd out of 12 dogs!! Pretty good considering he was the only non collie! If you want to see the video of Bailey then look at his blog. I suggested to his Mum not to do a wait as there was a man with a very excited dog right behind them and I thought it might make Bailey break his wait. It lost them a second or so but once he gets into his stride he looks great - not many Labs can bounce those distances either so gridwork paying off :)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Rainy Day Contacts!

At the weekend we did a bit of work on the contact trainer with Brooke and Brodie. Brooke isn't allowed off lead or to do too much so we thought we would shape a 2o/2o with her as she loves anything like that. The physio said to keep up her proprioception work and Brooke is getting very good at shaping different behaviours. Once they are doing full equipment its so easy to forget about the basic foundation and fitness stuff!

Here is Brooke puppy having a game on the contact trainer :)

Brodie has always done a running contact but thought there was no harm teaching him a 2o/2o as its just another behaviour at the end of the day. My dogs know different cues = different behaviours on jumps (go, left, right, dig, wrap) so why not on contacts? Brodie is a great guinea pig!! I did shape it first and will try and get a better video of him reversing his feet onto it :)

Friday, 19 October 2012

Poor ginger girlies :(

What a day of bad news :(  Brodie and Brooke saw the physio this morning for a general check over before doing too much winter training and the good news was that Brodie toad was given the all clear!! After blowing off a dog walk a few years ago I've been cautious about warm ups, stretches and not letting him get bowled over by other dogs (Brooke took him off his feet last year and hurt his back) This is also the first year that he has jumped Midi and not medium all season and the height suits him much better.

Anyway, bad news for Brooke puppy. She was very tight in her back and across her shoulders probably the result of a rough play injury as she has been whacked into a couple of times recently. Fortunately we haven't done much agility with her in the last couple of weeks due to lack of time. She has to have heat pads, stretching exercises and lead walks for ten days and then go back to the physio. Thinking about it she has been caught up to by dogs she usually out runs which is a sign I'd missed. I'm just relived that I got them checked as we could have put her off agility for life by training her when she was sore.

Bad news for Brax (but also good in a way) - turns out that she is suffering from hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) so will be on tablets for the rest of her life. Good news is that we caught it and can start treatment. The vet said she'd be like a different dog on the tablets and may even go back to competing at toy height instead of micro once she feels better :) Its so great having a vet and physio who know about agility dogs!

(Thanks to Lian for the photos!)

Monday, 15 October 2012

Obedience show and poor Brax :(

We took our three to the ESSC champ show at the weekend where the Working section run obedience alongside the breed showing. We entered Brooke into Pre-Beginners, Brodie into Beginners and Brax into both. In pre-beg, the dog has to do a set pattern of heelwork on and off lead (that the steward tells you as you go along so unlike dressage you can't learn it in advance!), wait and recall to your front and then move into the 'finish' position, 1 min sit stay and 2 min down stay. Beginners is exactly the same except they also have to do a retrieve.

 Brooke won pre-Beg with some amazing 'flicky' heelwork! She had tied with Bracken going into the stays but Brax thought the floor was tooooo cold for a down stay and broke it so ended up 5th. In the Beginners, Brodie was 4th and Brax was 3rd (I haven't heard the end of it!!) so clever shelties all round. Considering most of the people competing are regular obedience competitors we are really pleased! We don't make a point of training them purposely for obedience (apart for the annual sheltie obedience training day) so they cope well with it! To be honest, I like them to do it occasionally as its great ring training for agility and they have to remain focused for a long time through the exercises. Even getting a stay in a ring full of other dogs is great agility training :)

During the show, a lot of people asked us how old Brax is and were all surprised when I said only seven. Some people said that their smaller shelties had prematurely greyed in the face when middle aged which was interesting. Maybe its something to do with being so tiny? Matthew had a very interesting conversation with someone about other signs of Brax ageing (reluctance to walk in rain, seeking out heat, hair loss, weight gain)   and they suggested it might be a thyroid problem :(

We went to the vets this afternoon and she has had a blood test so keep your fingers crossed for wee Brax.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Training day and photos!

We got our photos back from Cat at Dog Rad Design and they are just fabulous!! I particularly love the one of all three lying down so I've had to make it my header :)

I also love these two of Brooke's dog walk, I love her expression of total concentration! Her dog walk is still a work in progress and will def be a winter project. She is doing dog walks in different venues ok but still is a bit inconsistent with her focus and drive over it (despite still getting the contact but a bit high), due to lack of confidence.

Brooke and her handsome merle friend Rommy and his owner Jenni went to a training day with Toni Dawkins at the weekend. I was so proud of how the two dogs coped as some of the exercises were quite tricky and they worked through them well. Brooke managed a fair few sets of weaves and didn't go wrong at all - clever little bean! Matthew on the other hand could not get to grips with some of the European style turns. Jenni and Rommy managed these really well and for the first time I could see a point in doing them. I have always been quite dismissive of European turns as most of them involve blind crosses and no-one has ever explained where to use them or why they are useful. Toni is excellent at explaining things and I like the fact she is not very tall and still gets places on a course to help her very fast dogs out. I still can't see Matthew being a convert as he is pre-programmed to only front cross/rear cross/pivot! I like to take ideas and put them in my 'tool kit' as its something that is worth knowing and understanding. I can't wait to see the runs from the FCI World Champs this weekend as they'll all be blind crossing and doing 'funny' turns all over the place!!

This is Matthew doing a 'German' turn (finally!) 

This was a course set to work on tightening turns, watch Matthew's feet cueing Brooke early that a turn is coming up - it worked beautifully and made her turns less like a lorry!

Although Matthew doesn't get the turn right, I love this video of Brooke doing her weaves!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Posh girls!

The two gingers had a bath today from my friend Jenni - thanks so much as they look so smart and fluffy! After their baths I took them to do a trick training demo for the patients at Grove Hospice in St Albans. The girls worked their little socks off and made everyone chuckle with their antics!

Here are some post bath photos :)

Monday, 24 September 2012

Brooke 18 months!

Matthew had a much deserved week off this past week and although I was still doing walks, I didn't do any training as such so we could spend some time together. It also meant that we could do some training with our dogs as Brooke hadn't done much while in season.

We went to Ajaxs UKA show on the sunday and while Matthew ran Brooke and Bracken, I ran Brodie, Dolly and a little terrier called Jenson. I have never done 6 runs in one day before and my legs were soooo stiff the next day! Jenni came with Rommy as well so it was a nice day out seeing friends and cheering each other on! Rommy did some lovely weaves nfc and also WON the beginners steeplechase! Dolly came 2nd to Rommy with a slightly scrappy clear in the steeplechase (I need to front cross faster!) Little Jenson got 4th place in steeplechase as well so all clever doglets! Videos of the above runs are on YouTube

Brodie ran in the Masters but unfortunately due to bad mummy got E'd on jump 5/6. My (very bad!) excuse is that we haven't done much champ level training this year and need to go and do some homework! Here is his jumping run - I was pleased with his weaves particularly as many dogs took the jump rather than doing weaves. Unfortunately the agility video is really bad and had to get binned as Matthew was holding a dog at the same time and its really wobbly!!

Brooke ran nfc in steeplechase and nursery which meant we could reward her first attempts at contacts in the ring. Here is her nursery run - thanks to Henry for filming!

The shelties went to have their photos taken professionally on thursday by Cat Clark (Dog Rad Design) as part of Matthews wedding anniversary pressi from me. I can't wait to see them as the shelties loved posing and Cat took some amazing ones of Brooke's running dog walk :)

This past weekend we went to UKA again so that Brooke could try weaves in the ring as she turned 18 months on the 19th - wow time flies! She did casual agility first and did a cracking dog walk and weaves first time. In jumping she got her entry in the weaves but was going a bit fast and popped out again but got them second time. It's so nice being able to reward baby dogs in the ring. She is still easily distracted and lacks a bit of confidence but is getting better each time :) Brodie did Masters jumping and got E'd (only 3 clears across all four heights!!) but I was so pleased with how he worked. We didn't stay for the agility as they were only setting it up at 6.15pm and we had a 2 hour journey home!!

We spent our anniversary morning doing a little bit with Brooke and Brodie at the field - Matthew and I both agreed that it was the perfect way to spend time together! He is so lovely, my pressi was a brand new tunnel!! Brodie did some gridwork to get him to extend his stride a bit and I also tried him over some KC height jumps which he managed fine, I was worried as he hasn't done that height all year. Brooke had loads of fun doing some Aframes and rear cross work - here are a couple of videos.

Rear cross wing wrap - if you look closely you can see she is putting in a check stride to get a tighter turn

Brooke A frame sequence

Friday, 14 September 2012

Busy, busy, busy!

I've had lots of walks these last two weeks as a couple of people are on hols and have left their doglets at home with friends/relatives so I've had a lot on. We have also had gorgeous Bailey to stay and he has been enjoying all the extra walks! Here he is having tummy tickles from Matthew!

A couple of weekends ago (pre Bailey) I went to Wales for my cousins Granny's 90th Birthday party. It was lovely to see everyone and I took the older two shelties as Brooke has been in season and the logistics of coping in someone elses house would have been tricky! My Uncle had made a photo gallery of pictures and my Auntie and Mum had done a cake - wow they were tasty cakes! It was so lovely to see everyone :)

On the way to Wales Brodie and Brax did some agility! Brax did a couple of casual classes at micro height and won one! Brodie won a couple and came 2nd in a couple which has given him enough points to be in Champ level at UKA - yay!!

Bailey and Brax after a long walk :)

This is a photo of Max yesterday looking like a hairy bear! He has grown in his winter coat so early - the horses are all confused as the weather has been so weird this summer. I'll be dusting my clippers off before long...!

My friend Sarah who has Mitch the greyhound sent me these lovely photos of him on a day out. Its hard to believe that he was dog reactive and with patience and kindness, Sarah and Simon have helped Mitch overcome his fears. Its still a work in progress but Mitch is taking very positive steps and getting braver - love him! In the photos, he is wearing the yellow muzzle - just a precaution but you can see how relaxed he is!!

Its a hard life! Mitch asleep with his 'sister' Hobo and 'brother' Amos. When I first met Mitch he would turn himself inside out at a dog 50m away! What a clever hound :)

Sunday, 26 August 2012


I am doing a spot of dog juggling at the moment. Brooke has finally come into season at 17 months and obviously we are keeping her and Brodie under close supervision!! She had a lesson last wed and I had an inkling she may be thinking about a season. Glad to say that she worked like a star and doesn't seem to be hormonal at all, just a bit clingy! 

My Mum came down to visit us last weekend and we had a lovely but very hot time!! It was 29 degrees on the sunday so we didn't do much during the day but went to my Mum in laws for a BBQ in the evening which was our first (and possibly last!) of the year. Brooke decided to help Nana look something up on the computer!

The three amigos out on a walk just before Brooke decided to nip at Brax's ears to wind her up! Brodie looks really fat in this pic but its all fluff!

Princess Brooke at Heartwood - last off lead walk before her season started. We were out for a couple of hours and it was lovely :)

Brax looking incredibly cute! 

My handsome toad :)

Brooke and her fav ball.

Brodie founds something to roll in - this was him after and he didn't smell too good either! Brax would never dream about rolling but both Brooke and Brodie do - future puppy owners beware!!!

I went to a UKA show yesterday - Matthew was at work so it was just Dolly and Brodie competing and they did two classes each (no shows for Brooke for a while anyway). I did Beginners Gamblers with Dolly and missed out the weaves as they are not quite there yet but her contacts are reliable now and her fav thing. She did a seesaw in the ring for the first time very nicely and got to do 2 x AF and 2 x DW's so she was very pleased. I varied the length I held them and she nailed all of them perfectly so I was totally thrilled :) I'm so used to running contacts that I have to remind myself to stop as well! I entered her in the Beginners Steeplechase qualifier as well and I still can't believe that she WON it!! Clever spaniel was 100% focused and really enjoying herself. Brodie has qualified for the UKA Grand finals in Dec already so now I have two dogs to juggle over that weekend! Thanks so much to Kate for suggesting I run her as we are having so much fun!

My gorgeous little toad won his steeplechase as well and came 3rd in gamblers - yay!! Only a couple of points needed before he gets to Champ level in performance. Love my boy! :)