Sydney BC National Adventure

Ok time to do my report on the Adventure of Raven and Cypher in Sydney for the very first Australian Border Collie National…I’ve been back a couple of days now and it has taken this long for it all to sink in. This event was absolutely awesome and I will cherish the memories of it for a long time to come. We arrived on the Saturday (22nd April) at around 6.30am Sydney time after an uneventful flight which took around three and a half hours. After going through the rigmarole of picking up hire van (which ran on diesel, had no ventilation in the back and had the keys helpfully locked inside once we got there!) getting the dogs off the plane and figuring out where we had to go we made it to the trial grounds by about 8.30am. To be honest I wasn’t expecting anything much from the dogs – I knew they would be tired, a bit bewildered by the new grounds and equipment and maybe a little stressed out by all the travel. All I wanted them to do was to have a good time and get used to the wings jumps and new appearance of equipment. The first thing that struck me about the grounds was A)Very very dry B) Very very dusty and C) Very very hard!!! Sometimes not even a hammer would get things into the ground!

Anyway the judging was good, the courses were nice (except the Novice Agility course was particularly tricky I thought) and we got underway not too late. First up was Cypher in Novice Jumping – a little distracted, and giving the odd looking tyre a suspicious stare, we still managed a smooth clear round and came away with his JD title and 2nd Place. Next up was Raven in Open Agility, I was a little concerned about the seesaw – it was a lot heavier and higher than the ones we do, so I hung back to ensure she treated it with a skerrick of caution – this put me a little behind for the next sequence, thus my front cross was a bit misplaced to start the distance challenge with. She still managed the distance challenge well but she just slightly brushed a bar – which I didn’t hear drop till she was over the next jump! Other than that a nice first round. Next up was Master Agility. This is where Raven felt a bit jet lagged I think – she missed an “out” command getting a refusal fairly early on and then on a fairly basic weaver entry for her she missed it and went in the 2nd pole…I knew she wasn’t herself when she did a complete face and head plant into the ground (and she discovered how hard these grounds were) after her seesaw – she decided she couldn’t wait on such a slow dropping seesaw and she leapt and regretted the decision immediately when she came up with a mouthful or dry red dusty dirt and skin removed from top of nose where the leather starts. She actually managed to dislodge a very heavy plank from the niches they sat in! I have to say she learnt from that experience because her further 4 runs in Agility that weekend had the best seesaw waits I have ever seen on her – she didn’t dare leap till I said “ok” LOL!! She does tend to learn things the hard way sometimes…So that was Master Agility over and done with. Next up was Cypher in Open Agility and somehow – not quite sure how we managed to go clear for our 1st leg – in fact he gained a leg in Open Agility BEFORE he gained a leg in Novice Agility….quite bizarre really. Contact on A Frame was a bit dodgy but I was expecting that since I haven’t really settled on a behaviour yet for that one. So then we had a break and the Open Jumping ring was set, as well as the Masters Jumping. I was feeling a bit tired by then so wasn’t sure how any of us would go. Open Jumping I made the same mistake twice (what is the definition of stupid again?) – with Cypher I was worried on the jumps home that he was pointing right at the path of an off course jump. So at the end of the weavers I had to call him around me in a full circle and we got called a refusal – I thought we were far enough away from the jump but obviously not in the judges eyes. Then I try and go do the same thing with Raven and she was no where near as forgiving for my clumsy attempt and her speed just took her straight past the jump. I put it down to being up for 24 hours solid. I really should of tried fitting some shut-eye in there. Next up was Masters Jumping – Raven lapsed back into the “If-you-try running-flat-out-somewhere-I’m-gonna-beat-you” attitude and thus had the third jump down. I stopped dead, she kept going straight into the tunnel, came bolting out looking for me, saw the bar on the ground and went straight into the “Oh crap there’s a bar down” skulking look, she lay down, I replaced the bar and we left the ring. And that was it for her day…last run was Cypher in Novice Agility. It was a tough course, I believe he was the only clear round. I was very happy with his run although again I felt he was a bit distracted but no way was I going to hold that against him. Just getting round a course after such a trip and disruption to his usual routine I was absolutely stoked with how he went. We did what we set out to do and more – get them used to the equipment and used to the ground.

We finally got away from the Werriwa Trial with some time to check in to our digs for the next few days. Then at around 6ish we headed off to Erskine Park to try and catch some of the BC National Opening Ceremony and to set up cabanas for the next two days. We got there and discovered how bitterly cold Erskine Park was in the evenings. Mental note to self (pack extremely warm gear for June Agility Nationals). Next day after a very early start we headed off to the Deerbush trial. It started on the dot at 8.30 which was a good idea since they had over 550 runs to get through that day and ONLY TWO RINGS to do it in! First up was Cypher in Novice Jumping. I was feeling very positive about our run, he was focused and ready to go – he went straight into the collapsible tunnel and the chute ripped away from the drum! He came out the end that had come away from the drum and didn’t seem too upset about it all – but of course our momentum and adrenaline was wasted as we had to wait around while it was fixed so he could have a rerun. That seemed to take ages to get fixed but soon we were underway again. This time there was no equipment failure but definite communication failure! LOL!! There was a u shaped tunnel after a broad jump – pretty much straight on I ran with him up to the tunnel pointing clearly (well I thought it was clear!) at the entry but he must have had his eyes fixed on the wrong entry and that was where he was going – he literally bounced off my leg circled round me and went in the right entry after all! I knew straight away that he should have been called for contact on handler but instead we got called a refusal for the circle round me after he hit my leg. That was our only error and I was really happy with the way he ran. Next up was Raven – in the RQH course – this is a regionally Qualifying Heat, in NSW there are 12 rounds of these in Agility and Jumping. You don’t get any pass cards but you accumulate points based on your performance in them and if you get enough you get invited for the Dog of the Year Competition. I used this round again as a getting used to equipment round. Seems Raven was very used to it because she did a really fast clear round with a prolonged hold on the seesaw mind you (it took me a bit by surprise that she was actually waiting for my verbal release this time!). She ended up clear and in 4th place out of 114 dogs. 1st place was Ashley Roach’s little poodleX Jamie who is loving the new heights, 2nd place was David Paul’s Taylatee also loving the 400 height and 3rd place was Greg Leek’s Zak, also enjoying the new 600 height. Raven was 36.01 and 1st place was 34.95 – yay for electronic timing! Cypher, who was very distracted going up to the ring, is withdrawn after the first three obstacles as he is too focused on other things. I’ve made a decision not to let him have a play at agility if he’s not going to be focused on me and what we are doing.

Next run of the day was Masters Agililty and this was going extremely well until she misplaced her paws on the seesaw and came off the side of it. She simply leaned to her left towards me too much and came off the side of it before it hit the ground – I think she misjudged it as she tried very hard to stay on it. We also messed up a front cross and caused a refusal – I was far too tentative with my cross and she came past the jump not quite sure what I was signalling. Other than those two points a nice run. The next run of the day was Masters Jumping, and this was a tricky course. Not so much for the dogs as for the handlers who had two intersecting pinwheels that were not easily visible in amongst other jumps, remembering the course was a challenge in itself. I did an insane attempt at gaining an advantage through distance – I actually got so far in front of her on the course that she lost me!!! And idiot handler here didn’t have the smarts to even verbally let her know where I was heading – she literally came out the tunnel and had no idea where I was! This caused her to get a refusal on a jump….so kicking myself internally I carried on and we managed most of the course nicely – our last turn to the home straight caused a bar to drop so we stopped, reset the bar and left the ring. Next up was Cypher in Novice Agility – again it was a nice run however I didn’t want the clear round so I stepped up to the table and patted him on the head. If we had gained that leg and got another leg the next day that would have been his title and I want him to have a go in at least one Novice class at the Nationals. He was clear apart from my little touch on his head – though he did a weird thing with his contact on his dog walk he’s never done before. He dropped and placed his chin on the plank in the colour instead of going to the ground and doing it. I waited until he did it right and then we continued on our way. Last run of the day Open Jumping – Raven did a blitzer of a run, kept all bars up but just missed the weaver entry – most unlike her and I’m rather at a loss to try and explain why it happened – perhaps it is just “one of those things” that happen from time to time. Cypher was towards the end of the class and was the last run of the day for me. They have rather unusual starting procedures over there in NSW. I’d seen people razzing their dogs up getting them revved by touching them and patting them (after the lead has been taken off) and the judge has simply said “Go when you’re ready” Now I assume once a judge says that you can’t touch your dog (that’s how it is in WA anyway) but I’ve seen plenty of people touching their dog after the judge has said “Go When you’re ready”. So there’s me with Cy at the start line of Open Jumping, I’ve placed Cy in a sit and he’s dropped with his nose in what looks like a suspicious looking damp patch on the red dusty earth. (Someone told me afterwards that a bitch had squatted and peed right there but neither the owner or the steward had noticed – and this was right on the start line!). I’m not going while he’s like that so I try calling him off or waiting him out because I didn’t think I could touch him. Eventually after what feels like ages I look at the judge who shrugs his shoulders and I ask “Am I allowed to touch him?” Judge smiles and nods “Whatever you gotta do”. So eventually I get his attention (think by then he had sniffed to his hearts content) and line him up in a sit to start – and start we do, beautifully hitting the weave entry Raven had missed. The mild elation I feel at him getting his not so easy weave entry quickly turns to alarm when I see him doing weavers in a way I’ve not seen him do before. He’s getting bouncier and more upright the further we go and then “Pop!” out he goes missing the last 2 weaves! I’m just stunned by this but we carry on anyway – he handles the course well apart from a mixup at the distance challenge and I step over the line to help him out. At the end of the run I’m more concerned about his weaves. I figure tomorrow at the Border Collie National they’ll have some stuff up for us interstaters to practice on, as long as I get to put him through some weaves we’ll be right.

So we take off before presentations wondering how the girls have gone at the show that day…and crossing our fingers that the dogs are saving their best till last! The Monday dawns cold and clear, with not a cloud in the sky, promising a warmer day later on. We get there nice and early. Cypher is in the show ring to start in a 21 dog Intermediate class where he is the youngest boy by several weeks! We do the show dog thing with him being his usual noisy self and I have to admit it was with relief that we didn’t make the first cut! He needs show training badly and a few more maturity brain cells about him before he starts showing his true potential in the ring. So off with the show clothes and into the agility gear YAY!!! First up was Masters Agility – it was a lovely smooth flowing and extremely fast course – I knew Raven and I would love it. Raven sure did love it! She loved it too much!! She just missed her down contact on the dog walk by about paw’s width and that was our only fault. 29.5 seconds on a 57 second course….she was still that fastest dog even when you added her 5 second penalty on! Bugger! But I still had a grin when I finished – she looked to be enjoying herself so much. Next run Novice Agility – and there was absolutely NO warm up or practice equipment – so no weaves to run Cypher through. I would wait and see what he did with his weavers today and yep he popped them again – I put him back in them and made him finish them and we carried on. It was a shame but to be honest I was already happy with how he had gone so far this weekend – he already had three clears and a 1st and a 2nd place. I didn’t hold out much hope for our Open classes with him, since both had weavers in. I decided to give Open Agility a whirl and if he didn’t pull his weavers off then I would scratch him from Open Jumping – and again that’s what he did. He handled the distance challenge at the start really well though so we gained a benefit there. So I scratched him from Open Jumping. Raven again had a beautiful run in Open Agility – did an absolutely awesome running contact and just ran the course like a star. She edged out the Queensland dog from 1st place to win in 24 seconds. When we finished that course I was elated – it didn’t matter what else we did that day we had just run one of the best runs of our career and I was thrilled we had taken out a first place. Masters Jumping took place after lunch and again it was a very nice course – we blitzed it as well winning 1st place again! The day couldn’t get much better for us! Cypher was up next in Novice Jumping and we did a very smooth round and a fairly quick time – 21.69 seconds was enough to gain us 2nd place (just a fraction behind first place in 21.09) I was most proud of my just 18 month old boy who had to deal with so many distractions and new equipment. Raven’s last run of the day and I walked the Open Jumping with my friend Judy Roger from NSW whom I had the pleasure of meeting in October last year at the Nationals in Perth. We walked the course and I gave her an outline of what I was planning to do. Judy goes out there with the amazing Grace (I love that dog and steal her in a heart beat!) and goes clear with a lovely round. I on the other hand – probably still on cloud nine, forget that a shoulder pull is needed and Raven goes into the off course tunnel. No matter she does the rest of the course clean and fast I was wrapt with her. So at the end of the 1st Border Collie Nationals in Australia, Raven wins the Masters Jumping title and the Open Agility Title. I was absolutely over the moon with her and the way we ran – we truly felt in sync that day and it was good feeling to be so in tune with each other.

So now here I am back in Perth, our next trial is tomorrow morning (Sunday 30th April) and I am raring to go. We then have a break for a couple of weeks then two lots of weekend trials on the trot. Hopefully in the next few days I’ll have some pics up of the event so stay tuned for future happenings!

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Leaving..on a jet plane

Well tomorrow we leave….we fly out from Perth midnight tomorrow and get into Sydney early hours Saturday morning. I’m starting to get all my stuff together to get packed – there’s still heaps of things to do tomorrow before we leave. I have three trials and two shows lined up so both me and the dogs are going to be very busy. It will be great to witness over 300 Border Collies congregate at the one place. Seventh heaven for all the ardent admirers of the breed. I am planning on having a great time no matter what – maybe even scoping out potential producers of my next puppy, catching up with those I met at the Nationals last year, meeting new dogs and having a blast on the agility field.
Last time I went to Sydney with Raven was in 2004 and we didn’t do so great – I tore a muscle in my calf, Raven had bar issues and all round we were not so hot as a team. This time I must admit I have alot more confidence in us as a team. I need to get a handle on my nerves though – they can wreak havoc at times (in fact last night I awoke no less than three times with heart pounding and the image of me, my dog and agility course and several disasters happening…and this was what I dreamt, how does one tell one’s subconscious to quit it?!) I am fine once we have started on the course but up until we line up on that start line my heart is pushing overdrive and my deep breathing exercises, which in every normal situation slow my heart rate, do not have any impact at all! I do have more confidence in us – Raven has shown me on multiple occasions that she has the goods when it comes to working as a team. I know that we can handle whatever challenges the course presents us. We have come along way since lingering in that Open class for three years. I guess the only thing I worry about is my level of nervousness…and I think listening to CDs like Freedom Flight by Lanny Bassham does help me get my head into the space I need to be to cope with all the extraneous details that come flashing through my thought processes. So I will be taking my discman on the plane and listening to that story, and reading simple down to earth advice about dealing with the adrenaline that gets pumped through our body at times like the “Start Line”. Cypher – well he’s just a young kid still, barely 18 months old and very much a novice still – the only expectations I have for him is that he copes well with the travelling, he has fun in the ring, gets to meet his breeder again and meets as many new people as possible, making a bunch of new friends along the way. When I think of how long it took me to find Raven’s style and to work with her on a level that she deserved I know it won’t take that long with Cypher but I always keep in mind that no matter how long it takes as long as we enjoy the whole “getting to know each other on the course” process I think we shall both experience success eventually. You can train a dog, many times a week if you want, yet you can never replicate those experiences you get out there competing in a trial ring. It takes many, many trial runs before you can get a handle on each other. Dogs change too – from week to week or month to month – you may find your handling spot on at one trial and then the next trial find your timing is completely off (could be dog moving faster as it gets more confidence) or your dog is just not reading your cues (ie you’ve changed the way you’re giving them). That’s why most of the top handlers in the world say it can take up to the age of 4 years to really start to gel as the best team you can be. I’ve been watching the World Champs from 2005 in Spain….it is good to see the runs that go bad as well as the runs that look as smooth as silk. Makes us humble folk who will likely never get to compete at that level realise that yes even at top levels of the sport things can go wrong for even the most seasoned, well trained and highly prepared competitors. Letting go of mistakes is one of the hardest things competitors can learn to do….some time ago when Raven first started out competing I used to let mistakes from previous runs play over and over in my head with the sentence starter “If only I…” I stopped doing that a few years back now. It certainly has improved us as a team. If I make a mistake on course I no longer give a stuff, if I get lost put her over the wrong jump or whatever I just carry on and work on making the rest of our run fantastic. If Raven drops a bar – we stop as is our rule, she gets “cold shoulder” for a while, and then when our next run is up I get her out and we do a few warm up jumps and have the biggest party when she clears the jump. She and I go to the line like it is indeed our first run of the day. This has helped us alot – who am I kidding? it’s helped *me* alot….I remember this every trial I go to now and this weekend will be a good test of this affirmation of my attitude towards this game. Getting excited now!

Great Day at Perth Trial!!

WOW!!! What a fantastic day of trialling I have just had with my 2 very special BC’s Raven and Cypher. Bunbury last Sunday didn’t go too well – with a silly error by me stuffing up Cypher’s chances of a pass in Novice Jumping (I did what can only be described as very bad attempt at a front cross causing Cy to round the jump), and then in Novice Agility he just hit the weave poles very fast and got out of time missing the 3rd weave pole. Raven did nice contacts in Bunbury – but that’s about it LOL!! She had a bar down in both Open and Masters Agility. Luckily in Masters Jumping she held it altogether (unlike her handler who stressed out about some mid course equipment failure – ie tunnel came completely out of the hoops holding it when she went through it – I could have ignored that except she had to go back in the tunnel again at that exit point!!!) she was able to find the tunnel entry dodging around the now free standing hoops and ran on well leaving me eating her dust trying to get down the course to tell her where to go!! Needless to say we used alot of our course time up but we managed a clear after all that – good girl!

But today! Today was fantastic – I went back and did some focused jump work with Raven during the week and it has paid off she kept her bars up in ALL FOUR runs today – good girl! She came 1st in Masters Agility, 1st in Open Jumping and 2nd in Open Agility (to her Strategic Pairs partner BC Nifty owned by Sue Hogben so that was good!!). Her Masters Jumping run was great up until we had a lack of communication about a rear cross. Actually I probably was trying to do a rear cross in the wrong place as that is usually what causes these sorts of things LOL!! But she kept her bars up – good girl!!

Then to top it all off Cy boy goes out and wins Novice Jumping again!!! This time the course was a little more challenging but he again handled very well for a lovely run 4 seconds faster than the 2nd place dog. Plus he handles a distance challenge very well in Open Jumping and comes 7th out of 12 qualifiers all dogs who are in Excellent or Masters. What a good boy!! So very happy with my runs today – still got stuff to work on during the week of course but I’m glad with the form we’re showing 6 days before we fly out to the Sydney 1st BC National.

The Pattern Continues…

Re this “Winning = Not having fun” idea that some non-competitive people have out there, I’d really like to can this notion. It is, to be quite frank, a load of crap and to be honest I’m not sure what it is about…as in what are the motivations behind the idea. Anyway people may watch my runs and if they watch them all they will see me at some point stop running a course, putting my dog in a down and replacing a bar. I’m quite sure my body language, facial expression and maybe tone of voice at that point will certainly indicate that right at that second I am “not having fun”. *Shock horror gasp* I’m quite sure my dog picks up on this very well also. As soon as we leave the ring she gets into the car and I ignore her for a while. There is no rough handling, no physical aversives used but I don’t need/want to use them – dogs are smart they know when you’re pissed at them. Unfortunately alot of the time they don’t know why you’re pissed at them so that is why when a bar drops is the ONLY time my dog will get the “cold treatment” as I like to call it. It would be completely confusing for her if I gave the “cold treatment” for any other reason.
I digress – back to the “not having fun” part – agility is a sport and like any other sport there are going to be moments of disappointment, I’m convinced those moments of disappointment are there to make the moments of success that much sweeter. So therefore why should people try to ensure they are “having fun” even when it is human nature to feel disappointment (whether it be a stuff up that you made or something the dog did) – it won’t matter to the dog if you try and stay upbeat and happy and carefree because damn straight the dog picks up you are disappointed (I’ve yet to see a handler who makes an error on course able to completely make it look like there was no mistake and that’s just to human perception – dogs pick up on so many more subtle signals). So I say if you did make an error/mistake or whatever then acknowledge it and move on. When you move on make sure you have a plan for fixing your mistake though – don’t just think “Gees I’m a crap handler” and have the attitude that you’re never going to be able to handle brilliantly and well so may as well not work on those weak areas, because then you would be doing your dog an injustice and be undeserving of his partnership.
I think I’ve pretty much covered my opinions on this topic except to say that there’s an Agility trial tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to it, I absolutely love trialling and training. I think Agility is the best sport in the world and without a doubt the “having fun” part is all a matter of attitude.
Cheers
Simone

Starting to notice a Pattern…

I don’t know if this exists in *every* single human sporting endeavour or even just any kind of goal setting from the individual to the collective but I’m starting to notice no matter where I go, who I associate with or whatever thing it is I want to do there are always TWO factions/methodologies/philosophies of approach that spring up amongst these things. Agility is no different. There are the people who are not competitive and then there are those who are. Regardless of dog, breed, skill level the handlers/owners of the dog can be placed in one of those two categories. What’s more is that there is absolutely *nothing* wrong with being in either camp. However it would appear that according to some that if you are in the ‘competitive’ camp then you are falsely elevating the ‘game’ to something more than it is, giving it significance it really doesn’t deserve and treating it like *shock horror gasp* it is ‘important’. This is apparently the “wrong” thing to do – you must be blaming the dog for the majority of your errors on course and not taking on your fair share of responsibility. One of the more cynical catch phrases that has developed around my agility area (in response to the judgement that being competitive is a negative way to be) is “Those who win are not having fun”. Meaning the implication that if you are trying to win then you just cannot be having any fun. People use the phrase round here with a grin and a laugh because those of us in the competitive camp know full well what fun we can have out there whilst still running clean and being in contention for placings. My dad always uses that saying on me “Something worth doing is worth doing well”. I choose to give 100% to the sport I love because I truly believe that saying. Agility is worth doing and it is worth doing well – what’s the point in doing something half-baked and casually? But that is just my mindset – I am fully aware that there are those out there (in the not competitive camp) who just have a half-baked, casual and dare I say it lazy approach to training and trialling agility. They are perfectly entitled to this approach and I welcome those people as well as the competitive ones to come to the club and trials. But then to have these non-competitive (therefore having far more fun than me apparently) label the competitive as taking things too seriously and ruining the enjoyment for themselves and their dog, (ie blaming the dog for everything) is about as logical as these casual trainers blaming their dog for stuff that goes wrong on course. Observing both kinds of people at trials I have come to realise that those in the non-competitive camp have a much harder time recognising that it was what they did that caused the dog to go wrong than the competitive handlers. Why? Maybe because the competitive handlers actually approach their training and trialling with more dedication and motivation to actually figure out what went wrong and then try and train for that gap in their skills. Logic dictates that this is what you do if you *want* to get better at something. When people say “team” as in “what team is in front of me in the running order” they mean the handler and the dog. The notion that the workload in a team should be 50/50 needs to be thrown out when it comes to agility. The fundamental skills the dogs needs to have to fulfil their side of the partnership do not make up 50% of the workload. More like 20%. The skills I refer to here are the contacts, the weaves, the start stay, the jump skills and the side changes. Once these skills are taught (and taught well from the smallest starting step to the full chain of the behaviour) the handler has the biggest load. As it has been said 80% of agility is between the obstacles. It will not matter if your dog has never missed a weave or a weave entry, has never popped a contact or broken a start ever, or just does not drop bars at all – all that will be irrelevant if you cannot learn how to handle your dog to give them the best directions you can on a course. Competitive people that I have observed for the most part know this – indeed I witness non-competitive people as well being aware that their directions on course were not timely or out of place. The difference is the competitive people will take that sequence that they had problems with, or focus on that skill that has a weakness and focus on fixing that weakness or difficulty during training the following week. Non-competitive people are not that fussed about it – so what if that same problem crops up weekend after weekend in trials we’re just doing this for fun anyway…good for you do it for fun I say! But don’t come moaning to me about the fact that you’re never going to get out of Novice or Excellent if you don’t approach your training in a methodical, logical and focussed manner. Wow this entry is long – I shoud probably stop here as I have to go to work….but I don’t think I’m finished, there will be more to come.

Cypher’s First Trial




Well today was the day…16 months I’ve been waiting for this day, and boy was it great fun!! I am just so proud of my little man – all grown up and still such a puppy head he managed to do us both proud by winning his first ever trial. Novice Jumping – he did absolutely everything I asked of him and I am chuffed to say I handled it exactly the way I wanted to. It was a lovely course (thanks Judge Yvonne) and he ran round it in 21 seconds. Old enough by 2 days to start trialling making him the youngest dog in the class he didn’t put a paw wrong.

When we lined up for the Novice Agility course I gave him a quick pat on the head on purpose after the judge said “Go” and then ran that course like we meant it. I had deliberately accrued the penalty for touching my dog as I was out there getting ring practice for him. I want to compete in Novice at the Nationals in June so that was our plan. He ran this course really well too – and started getting some distance on me towards the end – this caught him a bit by surprise I think so we gained a refusal anyway on the last bar. I didn’t care I was just grinning at the way he’d run – there’s some real speed in this boy that I caught a glimpse of today.

He also ran in the new distance challenge classes Open Agility and Open Jumping – these classes are set at an Excellent level of difficulty and so I mainly just put him in it for the ring experience. The agility was definitely too difficult for him but he managed to pull off a clear in Open Jumping instead. What a star! His big sister Raven redeemed herself in this class too – going clear for a 3rd place. Her Masters runs however are probably best forgotten *lol* Oh well there’s always the next trial…which happily for us is tomorrow.

We got some good shots today, great to have these memories.