Wednesday, April 27, 2011

To Follow...

Okay, just an update to say that I will be posting an update tomorrow... yes spaz of me, but just in recovery after an awesome Agility weekend... give me some time folks, we will chat tomorrow :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sadness time...

I just got back from an Agility Committee meeting... even though I REALLY enjoy being part of the organisation of the sport (okay well, not always, but that might have to do with my hard head, thick skin and short-fused temper), these meetings always make me sad... I don't really know why, but if I was to psycho-analyse myself, I guess I would have the following to say...

I really love the sport, Zeus knows why, but I do  I have all these big plans and ideal ideas, but of course, not everyone shares my views.  Fair enough, you know it's a free world, freedom of speech, bla-bla-bla all that shizer.  Obviously I believe that I have the best interest of the sport at heart, but so do all the people around the table, problem is... we all have different 'best interests'.  And believe it or not, but all our training methods, goals and even handling styles influence these beliefs.  Tonight, just as a random discussion, we started chatting about why the quality of Agility in South Africa seems to be stagnating, well the agility and the growth and... well the sport in general.

For you guys that live... well anywhere other than the ass-end of the world...  let me try and put this in context.  This coming weekend we have our Easter event, which I am organising... It is an open event, all heights, sizes, shapes, dogs, handlers, jokers, competitors, weekend-warriors, World Team hopefuls welcome... and we are very excited that we have our largest entry in years... a GRAND TOTAL of 52 dogs...  Not a lot in most of your frames of reference now is it... unfortunately that is what we have.  To some these low numbers are the worst part... to me it is even sadder that the quality is not remotely where it can be, or should be.  Tonight's convo revolved around the biggest question in the entirety of the world... WHY... haha, we are such clueless and selfish beings aren't we?

There are many opinions... the agility schools in the province aren't on track?  There are only five after-all... should there be more?  Yes, probably.  Should I be setting up a school? Yes, probably.  Should more of the experienced handlers be teaching... Yes, probably. But actually you cannot fault that.  Some people want to teach, some people can teach, some people have the resources to do so.  But not all of us are cut out for it.  And not all of us have the resources... Frankly I REALLY miss teaching, but finding grounds, getting another set of equipment... well just not going to happen at the moment.  Have some of our schools/trainers lost the plot... yes, probably, but how do you influence people positively without offending them?

Another opinion is that competing in agility is too expensive, so people are just not interested in seriously competing.  I don't think this is the case.  The average champ show entry (for three rounds) will cost you R150... that is $22/13 pounds/15 euros.  Considering what (proper) dog care cost in a year...

My honest opinion... people think what they are doing is 'good enough'.  We have stopped striving to be better.  And if on person stops that quest, inevitably it is a chain reaction.  It is the butterfly effect.  A win is NOT just a win.  To me it is only a win if it was the absolute best you could do.  I am tired of hearing 'you only have to go clear'... 'just get around'... you know what I mean.  We should be striving for the best.  If not for ourselves, for our wonderful loyal dogs.  They might not understand competition, they might not appreciate the rosette or the trophy or the prize money or the title or the honour... but don't they deserve our ultimate best try, in training, in competition, in life.  They devote their entire lives to us, we really do owe them a little something back.

Thanks to Nadine Shortland ( for the awesome pics she took in PE.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Weekends and Opinions

And I am back, 2400km and A LOT of agility later, I have a lot to say, so here goes.

On Friday I was judging the whole day, so no competition for me and the Spaz... very sad... I love judging, but ALWAYS wish I could judge AND run my dog... perhaps I should investigate cloning myself!  First up was contact agility grade 3...  Of course all my courses are available for download at my course maps website:

This is my course:

I really liked this course and it ran very nicely... even though certain unnamed people that SHOULD have won the round, made some stupid mistakes.  Mostly the faults and eliminations occurred between 9 and 10 because handlers tried to get ahead and do a front cross after the long jump, they ended up getting their dogs eliminated by pushing them over 15.  The best option here was to hang back, call over 10 and then either front cross before 11 or back cross 11.  Some handling faults for handlers that 'kneed' their dogs onto the see-saw.  And of course the normal problems with the tunnel/dog walk discrimination.

My agility 2 and 1 courses was pretty straight forward, but unfortunately I had no clears in my lower grades (and a very small entry... sob, why don't we have more up and coming dogs???).

Next up was Jumping Grade 3... a very technical course that handled very nicely, producing nice clear rounds, despite the stupid bloody PE wind interfering and blowing down all the jumps and generally p#ssing me off!

The biggest problem here was the pole entry... it was a tough one, but DAMN some people had to manage their dogs big time to get in there.  A couple of DQ's on the 4 go-round, but I did have some nice rounds!

My grade 2 and grade 1 courses... this time I did get to sign some cards with some clear rounds:

General observations of judging for the weekend:

1.  I have said it before and I will say it a million more times (which by the way is a little ironic) - If your dog does something wrong, try it again, if he does it wrong a second time, YOU have not trained it properly, leave it, go on with the course, go back home and do  your homework!

2.  Very sad to say, but there were only 2 dogs there the entire weekend, that have good, independent, reliable contacts, a few dogs that had almost there contacts which I think they should get right eventually, but still ... Geez South Africa, we honestly kind of need to work on that.

3.  Damn we have fast Border Collies (and one awesome Whippet) in this country... just need to work out some finer details.

Anyhow, let's get to the exciting part now!  The competition part...  Saturday morning started off badly... Chaos knocked two bars in the first round, I was NOT impressed... let up on my handling after that and incurred a refusal too, but that is just because I am a retard.  Next up was a very nice non-contact course, it had good lines.  I was relatively early in the draw and after my first round knocks I wasn't really even thinking of being competitive, but I ran my round...  I didn't push, I just did my thing... and surprise surprise I walk off and Chaos is in the lead... I only realised afterwards when I watched the round on tape what a nice round it was.  So I spent the rest of the class in a stressing and head spinning at the start line to make sure I heard all the times... Of course this also means I put R on his toes, no wait that is not correct... I put the pressure ON and he was bloody pushing his little arse off... he was the second last dog to go and he DID manage to take half a second off me, but still... Spaz has his first non-contact qc.

Next up was another contact round.  The dog before me, had a very fast and very competitive round... f$ck it was the decision, I was going to push push push, man you have to love competition...  Man did I push, in fact I pushed so hard that I nearly pushed my dog right off course, so had a slight wobble, but still managed to take a second off the previous dog (as I recall), so another win for the Spaz.  We had another non-contact with a very speedy non-contact course.  By this time I was very pumped and ran my heart out (Chaos always runs his heart out)... what a heartbreaker, he slipped and knocked the long jump, but had the fastest time of the day, taking almost a second off the winners and the only dog to break 28 seconds...  We ended off the day with Dog Jumping, and I think my brain was a bit fried and I pulled my dog right off course.  All together now 'JACKASS'.

Since this post is starting to get very long, I will just sum Sunday up... not a very good day, I think I was over-confident from the previous day's success...Sigh, well that should teach me.  Anyhow here are the rounds I have of our weekend.

On a side note... at all our out-of-province weekend shows, you get approached by a lot of handlers offering advise, and I like this aspect, HOWEVER... When it comes to knocked bars and coming out of weave poles... On my knocked bars, a lot of handlers came to me to tell me how I caused my dog's knock.  And while I agree that they were right that whatever I was doing caused him to drop a bar, it is NO excuse for him to knock the bar... in my training I do funny and extreme things BECAUSE I want a dog that will clear bars REGARDLESS of circumstances...  and he did it over the weekend too, so he knows HOW to do it and on the occasions he brought them down... he made a mistake, even though I might have caused him to make the mistake, it was still his mistake.  Same thing goes for him coming out of the poles... at training I can send him into the poles and he will do ALL twelve with me running in the opposite direction.  While I wouldn't do something that extreme in a show, I DID taper and pull off etc often this weekend and he stayed in the poles, so when he pulled out... that was still his mistake.  I mean it's not an issue, that is all part of agility... it is just that I do think that South Africans don't understand the meaning of independent obstacle performance...

Anyhow I feel this weekend was all good for my plans to go to France and the hard work will continue!

Thanks to all the PE guys for their hard work, once again an awesome weekend!