Thursday, 11 February 2016

Don't judge me

Well after a few years in agility as an instructor and competitor I have decided to add judging to my agility experiences.

Mark has always judged and I spent many years either scriming for him, helping manage the ring party, looking after kids and dogs, helping our club members etc etc.

We no longer run a club and Mark had less appointments for a couple of years and so I found myself at shows with some spare time.

Rhyme is now Grade 7 (did I mention has had his first champ class already) so at non champ shows I have less focus on running a dog.

I judged at Scunthorpe unknowing that I should have taken the practical judges exam having taken a rules & regs course many moons ago when it first came in. The powers that be let me know that if I wanted to judge again I should really take the new practical judges course too.

Luckily Jackie Gardener was running a weekend seminar at Worcester just up the road from where an old friend of ours lives. I decided to do the rules and regulations again too but as Mark has judged loads he didn't need to do that part. He is going to apply to be a champ judge once he has sorted out his records of which shows he has judged at to display his experience. If you know of a show he judged at please email me the show and date so we can find the schedule.

Mark dropped me off and went to our friends for the day. It was a great course. I was glad that I chose to do it. My own agility focus had been on understanding courses and picking up on trends early in order to help my students get the most out of their dogs at shows. Now the boot was on the other foot and I needed to think about how my courses can test the dog's training.

There are many things to consider. The main one is obviously safety. Another one is can I actually judge what I have set out for the number of dogs in the class. Having to run the length of the dog walk for a 30 dog class may be doable but if the class is over 100 that is not going to happen despite my fitness drive at the moment. 

I could go on but if you are wanting to know about these things from your own perspective then I would strongly advise going on a course even if you may not be wanting to judge.

I do already have 2 appointments lined up and am a reserve judge too. With hindsight being a reserve judge is going to be really challenging if I get called up. I may design a few courses just to be on the safe side

If you think you'd like to enter a class I am judging  -

Agility Nuts 2 April and Thames (schedule isn't out yet).

I have one other local appointment to be confirmed so quite happy with that for my first year of judging.

Having so much experience as a competitor and instructor one thing that I hope my courses will do is develop dogs with simple "tests' in my courses. Sometimes the level of complexity was too much for what I wanted my young dogs to have to cope with. 

On the other hand I don't think they had enough experience of some of the lesser used pieces of equipment in the beginning. Now at Champ they are having to deal with complex sequences along with suddenly having to cope with the wall, the well , cloth tunnel and tyre. As these are considered valid pieces of equipment I think it is important that they are used. 

When we first moved here I found the roundabout at Newark a challenge and potentially it was dangerous. Anyone attending Nottingham Show will know the now I mean. Now with practice it is a doddle even though I am on alert as I know other people may find it difficult and I need to watch them too. 

Other friends will have experienced this.

Likewise I think some of the obstacles need to be practiced much more than they currently are to ensure the dogs do know how to negotiate them properly. 

The more practiced they are the less likely an accident will happen.
With that thought in mind please try to get your club to put their tyre and/or cloth tunnel out to build your dog's understanding of them just in case they are in any of my courses ;)

Friday, 5 February 2016

Measuring and goal setting

We had an interesting weekend of measuring.

In goal setting measuring is sometimes the hardest thing to do. Without a starting measure or idea of what you want the finishing measure to be then it is hard to know if you have reached your target.

I had some ideas of the times of the top dogs on contacts etc which I used last year to time Rhyme in order to see if we would be competitive in the Championship classes. Last weekend I a real chance to see how we 'measured up" in his first Championship class.

We achieved one of my main goals for this year already by getting a clear in the jumping round. This then helped me set my next goal and gave me a figure of 2 seconds to work on over the course as a whole as we were 2 seconds off the top dogs.

I am greatly encouraged by that as 2 seconds is not really a lot and can be broken down into manageable pieces.

For me one of the reasons I am off the pace is that my fitness can be improved. Before Christmas myself and my neighbour got together to help each other lose weight. We meet once a week for a weigh in and to exercise. We are making good progress. I am confident that this will help with my agility times and watching my weight can be easily measured.

Mark and I will be looking at some of the other tests available to check and the assess  any improvements to our fitness once we get another spare weekend. I will report back on that.

Meanwhile something else we looked at was measuring our dogs height. This weekend we are both doing the judges practical. I am also doing the new rules and regs exam on Saturday. Mark is looking to be a Champ judge once he's jumped through the hoops and I'm just wanting to add judging to my agility experiences. I have 3 appointments booked for this year (provided I pass of course). We also thought that it may be good to become measurers.

Having a relatively quiet day lined up we decided to practice measuring our own dogs. We measured first thing before breakfast, midday and after they had been fed in the afternoon.

Pickachu - 320, 328, 320
Moog - 545, 560, 551
Rhyme - 528, 540,550
Devo - 523, 533, 515
Torro - 545,552, 551
Kodi - 491, 491, 496

Quite surprising results including that some were smaller straight after their food. The main thing to us that it is not an exact science.

Being able to stand to be measured is quite important especially the smaller wiggly ones like Pikachu. we do not want her to be stressed about agility and so I spent some time teaching her that the measure was a fun place to be. 

Also I think we may stick to running our own dogs, judging, training and our other commitments for now and maybe come back to measuring next year :)