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All of us

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bloem Weekend 2012...

I guess blogging roughly once a month is better than not blogging at all, right?  :)

So Bloem 2012 has come and gone... it was FREEEEZING... and although I normally deal with the dry cold better than the wet cold (short term), as in I don't get as cold... this year was a little different.  :)  It was soo dry, my hands cracked everywhere and it was very painful to touch anything.  On Sunday morning we were walking the course like robots, since our joints were close to being frozen...  There were a few snowflakes falling on Sunday morning when we got to the grounds... first I ever saw in my life, although not really the real thing I guess... a few tiny white flakes on my blue gazebo... that will be my memory... :)

So let's rather start at the beginning... Thursday was quite a pleasant day, not so cold and we kicked off the show, albeit on very hard grounds with very little grass on them, in not too bad a fashion.  Chinzi came out all cylinders firing to win the very first Contact round of the weekend in a superb time.  Quite surprisingly, Caili followed in her footsteps and also won the QC in Medium, making her up into a KUSA Contact Agility Champion.  Caili really started off well by also winning the Grade 5 Dog Jumping QC in that first show.  Needless to say, I was very pleased.  Photos courtesy of Nadine Shortland.

Levi was not entered into the first show, to lessen the mileage of the weekend on him somewhat, but he also came out in strong fashion to win the first Non-Contact round he ran and obtain his 28th Non-Contact QC to date!  :D

A nice challenging Contact round saw me once again have my timing out with Chinz, which resulted in a refusal, but even with that still the best time by my star Chinz-Pinz.  Some food for thought for me, and something to go train...  Thank you judge!  :)

Friday came and was Agility Interprovincial day... a little colder but still pleasant conditions, in short, we had fun!  Chinzi won another Contact QC and had a phenomenal 2nd place in the Dog Jumping run-off to a master of speed, Seis.  She beat some really fast dogs to obtain that 2nd place, so I was very proud of of my Chinz.

Our Western Province Large Team, consisting of Chinzi, Java, Rocket & Luna came 3rd in the Agility Interprovincial competition, and our Medium Team consisting of Lucy, Caili, R-The and Or-sum WON the Medium competition!

Little Bowie had some better rounds on Friday than on Thursday, and got 3 qualifications, 2 in Non-Contact to move up to Grade 2 and 1 in Contact to also move up to Grade 2.  He was very consistent in his agility rounds though, haha... he either eliminated or came 1st!  LOL  :)

In the mean time, after having struggled with lower back pain and muscle spasms for a few weeks now, I really started feeling a very painful muscle strain on Friday, so withdrew from the Dog Jumping Interprovincial event to be held at the Boeremark on the Saturday.  Thankfully we had reserve dogs lined up to take Chinzi's place in Large and Bowie's place in Small, thank you Vicki with Rocket and Lindsay with Or-sum.  I really needed the rest that morning in order to nurse my leg so I could run the Nationals that afternoon.

Arriving at the fields the wind was galing... worse than in Cape Town at Theo Marais, I promise you!  And not only were jumps being blown over constantly, dry grass was blowing in EVERYWHERE... my poor new car will never be the same!  Anyhow, since strong winds like those are very rare in the Free State (I get told?), there were no stakes to keep the jumps in place and plans had to be made all over in order for the competition to continue.

It was absolutely HORRIBLE conditions and I take my hat off to EVERY dog and EVERY handler who still tried to give their best performance amidst the super strong winds.

Every dog got a gust of wind at a different place on the course, and unfortunately I feel it did not make for a very fair competition, but what could we do, but continue.  We all just had to bite the bullet and make the most of it.  Well done to the winners, it took guts!  Not to mention the poor judges who constantly had to rebuild their courses and brave the winds!

Levi won the Non-Contact National title for 2012 in Medium and Chinzi was Reserve in the Contact round for Large. Caili also got the Reserve in the Dog Jumping Grade 5.  So not too bad all in all.  Little Bowie got braver and ran a nice steady round to get 3rd place in the Dog Jumping Grade 3 Nationals.

I tried a brave move with Chinzi and unfortunately eliminated in the Non-Contact.  :)  Something else to go train though, yay!

After the Nationals we still had to run the FCI show, in which I only entered Chinzi.  In the Contact round she came off the A-frame early and as it was threatening the whole weekend, I took the DQ and put her back into her 2o2o.  Her round after that was flawless and we could also proof the dogwalk contact then.

Then the FCI Jumping, where I was very disappointed to find yet another Grade 1 level course presented to us.  It was basically just a fast spiral type course going round and round and round with one direction change... but once again, we just went out to do our best, and I was very happy with how Chinzi still managed a 2nd place (and QC) to some very fast dogs.

So yes, Sunday's frozen morning was difficult, but I think better than that wind on Saturday!  :)

It was so cold, that I had to warm Chinzi up for about 20minutes before I felt she was good to go run a round flat out... I could not risk any injuries so short before our trip to Czech.  She excelled again and won the last Contact round of the weekend in fine style, to win her 4th Contact QC of the weekend (5 QC's on the weekend in total)... and she also now has a whopping total of 50 Agility QC's to her name, that is only in Contact & Non-Contact, not including her 9 Dog Jumping QC's.  :D

Now for some thoughts on the courses... please don't get me wrong, I am not moaning or complaining, purely sharing my thoughts and opinion.  I am long past the place where I moan and complain, since it doesn't help and gets us nowhere.  I just run to the best of my ability with whatever I am presented with.  However, I also feel constructive criticism could help improve the sport for us all.  So please see my view as such.

Apart from 4 Agility courses (and we had a total of 14 over the weekend), 2 Contact and 2 Non-Contact, I was very disappointed with the degree of difficulty the Top grade class were presented with.  Most of it was grade 1 level courses with maybe one testing element in them, but really nothing to prepare one self for World Champs or even worthy of the titles we were competing for.  I sincerely hope we will be presented with more challenging courses next year.

On the other hand, I found a few of the Dog Jumping courses to be quite innovative and challenging, a breath of fresh air amidst the others.

As for some of the judging, and I completely understand how difficult certain judging aspects can be, having just qualified as a judge myself, it was simply sad... to see someone not even ATTEMPT to get into a good position in order to judge a contact properly.  We all make mistakes, sure, but we can at least give it our best shot.  :(

So thank you and well done to the judges who challenged us and gave their best.  To the others, I hope you will be open to criticism and that someone will guide you to learn from this and improve, since no matter what, we still appreciate the sacrifice you made for standing in the cold and wind, giving of yourself and your time so we can have a competition.  Let's grow together though in order to move forward for the betterment of our beloved sport.

At Prize Giving the biggest surprise came when Chinzi won the weekend Overall!  :)  Last year she missed out by a few points to come second, and we were really trying our best to be as consistent as possible this weekend.  I am pleased that amidst terrible weather and less-than-challenging courses, she still gave her best, lasted better than previous years and ran what I thought was very good times for her, consistently throughout the weekend.

Now for some SERIOUS training before World Champs coming up soon!

On our way back, we saw some snow up there on the mountains...

 Near Touwsrivier...

The pack with their winnings:

Some video clips to follow soon...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Winning SADAA Nationals...

From one big event to the next... well at least I'm still blogging... even though it's a month apart... :)

This past weekend we travelled to Knysna for the yearly SADAA National Championship... it was determined over 3 trials (6 rounds) and Chinzi was once again, true to her name "Chinzi Go Tops" and ended up not only winning the National Midi Title, but doing it in such fine style by winning all 6 rounds with Gold medals!

We started off Friday with Games, but the Gamble posed to be too much for all the dogs... Chinz still won her class, but did not get a medal/qualify.  She did however won her 6th Gold medal in Snooker thereafter as well as started with a superb Jumping round to kick the weekend off on a good note.

It was a very cold weekend, sometimes a tad wet, but not too bad, the wind was really horrible at times. We managed to stay positive however, or should I say "I"... since Chinz is ALWAYS positive faced with agility, not so?  lol  ;)

Well, not only did she make yet another dream of mine come true by winning SADAA Nationals, little Beagle sister Emma, successfully defended her National title in Mini, to win it for the 3rd time!  Kooiker Caili did not do too badly either, ending up 3rd overall in the Midi class.

Then of course it was Bowie's first Regional Trials and boy oh boy did he exceed my expectations!  My only aim was to run every course flat out with him, no matter what happened... and he obliged by putting up some really nice times.  He qualified in 4 of his 6 agility rounds, and also moved up to Jumping Grade 2.

Since I've had internet, PC and all sorts of problems... I have been writing this post over 5 days now and have completely lost my thread... lol

So well, all in all, it was a GOOD FUN weekend!
Here are Chinzi's rounds:

The pack's winnings for the weekend...

Until next time...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Winning South African Agility Championships...

I guess I have to start blogging again at some point... and what better reason than Chinzi winning the SA Champs... a dream coming true...  :)

For those who are wondering, it was not easy at all!  The mental aspect of getting through this weekend certainly took a lot out of me, and yes, I was on an adrenalin high until yesterday, but today the exhaustion hit me six love.  :)

My sweet miracle girl just stepped up and performed above and beyond what I ever could have expected from her.

We were running 15th in the first round draw and just before me Matthew and Tango clocked the first clear run of the round to take the lead with 39.81 sec

As he was getting congratulated from all around, it was our turn to give the course our best shot.  I must admit, I absolutely LOVED the course... while walking it I got very excited and was very much looking forward to running it.  It was challenging but also flowing and we were going to give it our all.  We finished with a clear in 35.88 sec to take the lead. 

After our run, another 20 dogs still had to run... we watched, with bated breath as only 2 other dogs managed to run clear in the time... Julie with Chace managed 3rd place after Matthew with Tango, with Chinzi winning the round!  I was surprised and elated, all at the same time.  This would mean taking the lead, running last in the next round and having all the pressure on!
 Once again I loved the course that followed and were eager to get out there.  However, after watching dog after dog exiting the poles early, wondering what on earth could be affecting them, trying to find sun reflecting off things, camera lenses, anything it could possibly be, there was nothing to do but go run our round and hope for the best.  At first I suspected that it might just be the course design, as there was a jump right after the weaves your dog was not supposed to take, with a tight pull to the left out of the weaves, past one tunnel mouth into the other end... whatever the cause, there was no time to worry about it and our turn to run eventually came...  I did not think for one second that Chinzi, my experienced dog, who could do weaves with me standing on my head, would pop out, but she did...  I was completely baffled by it and it wasted a lot of time to have to put her back and redo the entire weave obstacle... she still did everything else clear, fluent and fast, but I was devastated.  I thought that was the end for us, and that surely this year, as in previous years, 4 clear rounds, maybe with a few time faults, but no course faults, will surely win the Championship.

That evening was a very tough one for me... I went home (ok, not home, but to our very awesome accomodation at Fiddlewood) and watched the video in slow-motion, over and over again... it was as if she just did not see that 3rd last pole at all... a glitch... some dogs came out towards their handlers, which would make sense, them pulling for moving towards the tunnel, but Chinzi popped out away from me... extremely weird...  it looked like the poles just moved more than she normally is used to, a true slalom effect, that caught her by surprise...

The next morning I was still battling with why on earth that could have happened when we were watching the course being built and the stakes to pin the weaves down were just put in the ground but not hammered in yet... I noticed the last base section (3 poles) had no stakes... so I asked the course overseer to please make sure all the bases gets staked... true as bob, the last base had no holes!  They moved that base to the center and made a plan to stake it down properly for the last two rounds... I cannot remember any dog coming out the poles again!  I am convinced that that was the reason Chinzi and a few other very experienced dogs came out... she is not used to that much movement of the poles...

Still the hardest part for me was to put that out of my mind, convince myself that there is absolutely NOTHING I can do about what had happened, it is going to make no difference and I just have to focus on the next two remaining rounds.  This was extremely hard for me... you have no idea!  :)

 I was fortunate to speak to the right person at that time, who helped me realise this, which put me in the position where I could look into my miracle dog's amazing eyes and see that no matter what happens, she is loving every minute of this and that ultimately that is all that really mattered...

Round 3 was another Jumping round with 4 tunnel mouths all very close together... it was going to be all about handling, no verbal would help you here!  :)  With a go-round after a straight tunnel coming from a very fast section, this was going to prove a very very challenging course.  We were lying 2nd after round 2 so we would be running 2nd last.  Watching dog after dog bombing out on the tunnels and go-rounds, all I could once again do, was focus on me, my dog and the course...

Chinzi attacked this course with amazing gusto but also responded extremely well to my deceleration and ran another winning round.  I was over the moon.  :)

The last round was approaching and it was going to be a Contact course with once again a go-round after a dogwalk-straight- tunnel section, onto an A-frame with a u-tunnel underneath... absolutely no lack of challenge!  I again loved the course and was actually very happy with the combination of difficulty the judges presented us with this year.  Seeing that the qualifying rounds was a tad on the easy side, this is exactly what I expected from the SA Champs... well done to the judges!

Small ran first... dog after dog went into the tunnel instead of up the A-frame... the crowd quickly caught on to it and cheered loudly whenever a dog would correctly go up the A-frame.  The Small SA Champion was decided and little Vibe won it his 5th year in a row, well done Lloyd!

Medium was next up and since I was also taking part with Kooiker Caili, I had a turn on the course... Caili LOVES tunnels and also could not resist the tunnel under the A-frame, which resulted in her only DQ of the weekend and not a very good overall result at all.  Nevertheless, I think she had fun and did a perfect A-frame contact to end the round off after our elimination.  :)

Now about 40 Large dogs had to run before it would be our turn... I almost couldn't watch... and well, I guess I did, but very little of what I saw actually went into my brain... I had only one thing on my mind... our run...

Chinzi obliged and gave me yet another clean smooth run... with me being far ahead of her on the dogwalk, she ran it perfectly while I could race to the end of the tunnel to get into position for the go-round... and up the A-frame she went... the end was in sight and she sailed through to the finish to make me one of the happiest handlers of the day!  :)

My miracle girl did it once again... I still cannot believe that this girl who had severed toe tendons at 20 months of age, recovered so miraculously to achieve everything she has achieved thus far... I stand amazed at her courage... she sure is one special little dog!

Photos by Melissa Wilson, Rene Prinsloo and Linda Barnard.