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Apologies for the length of this post, but I know there are a lot of people that have just taken up agaility, like me, and thought you might find this useful.

Yesterday, Ruby and I took part in a fun, local agility competition that had been organsied by 4 local clubs. We were encouraged to take part by our instructor as it was just for fun and would give us our first insight into what goes on at a competition. We've only been doing agility since the beginning of September.

We were entered in the Pre-beginners group - we couldn't take part in the agility as we haven't yet done the A Frame or the Dog Walk at full height, but could take part in the jumping and the steeplechase.

There were about 40 dogs entered in the Pre-beginners. The agility was first so we had the opportunity to watch everyone else - they were really good - most of them had a refusal of some kind, but the judges were takling into account the ability of the dogs and the handlers. From talking to all of the other competitors it appeared that most of them had been training for at least a year so I started to get very worried about our ability after 3 months!

Then came the jumping and our first experience of competition. We walked the course and found it very daunting. We have only really done 5 obstacles in a row and were now faced with 19!! The competition began and we waited nervously for our turn. We were called to the ring and one of our instructers was there to hold Ruby so that I didn't have the added worry of her failing to 'wait'. Then we were off. She jumped the first jump and refused the second. My heart sank!. We were given loads of encouragement but she wasn't having any of it! Then our other instructor shouted across that the jumps were at the wrong height for us - we had been put in the wrong group and I hadn't realised :(. The judges agreed that we should be given the opportunity to start again at the right height, so we had another nervous wait.

At this point I was very keen to just go home! I was embarrassed, and concerned that Ruby would loose her confidence and ruin the work we had done in training. We were told firmly that we should take our second try and that Ruby would be different at the right height. I felt a bit bullied but decided I should try again.

Our time came round again, and even more nervously we entered the ring.

She jumped the first row of jumps and through the first tunnel. She carried on around the course, listening to my guidance. She wasn't perfect and needed lots of encouragement that she got from me and all of the other competitors who were cheering when she went over every obstacle. We completed the course and I found out after that we were awarded a clear round! :)

It was a great feeling to reach the end, and to have achieved so much of the course smoothly.

We went on to take part in the steeplechase - we weren't clear but she did brilliantly and I'm so proud of her for what she achieved.

At the prize giving Ruby and I, and another girl who I train with and is at the same level, were given a special prize for taking part and getting our dogs round the course. It was a lovely touch.

I think what I took from this event is that to be good at agility takes a lot of time and dedication, and it really is the taking part that makes it fun. Having seen the dogs that had been training for a year I now have a better (and more realistic) expectation of what we should be aiming to achieve.

The other competitors couldn't have been more friendly and encouraging. I'm so glad I took part, and Ruby had a ball!

To everyone else out there that has just embarked on agility training to be able to take part in the Cockapoo Olympics next year - keep it up and be prepared for us to still be refusing jumps come September next year. And there's always the possibility that Ruby will go off and do a lap of honour too! As Mick has said all along, it's just for fun!

Happy training everyone!

H
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Helen that is so well done! Golly, to get a clear round in your first competition is amazing!!

Be prepared for those nerves to continue. I've not done many competitions - about seven I think but each time I queue up I feel sick with nerves and wonder why I am putting myself through it! However, the buzz you get is fantastic isn't it?

The agility world, in my experience, is a very friendly and encouraging one. You are absolutely right about expecting refusals even a year on. I've been doing agility for nearly 2 years now and Rufus is in no way consistent and reliable. He's fast .......but that's only good if he's accurate! Lol. It will not be a surprise at all for the gentle plodder to run away with the gold at the olympics. It's anyone's competition.

Huge congratulations again. Maybe I'll see you at some UKA competitions next year? (they're a bit more beginner friendly than the KC comps....apparently!).

Karen xx
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks, Karen. It was a real eye opener!

I think the clear round was somewhat generous, but I don't think anyone was truly clear so the judges had to use a consistent view of what they were considering to be clear! There was a real mixture of dogs taking part which was lovely to see. The minor refusals were just dodging to the side of a jump - the more major ones were stopping to sniff an interesting bit of ground (something Ruby is likely to do) and running off to see if the other owner is still watching at the side!

I definitely need to do 'friendly' competitions - I can't see myself going to stuffy, serious ones!

I'll let you know if we progress to be able to take part in more next year.

Take care
H
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Well done to you both! That sounds like such good fun and you did so well! :D

I am starting aisy back at classes after Christmas but I am not sure if we can start agility until she is one which is February. I am just looking forward to getting back into training at the moment. :)
 

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Hi Helen & Ian:)

What great news to read about your agility day:):)

I am so glad you ended up having so much fun:D as Karen has said if your not nervous something's wrong.....it's what keep's you sharp:cool:

You will learn to control them the more you take part in competition's but it sounds like you and Ruby are having some really great fun together:cool:

Ruby is 17 month's old now has your Agility Instructor told you when you are going to start training on the A Frame and Dog Walk? have you covered the SeeSaw yet?

Keep up the good work and I'm sure your going to do really well at the Olympics:)

Mick:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hi Helen & Ian:)

What great news to read about your agility day:):)

I am so glad you ended up having so much fun:D as Karen has said if your not nervous something's wrong.....it's what keep's you sharp:cool:

You will learn to control them the more you take part in competition's but it sounds like you and Ruby are having some really great fun together:cool:

Ruby is 17 month's old now has your Agility Instructor told you when you are going to start training on the A Frame and Dog Walk? have you covered the SeeSaw yet?

Keep up the good work and I'm sure your going to do really well at the Olympics:)

Mick:)
Hi Mick

We've started the A Frame and Dog Walk - we've recently moved from ground level to the lowest height - Ruby loves both of them, particularly the dog walk. Haven't tackled the seesaw yet - bit scared of that one!

I've given our instructor the plan for the Olympics so she knows what we are aiming for!

Pepper is 5 months old in January so we are hoping to get her started on ground work shortly after that.

We're really loving it, I'm so glad I gave it a try.

Thanks
H
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Ok so you have started on the contact equipment ok now I see well it sounds like your Instructor's doing a great job so far.....good look with your training and I'll look forward to an update at Wood Green in January......was there no pictures taken of you and Ruby in action?:D
Mick:)
 

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Well done, sounds like a fantastic first comp.

I've been competing for the last 17 months with Freddie, all KC as we don't have anything else in the North East. He has done amazing especially as he measures large. He finally won out of grade 1 in April this year, then there was no stopping him and we finished the season in grade 4.

If you're interested I have a blog that I've kept since we started competing: www.agilitydood.blogspot.com
 

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Jo that's brilliant! My Rufus measures large too so it's tough being up against all those Border Collies! So far I have only done 'in club' competitions but I'm hoping to be a bit braver in 2012 and start entering some UKA events. We're measured up ready for KC comps too so we'll see! With family circumstances I am very limited in availability for disappearing off to weekend competitions but I just adore agility. Have you checked out the Cockapoo Olympics thread? I'm not sure if Mick has drawn a line under the number of entrants yet....it's getting to be a big event!!

Karen xx
 
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