As the canicross/bikejor season ends the agility begins.
Our agility trainer is the wife of the coach of the agility GB team and one thing they are both very good at is sports psychology. We often joke that I go to agility with Karen just to argue with her! Realistically it is because I need coaching on how to train Lily rather than someone telling me that I should do xyz. I know how to train dogs and there have been several occasions that I have been told to train in a certain way by the trainer but in my brain I can’t see what benefit it has in the long run. This is where Karen is amazing. Everytime I question something, she has the answer, if she doesn’t we discuss it and then try different options. It feels much more as if we are working towards goals than me being told what to do! Goals are something that she tells us to set at the beginning of the season and I had three goals:
- Get Lily’s agility warrant bronze
- Win into Grade 5
- Get some Crufts ABC points
We found quite quickly after a couple of shows that Lily had lost a bit of her confidence, she wasn’t as happy as she had been in the ring and for various reasons we lost all our contacts. So due to this I removed the third goal from our list very quickly, in fact we ended up doing maybe one ABC Crufts qualifier, if even that! We did however enjoy a few Olympia ABC courses and if she had got her contact she would have qualified for the semi finals! If there was anything that would ever give you the kick up the backside it was that.
So we spent the summer retraining contacts!
Due to the heat we didn’t do as many shows as we had planned, there were a lot we entered that we then didn’t go to. We missed bits of training and what we did was broken up so that Lily didn’t overheat. We very nearly won out of Grade 4 twice, both by miliseconds! However they also got us enough points that after Empingham Lily had acquired her Agility Warrant Bronze and got some fancy letters after her name! Goal 1 ticked off! At KCI she managed a couple more clear rounds and we even managed a placing and rosette in a jumping class! Something I was proper chuffed with as there were 300+ dogs in the class!
At our second to last show of the year Lily won out of Grade 4 by a good few seconds! She did it 😀 The best thing was that it was the same show the year before that she won out of Grade 3! Exactly a year to go up a grade and it was right, we felt ready to go up but only because we had done the amount of work we had to get her to the point she was finally at. Our last show she came 2nd in a very fast jumping class that was a graded 4-7, she was beaten by an amazingly speedy collie but she would have placed with her time in all of the grades, which made me super happy! She has done so well.
Her confidence has grown massively over the summer, she even started breaking her start line wait because she was getting that excited! She was enjoying herself more then anything and the difference between the dog I started the season with and the one I have finished with is quite something. She is confident, happy, stopping on contacts – amazing! Of course as always she has another training issues – now her weaves! But as Karen said, she just likes to keep her in business!
So now we have a winter of training, some of which will be working on her weaves, doing a bit of retraining. Keeping her busy and mostly trying to keep her confidence up! Hopefully we will get to a few of the independent winter shows to keep her head in it. Then we will make more goals ready for next summer!
Oh and did I mention that Dill has been doing a lot of training too? Fingers crossed he will be doing his first agility competition next season too!
Now though we pray for some cold weather to get the dogs back in harness and get their fitness up ready for the race season ahead!