Thursday, 31 May 2012

Dogs Today

As you may know a few years ago I wrote a series of articles for Dogs Today on how to dance with your dog.  Well in the wake of Ashleigh & Pudsey winning Britain’s Got Talent they are being run again from the July edition (out in shops June 14th). 

I had a look at some of the drafts and my gosh I have lost some weight since then, wow!!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

UK's Fastest Blogger

I was invited to take part in the UK’s Fastest Blogger Competition through Buy a Gift. My husband was also lucky enough to get invited ( so we got to spend a day together too, bonus!  I was really looking forward to the day and keen to do well. As you may know I love my cars and I love speed and adrenaline!

 We arrived at 8:30am for our Silverstone Driving Day to get signed on ready, the cars were all there waiting to go, so quiet and still, later in the day they would be whining with exhaustion! The briefing explained that we were taking part in the Caterham 7 Drift Experience. We had a demonstration by the instructors round a simple course which consisted of a large sweeping corner and a doughnut round a cone. I was so excited, I have always wanted to drift properly having seen them do it on Fast and Furious.
The caterham 7 is ideal for drifting. Rear wheel drive, 1.6litre, 150bhp and weighing in at around 500kg. The tyres on the back were designed so that they don’t get hot and sticky and the front tyres the opposite making drifts quite easy as the back end gets really loose.
I started off the day really well and found the Caterham an easy drive. My doughnuts were fab and I got out of the car on each occasion buzzing with adrenaline! The instructors at Caterham were really helpful, we would have two laps at a time and the instructors would give us hints and tips after each lap. Once everyone had started to get the hang of it, the course was changed to two sweeping corners and the ‘doughnut cone’ was removed. I did struggle with the longer drifts and this gave us a really good opportunity to really practice getting the car going sideways!
 Drifting can be so tricky as it’s all about forgetting what you have always been taught – keeping the acceleration when you start to slide, normally your instinct is to brake and stop a skid not apply more acceleration! So it can be quite tricky.
After a yummy buffet lunch we were re-fuelled up and raring to go again! Caterham set up their “Uber Drift Course” which consisted of a slalom, doughnut, another slalom and a 1 ½ doughnut. I was struggling with the doughnuts, just couldn’t seem to get the car sliding all the way round, I seemed to manage about ¾ and then lose it. We had a few practice runs and then our final two runs consisted of another practice and an assessed run. My last practice run was awful so I really had to step up my game for the final run. I am a competitive person and when it comes to cars I do always want to show that women can drive too and it’s not just men that can!
They assessed our last run by giving us a score of 100 as we left the starting gates, they knocked points off for things like spinning, knocking cones etc. I drove round and didn’t think I got the car drifting overly well but I didn’t lose control at all, it was probably the best run of the afternoon for me though. Everyone else did really well and I waited with baited breath to see what my score was.
The results were announced and Mark and I were both in the top three! Wow what a team! I ended up 3rd with 90 points, 2nd place had 91 points and Mark won with 95 points, he did a flawless practice lap but on his assessed lap just didn’t continue his drift round the second doughnut so was docked 5 points.
We had an absolutely fantastic day, it was a great adrenaline buzz. The Caterham team were so patient, encouraging and helpful. I was really pleased with a podium place, think I would have been a bit gutted if I hadn’t been up there and to top it off I came away with a suntan (okay a bit of sunburn then)!

Take a look ay Buyagift’s website for more experience days, perhaps with Father’s Day coming up this may be an ideal present? Or just a treat for yourself, I know Mark and I have both got that racing bug and we want to do more!! I think a track day in one of these would also be great fun, perhaps a birthday present for me, anyone?

Here's a video from the day:

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Adams Agility Show

I was really looking forward to this show as I had a decent amount of runs with the dogs.

Ember started off in graded 6-7 agility and when I walked the course I thought it was lovely and really wanted to push her on round it.  She worked it lovely, I just pushed her over her contacts without any stop command and they were fab, it was only when I realised I was pushing her too fast down the finish straight and the seesaw was in that straight that I needed a steady but I was too late and 5f on her seesaw.  I was absolutely gutted, really wanted a clear in the graded class, we’re still just one win from grade 7 and I would love to get her there before she retires. Graded 6-7  Jumping was next and it was impossible without a wait so were eliminated straight off lol, she worked the rest lovely though, I pushed her into her second weave too far and had done exactly the same with rum – BAD HANDLER!  Combined 4-7 jumping followed and she was awesome, just knocked first pole, it really wasn’t her type of course, flick flacks turning into pull ins (we’ve been working hard at training on those, really teaching her in and out commands) and lots of flicks away from me so I was really chuffed with how she worked it.  Last run was combined 6-7 agility and Ember was naughty on her a-frame and I commanded her wrongly on the see-saw but otherwise worked really well.  We’re working together and not against each other again, I am playing with her lots in the queue rather than telling her to sit and be quiet, it really makes a difference to how she runs.

Rum, well I started the show off wondering whether we were going to have to stop agility again, he was so stressed out, he had a fight with ember, pulling faces in the car and his first two runs –combined 4-7 jumping and combined 6-7 agility he was just loopy!  He really wasn’t coping.  Thankfully though when it came to graded 6-7 jumping he was a lot better, unfortunately I lost him to a tunnel, it was a start jump then a through a gap and round the back of number two which we did but I didn’t notice the tunnel entry was close and he went through the gap into the tunnel!  Combined 6-7 Jumping and he worked it really nicely, just knocked a pole because I didn’t give him enough room to jump after a pull through!  Finally Graded 6-7 Agility and he was fab, he worked beautifully, I just messed up his weave entry and pulled him off a jump too early but otherwise his contacts were lovely and quick and he really worked well.  So I think I need to do a lot with him when we get to a show, just walk him round the rings, do some training with him, put him away then run him.  Hopefully I won’t see that level of stress again.  I can always tell when he’s really stressed as his nose goes bright pink!!

Finally my fabulous little crazy little white dog, we messed up in the veteran class as she thought she had finished when she hadn’t but had a clear in Anysize and came 5th J.  I love my little white dog, she loves to come out and play, she’s so funny, I took this pic of her while she was waiting in line for anysize – just how does she bend her front legs underneath her like that?

Although we only came away with one rosette I was really pleased with how the dogs worked in the end.

Sunday, 13 May 2012


On Sunday at Beacon we got there a bit late and had missed walking the Combined 6-7 agility, which we then made a right hash off, we looked as though we had never done agility before, it was a course that needed walking!  I took him in the training ring and realised his contacts were awful, he was back on rubber and was struggling to cope, he was going so slow and stopping short, so I got his toy out and worked on some encouragement.  

We then ran Graded 6-7 agility and I ‘quick released’ his contacts, I say quick release as his contacts were quite slow but once in position he was released.  We had a lovely round and a refusal at the second to last jump – gutted!  I just didn’t hold my position long enough.  

Finally Graded 6-7 Jumping and we made a right hash of that too!  I don’t know why but he just seemed really down today and a bit ploddy in the ring, very quiet, not his usual self.  Whether he missed not having another dog with him or whether he was tired from yesterday I am not sure, will have to see how he goes this week.

One thing I do think I am losing are his waits, I can see it happening, I really need to sort it but am a bit scared of taking the mick in the ring and don’t like to mess about keeping the judge waiting.  I don’t want to remove him from the ring as it will just knock his confidence completely so am not sure how I will tackle this one.  I am also really struggling with grade 6 with him, when we won out of grade 5 I only ever did a couple of grade 6 classes before I took a break, I am sure that we had a lot of 5-7 classes but now they seem to all be 6-7 and I am noticing courses are a lot harder, I don’t struggle as much with Ember so I think it’s a lot to do with his striding and how much longer he is jumping.  I need to work on tightening turns with him as I have done too much work powering him on he is.

Here's his graded 6-7 agility, slow I know!!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Dig It Dogs

I decided to do the Dig it Dogs UKA on Saturday despite having entered Beacon, I wanted to be able to do some ring training.

The dogs were on fire, Ember had a win in Novice P&S & a win in Senior Steeplechase.  I am not talking to her on her contacts and she got them all in her agility and all in P&S – something of a first!  The Novice courses were the same as beginner so I must admit we struggled as she doesn’t do go ons down long lines of jumps lol!  Such a shame in her other senior steeplechase she just knocked a pole as I front crossed to early.

Rum was absolutely flying, I trained his Senior Agility and competed in Senior P&S which he won.  His contacts were soooo fast they were awesome, he was on non-rubber though so he did have a bit of a skid on the dog walk.  He also won Senior Jumping.  Unfortunately we didn’t do very well in either Steeplechase classes as I had to run and get him having just run Ember, so we didn’t have chance to settle by the ring, I ended up taking him out of the second steeplechase as he had just wound himself up too much.

Cas stayed at home but here's a lovely pic of her I took on my phone, she's much better than a pot of gold!!