Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Thoughts on being towed along by nutters

Daisy, Cybi and I have recently been doing some running together, as I'm so busy with rowing training, and I want to make sure they're fully exercised, and we need to fit in obedience, agility and scent work, so at least if we all run at the same time that serves two purposes.

I had heard of Cani-cross (or cani-x) but it all seemed a bit scary - super fit people charging about with their perfectly trained sled dogs. I decided I'd bite the bullet and have a go at an event anyway - since I'm rubbish at running, I figure that getting better at it will assist my other sports. There aren't *that* many events, but I managed to find something fairly locally, run by Canicross Midlands.

So we pitched up to our first event, with my having bottled it and entered us for the short (really short! - 1.5km) distance, in a howling gale in the middle of Derbyshire. We were there early enough to watch a number of the other racers, and I was somewhat reassured to see that not everyone looked like they yomped 20 miles before breakfast every day. I was extremely reassured, as well, by just how friendly everyone was. Like, seriously "going out of the way to make sure I was ok because I was a new face" friendly. Such an incredibly refreshing change after my initial experiences with some other dog sports. The club has some kit that's available to be borrowed, and the organiser, Claire, was politely insistent that I borrowed a waist belt rather than run the dogs in my hand as we'd done at home. I wasn't entirely convinced until I gave it a try...wow. The difference it makes running with the dogs pulling from hip height rather than in the hand is incredible.

 Our event was off last as we were only doing a little bit of the course, so by the time the nice weather had disappeared completely, the wind had picked up and the sleet had started we were ready for our first assault on a Canicross course. I cannot even articulate how much fun (while simultaneously painful) it is being towed around by two lunatic collies while sliding through the mud. Improved only by being pulled over on our way down a muddy bank, and then falling over Cybi when he stopped to shake the water out of his coat.

I was warned by an obedience friend that Cani Cross is addictive, and I was somewhat disbelieving....until we tried it. I'm now already the proud owner of my very own running belt (and it's a posh one!), about to fork over a large wodge of cash for running harnesses for the nutters, and we have race entries in for the end of the month and the start of April, and also for May. Rowing? What rowing? :o)

Cani Cross done properly (thanks various members of Canicross Midlands for the ok to use your pics!). Daisy, Cybi and I did not look like this....:


Sunday, 8 February 2015

Daisy's First Agility Show!

Well, we bit the bullet and Daisy and I went to our first agility show. She was awesome...me, not so much!

We are very fortunate where we live that we are in easy reach of a large number of shows of all levels. Our first excursion was to a very local show, the lovely Bitz n Bobs (and show info here, but it's a closed FB group) where we had a go at "Grade 0" and opted to jump small size, while Daisy still on occasion goes under the jumps, little grot that she is.

Our first ever competitive round was a lovely, flowing, and not too challenging course, which she aced. I demolished a jump wing on the way through, so even though she went clear we didn't go clear as a team. Oops! But she loved every second of it (as did I!) and she raced round the course and listened to me the whole way round. A couple of people watching said she was looking at me a little more than would be ideal, rather than driving on, so we'll work on that in training, but at this level fortunately I can somewhat rescue that by just running really, really fast. Not a strategy I am keen to employ permanently, but it'll do while we're in training.

Daisy looking focused - not actually taken at the competition, but still an ace photo!
We also need to work on our start lines. Us and every other novice pair in the history of ever...

For our second run (the steeplechase) it was a more complicated course as it was a graded 1-7 course, but it was still lovely and flowing. She was both better and worse in her second run - better in that she looked at the jumps, with the result that she nailed a few sequences where the jumps were offset from one another (I had assumed she would run by at least one of them) but worse because she was so hysterically over excited by proceedings that getting her to wait on the start involved significant stink eye on my part, she barked her way round the course and jumped up to chew my sleeve at least once on the way round - something she hasn't done since we first started training. But as a first day out...I was incredibly proud of her, and we've got lots to build on.

Roll on the next show, when Cybi will be having a go, too. Fortunately my tolerance for embarrassment is high...although he's currently being training with my very agility-experienced housemate and as a consequence is really coming on well. Which probably means it'll be me that messes it up, rather than him...