Prikka enjoying her rosettes
Jinga proud of her rosettes
It was exciting to plan our visit and come back to UK. We were here in Cambridgeshire five years ago for half a year, so we knew were we coming to. "The returning" had extra thrill with the idea of participating in obedience shows.
Little did I know how different obedience would be and how different the practises in shows could be on the other side channel. The biggest surprise for me was the size of the competitions. Coming to a show with more than 400 entries is quite an experience, when being used to competitions having one or at most two rings and about 50 entries (being local events). The biggest shows are the Finnish Championships having about 300 participants and about 10 rings. Also all the English running orders sounded quite mysterious but it seemed to work pretty well.
The first thing before coming in here was to find out in which classes I would be entitled to compete. Of course I assumed that I would not need to start from scratch with my Finnish obedience champion. Luckily, I had Bernice Emanuel to guide me, she found it out that indeed, I had to start from the bottom since I have done no shows under UK regulations. The next important advice from Bernice was that I have to register for the shows quite a lot beforehand. My timing for my UK stay was not ideal regarding the show calendar, the season was about to end. Some shows were not too far from us and I registered for four of them before my arrival. The third, Bernice guided me to the "ring manners". Even though Shirley Budgen's web page is very informative and helpful, there is so much new to absorb that I assimilated only tiny bits of it (as well from Bernice, but at least I was stewarded before coming to the competition ring).
I am still pretty new to obedience, I have done the lower classes with all my dogs since 90', thinking it is kind of good general knowledge and dog manners. I never got more involved or interested in the obedience world until Jinga, Aculsia Star Chaser, came in to my life. She just loves the obedience, loves to work for me, "the faster the merrier" is her slogan. We started obedience four years ago, when she was two, two years later she was the obedience champion, having visited six times the lower classes and three required times the uppermost class. (In Finland the dog needs to have a result with 80 % of the maximum points to have the right to move up a class. The dog is entitled to collect three of these minimum of 80%-results in each of three lower classes. Though, one good result is enough for climbing up to the higher class. In the highest class three of these excellent results are needed for the championship, the dog might never have won his/her class). Even though my obedience "career" is short, I am privileged to have been training with the best of Finnish coaches. Unluckily, the information given just does not always stick in my head.
With all the information I had received and experienced, it was very exciting to leave for Norfolk in the end of September. Still, I would have been completely lost on the venue, if there had not been Bernice who had give me detailed list what to do. We had a bit difficulties to find the venue, we kind of expected it to be signposted. Anyway, found the venue in time. It certainly was a busy hour to find the ring numbers for my dogs, find our three rings, write up the stay times, tick the dogs in and have them for a tiny walk. One of my dogs was in the running order both morning, so I needed to be ready for ring early in the morning. I thought I had everything in order; looked what the dog did in the ring, just to notice that it was not my ring. Pretty "blind" I had to enter to my ring. It was a good start for my many mistakes for the rest of the day, including being "the lady who went to wrong stay": instead of taking Jinga to novice stay 11:50, I took her to C class stay 11:30 (just a tiny reading error). She did a perfect stay, even though she (and I) had to wait much longer than expected. Next day and in Enfield I was already organised, knew what to do and when. It was also nice to visit a limited show organised by MBCC in Stoneleigh. We did pretty well in the four shows, could have excelled more if I would always remember what to do but ... Unfortunately, I was not prepared for the show world at all, starting from the classes I registered for. But we got a new experience and met Prikka's family. Prikka also got a new name, her name is a bit hard to pronounce. Luckily, her handler -all of a sudden-to-be, Cathrin, told herself that if she says paprika it is close enough, and it really is (if you swallow the first syllable).
The first weekend was Prikka's (Foxbarton Kings Fancy). She turned two on Saturday and got a rosette from every class she entered on her birthday weekend. A week later we went to Enfield. We did fine in the pre beginners, Prikka the first and Jinga the second. Unfortunately, lots of mistakes in the upper classes. Last weekend in Stoneleigh we did so much better in the upper classes, I think I am more proud of that as for Jinga's first place and Prikka's second in pre beginners. Altogether, Prikka got 6 rosettes out of eight entries, Jinga earned four, so my younger, less experienced but steadier dog won her elder champion "sister". So, we had a really nice intro to English obedience - well done with my doggies!
In FC shows, we can not help our dogs at all in the ring in any classes. For UK shows, I had to learn to help my dogs with hand signals and praises. Actually, the hand signals were very handy for us, since Prikka and Jinga seemed to adopt to their old habits in the recall and retrieve. Now, I could cue them to present before taking them to heel position. (In FC shows we can choose if the dogs come in present first, or straight to the heel position.) In the lower classes, you may help your dogs but you are penalised more for the incorrect positions as we in our lowest classes. I think that FC movements in each class motivate the dogs and handlers. Nowadays, we do not have lead on heel at all. Each class brings new movements, many of them fun and speedy. The ones that dogs really love. It is nice that we do not need to wait until the highest class when the fun begins. In our shows slowing down the dog is as important as raising it up. In FC shows the distances are clearly defined, they are always the same e.g send away, the ring sizes must enable the correct distances for the exercise. Also, you will not see EU dogs straightened up from their necks or collars neither given the direction hints physically.
I think I should have been less greedy with my registrations, with four classes a day, there is hardly any time for looking around, to see how the others are doing and meeting people. I should have attend one show just as a tourist, just seeing around. I was planning to enter a couple of more shows but since they were not in With Your Dog system, I just did not want to bother to play with checks etc. The easy registration to the shows is appreciated. Still, I think we did and achieved a lot. I am very happy to visit these four shows during my three months stay, such a nice experience and such nice people I met, thank you UK obedience! If I am still looking for the drivers to sit on the left hand side in their cars, no wonder I forget some of the tiny obedience details wether they are British or not.
Jinga & Prikka with their brand new dumbbells and the autumn colors
Some old videos:
she has an issue with her retrieve that is why I do not want to take it fro her
Jinga and "the spring carol" - we are out with some space for us after training in small closures during the winter
Prikka in beginners in Norfolk - huge thanks to Gillian Wise (Huge thanks to Gill also for taking us to Enfield).
Prikka training in June for the open class (without send away and stay) - video. Somehow Prikka's handler has her full focus on the trainer, so her brave little dog hardly gets any attention, sorry doggy. Prikka has had one staying away problem both in her stay (pretty of the does not come to heel position with one command after her stay or the same happens with her distance control, usually she does the distant work but the problem is the heel position after the movement, leaving the exercise as last we could show this "problem" to our trainer.