Loud and proud...

How many of you can remember your very first show? Most probably all of you. Hannah Grantham's first show was not that long ago in October 2008 but she remembers it fondly.

I started agility for fun with my Boo, Border Terrier X mainly because she was from working stock and I wanted something she could put her mind to. When I say 'Just for Fun' I mean... we did not train contacts, our A-frame was about 3ft high and the jumps were the old heights, but Boo and I loved every minute.

So how did I find out about my first show
We went to a country show where a local club call Springers were there doing a demo and allowing people to 'Have a Go' for 1. So we took up the challenge and Boo flew round the course. At the end of the course, one of the club members - sorry never got his name - asked me if I competed.

'No! Of course not,' I said.

He then handed me my very first schedule for the Springers Winter Warm Up and told me I should think about it as Boo would be really good.

Later that day the entry form was completed and in the post. I had actually entered my first ever show!

Eventually the day of the show arrived
I had actually managed to persuade my friend Steph to join me, so I was not going alone. We arrived at the venue with our running orders in hand and proceeded to the first available Springers club member to ask 'What do we do?' We were promptly guided through running orders and how an agility show works, and sent on our way to have fun fun fun!

First up was Agility. Because I was in the beginners class Boo was jumping micro. We started off well but soon inexperience showed and Boo ran passed a jump, no knowing about eliminations etc.. I just carried on because that's what I thought you had to do, and we were eliminated, I even had to ask what E meant on my ticket!!

Right, so lesson learnt... if you miss an obstacle you must go back to do it, on to the jumping class. Determined to do well I ran the course the best I could and Boo did the same giving me my first ever clear round! Only to be promptly told was eliminated for having a tag on my dogs collar.... well that's a rule I was not aware of!!

Luckily it was an independent show where you got two goes at each class, so tag removed and off we went. Again we got a clear and were awarded a 3rd place, I was over the moon. Little did I know what this would be the start of.

Three years on...
I have to admit that I am an agility addict! We now train a Newton Heath DTC. Boo has reached the dizzy heights of Grade 7, and we are preparing to compete in Champ next year. My wonderful partner Paul has built us a campervan and my second dog Fluke joined us in 2009. She is Boo's niece and has already reached Grade 5 in her first year of competing - possibly a mini Boo in the making. I also started my judging career this year and am thoroughly enjoying it. And yes my friend Steph is still competing. She is now in Grade 6, has a caravan and is training a new dog this year. It's amazing what that first show did to us!

Every year since then, we have always entered Springers show. Although it has now moved from October to March, it is one show I will never miss. It holds fond memories. Even last years show made a new memory as Fluke managed to follow in Boo's paw prints and gain her first ever rosette. And yes it was a 3rd place -  just like her aunty!

So for all the newbies out there, don't worry about your first competition. Just enjoy it. Have fun and don't be scared about getting this wrong. We all do it!

About the author...
Hannah Grantham runs two small dogs - Boo, a
six year old Border Terrier X who went Grade 7 this year and Fluke, two  years old and another Border Terrier X, who started her agility career this year and is now Grade 5. They train at Newton Heath DTC.

Most people will probably have seen her this year centre stage as I started her judging career which she is loving every minute of it. She likes to challenge people and that's what judging is all about.

Hannah admits that  sometimes she gets what she calls 'agility turrets.' Basically a load of rubbish - usually swear words -  come out of her mouth when running. She is unable to keep quiet and same for her girls. They are loud and proud! God help the Small Champ judges in 2012

First published 10 November 2011


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