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  FMBB Belgian Shepherd World Championships

 

 

GB Team reports... 2013, 2011, 2010 and 2007

2013 GB Team Report

Every year the Federation Mondiale du Berger Belg (FMBB), an international society for Belgian Shepherd Dogs, organises a huge competition of different events exclusively for Belgian Shepherd Dogs but for all four varieties. It is held in a different country every year and run under the rules of the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI). Great Britain has been sending a team to the BSD Agility Worlds since 2003. This year the competition was held in the far away and beautiful country of Slovenia. Team manager and member Mike Bacon reports.

Unlike last year, the GB team travelled together by coach. There was a slight change of plan as we departed from the Planit Travel yard, near Orpington, which is where our vehicles were left. It saved an hour and meant we got an earlier shuttle and was a really good start to our journey across Belgium and Germany. It was just as well as we ran into very bad traffic, caused by bad weather, road works and accidents in southern Germany.

Consequently we did not get to the overnight stop near Munich stop until 10pm. Fortunately the hotel bar was open until late, and we were able to have a snack of Schnitzel and delicious Bavarian beer. We couldn't stay up too late as we had to leave at 6.30am to get to venue in good time to set up and get to the Opening Ceremony. Even though we had travelled this way several times before, the stunning Alpine scenery through Bavaria, Austria and Slovenia was still inspiring, helped by improving weather and bright sunshine.

We arrived in Koper, Slovenia at 2pm and were delighted that the venue was just a couple of miles from the motorway junction and, even better, the hotel was only 500m from the entrance to the agility. The city was originally a fortified island town and this area now makes up the old town. The modern part of the town which includes the Bonfika Sports Stadium is on reclaimed land. It was a very modern and well laid out sports complex with excellent dog walking.

We learnt that even Slovenia has been affected by the unusual weather It was hard to believe that they'd had a very wet winter and a late spring as we stood in the sunshine with the temperature in the low 30s. When we had left Britain two days earlier it had been below zero.

The Team
We had a combination of experienced and inexperienced handlers and dogs in the Team. Jet (Tervueren) with Mike and Fin (Groenendael) with Di had been to the BSD Worlds before while young dogs Jazz (Tervueren) with Michelle and Jess with Tony (Groenendael) - both just three years old - had handlers with previous experience of the World Championships. Also In the Individual competition was another experienced dog Asgard (Groenendael) with Derek at their first World Championships and another three year old Cash (Tervueren) with Gill who has competed at the World Championships with two other dogs.

The Team consisted of :-

  • Mike Bacon with Jet (Louandi Diamond)
  • Michelle Griffiths with Jazz (Minka Phoenix Jazz)
  • Dianne Griffin with Fin (Heidron Fins Chasing Time)
  • Tony Parmiter with Jess (Jetaime Elegance du Futur)
  • Derek Knight with Asgard (Heidron Timelord Chaser
  • Gill Raddings with Cash (Minka Prospect Cash)

Open ceremonyThe Opening Ceremony was, as usual, very moving and thankfully brief. We had just a short walk back to the hotel for the evening meal and an early night. The weather had changed over overnight and practice day was overcast. Although it was cooler, it rained most of the day. The agility ring was a very level sandy grass area. It was a good surface, but it held the water making the going was soft but very good as long as you had shoes with a good grip or studs.

Practice went well. As it had been a fairly easy day and the weather had improved in the evening, we walked down to the sea front and had a meal in a seafood restaurant. There were a few well wrapped up people promenading, but it was warm enough for us to dine outside, much to the amusement of the waiter.

The weather warms up on Friday
And so was the competition. The first Individual Jumping course seemed to be an attempt to see how many 'push arounds' it was possible to have in one course. Out of all of Team GB only Michelle managed to not get eliminated though it has to be said that other countries had the same problem.

Thankfully the next Individual agility was a bit better. Tony managed a clear, Mike and Dianne had 5, Derek was very pleased to just have 15, while Gill and Michele were eliminated. Team jumping followed and with only one elimination we were well placed in eighth. Fairly pleased with day we returned to the hotel and had a light meal in a pizzeria in the courtyard outside and an early night.

Saturday started with the Team Agility
We were disappointed to get two unlucky eliminations putting us down to 10th. Putting that behind us, we went on to the second Individual Jumping. Our standard was improving. Mike was clear. Only Derek was eliminated and everyone else had 5s.

The final course caught us out with its simplicity. Tony was eliminated with problems with the breakaway tire, and Gill also had an unlucky elimination. Derek had 15, Michelle and Dianne had 5 while Mike was clear.

It was a beautiful warm evening so we returned to the seafood restaurant for a fantastic evening. With the pressure off, there was a great deal of lively banter balanced by serious debate about what we would have to do to continue competing successfully at FCI events.

Only Mike and Jet were in the Individual Final having had the best GB performance. In the first jumping round, Jet worked brilliantly but Mike had a dizzy moment from doing so many turns and Jet went wide taking a wrong jump. Mike was very disappointed having let Jet and the team down but he managed to put that aside to a good agility round with just a pole down. An indication of how the courses were is that even with an elimination and 5 faults Mike and Jet were 41st out of 60.

The Estonian Marje Piiroja with Frosty Forest Zeta Prime dominated the both runs. She was the fasted without mistakes.

A damp closing ceremonyYet again the closing ceremony was one hour late, went on for a long time and was done in the rain. We had learnt from previous years dined and stayed in the hotel that night leaving early the next morning.

Coming home
We made good time travelling back, arriving for our overnight stop in Cologne in the early evening. We were a little disappointed that the area had been developed since we had stayed there five years before. The only place to eat was in the hotel, but that turned out to be quite good. We had more discussions about our training plans

Travel the next day went well until we were a couple miles of from Calais. There was an accident just ahead of us, and we only just made it to the shuttle in time.

Travelling by coach is by far the best way. It is cost effective against individual travel and it  promotes a great team spirit. Planit Travel provided excellent service, and they are keen to do more trips with dogs to the continent.

Planning ahead
It ihas been confirmed that the 2014 event will be in Finland. This would involve travelling for four days with two overnight stops plus one night on a ferry each way, plus four days and nights at the venue. The cost of going by coach is far too much to consider so it would have to be some sort of self-drive. Anyone interested in going should contact Mike Bacon as soon as possible.

The 2015 the world championship has been confirmed for the Czech Republic and for 2016 it is France. There is an opportunity to prepare for these events having some training days with FCI courses and judging. If you are interested or have any ideas for training, please get in touch with Mike by email mike_of_diamonds@yahoo.co.uk

The team would like to thank the FMBB for organising the event, The BSDA of GB, The WBSDS and all the people who help and support the fundraising shows.


2011 GB Team Report

The GB team and grooms gathered at Lincoln Kennels near Swanley (Kent) at 10.00am Wednesday and we were quickly on our way to the 17th FMBB World Championships. Though selected, Andy Brown did not make the Team they could not repair Thor's microchip and re-issue a pet passport. Instead Andy went as Helen Brown's groom and reserve Michelle Griffiths came into the team.

The GB Team consisted of:-

  • Jo Hyslop with Keisha (Bonvivant Object D’Art) - Malinois

  • David Leach with Rusty (Bonvivant Kalisto) - Malinois

  • Gill Raddings with Check (Minka Morgan Check) - Tervueren

  • Louise Challis with Delta (Ebontide Quedec at Louandi) - Groenendael

  • Claire Bacon with Emmy (Draigarden Allegra) -Tervueren

  • Tony Parmiter with Poppy (Ebontide Obsession) - Groenendael

  • Helen Brown with Zeus (Wild Blue Spirit) - Malinois

  • Michelle Griffiths with Jive (Minka Nikiski Jive) - Tervueren

This year it was a relatively short journey to Belgium. It had been impossible to find a hotel near the venue that had enough rooms, would take the dogs and had coach parking. The closest one was back in Dunkirk about 40 minutes drive back into France. Unfortunately it was basic and a little bit disappointing.

We arrived at Nieuwpoort with just enough time to look around the venue and set up our tents in the agility area which was in the centre of an athletics stadium. We were very pleased to see that all the events were very close so we would have a chance to see them.

We gathered for the opening ceremony in the arena. It started on time but we were surprised to find we were parading through the town to a square on the sea front. It was very hot with a strong drying wind, so we were very pleased that the opening speeches were not too long. It was only a 10 minute walk back, not the 40min route we had taken to get there.

In the opening speeches, we learnt that there were 29 countries, represented by 608 dogs. We were also very pleased to be joined by two people from the UK competing in Mondio.

Practice
On Thursday we were lucky to have a late practice session and vet check so we had a good breakfast and set off to the venue at 10.00am. We arrived to watch a few teams and then did our sessions which went very well. The equipment was all made from aluminium including the weave poles, and we were concerned that they blended with the steel barrier fencing around the arena. In practice it was not too much of a problem, but it did cause some in the competition. Mike went to the team managers meeting. Then we went back to Dunkirk where we found a very nice restaurant on the harbour where we had our evening meals.

Friday
We arrived at the venue very early. It was already hot with a strong gusty wind that would provide some difficulties later. The competition started with the first Individual Jumping course. We were a bit surprised by the course as it was about Grade 4 standard but with a difficult weave entry. As it was designed to FCI requirements, it had the minimum 5m between obstacles and was very fast.

Claire and Emmy had the best GB result clear in 40.32 seconds. Gill and Check were close behind clear in 41.36. Tony and Poppy picked up 0.26 time faults with 43.26 while Dave, Helen, Jo and Louise picked up 5 faults each. Michelle had 10 faults.

There was a short break and then we onto the first Individual agility. Once again the course was fairly straightforward, but the equipment and wind were to cause problems which we should have been anticipated as the aluminium wall blew down during course walking.

The seesaw was also blowing about in the gusty wind. The solution was simple. One of the two dog walk contact judges moved to the seesaw and held it up until the dog got there . Someone else held the wall and moved out the way as the dog approached it. That was not a problem for the more experienced dogs but it was very distracting for the younger dogs.

We were very pleased that Dave qualified for the final with a very good clear in 36.38. Gill was clear 42.48 too and so was Louise in 44.96. Michelle had 5 faults in 42.42 and Tony had 5 in 43.04. Claire, Helen and Jo were eliminated.

The third event of the day Team Jumping. Representing the UK were Gill with Check, Jo with Keisha, Louise with Delta and Dave with Rusty. The course was slightly more challenging but still not as difficult as we had experienced in previous years, We were very pleased that we finished with the fastest 5 faults in 7th place which still kept us in contention.

Saturday
There was still a strong breeze which was thankfully cooling for the dogs, but we were all starting to feel the effects of two days of continuous sun and wind.

We started with Individual Jumping. Dave did a comfortable clear in 33.60. Claire without the distraction of the judges at the contacts did a very nice clear in 35.56 and Tony just picked up a couple of time faults in 39.28. Jo did a very fast 33.86 which would have been good enough to qualify except for 5 faults. Gill also had 5 faults in 36.36. Helen, Michelle and Louise were eliminated.

Individual Agility was next and finally the courses were starting to be world championship level, but in order to qualify with their last chance everyone really had to push. With the pressure of qualifying removed Dave did a fantastic round coming second in 35.62. On 5 Faults were Louise 41.64, Michelle 42.34, and Gill 42.58, Tony had 10, Jo,Claire, and Helen were eliminated.

The Team Agility was especially exciting as we were in with a chance of a podium position. We got just 5 faults with a very good time. Combined with our Jumping score we had 10 faults in a competitive time. The pressure was really on the six following teams. The following two teams had more faults than we did and we gradually climbed in the places. Italy and France battled it out for speed but picked up faults. Hungary held their nerve all getting steady clears guaranteeing second place. Finland were last to go and were outstanding. Going flat out and all clear, they were very well deserved winners. We had finished 3rd. With a little luck, we could easily have done better.

Sunday
Dave had qualified for the Individual Final Jumping earlier in the heats as did Gill who qualified as best dog from GB that had not already qualified. Dave ran first but picked up an unfortunate 5 faults for a pole down. Gill went clear in 36.00 and was in 20th place.

Alain Remund and AspenThe Individual Agility was yet again a very exciting final. Dave was the first UK handler to go but he had 10 faults, ending up in 26th place. Gill had 5 faults but only slipped down to 21st. Alain Remund and Aspen, his fantastic little Malinois bitch, won the title for the second time for France.

We then had a little time to watch some Mandie, a very impressive full body protection dog sport, and the finals of the IPO. If you have never seen any you should really make the effort. The level of dog training is amazing and very inspirational.

The day ended with the Closing Ceremony where lots of beautiful trophies were awarded in all of the disciplines. We were particularly pleased that John Rumble had got 2nd place in Mondio 3 and we gave him very vigorous support as he collected his trophy. It was also very good to meet some people who came over from the UK for the breed show and also just to attend this fantastic event. Then it was back on the coach and we headed for home!

The results for Team GB were very encouraging. We are raising our standard each year, getting more clear rounds and fewer eliminations while improving our speed but we still need more young dogs and handlers to become involved. The standard of the top teams at these championship is exceptional all of them would be competitive in a British championship class.

 

Thank you
The substantial amount of funds required to send the team is jointly raised by the Belgian Shepherd Dog Association of Great Britain and the Working Belgian Shepherd Dog Society who jointly manage the whole enterprise. We would like to thank both societies for giving up a lot of their own time and for putting in so much effort to make it possible for the BSD agility community to compete in this prestigious World championship competition.

I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the team to say thank you to Tug-E-Nuff for the team leads.

We would also like to thank - and congratulate - the FMBB and the organising team for continuing to run and grow this fantastic event.


Joint sponsors of the Great Britain Agility Team for the FMBB World Championships
 Photos: Candice Robinson, Leo en Wilma Steenbakkers  & Mike Bacon

First published 7 September 2011


2010 GB Team Report

The FMBB Belgian Shepherd Dog Agility World Championships 2010 were held on 21-23 May Cottbus, Germany about 100kms south of Berlin. After a year of a lot of hard work fund raising, organising, training and selections days the Championships finally arrived. Team Manager Louise Challis  reports.

Team GB and grooms gathered at Lincoln Kennels, near Swanley (Kent), very early on Tuesday morning. This year we had five handlers and six dogs who had not competed before in the Championships which added an air of uncertainty and excitement to the Squad.

No sooner had the coach arrived than it was loaded and we were on our way. Anne Challis supplied a 'good luck cake' which has become a tradition over the last seven years and by lunch time we were all indulging in a light sponge cake, iced with the team GB logo on it. 

The journey went well. We travelled for 16 hours in rain and sunshine over land that was so flat sight of a hill caused excitement. We arrived in Cottbus, Germany at 10.00pm. We were staying at the Lindner Congress Hotel in Cottbus. It is a stylish glass building with 14 floors and marble bathrooms. We were pleasantly surprised as the rooms were cheap. However, the food was not, so we supplied our own breakfast and the whole squad ate out together every night in the town square at Cottbus. This was not only fun but great for team building and morale.

The hotel was situated in the centre of Cottbus and towered above all of the other buildings which were all very square and appeared to be made of a concrete construction. The roads in the area were all wide and had electric trams, cars and bicycles going in all directions. The shops were pleasant and there was a local market.  We were also really lucky that a park and a nice river walk were situated by the hotel. Each day we travelled to the Stadium by coach which was about two miles away from where we were staying.

The GB Team had members representing Great Britain in both the team and the individual events, selected after two qualifying competitions

Team &  Individual Competitors

Handler    Pet Name Dogs Name Type of BSD
Michelle Griffiths Jive  Minka Nikiski Jive Tervueren
Jo Hyslop Keisha Bonvivant Object D’art Malinois
David Leach Rusty Bonvivant Kalisto Malinois
Gill Raddings Check   Minka Morgan Check Tervueren

Individual Competitors

Handler    Pet Name Dogs Name Type of BSD
Mike Bacon  Jet Louandi Diamond  Tervueren
Helen Brown Zeus Wild Blue Spirit Malinois
Andy Brown Thor Easy Take Me High Malinois
Tony Parmiter Poppy  Ebontide Obsession Groenendael

When we arrived at the venue, Mike and I set about finding the organiser's office which was over a very busy road on the other side of the Stadium. I registered the team and collected the team bibs and pass cards.

At first we were unsure where the Agility competition would take place as the allocated area was on a low pile Astroturf surface with sand on top. There was a lot of debate as to whether it was a suitable surface. The FMBB were to make a decision and let us all know at the managers' meeting if the competition would be moved or if we were to go ahead on the Astroturf.

We decided that we would set up our tents and flags anyway, ensuring we had a base during the day where the dogs could rest and be in the shade. This proved to be a good move because, by the time we returned to the agility area before the team parade, there was not a space left.

We all attended the parade in our team strip. This is a time when all of the teams get very patriotic and are proud to represent their country. The noisiest and most colourful team and supporters would have to be the Dutch! After the parade, we made our way back to the hotel to rest before the next days events.

Team practice
Next day we were up nice and early and off to the venue for team practice.  Fortunately this year team GB had time to watch a few other teams practice on the equipment. I personally really enjoy watching the practice session as it gives you an insight on how the other countries train and what methods and techniques they use.

You never know what type of equipment you might find when arriving at the Champs. This year we had some differences with regards to the surface of the contact equipment. It was like a tough rubber mat that had been wrapped around the planks and was very harsh to touch, similar to the rubber matting you might find in swimming baths. We had some concerns with regards to the agility area because the surface looked slippery and because it was so short we felt that there was a possibility the dogs could burn their feet. With this in mind, we were very conscientious and set out from the start to preserve the dogs pads as best we could.

As on previous years, we were very pleased with the way we organised ourselves in the practice session, and we got the best out of our 16 minutes. We split into two groups and covered all of the equipment ensuring the dogs were familiar with the surface they were to run on and the contact equipment.

We were all a bit surprised at the introduction of a table which was a bit low and had the same rubber on as the contact equipment. It also had an electronic senor attached which counted down with beeps. A quick succession of beeps meant you could leave the table. The Squad all practiced this once and then incorporated it into a sequence of obstacles. Unfortunately Andy's Thor misjudged the table and caught his left hind leg on the edge. He appeared to have a dead leg for a few seconds but then bounced back with no sign of lameness. We hoped that he had not knocked his confidence and that he would remain sound for the rest of the competition.

The vet check went well. All of the dogs' microchips were read and passports checked so we were ready to compete the next day.

Team briefing
Everyone headed back to the hotel, and Mike kindly offered to accompany me to the Team Manager briefing. We walked to the stadium from the hotel and found a very picturesque route to take across the town and along the river. Team briefing started 45 minutes late which is not unusual. The Judge addressed us and gave us a run down on how the competition was to be run.

The venue surface was deemed to be safe. The competition was to be run over FCI rules. If eliminated you would get your course time but there was to be no training in the ring. If you made a mistake in the weaves after being eliminated, you were not allowed to go back to the start of them as this was classed as practicing.

  • The table would not be used nor would the drop tunnel as there was no way of fixing it to the Astroturf.

  • A fixed tyre would be used because the two judges would not agree on how to judge the breakaway tyre.

  • The equipment would be marked on the ground so that if there was any movement it would be replaced to the same spot. 

  • The seesaw must touch the ground and all leads would be placed in a bucket at the end of the course.

  • The A-frame and dog walk had electronic contact sensors. No noise would be emitted but the judges would wear a bracelet with a wireless connection to the sensor that vibrated when the contact was touched. In the briefing, the Judge stated that the sensor was to aid him but not be used instead of his eyes.

The starting order for the Team competition was drawn with Great Britain going first in the Team Jumping event.

I wrote down all of the information and reported back to the Squad before we all went for our evening meal. We all turned in early as we had an early start the next day!

Friday
The competition started with the first Individual Agility course. The squad was spaced quite evenly through the 140 or so competitors with Helen first to go.

Individual Agility
The squad did well with Dave, Helen, Gill, Michelle and Tony going clear. Mike had 5 faults and unfortunately Andy and Jo picked up an elimination each. Dave was in the top 10 so qualified for the final with this run.

Individual Jumping
Dave, Jo & Tony went clear. Andy and Helen had 5 faults while Michelle, Gill and Mike were eliminated.

Team Jumping
Being drawn first was unfortunate but possibly turned out to be a good thing. The course had a couple of traps but was otherwise quite fast. We needed quick, clear rounds to be in with a chance. Jo ran first and produced the first clear (lots of cheering!) Michelle next – also clear, then Gill – another clear!!! With only three of the four runs counting Dave now had the opportunity to improve our times so went as quick as he could but this cost him a pole for 5 faults.  The team was lying 10th at the end of the day.

Saturday
The second day of the competition started with the Jumping round. As the surface was Astroturf with sand, Dave decided not to run Rusty un order to save her feet for the Team Agility and the Individual Finals.

Individual Jumping
Andy, Michelle, Helen and Gill all collected 5 faults on different parts of the course.  Jo, Tony and Mike were eliminated.

Individual Agility
Michelle, Jo and Gill were all clear but not quite fast enough to qualify. Helen, Tony and Mike were on 5 faults while Dave had 15 faults and Andy was eliminated Team Agility. 

Team Agility
Quite nail biting as we were in with a chance.  Jo was first to go but left the A Frame a fraction early to collect 5 faults, Michelle went clear but then Gill got eliminated when Check slipped around to back jump a fence.  The pressure was on Dave who came up trumps with a great clear.

In the end, only two teams had three clears in both the Jumping and Agility with GB coming a creditable 6th out of 19 teams!  France retained their Team Champion title.

Sunday
It was the last day of the  Finals Day. Dave with Rusty and Helen with Zeus had qualified for the finals.

Individual Final Jumping
Dave had qualified on the first day and Helen also qualified as best of the rest i.e. the best dog from each country that had not already qualified. Dave ran first but picked up an unfortunate 5 faults for a refusal when he and Rusty had a misunderstanding about jumping a fence or going round it.

Helen and Zeus were flying around the course but came to grief at the same fence as Dave. This time Zeus back jumped for an elimination

Individual Agility
It was a very exciting final – running in reverse order, the last 4 dogs had either eliminations or faults leaving the Finnish girl to come up from 5th to World Champion!

Dave pulled off some outstanding handling with Rusty and layered a peel away pipe tunnel whilst she completed the Dog walk it had to be seen to be believed but the crowd clapped him for this manoeuvre before he even finished the course!  They finished a creditable 15th of the 61 qualifiers.

The day ended with the Closing ceremony and lots of beautiful trophies were awarded in all of the disciplines. As soon as the ceremony had ended, we all got back on the coach and headed for home!

Final assessment
The results for Team GB were very encouraging. The squad have worked hard over the winter to become more competitive on the FCI courses and the experience of competing at the World Champs will be carried forward to next years selections.

The FCI courses are so much faster than UK courses and, although they sometimes appear easy, they present very different problems when trying to negotiate them. We did not think that the standard of dogs could get much higher but each year we return and the standard has improved. I believe we have some fantastic Belgian Shepherds in GB and our standard is also improving year on year as can be seen by the results achieved at our KC Agility competitions in the UK.

The Championships are extremely exciting to me. It was an honour to watch these world class dogs, many of them Champions in their own countries, working in a lot of disciplines Mondioring, IPO, Showing, Obedience and Agility and seeing how versatile and talented the Belgian Shepherd Dog can be. It was a privilege and a pleasure to watch a breed I love excelling in their own field.

Thank you
I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the team to thanks Mike Bacon for organising the entries, travel arrangements and accommodation a difficult task always well executed which makes the whole event come together and run smoothly.

Thank you to Candice Robinson who kindly made tuggy leads in red, white and blue for all of the squad. The dogs loved them.

A big thank you to Nancy Hudson, Helen and Andy Brown for their training prior to the Champs your knowledge and dedication to the Squad has proved invaluable.

 

Joint sponsors of the Great Britain Agility Team for the FMBB World Championships

The substantial amount of funds required to send the team is jointly raised by the Belgian Shepherd Dog Association of Great Britain and the Working Belgian Shepherd Dog Society who jointly manage the whole enterprise. We would like to thank both societies for giving up a lot of their own time and for putting in so much effort to make it possible for the BSD agility community to compete in this prestigious World championship competition.

Photos thanks to Candice Robinson &  Michelle Griffiths


2007 GB Team Report

The FMBB 2006 Belgian Shepherd Dog Agility World Championships were held in Székesfehérvár, Hungary on 4-7 May. Mike Bacon, Team Manager, reports.

The GB Team were:

  • Andy Brown with Heidron Chasing Stormy Skye (Sky) - Groenedael defending last year’s individual and team title

  • Brenda Hollis with Baudwin Cappamore (Bailey) - Tervueren also in last years winning team

  • Anne Challis with Louandi Bronzed Teak (Copper) - Tervueren  

  • Louise Challis with Louandi Creole (Timber) - Tervueren

Also in the squad and competing as an individual was Julie Saunders with Minka Lexey Q.T. (Razzle) a Tervueren.

Travelling with the Squad were Mike Bacon going as Team Manager and Helen Brown, the team coach and trainer.

Schedule of Events

 

The British SquadMonday
The team met up on Monday evening 1 May at Lincoln Kennels just off the M25 at Brands Hatch and transferred onto the coach. Travelling through the night dawn saw us crossing the Moselle valley in Germany 1,000ft above the river. It was the start of a day in which we would see stunning scenery right across Germany. Even stopping every couple of hours to exercise the dogs and rest the drivers, we made good time and arrived in Bavaria where we were to have a long stopover.

The place we had chosen was a luxurious services between Rosenhiem and Herrensee, a very beautiful area at the foot of the Alps. We gave the dogs a long walk in the forest, had a meal and shower. We then cut the team cake and had a couple of beers on the terrace as we watched the sun set over the Alps.

Tuesday
We set off early the next morning again, travelling through more stunning countryside. We were a bit apprehensive about travelling through Austria and crossing the Austrian and Hungarian borders as we had been incorrectly told there were additional controls on dogs there. The reassurances from DEFRA and the Austrian ministry were quite correct though, and we passed through without any problems at all.

Travelling through the Hungarian countryside we couldn’t help but notice the contrast with Bavaria and Austria. Most buildings were tiny and ramshackle with every scrap of land being used productively. In the towns there were lots of signs of development and progress.

Wednesday
We arrived in Szekesfehsvar mid-afternoon on Wednesday. We made our way right to the venue as there was an opportunity to train at the local dog club opposite the competition stadium. This was couple of acres of land with a large, if basic, club house. Practice for the IPO, Obedience and Agility was well underway. The agility equipment was mostly home-made and a bit 'rustic' so we just gave the dogs a simple workout and set off to find the hotel.

The hotel was a real delight - only 2-Star but open, bright and absolutely spotless. It was in the centre of the town but less than 15 minutes drive to the stadium. Throughout our stay, the staff could not do enough to help. We settled the dogs in and took a stroll around the town. We found a restaurant that offered such good quality and value we ate there three out of our four nights.

Brenda & BaileyThursday
We have an early start the next day as our practice is scheduled for 7.00am. The sessions are usually very strictly controlled, but gaps in the organisation were starting to show. The equipment does not arrive from Germany until 8.00am. There are not enough people to unload it, and there was no course plan. Helen quickly improvises a training course while we assemble the equipment. We have two people on the course at a time for half an hour and the organisers seem surprised when we finish! 

We had missed our allocated vet check time but manage to fit it in. Anne has noticed that Timber has an infected toe and asked the vet to check it. He said it was not serious and did not need treatment. Bailey is also out of sorts but okay to compete.

We returned to the hotel for breakfast and then sat in the courtyard and chilled with the dogs who were exercised in a local park before we returned for the opening ceremony. Over 300 Belgian Shepherd Dogs paraded around the stadium with lots of patriotic music and flag waving.

This was followed by a Team Managers meeting. There were problems because the competition is run under FCI rules but not everything was covered so the organisers had to improvise. They really did not have the experience of this type of event. It is sorted out for this year as it has been in previous years, and now the FMBB has appointed an Agility Committee from the competing countries to ensure it runs more smoothly in the future.Louise & Timber

Friday
Friday saw the first day of competition. The courses were interesting. On paper they would seem to be a stiff Intermediate or Senior course but the distances between obstacles is a minimum of five metres - and often more - which allowed the dogs to build real speed. The judges had cleverly placed obstacles slightly out of line or in the way.

Andy and Skye came second in the first Jumping class and were fortunate to qualify for the Individual final. The others came very close to qualifying. Louise and Timber were just a second and couple of places outside qualifying but Timber's toe got worse and he was taken to the local vet. He could still compete but was prescribed anti-inflammatory painkillers and anti-biotics. At the end of the first day with Timber and Bailey - both not 100 percent - the team was lying in 13th place.

Julie and RazzleSaturday
On Saturday the courses were even more technical. Bailey seemed to be getting back to usual form and qualified for the final with a very workmanlike jumping round. Anne and Copper were outstanding and qualified in the Agility. Timber was obviously feeling a lot better. Again Louise was very unfortunate, just missing qualification. Julie and Razzle were also unfortunate not to qualify, delighting the crowd with their style. They are a team to watch for the future.

By the time we got to the Team final on Saturday afternoon, there was a really positive interaction between the teams with lots exchange of complements for handling and dogs and also advice both serious and joking. Thankfully English is the common language.

It is shame that the team finals were on Friday and Saturday, not Saturday and Sunday as in previous years. Our dogs and handlers were improving all the time as they settled in and got used to the FCI courses. The Team Agility final was very demanding but even so we managed to gain three places to finish tenth overall.

Andy & SkySunday
There was a real buzz on Sunday for the Individual finals. It started an hour later at 8.00am and there was a good crowd of spectators. The Jumping course was extremely tricky, and it had been raining, making the ground very slippery. A lot of handlers lost their footing and the dogs had problems with turns and clearing jumps. As the ground dried out, the later runs had an advantage. A lot of the people who ran early did not do as well as they were capable of.

At the end of the jumping round only Andy is in contention for the GB squad. He is lying in second place with 0.56sec time fault. The pair in the lead was blisteringly fast with the only a 0.41 sec time fault.

In the Agility final, dogs run in the reverse order of their jumping final placings. The top six were the only real contenders and by the time it got to Andy, he was assured a second place... if he went clear. He did a superbly well-judged run. Not over handling nor pushing too hard, he allowed Skye to use his natural ability to turn and take the best line. The cheers from the crowd as he went clear. Amazing! There are more than a few tears in the GB camp. It has not been easy to get here and it is now all worthwhile. Andy and Skye had, at the very least, gained a second place.

We pulled ourselves together to watch the last competitor. She was a natural athlete with an extremely fast Malinois. They could only work one way and that was to attack the course from the start. They were three quarters of the way around and up on the time when they missed the A-frame contact. We were sorry that a great run has gone wrong but so pleased that Andy has successfully defended his individual title.

The Belgium team choose this time to open the champagne to celebrate their well deserved team victory and very sportingly bring a glass over to toast Andy’s success.

Andy Brown - Individual Gold againThere was some time to watch IPO and Mondioring finals before the presentation and closing ceremony which was late. Even a downpour could not dampen our spirits. Helen and Andy were approached by Austrian and Belgian competitors to swap tracksuit tops which was a great honour!

A special thank you to Jacky McKandie who was Judging the Breed Show for coming over to support us and waved the British flag in the stands of the stadium!

The rapport between the teams continued as we made our farewells. We talked to people like we saw them at shows every weekend, not once a year.

Final thoughts
As we drove off into the sunset, we reflected on an amazing few days. The organisation of the event could have been better. For instance, why did we have to start at 7.30am and finish at 6pm for just over 300 runs. Some countries just do not have the experience of running a 'big show.' The FMBB have now recognised this and are doing something about it. You could not fault the Hungarian organisers on the effort they put in and how helpful they all were. Hungary is an intriguing country full of surprises and contrasts and above all, everyone was so friendly and helpful.

The standard of the competition was astounding. People were confident using obstacle discrimination techniques at speed. Even Andy, double Individual and Team World Champion, says he will have to work very hard to keep up in future years. Just training and competing on UK courses is not enough. FCI courses are so different that to be successful they must be trained for as well. Louise has already decided to add different training methods and techniques when she starts training her young dog for agility. It was something that Andy took into account when training Skye as Helen already had experienced this from the FCI All breeds Championship.

There are more countries and competitors taking part each year. If we are to hold our position we must continue to improve our training and organisation.

Back home
We arrived early Monday afternoon. At our return stopover in Verdunne, we had problems finding somewhere to park and stopped outside the Magistrates Court where a policeman was escorting a prisoner. They held up the traffic for us and backed us into a space along the courthouse where he told us that we would be okay as the offices were closed on Mondays.

We walked the dogs along the river and through the town, stopping at a patisserie to buy which we ate in the park. You can imagine that there were many jokes about having a French tart in the park. In the evening we treated ourselves to a meal and a small celebration in a restaurant opposite the courthouse.

A gypsy woman was waiting outside the courthouse, selling lilies of the valley to passers by. The prisoner we had seen earlier was brought out to talk them. They cause a disturbance and he is off like a whippet. The police are after him like, well quite a bit slower, and then run back to get their cars. There was a lot of comical comings and goings. This was a funny end to what I can only describe as a fun and exciting week. 

We pressed on in the very early hours of the morning and were back at Brands Hatch and on our way before lunch.

Each year the BSD WC have been a very special and unique experience in their own right. This year was no exception and was definitely the best yet. We'd all had a wonderful time at the Championships and really enjoyed watching the different disciplines of which our breed excel. Having four different competitions in one place with dogs competing from all over the World makes it really special!

Next year the competitionwill not be too far away in Le Touquet (France) during the 13th FMBB World Championship from 11-13 May 2007. If you want the experience of a lifetime and have a BSD doing agility, get FCI training and try to qualify for the squad. Or alternatively consider going as a supporter for an extremely enjoyable holiday.

Thank you
The squad would like to thank all the support they have received from both the Belgian Shepherd and Agility communities, particularly for Michelle Griffiths, Souldern Agility Club and all those involved in running Spring at Shuttleworth, without the contribution from the show proceeds it would not have been possible.

Thank you to John Gilbert for sparing his time for a training/team selection day. The squad would like to give their heartfelt thanks to Mike Bacon for organising the travel arrangements and being Team Manager, Helen Brown for our training and Plan-it travel the coach company whose contribution to this WC was invaluable. 

 And finally a very big thank you to everyone for all of your good luck and best wishes. 

A personal message from Andy Brown BSD Individual World Champion 2005 & 2006
Thank you for all the nice messages from everyone after my successful defence at the World Championship for Belgian Shepherds in Hungary. I would like to especially thank Mike Bacon Team manager and organiser, Helen for my training and help @ the event, Louise, Anne, Julie and Brenda for there support on the journey to and from the event and whilst competing. I would also like to thank everyone who entered or helped @ the Spring at Shuttleworth show in April especially Michelle Griffiths and Souldern Agility Club because without 50% of the profit from the show we would not have been able to fund going to Hungary at all. And last of all thanks to Skye on making a dream come true! 
BSD  Agility World ChampionshipBSD  Agility World Championship

 

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