An Olympic and Para-Olympic agility competition...
After two relatively local - and very enjoyable - IMCA – PAWC competitions in Holland and Belgium, the UK Team was in high spirits. Hearing that the event would be in Hungary in 2014, there was no doubt that they would be there, enthusiastically strutting their their stuff and waving the Union Jack. However, during the cold winter months reality set in and with it the realisation that Gyula was 1200 miles away, a heck of a journey with heavy costs to match. Doubts began to set in. Then, as the summer approached and the sun showed its face, the doubts were replaced with determination. The teeth were gritted and the decision was made to submit a team. Team Leader Richard Partridge reports.
The 14th International Mix & Breeds Championship together with the 12th Paragilty World Cup (IMCA –PAWC) took place in Gyula, Hungary from 5-8 September 2013. Once again the United Kingdom was represented in both competitions. Each year the competition grows and in 2013 there are teams from 19 counties including Japan and Canada.
As well as the previous entrants with Large and Medium dogs, we welcomed four new Small dog handlers in the persons of Wendy and Steve Fassam and Susi and Greg Cooper - all of them higher grade handlers - bringing with them high expectations. Sue Drew, Dave Maylam and Jane Clark made up our PAWC contingent.
The 2013 UK Team
The welcome in Hungary was truly magnificent. On the Thursday evening, the Team paraded through the City from the castle in the centre of town to the Sports Hall about a mile away with our dogs, waving our country flags and accompanied by youngsters in national costume. It seemed that most of the population of Gyula had turned out to watch, wave and generally enjoy the spectacle. I realised that the police had also turned out closing the roads for us. Imagine that in dear old Blighty!
This was followed by the traditional Opening Ceremony after which we all went to our temporary homes to prepare for the exertions to come. The Friday evening Gala was a very enjoyable chance for all of the competitors, organisers and judges to get together socially. The food was very good, the local dances entertaining and the live musicians more than able to get us up and dancing.
Let the show
This was followed by the first Paragility Agility event where we did not fare too well. Poor Sue had her wheelchair in the wrong gear!
Following this came the Medium Jumping where Helaina and her working cocker, Slinkie, managed to come in 17th. In the Small Jumping, we did better with our five dogs. Greg’s 10th was very creditable considering he had not previously been to this event and was experiencing the razzmatazz for the first time. Wendy and Steve also got placed. Won’t dwell too much on Smokey and me! Then it was off to scrub up and put on the glad-rags for the Gala.
The Gala was held in the Castle. As this building is ancient the original hall is now open to the elements, but the weather was glorious and very warm. We all enjoyed an exceptional welcome from our hosts, excellent and an amazing variety of food, drinks (sparingly, naturally) and live music. During this evening Greg made his mark on team history by going off for drinks and returning with alcohol free beer! Steve lost no opportunity for the rest of the weekend to remind him!!
The day also brought the PAWC Jumping. This time Sue selected the correct gear and got onto the podium with a 3rd place Bronze. Dave and Jane both got Es, or Ds in FCI speak but, as often happens, the result does not fully reflect the performance.
In the Medium Agility which followed, sadly all of our team was eliminated. Despite this there were some excellent runs, although obviously there were mistakes.
The second Paragility Agility followed this and all of our competitors managed to win places. Jane made 16th with faults, while Dave came in 12th with Fudge. Fudge missed a contact, which gave them the faults, but the course time was by far the quickest, another case of if only. Sue and Katie went out - again with Sue in the right gear - and got an excellent 3rd again, their second podium. Brilliant!
The Large Agility closed the competition. With John Gilbert judging, we hoped that the 'English' course might help us but, despite courageous efforts, most of the team was eliminated with the exception of Jennie with Jack. They came in 31st which was pretty good for a Grade 1 dog in a class of 68.
Overall the team came 13th out of 17 countries, not a brilliant result by some reckoning but, for a team mainly consisting of lower grade handlers and entirely self-funding, it was an excellent end to a great weekend. All of the team got on well together and are already planning for next year in Italy.
I know that in some quarters this competition - and our team - has been regarded with some disparagement. As Team Leader my reply is to say that IMCA is highly regarded in other counties. It's reputation and the number of countries taking part is increasing year by year. Entry in the UK has always been open to anybody who wishes to apply. so far the 'serious' international competitors have shown no interest in participating in IMCA which gives enthusiastic and energetic lower grade handlers the chance to experience a truly magnificent international jamboree of our favourite sport.
In those early days small dogs where only tolerated and, as a result, he cut his teeth on what were then called Open courses, now G1-7 Combined, competing against the best handlers in the country, a real baptism of fire.
Richard then rescued a promising Papillon which his wife promptly stole, giving him in exchange her infamous Irish Twerphound who has recently retired at nine years due to a chronic back problem. He now runs Alfie, another Twerphound, who is full of enthusiasm and is wildly energetic in the ring but is somewhat lacking in disciple.
Richard first came involved with IMCA – PAWC in 2006 when it was held in Amersfoort in Holland. Since then he has competed in Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Hungary. Over the years he has made many new friends through this and come particularly to admire the efforts that disabled folks make to enjoy their sport and the extra relationship it brings with their dogs.
Two years ago he passed the KC judges course and is now enjoying a different aspect of Agility.
First published 10 December 2013