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Notes on competing while
pregnant and as a new parent
It’s not unusual these
days to see mums-to-be with bumps still competing in the agility ring as late as 39
weeks and babes in arms watching with Dad or agility aunties (and uncles)
from outside the ring. Selena Bray, mother of three including newborn Arran,
shares her experiences as a top competitor and gives us a glimpse of the days before
and after his birth.
people have to stop quite early and do absolutely nothing. Swollen ankles are a
big complaint, but I was lucky and never had that!
Here are some of the
highlights of my nine months plus.
for qualifiers without considering your state further down the line!
play up. You can't understand why as nothing has changed. You can still run,
move and are fully fit. But the dogs know what's going on!
inherent fear that your dad or partner find out you fell over while running
your dog on the course!
Having to run in an arena surrounded by food outlets,
wafting the different stenches whilst you try to work your dog making you
heave every few seconds!
near a toilet is extremely important - either desperate for a wee or just
got the nasty stench of fried food!
eat for Britain! Always hungry, but have particular likes and dislikes.
salad, fruit or veggies allowed! No fried food, no bread, no sauces.
Everything is strictly bland.
Starting to struggle to run, tired quick and have to keep energy levels up.
have started to learn how to work nicely again and are adapting to the
months pregnant and starting to struggle to get into place. It's just not
easy and the baby was right in the way!
Finals of Discover Dogs and Olympia coming up at retraining the dogs to work
Believe it or not, starting to struggle.
the dogs with more of a funny side step kind of way.
Desperately don't want to give birth in the Olympia Arena!
dogs look at you with a 'Oh my, can you embarrass me any more?' kind of way.
Knowing that there are certain things you allowed before, i.e. bad start
lines when it didn't matter before because I could outrun the dog - but now have to
bite the bullet and do the greater good thing and repair such disasters
because without a start line, you're dust!
a full day competing or training, my god you know about it. Your legs feel like
they'll drop off
People continually telling you to take it easy is most frustrating! I'm NOT
Dropping the dogs lead or toy on the floor... Oh no! How the hell am I going
to get that! It's soooo far away! Why did I not teach a proper retrieve!?
Trying to put socks or shoes on is the most challenging experience. Manoeuvre the leg around the belly to the side and eventually give up on
extremes like putting socks on... Use slip-on shoes!
last few days, you are so grateful to have dogs which keep you going and
keep you active (Stops a lot of the weight gain!) and obviously helps to get
quicker on your feet following having your baby!
Months 1-4 after...
my, two weeks and have to be able to run at Crufts!
running at Crufts is the first time the body allowed anything remotely
like a run. Don't know if my dog will remember what to do! Not match fit!
Crippling back pain means that support shorts are more than necessary!
Little and often training and to stop even if you feel 'fine' to build up.
completely frustrated, because I am physically unable to get into prime
handling places and have to divert to either safe routes or trust some new
training skills to show remote handling!
Building stomach muscles back up with enough sit ups to put a gym to shame.
No six pack in sight, not even a can!
Turning to run one way, while your pregnancy extras go the other way is
probably the most off-putting thing ever!
Falling about laughing in the
Championship final is probably not the done thing!
you get on the start line, there's nothing like hearing your baby starting
to gristle while in the arms of a poor unsuspecting friend who received said
baby in a state of sleep or a happy state! They were fooled!
great when you mistake someone's compliments for your baby when you have the
most delicious puppy in your arms! Expect to discuss the delightful puppy!
out to the evening entertainment with the must have and latest trend 'baby
sick' accessory on your shoulder is a given!
minute job becomes hours with your little helper and knowing this is only
going to get harder as they get older!
feeling that having a baby is no excuse to rehome family pets. It's been
easy to deal with all seven of our blessings... well, six, the brown poodle
doesn't count! That's with a full time job, running a dog training club,
competing and looking after a delightful teenager too! Not an excuse at all.
Knowing that there are loads of people out there on the agility circuit who
actually are friends and do care.
Instructing folk at training with an inquisitive Kelpie and a chattering
four month old giggling at club members does put you off your train of
thought slightly, but it's great to see members playing horses to entertain
the little fella during the session it does make your day!
Sharing small amounts of your babies progress with your close friends and
agility family and knowing firsthand that it is an awesome life to grow up within.
Baby finding that a dog going through a tunnel is the funniest thing they
seen - very very cute and very very off putting!
the van up for a dog show used to be simple! Now it is a game of Tetris,
trying to fit all the things in which he might need. For one so small, they
take a lot of room, time and energy!
think that competing with my girls when they were babies was an even bigger
nightmare. I used to have to tie them at the ringside while I worked my dogs!
Now I can't get Arran out of his dad's arms!
About the author…
Like so many people, Selena Bray, came
to agility from the horse scene. She used to ride at Selston Equestrian Centre
where she first noticed an advert for dog agility at Nottingham DTC.
Her first agility dog was a German
Shepherd called Soda Pops which she shared with her Dad who taught them both
patience. Being a Junior
handler in the 1980s, she was lucky enough to be able to run different dogs
which club members lent her.
In March 1994 she got her first Miniature
Poodle called Jade who was a super little dog, and in 1996 she hit the agility
scene with Shay. Unfortunately their careers were cut short but her Agility
Champion Shade's name is a tribute to them.
Selena trains at Fox
Agility DTC although she spends the majority of her time training everyone else.
Her agility hero is her Dad, Alan Bray.
published 11 October 2015