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 consisted of :-
The 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.
warms up on Friday
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
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.
Yet 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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:-
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
First published 7 September 2011
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
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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!
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.
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
The FMBB 2006 Belgian Shepherd Dog Agility World Championships were held in Székesfehérvár, Hungary on 4-7 May. Mike Bacon, Team Manager, reports.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There 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.
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.
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 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