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The UK was represented at the 2013
World Agility Open Championships in Oviedo Spain on by teams from the the Home Countries -
England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland. How did they do against some of the best handlers
in the world? The team managers report.
Jo Tristram - A Competitors
When I heard that the 2013 WAO venue
was in Spain, I don’ think I was alone in thinking 'Hello sunshine!'[ I, along with I’m sure
many others, prepared by buying new shorts and even a cap to run in under the sweltering
Well, we did see sunshine on the Monday
we arrived. It was glorious. And Oveido was really quite nice. The hills behind the Team
England hotel looked like a good option for a run later.
The sun was still around on the Tuesday
when the remaining team members and management arrived and we visited the venue for the first
time. The venue was a smart equestrian centre with a huge indoor arena to hold the Main Ring
and a good grassy area for Rings 1 and 2. We took the time to get the feel of the place and let
the dogs wander around. In the evening, the majority of us went out for a team meal. Large
portions, eggs and seafood were the menu throughout the week. Some of us even enjoyed baby eels
one evening that were lovely! Thank goodness for the hills to balance out the carbs! Ha!
On Wednesday Team England started to
get down to business with the two hour training session - one hour on the grass and one in the
sand filled main arena. For Bitz and me, it was an opportunity to run though some short
sequences to see how we fared after our travels. Tace, our team physio, had given her the once
over and all seemed well. I was pleased that she was running nicely.
The weather had changed a little by
now. Showers and the cold were creeping in. The weather continued on the same theme into
Thursday with the official training session, a short session which I used to reward Bitzy's
start lines, contacts and handling manoeuvres.
Then came the opening ceremony. I was
thrilled to be asked to be flag bearer. As we walked into the area, the nerves as a returning
champion began to creep in. After what was a thankfully brief opening ceremony, we were back to
the hotel for supper and bed ready for Day 1.
Thursday was cold! I repeatedly wished
I had packed my feather and down jacket and not my thin shower proof!
The competition started well for us.
Bitz did a lovely clear in the first round of the Pentathlon, a huge sigh of relief! No one had
quite prepared me for how it would feel as you began to defend something you were so proud of
winning the year before. I honestly can say, for someone who actually enjoys pressure normally,
that it was hard. But I needn’t have doubted my fluffy girl as she came out and put in a
sensible clear and continued to do so for me in our Pentathlon runs all weekend.
We had a few blips in our other runs,
but amongst a few others we did a fab team run in the main arena on the Saturday. We had a huge
crowd and a great atmosphere as everything had been moved into the main arena for the afternoon
as the weather had taken a terrible turn for the worse and the rain was bucketing down. But it
was one of the runs I will most remember from the weekend. I had to run last following my team
mates' two lovely clean runs. Bitz as ever rose with the atmosphere and did a beautiful run for
me in front of a loud crowd. Those are the moments I love in agility and keep me getting up at
ridiculous hours, training in the rain and spending too much money on diesel to go to shows.
the finals on the Sunday Bitz and I managed a Bronze medal in the Pentathlon, not quite
retaining the title but still so proud of the fluffy one. Just one wide turn in that last run
may have been the thing that cost us, but it goes to show how high the level of competition was
and makes me proud to have been a part of it. Particular thanks to Tace for warming Bitz up
before every run and helping to else my back throughout the long days, makes such a difference
Aside from my own agility runs, there
were moments that I won't forget from this year. I laughed so hard at times it hurt. I've
included a picture that I thought was one of the sensible ones and even that was sabotaged!
Thanks, Steven! I can't include the link to the Gibson Sequel on YouTube as it might be too
frightening, so you are safe there.
On a more serious note our team had
some amazing runs. It seemed that we were constantly there to cheer a team mate on a placing.
Two of the outstanding memories came for me after helping to keep notes on the Gamblers final
on the Saturday night. It was lovely to watch Bridgette face as she was told she'd taken the
Silver overall Games medal. She’d worked hard, knew her dog's strengths and listened to Shaun's
games advice. The look of joy was infectious! I could go on to make a comment about every medal
but I'll leave that to others. Needless to say we weren’t put off by the lack of Spanish
Tricia Elms -
This was only the second
time a Scottish team has competed abroad, and this time, with many of the world's top handlers
present and even more countries represented, the team came up against some fierce opposition. As well as the dogs and handlers who had qualified for the team, Scotland was represented by
Laura Innes and her dog Kadyn, who had been accepted as a wildcard by the WAO committee after
winning Silver in last years Games Championship.
Although no medals were
brought home this year, the team came home with lots of ideas on how to improve their handling
and training. The World Agility Open is the only international event which allows Scotland to
enter its own team, along with the other home nations. Although Scottish handlers are entitled
to compete for Team GB at other international events, many find the cost of travelling to
qualifiers or collecting points at shows 'down south' too prohibitive and, consequently, few
Scottish handlers are able to try out for a British team travelling to, for example, the FCI
World Championships or the European Open. For most, the World Agility Open Championships is the
only opportunity to experience an international competition and see, first hand, what direction
agility has taken in other countries. The experience gained by the Scottish competitors over
the past three years can only improve the standard of agility in Scotland, and we would like to
thank the organisers of the WAO for this opportunity.
The World Agility
Championships is designed to set real challenges for dogs and handlers, and with early starts,
late nights and a very busy schedule in the days leading up to the competition, the event is
something of a marathon which requires a great deal of stamina to see the competitors through.
Although the weather had been sunny and warm when the team first arrived in Spain, this soon
changed and the organisers and competitors had to cope with some unseasonably cold and wet
weather. Consequently, the schedule had to be changed and classes which should have been held
in the two outdoor rings had to be moved into the indoor Main Ring on the Saturday, which made
for a very long day indeed.
Despite this, all members
of Agility Team Scotland worked their socks off and achieved some amazing results. Just like at
any other agility competition, there was a mixture of clear runs, faults and eliminations, as
well as a fair sprinkling of 'if-only runs.' The team members managed to hold their own in
several events, and in others, they learned a lot by watching handlers from other countries.
Once again, the team's
best results came in the Games Championship - much to everyone's surprise since Gamblers and
Snooker classes are not usually seen in Scotland. Lisa Duggan and Tig were 2nd in 525 Gamblers
and Mark Bruce and Becky 3rd in 300 Gamblers. Emma Jones & Kerri just missed out on a podium
place in the overall games results, coming 4th overall in the 650 height.
The World Agility Open
Championships is divided into several different individual and team events. The Individual
Pentathlon consists of five rounds - 2 x Agility, 2 x Jumping and 1 x Speedstakes, while the Individual
Biathlon is 1 x Agility and 1 x Jumping round. The Games Championships consists of two games
classes – Snooker and Gamblers.
The Team Pentathlon is
run along the same lines as the Individual Pentathlon, but with three dogs of different size
competing in each round, culminating in a relay race over a Speedstakes course on the final day
of the competition. The overall results for Scotland were as follows:-
The cumulative result after 4 round was:
300 17th Natasha
Indie / 19th Emma
Pebbles / 23rd Peter
400 11th Michelle
Reilly / 13th Bernice
Milo / 44th Dane
Keeta / 34th Lisa
Tig / 45th Laura
650 21st Emma
Kerri, /39th Bonny
Hayly / 46th Fiona
With only the top-20 dogs
from each height being allowed into the final Individual Speedstakes round, Agility Team
Scotland was delighted when two of its 300 mm dogs, two of its 400 mm dogs and one of its 525
mm dogs made it through.
The overall result in the Individual Pentathlon was:
300 15th Natasha
Indie /16th Emma
400 10th Michelle
Reilly / 17th Bernice
The overall result in the Games Championships was:-
300 16th Mark
Becky / 34th Natasha
Indie / 36th Emma
Reilly /19th Dane
Cassie, 44th Mark
Dee Dee / 20th Di
Tigra, 27th Laura
650 4th Emma
Kerri, 25th Bonny
Hayly, 30th Fiona
The overall result in the Biathlon was:
300 8th Emma
Pebbles /31st Natasha
Indie / 33rd Mark
400 18th Dane
Cassie / 31st Mark
with Sindy / 49th Bernice
Kadyn / 22nd Di
Team Scotland ended up in the
following positions in each of the first four rounds. After the four
initial rounds, only the top eight teams are allowed to run in the Team Relay Speedstakes. Unfortunately, for the first time in the history of the WAO, Scotland did not make the cut.
Even so, the team achieved a credible 14th place overall in the Team Pentathlon.
The team would like to
thank their sponsors Kronch
for supporting the team and providing them with their team kit. Also thanks go to Lisa Cleeton,
who gave up her time and travelled to Spain for the team and made sure the dogs stayed fit and
healthy throughout the event. She did a fantastic job.
Once again, we would like
to thank the Scottish Agility Community for their support. Without them, there would be no
Agility Team Scotland.
Team Northern Ireland
The Irish Trip by Kirsty
After the team selection process and the months of training
twice a week, the Northern Irish Team was ready for the WAO. Our team consisted of eight members
and 12 dogs, a Manager and an Assistant Manager. There were also a few grooms who were
travelling along with the team. We embarked on the journey the Sunday before the WAO started
and it took us four days, 1500 miles and many café au lait /con leche to get us there!
Our training day was
Thursday at 1pm so we were able to relax at the hotel for a while before we headed down to the
venue. Our hotel was a ten minute drive from the Centre which was very handy. Thursday evening
was the Opening Ceremony which was great to see all the countries participating in the event
and meet the judges and stewards.
It was a very early start
on Friday morning and everyone was a little bit nervous. Once we saw the course plans and knew
what we were doing, it settled everyone's nerves and we all began to enjoy the experience. Our
dogs gave us some awesome runs, and all of us were very happy with them. We may not all have had
fantastic clear rounds as we are human and our dogs are not machines!
On the Saturday, some of
the team who did not make the cut for the Pentathlon had a long wait and didn't have their first run at
6pm. It was lovely, however, to be able to watch the other countries and see the different
styles and techniques that are being introduced into agility.
One of our team members,
Catherine Porter, qualified for the Pentathlon with her dogs, Yogi and Ziva. It was great to
watch her in the final. She did the team proud and both Catherine and her dogs really enjoyed
Once all the events had
taken place, it was time for the closing ceremony. This marked the end of another WAO and
everyone listened with bated breath as they announced where it would be next year... ta da... Italy. Our
managers have already started talking about routes to Italy before we had left Spain!
Even though our team did
not have anyone on the podium this year, we all had a fantastic time and really enjoyed the
experience. Our dogs have been driven over land and under sea and they still gave us 100%. What
more can we ask for?! The venue was amazing and the courses were lovely to run. The WAO was a
fantastic event, and we all had a great time.
I would like to take this
opportunity to thank Tug-Tastic
for their sponsorship of tuggies for the whole team and Happy Dog for sponsoring our kit.
The Northern Ireland WAO Team
Catherin Porter with Yogi
Kirsty Jess with Buddy
Kirsty Jess with Jack
Louise McClurg with Inca
Karen Bleaskley with Tess
Catherine Porter with Ziva
Ronnie McAleese with Jay
Louise McClurg with Maxi
Glenn Smart with Dexter
Ronnie McAleese with Chi Ro
Isabel Trotter with Chip
Miriam McDowell with Teddy
Photo courtesy of Thomas Szabo
Reflections from Diana
Collie - Team Manager & Anne Collen - Team Coach
It was a fantastic event,
with brilliant organisation, venue and judges, and it just gets better and better every year!
We had a
great team of eight dogs and handlers, who have worked so hard, both in training and fund
raising. This created great team spirit, with everyone being very supportive of each other
during the competition.
It was a long journey, but
all dogs travelled well and benefited from arriving a couple of days ahead of time. This
allowed us to get two training sessions in on the Wednesday as well as the short, high pressure
one on the Thursday.
Though we were never in
contention for any prizes, Team Ireland had definitely upped their game from last year. But
unfortunately the rest of the world has also upped their game!! Results on paper are not really
a true reflection of how well everybody coped.
To sum up, this was a fantastic trip
that I'm sure all team members will have benefited and grown from in many ways.
For full results from all
classes and countries, see www.worldagilityopen.com