Sunday, April 25, 2010
European Open Agility Tryouts 2010
Our try-outs for the European Open were last weekend. I went into them not really being sure if I was going to travel. The Czech Republic is a looooong drive from England! It will probably be over 20 hours to drive there.
Yet my competitive nature wants me to go! Zen will be 7 next week and I have to realistically think she does not have many more chances to be on Team GB. It would be really nice to think that this year she could be on THREE world teams (IFCS in May, EO in July) and if we can do it again, FCI in September.
So a big dilemma for me but a nice one to have to worry about! Zen did qualify for the team and she came 2nd overall in the try-outs. She was foot perfect in all her runs that weekend. On Saturday she had three normal runs and was clear and placed in everyone. On Sunday for the try-outs we had 4 runs. One jumping followed by 2 agility for the 20 medium teams qualified to try-out and then an agility final for the dogs in the top 12 after 3 rounds.
All the courses were good to run and there was nothing I felt we could not handle. I did not feel that Zen and I were running full speed in all our runs but I also knew that in this situation full speed was not what we needed. We needed good clear runs.
Everything was going according to plan until the end of the third round. Zen was putting in a great run and had a good quick clear run going. She headed up the dog walk which was the 3rd or 4th obstacle from the end and did something she never did before....she fell off from the top. It always goes in slow motion when those things happen doesn't it? I can just remember seeing her little face which had a shocked expression on it. She was on her feet and I knew she was OK yet I just wanted to give her a hug. I was told later that she struggled along the entire length of the top plank as my late front cross put her onto the dogwalk at an angle. Once along the top plank she was scrabbling for footing and when she realized she could no longer stay on she sort of leaped off as she was falling. This really saved her so she landed on her feel rather than on her side. How glad am I that she knew what to do?
The funny part is that I had to look at the judge and wait for him to decide if it was a refusal or a 5-fault contact call. If it was a refusal, I had to put her back up the dogwalk or risk an Elimination. If it was a 5-fault contact call I would keep running to try and get within the course time. In the end it did not matter as so much time was lost that we would have gone over course time (it was a tight time and I think almost every medium dog was over course time in that run!) but I obviously did not know that at the time. After some deliberation in his own mind, the judge put up his hand as a refusal which he later said was because she fell off before all 4 feet were on the down plank. It seemed like it was forever for him to decide although it was probably on a few seconds. Everyone was laughing when I got out and could not believe I was thinking quickly enough to wait for his call!
If Zen had not fallen off the dog-walk we would have definitely been on the team even after three rounds as our points for the three runs would have been high enough to get in the top 3. Now with the 0 points for that round; all was up to play for. There were quite a few dogs now that could sneak into the top placements.
The sad part for me was that when I put Zen back on the dogwalk, she was tentative. She has never been tentative on a dog walk in her whole career. And more worryingly during the final run she did the same thing again. I am going to try not to obsess about it and just pray that at her next competition (next weekend) she will have forgotten all about it and runs as normal.
As luck would have it, Zen ran clear in the final round and we ended up 2nd overall in points to guarantee us a spot on the team. I was happy but you know what I thought about the entire ride home: Is Zen ok? :-(
Zen was very tired after this weekend.
I did not bring my video camera but found out afterwards that a friend videoed the final round. I debated about putting the run on the blog as I did not want to keep seeing her hesitation on the dog walk. But I thought it would be good to share as I know other people have had to deal with this issue. What I DO know is that I would be extremely happy if the UK began to adopt rubberized contacts to prevent another dog from slipping off a dogwalk!! I am lucky that physically she is OK and we will be working very hard over the next few weeks to make sure that she is back to normal on the dogwalk. Zen has thought she has gone to heaven as she has been getting heavily rewarded with food on the dogwalk at home this past week!
So no decisions yet on the trip to the Czech Republic. Dennis is not going with me this year and sadly I cannot ride with the same people that I went with last year. So I am trying to figure out how to get there! I know things will work out for the best so I am chillaxin until the solution comes to me! (love that new word I learned!)