Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Olympia Agility Finals 2010 Part 1
So many people think of Olympia as the most prestigious agility final in the UK. Certainly we all work so very hard to get there and the qualifying process does bring the best of the best to the finals at Olympia. In order to qualify Zen and Zaz competed in classes of around 160 dogs and needed to come in the top 3 to qualify. There were approx 12 qualifiers during the year which gave us 36 dogs for the semi-final in August. Those 36 dogs will then compete over one course and the top 10 qualify for Olympia.
Yet Olympia Dog Agility Finals take place at the Olympia London International HORSE show. It is a show that is all about the horses and dog agility is a sort of side show to entertain the crowd.It is exciting to be there but it is also a long day for both the dogs and the competitors. In the small and medium finals we have a warm-up run (speed jumping for mediums and pairs for smalls) at around 1:00 pm and then we have to wait until 7:30 pm for the final event. Top this off with having to travel into London and it makes for a long day.
Each time I attend I have to tell myself that the 30 seconds in the ring make it all worthwhile! It is exciting competing in front of the crowds and having your small moment in the limelight. On the other hand no matter how hard the judge tries there is only so much he can do with his courses. I think the Kennel Club has around 15-20 minutes total in the ring each time. This includes time to set out the course, walk the course and run 10 dog/handler teams around the course AND give out awards! The poor judges barely have a chance to walk their own course to check it out before the first dog is on the line. The ring crew is like a well oiled machine! They have the equipment pulled on a trailer out in the middle of the ring and the equipment out in no time flat. The competitors have to start walking the course before everything is actually set out and even before the judge tweaks the course. We have a few seconds to check the angles and then the first dog needs to be on the line.
Here is some photos of the ring with the horse jumps and the crowds. You can see how large the ring is.
Because of this the judge has to keep the course fairly simple. In addition the course has to be spread out so that all the crowd can see. AND the jumps are extra wide so that they are easier to see. All this adds up to a fast course suited more towards the bigger dogs and the faster handlers. I think there are some dogs and handlers that are just suited to Olympia. I do struggle with the uneven ground and the distances but I was so pleased this year that I was NOT struggling for breath at the end! (no sarcastic comments that I wasn't running fast enough! LOL) Thank you Sussex Bootcamps for getting me fitter this year! No I will never win a race and even when I think I am running it looks like I am barely breaking out of a trot...but at least I was not out of breath this time and my legs did not give out at the end.
Thursday we packed up the car and off we went into London with Zen. I had it in my head that this could very well be Zen's last Olympia. Mixed feelings about that really because I love showing her there but she does not love being there. It is crowded and noisy and Zen is not a city dog. But I was pleasantly surprised this year that Zen actually seemed to enjoy herself! It is still probably her last time at Olympia as we have plans for next year which will limit her chances at the qualifiers. And realistically Olympia with the large spread out courses do not suit Zen's strong points. I felt as if she struggled with the jumps this year and this worries me. I will continue to work on her fitness over the winter to see if it is something physical or just my worrying too much.
In the morning speed jumping Zen came 4th. In the evening final she did something she has probably never done before...she missed her dog walk contact! Probably my fault as I released her early. Ever since Zen fell off her dog walk at the beginning of the year her dog walks have not been as fast as before and I knew this would effect our times even more at Olympia. In the end it really did not matter as it would have only made the difference in one placing. She ended up 5th and without the 5 faults she only would have been 4th.
Here are Zen's videos. I still think she looks so small compared to those jumps and was not flowing as she can.
After the event we all go up for champagne and photos. Unfortunately we didn't have the good camera but I had to pose with Zen anyway. She looked so happy and actually enjoyed her day at Olympia. So much that she was flirting with some boys at the champagne reception! That's my Zen!
We are getting ready to leave for New York tomorrow early so I am not sure I will get Part 2 (ZAZ at Olympia) done before I leave. First I have some packing to do!