Sunday, 28 December 2008

Olympia 2008

Well , what a day it was last Monday- can only now start to get my head round it!
I'd been working for the past 3 weeks on a new contact method for Ruby, one that I can feel confident with and for it to be faster and more reliable. Ruby seems to be enjoying this method as it directly impacts upon what drives her on in agility- ie the next obstacle, it makes me more focused as ruby is so focused on what is next, when I release her she is visibly happier with this method! ( more on this later !)
Marie came to London with me for once as Madeleine's big brother looked after her and remaining dogs for us, her support for the day was fantastic, and so nice to have her there to see the finals !
Speed jumping was up first, the course was to be the flavour of the day- up and down! Ruby was the smallest dog in the competition, and I knew we were up against it on the huge Olympia surface, she ran her heart out, and the weave was the hardest part as it wasn't properly anchored to the surface, and the bars that steady the weaves were in some places 2-3cm off the surface. Ruby did me proud- she always throws herself fully into her competition and won the event despite a couple of times being taken wide by her inept handler trying his hardest to keep up with her.

Olympia 2008 ABC speed jumping from Mark Douglas on Vimeo.

If you get a chance watch these videos on their respective sites as it gives you the option to view them in HD - so much clearer!

A few hours wait and it was the final- 15-20 minutes earlier than I was expecting! We were running last as we won the semi final event. The course was quite simple, directly up and down with dog walk and a-frame on to nothing! As I'd said we'd been training a new contact method and obstacles behind contacts had not been covered yet !guessing the courses beforehand I thought that these types of courses may have been more for the senior/novice finals as they had a few "running" contact dogs in them and this style of course may have been put out by the judge, I didn't think it would have come up in the ABC, I knew it would be bigger than the other events, and not as difficult, to try to put on a show for the crowd and for the bigger dogs to get a chance to strut their stuff.
Ruby was a bit non plussed as all our training had been on the release and me getting past her on the contacts- this course would not allow this, so I had to think on my feet - literally as the course was still being majorly adjusted when we were told we had to get off and run the final !
Sheries run was fabulous, and put pressure on the others as it was a fast run with running contacts. Dave's run was superb and well controlled, finished off with a fabulous weave, Rusty you could see ( as well as shadow) revelled in the atmosphere and both picked up a notch or two.
Ruby's contacts were good in the first run, but I made a bit of a hash of the dog walk to flat tunnel-jump combo, as this had happened I had to go for it , but still get the bloody a frame- ruby looked at me on this obstacle and came down it slowere than she had been doing in training. I had just enough puff left to push her through the weaves and to the finish, big cheer, looked at the screen and it said rank 1, then I heard the commentator say same time and we had to run off!
Still reeling from this I watched as Dave ran a faultless run to beat his first time- I knew we could beat it as I'd made mistakes on the first run, but would I be able to run as well? I was jelly legged and completely pooped from the first run, and here I was with no recovery time having to go again! Ruby had given her all and looked as confused as I did on the line, tried to break her stay, and I could see in her that it was worrying her if she'd sone something wrong !
I tried to push her dog walk this time, but it was a bit creepier, and stupidly I handled it the same as the first run, and had to push her out to the jump- her see saws were as good as I've ever had them- a tribute to haw we've been training them, and in to the rigid tunnel, nice turn , but the legs were failing and I was running out of puff, into the tunnel again- i looked back for her and she wasn't there! I sensed she had slipped in the tunnel and fallen over ( she does this occasionally) On the eurosport footage you get a feeling that the cameraman anticipated her coming out of the tunnel sooner, and she wasn't there! As a consequence I had to wait for her at the a frame, and she slowed down, I had enough puff to get one more directional out, but I saw her "climb" the jump , looked at her in the weave and saw that for once ruby was slowing down, I couldn't gee her up as I was struggling myself, and had nothing in me to shout any commands ( Olympia is so noisy that all commands must be louder than normal!) Running to the finish I knew it was slower as she was struggling, whether she was knackered- I know I was! Or if she didn't get enough encouragement from me at the home strait I don't know- but from the A frame to the finish she lost about 1 and a half seconds! On the video I see her weaving style change from 'swimming' to 2 footed, and this indicated to me that she'd slowed down!
She did me proud this day, ran her heart out and put on a historical show. The timing apparently did go down to 1/1000th of a second and Dave Ray did say we had the same time- but what about the manual timing? I know it would be hard to explain to a crowd of 8000, and it was best to run off- but I would have liked another 5 mins or so to get my breath back- but it was the same for Dave and he coped magnificently with the pressure, and Rusty was brilliant!
Next year it'll be trying to get to the Agility Stakes event for Ruby ( decided this before the event) I am very happy with the new contact method as is ruby, so look for decidedly improved contacts from her next year, and I am feeling confident that we can do even greater things next year for this fabulous little dog!
Puck's knackers are coming off in the new year- I want a full year of competing for him without the testosterone distraction! He's far too good to waste and would have loved the ABC course at Olympia- funny that all the other years I've had Amber at Olympia and wished I had ruby, on this course it would have suited Puck! He'll be getting worked on to inhibit the wild child and get a more "working' head on his shoulders. A wait is being worked on ( thanks to Susie J for helping with this), and we'll see what the season holds in store for him!
Draco I find difficult to train as he is such an airhead, but we did a bit of traing with Susie and we have started on the 2by2 weave method with huge amounts of help from Marie he's very slowly coming on, he won't be competing until the end of the year probably despite being due out in April- we've still got a mountain to climb.
Thanks for reading this, and may I wish all bloggers a very happy and successful new year!


Hudsondoglets said...

Well done, fabulous runs. Don't know how you managed to run round that arena twice!

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