Monday, 9 September 2013

You can't win unless you learn how to lose.

We've just had a good agility weekend at Gillingham Championship show. It's been one of our regular competitions over the last few years. It's local, there are qualifiers there and our club (UpAndOver) provide a ring party. So all in all a good couple of days out towards the end of the competition season.

I ran Torro and Devo in the Champ class getting them both through to the final. I was especially pleased to get Torro there as he's quite a complicated character and isn't the easiest dog to handle.

Helen Saunders was our judge, she set up three very well designed and challenging courses which I thought were amongst the best I've seen in the UK this year. One of qualities that I believe make a good course is where there are multiple handling options. This brings out the skill in the handler and introduces decision making and training skills. All of Helen's courses had options. It made me think about compiling my top ten, or maybe six, judges of 2013 - thoughts?

So Torro qualified 6th to run in the final and Devo 20th (last). This was the first time I'd qualified Torro for a final and the first time Devo had qualified in the top position. The scene was set....

David Munnings put in a storming run with Boss early on in the class which really set the bar high for all of us. It was going to take something very special to better his run. This was followed by a few other quick & tidy runs. I decided I was going to run both of my dogs the same way, Torro was the test pilot for Devo.

The first handling option was at obstacle No 2. Two or three of us opted for plan B, the other two handlers got it right! Torro struggled due to me being out of position. However I was convinced in order to get anywhere close to David's time I had to run 'on the rivet' and take this tighter, faster line. It involved more complex handling to reduce the sequence to one turn for the dog.

Do I regret trying the same sequence with Devo? not at all. If we'd got it right I was very confident we would have been very close to David. This, and one other manoeuvre, would have taken at least a second off the time of doing it 'safely'.

Championship finals are unique places for me. I either want to win or 'bomb-out', they are not the places for safe clears. This was Devo's 6th final out of eight championship classes entered in his first year of G7. I've had one clear, which was unplaced.

So how do we win one? More practice at running on the edge, taking more calculated risks, pushing the limits and getting fitter (both of us). Devo and me are learning how to lose...




You can't win unless you learn how to lose. 
 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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