My final guest post from this years Olympia winners is from Martin Reid.
First of all thank you for reading this blog, my name is Martin Reid and this is based on mine and Springs experiences from our first Team GB squad day this year and our road to Olympia 2015.
This year was Springs second season competing, there are now lots of events and shows available 12 months of the year compared to about 4-5 years ago when personally I would say agility competing was more of a summer sport, with the odd winter show available for the enthusiast. With any dog especially a young one, I think it's very easy to not give them what I feel an adequate rest from agility. Thankfully Spring was rested for October and part of November and is being currently rested now for several weeks before we restart training ready for Crufts.
The first Team GB squad day was 2 weeks before Olympia, ideal to practice some course running, contacts and weaves on a surface very similar to what we would be running on at Olympia. The first squad day was very good, we had a couple of sessions on handler fitness, this highlighted to me several things that I would like to improve for myself to aid my personal fitness and movement to benefit Spring in the agility ring. The other parts of the day included, vet check, measuring and some agility. Spring was good, we did not get eliminated in the 3 runs we had, a tricky weave entry in the jumping round caught us out everything else he did well, in the agility round it was an ideal situation to reinforce contacts ready for Olympia in what was like a show environment. Thankfully I was more pleased with our performance in the agility round, he nailed all of his contacts and ran well, just an error in my handling caused 5 faults for a rolled pole near the end of the course. This day really got us working as a team and blew some dust off us ready for Olympia.
In preparation for Olympia, I hired out a few different venues to practise in, bought and made some specialist equipment so that nothing was different at Olympia to what we had trained on before. For instance most shows use 5ft poles, Olympia use 6ft poles and bigger sized wings. This I believe changes the dogs perception of a jump, making it very difficult if the first time they see this is at the event itself!
Other things we did was train in loud environments, train big fast flowing courses and work on fitness. I wasn't able to get Spring to peak fitness in time for Olympia, after his break there was not enough time for this however we worked on it as much as I felt necessary so he could have enough fitness to cope with the physical demand of what I would ask from him.
It was time! We were running second in the morning event, I felt more nervous for this run than the final which would take place in the evening, Spring had a really nice run, there was part of the run which I watch back and think we could have very slightly improved however in general what an amazing boy he was for his first run at Olympia. He took the lead and stayed there till the end of the class, this gave us a brilliant feeling, we were going to run last in the final later that evening in front of just less than 10,000 people. The final was over 6 hours away, so a long cool down, lunch and rest was in order for us both!
The evening came around and was over quickly, there was not much time to walk the course so this is where studying the course plan throughout the day came in handy! We were running last, I remember watching most the other runs people had done before me, and just thinking wow! The dogs were flying around and people had already done what I would call winning runs, all the dogs were looking amazing! It was our turn, I tried to compose myself, attack the course and make clear absolutely everything I wanted Spring to do. He was stunning. Fast and clear Spring ran like a dream. He was not put off by the people screaming and cheering us on, his first time at Olympia and he had won!
Now we both will have some time off and relax over Christmas before recommencing training in mid January ready for Crufts 2016!
I'd like to thank all of guest bloggers for taking the time to write these interesting blogs and I hope you've enjoyed reading them.