I'm sure each year I say:
"There has been some tough decisions to make this year the standard has been very high".
Of course it is going to be tough. We have the best dogs and handlers in the country all trying out for a limited number of places.
Was the decision making process any different this year?
Yes, I think it was, for the following reasons:
- The squad consisted of enough dogs & handlers at each height to select the teams from; I really didn't want to be in a position where I had to call-up dogs from outside the squad to make up the teams.
- The standard at each height continues to improve.
- Large - Apart from one or two outliers, performance was of a very similar quality across this height group; I would have loved to take them all!
- Medium - Again apart from one or two who stood out from the outset, most of the dogs at this height had the potential to make the final teams.
- Small - This year I saw a clear increase in the number of dogs either at the level I was looking for, or with the potential to get there.
I believe this reflects the increased training these handlers put in to compete at the top.
- The majority of the handlers on this years squad appeared to train harder in all the areas we focus on. The expected end result is better understood, meaning handlers are well prepared for the Performance Weekend, where we hope to see them at their best.
- And, I saw an increase in dogs & handlers on the squad with future potential. At some point these partnerships need to be given the chance to realise that potential.
So while there were the usual difficult decisions, they were nice decisions to make.
In the next few weeks I'll be announcing the dogs & handlers we spotted at the Performance Weekend who I'll be inviting to join the 2018 squad as development opportunities; there were some great future potential seen from these young dogs too.
Now the hard work and fun begins preparing the teams for their competitions... and the Coaching Team and start planning for next years squad.
The ongoing support and work our sponsors do for the team is fabulous. They are reason we can hold great competitions like this years Performance Weekend, why we have such a strong Coaching Team and why we can take a bigger team to the EO's this year as examples.
On behalf of the Coaching Team and this years squad, I'd like to thank our sponsors for all their ongoing interest and assistance they provide Agility Team GB.