I've asked Laura to write about her experience at her first squad day.
Squad Day 1……
Upon reflection of my first squad day I have found myself thinking of how far we’ve come. Jade, my first collie has taken us from grade 1 to 7 and after the performance weekend in 2017 we were asked to join the GB Development Squad and now the 2018 GB Agility Squad.
This in itself brought up many emotions, excitement, elation and nervousness. This also led me to begin to analyse our performance. As our first squad day approached I felt apprehensive, a day spent with some of the best agility handlers - eeekk!!!! I woke up incredibly early on the day and left with plenty of time, arrived and got Jade out of the van to stretch her legs. I was still incredibly nervous and then I saw a friendly face – Sian Illingworth. She smiled, said hello, we had a small conversation then went our own way. I immediately felt a little less nervous (Thank you Sian). More of the squad arrived and the day began.
First off, registration and onto the intro where all of the key management members introduced themselves and gave an overview of their roles within the team. I found this very useful to understand people’s positions and what they are looking at specifically. All the squad were present for this, we then split into our groups for various activities.
There were four different sections each group participated in. “Welcome to the Squad 2018” presented by Mark Laker, which really made me think about the squad as a whole and the team work within it. What it means to be on the squad not just for both Dog and Handler individually but as a team member.
Second up for my group was a very thought provoking presentation by Martin Cavill around technical analysis. This session was interesting and caused a lot of discussion within the group. Having such capacity to analyse courses / runs in such technicality is something I found fascinating. The conversation within the group was interesting and also comical at times. Next up was vet/physio check with Maria Johnston and Hana McNicholas who were very friendly and accommodating. Their manner with Jade was brilliant and just what I expected and wanted from a GB vet/physio. They introduced themselves, were gentle in their approach - spot on in my opinion.
As our group was the biggest group the vet/physio checks made some of us late for the handler fitness session. Did we manage to get out of it? We weren’t that lucky. There were four different tests with Nicky Grant and Ruth MacGill, all designed to assess different aspects of fitness and I must admit I was surprised at how competitive I got with myself. As we were a little late with this section and the other groups had pretty much finished they were all congregating in the arena and were able to watch us doing our sprint tests etc. “Oh no, people are watching - there was that nervous feeling again” I started my sprint test and I heard the group shouting and cheering me on. The team spirit within the squad and encouragement shone through.
On my way home after stopping for a coffee with Lucie Hinchley, I thought about not only how tired and achy I was but also how much I enjoyed the day. I will never consider myself an elite agility handler, but being among them on the squad day helped me to realise that we all love the sport, we all want to do and be better, but our dogs are what always come first. The team spirit within the day was obvious and everyone appeared to embrace this, everyone came together, there was comradery and encouragement alongside support. A long but a great day.
Thanks Laura, great blog of the first squad day.
To find out more about Agility Team GB visit the Kennel Club International Agility pages