Well I decided after my 3 part Development Squad journey I would give you a 2 part blog on my EO journey. Now that’s something I never thought I’d get to type or even say out loud.
I will start where my previous blog ended – Performance Weekend. Performance Weekend marked a long couple of weeks wait to find out who was picked for the EO / World Teams. We were told to expect a call or an email on the 17thApril to find out. The 17thcame round and I can remember it like it was yesterday, I dropped Grace of at Nursery as usual, got to the field and took the dogs for a run. Upon my return, I can remember thinking to myself ‘I must check my phone isn’t on silent on the off-chance I was called’, and literally as I thought that my phone rang. It was a number I didn’t know, I answered it and it was Mark Laker. He informed me that I had been picked to be a part of the EO team in Vienna, Austria. I couldn’t quite believe it, I thanked him, finished the phone call, phoned Graham and literally sobbed (ha ha). I couldn’t believe it, Jade and I had worked so hard to get to that point and to have the GB management team believe in us was extremely overwhelming. I told Graham that it was under strict confidence and it wasn’t to be announced until the KC publicly announced it. Came off the phone, cried a bit more and then continued on with my day. I hope the management team realise how grateful I am for the opportunity.
So now, I thought, the hard work really begins. I had already designed a fitness plan for myself and Jade should we get this opportunity come our way, so I pulled this up and put it into action. I had organised the plan around Grace, family, work, shows, team days and the other dogs too. I increased Jade’s Hydro to twice a week, upped her physio to at least once every other week, and dropped the number of shows Jade would compete at. I had planned proprioception time, endurance work & sprint work alongside training and ensured I gave Jade enough rest days during the week. This is the first time I have done all of this so strategically and honestly it is a lot of hard work. Good hard work, but hard work none the less – so many things are impacted which you maybe don’t consider as much as you should; finances, spare time available, number of hours in the day – I could go on. But I wouldn’t change it for the world, you get nowhere if you don’t put in a lot of hard work. I have also seen all my dogs’ fitness improve during the process, not just Jades. I have learnt so much throughout not just the development and squad process but also after selection period.
Apart from learning more about dog related fitness, I have learnt about travelling abroad. I have not been abroad in years, and I especially haven’t driven abroad, so I had no idea about the regulations and things you needed to travel with. Did you know you needed two breathalysers? I didn’t, so I bought a European car travel kit to include the spare bulbs, high-vis vests, breathalysers etc. I organised my journey to Vienna with the help of Google, booked my Eurotunnel slot and my stop over as well as my return journey. I managed to do this quite early, I felt very organised. I have improved my dog first aid kit hugely and feel I am getting quite prepared. I just must remember my toothbrush (ha ha).
As the days and weeks have passed leading up to the event I feel I have been able to balance all of this well but I would be lying if I had said this was easy. My mileage and amount of time travelling has increased greatly which of course has an impact on my family. I have tried to allocate the travel time to when Grace is in nursery so as not to impact on her life too much but of course this doesn’t always work and so she often joins us whether that be to physio or to the “water crocodile” aka Water treadmill. She is an angel and rarely moans and actually seems to enjoy her time where ever we go. It would be a lot more difficult if Grace moaned more, I’m very lucky she is so laidback. Graham has been a star, he has had to put up with me wrapping Jade in cotton wool, not letting her do certain things and being overly cautious with her. He has been very tolerant. There have been a few more Daddy Daughter days when I have been on team days etc. and he has accepted it all. I have been more tired as I have been improving my fitness and with tiredness sometimes comes a little stroppiness (oops) and I am truly grateful for his support, I wouldn’t be able to embrace this opportunity fully without him.