I love EO, even though normally it's not the best competition for us - Brava always comes in heat about May, which means about end of July she is having imaginary puppies ;). This year on the last training at home before EO she dug a hole under a table and lied there on empty plastic bottles, so well... my hopes weren't high.
But I was happy just to be there - the venue in Rieden is perfect, all the rings were close together which meant watching others run and running on different rings was easier than normally. The camping site was also very close as was our stall with tunnels. Add to this lots of space to walk the dogs and I think for the first time even since I'm competing at EO enough showers (with hot water! and not shared with other people in the same time!) and toilets (clean!!!) and it doesn't get any better than that. Except it did, cause I got a nice suprise with my friend Barbara Rozman coming :) and then also Silke (du Mourioche breeder) coming unexpectedly and spending an evening with us and then of course we met some other friends from different countries. I really love the part when on the first day you walk through the camping and can't really get through, cause every minute you meet another long seen friend and have to chat for a while before going further :).
I was running both large and medium for the first time ever, but the organization was perfect and apart from the fact that I had to learn 4 different courses on Friday morning, it was really easy for me, as none of my runs or course-walkings overlapped. I liked most of the courses, really fast and yet with some challenges and different handling solutions. Friday was team runs - after one last minute cancellation from Polish competitor our medium team consisted of siblings Evo, Brava and Eyt plus one fawn Norwegian pyrsheps with Simon Noel :). We had really nice agility in which we were placed fourth overall I think and Evo was 9 out of 400 dogs (Brava 10th :)). Then unfortunately we had two eliminations and one refusal in the jumping, so again no team final for us... Some good runs and a bit of bad luck, but I think we're getting closer to actually running also good team runs as well :).
Here are our agility runs:
And jumping runs:
In the night we hardly slept at all, there was a huge storm and almost all the commercial stands were destroyed, so we spent some part of the night helping others to collect their things (our tent was broken but luckily tunnels are rather resistant to bad weather so we weren't as badly affected). So that made our individual runs just a tiny bit more difficult ;). Roman and Evo were unfortunately eliminated in individual agility and then had a bit messy run in jumping, causing them to lose lots of time (so not good enough for the final). Brava fortunately qualified already from agility run and then had a rather nice jumping run as well, ranking 6 overall.
On Saturday evening we had a really nice pyrshep-people gathering with Silke, Barbara, Tamara, Ivo and Veronika :) Nothing better than good laugh, lessons of weird languages, sharing countless dog stories and some peculiar alcohols with a bunch of kin spirits, so I was definetely in good mood for the finals next day. I wasn't actually counting on anything, just focused on having a clean run :). I found a perfect place in the inside riding arena, from where I could see the runs and hear the speaker, but which allowed me to have some time alone with Brava in the shadow before the start. We had a little talk in which I asked her to do a nice see-saw and promised to run as fast as I could to show her the way ;). I remembered my lesson from Guld Agility final - never to doubt her in important moments. And then we ran - and she was as pyrfect as usual :). It's such a great yellow doggy, she never ever lets me down, I can run so relaxed with her, knowing she will do her job with the startline, contacts, weaves and keeping the bars up... We had a clean run and I heard the speaker saying it was the new best time, so I was happy we did the best we could and the rest was behind my control so I just enjoyed watching the rest of medium finals... We ended up on third place with two of my favourite teams - unbeatable and inspiring Martina and Kiki and Werner with Esmeralda - on first and second respectively. I can't even say what it means to be there with them... it's not just that I think they are great teams, but I really see the partnership, the joy of running together, the love and trust between the dog and handler in both those teams and that has inspired me for years. Martina once told me that success in agility is forged outside the course and this day that truth prevailed I think :). I'm so proud not because of the place on the podium, but because I have a great dog that trusts me and does her best for me and I just hope I will keep deserving it.
Brego did great as well, even though he didn't have any clean runs - but he had all the contacts and weaves and just knocked one double jump throughout the whole competition, so I couldn't ask anything more from a baby boy. He is the sweetest funniest dog ever and has the most enthusiasm for everything, so I enjoyed running him a lot. I still have some problems switching between him and Brava and finding the right balance of where I need to help him and where he is ready to do things indepently... but in the meantime we have lots of fun together. I also think this surface is a bit hard for him, so he had some problems with commiting to jumps that he normally doesn't have.
Here is my favourite of our runs, just a bit of miscommunication over this jump (I didn't even notice we were eliminated, he he).
Some final thoughts: for me it was really EO to remember, mostly for great things. There were lots and lots of awesome dogs to see and for the first time in a long time I actually enjoyed watching small dogs run - in team jumping, where the results for small and medium were calculated together, three best results were from the small dogs, in team agility two best results were from small dogs :). Even better that some of those were really young dogs, so I think we'll have the reviwal of this class finally (which is a great thing, since I'd like to have another small dog some time in the future...).
As much as I loved the event - the atmosphere, the venue, the courses - I have to rant a bit about the judges. I know it's tough. I know they were standing in the burning sun for hours, with blazing sand blinding their eyes and getting into their respiratory tracks. I know it requires lots of concentration to be able to do this, I really admire the agility judges as such - so much responsibility, so much depends on them. Having said that, I've never ever seen such horrible contacts judging especially in the individual finals - it was a complete lottery. Some contacts there were done were faulted, some contacts there were obviously missed were not. As for what was the criteria for see-saw I can't even begin to guess, definetely not the ones described in the FCI regulations. The judge who was judging large final had a new rule I think - that contact much be touched with hind feet, as he faulted each and every dog that did the down contact on the A-frame or dw with front feet... I'm under the impression that the results might have looked a bit different if the judging was accurate... And well, running contacts have been around for a while, maybe it's time to actually learn how to judge them? And maybe some judges should remember that if in doubt, they should decide in the competitor's favour, and not the other way round?
I don't want to end on the bad note, so let's switch to positives :). Thank you, my friends, for being with me, sending messages on FB, making videos of our runs (special thanks to Marcela Francoso! :)) and taking great photos, some of which are below (hopefully more to come). It was awesome meeting you, especially the pyrshep people from around the Europe - I've seen some cool dogs and puppies and I'm looking forward to see some more in the autumn :).