We both really enjoyed the different courses that we came across. On the whole the courses seems to be more flowing but still with lots of handling rather than is sometimes the case in the UK when handling = pull throughs which are repeated time and again in the same course. We did come across a couple of pull throughs but they were used in order to test the skill and at the same time take you to the next point on the course. Sometimes I feel that we get pull throughs in UK courses just for the sake of it and once you've completed the sequence you haven't really progressed to a new and natural point on the course. Not sure if that makes sense but I know what I'm rambling about! You can see all of the courses here.
The whole approach to the competition is more structured in that there are specific times for course walking and depending on how many in a class then there will be several course walks where you are given your allotted time to walk the course depending on your running order. It does mean you're not fighting your way round the course but I'm not absolutely sure about the system as it does seem to me that you can watch a group run the course and then analyse a specific problem area that you've spotted which you might not have noticed had you walked the course without the benefit of seeing others running it. I know we have similar here with different parts of a class but the big difference here is that you're running in the same competition so it can be a big advantage to be drawn late in the running order and walk the course in one of the later groups.
All of that said it didn't help me very much (or Andy for that matter.) Both of our dogs worked really well but we had a pole down in nearly every run. Andy managed a 5th place but I am sad to say Niamh and I didn't manage a single clear round. She worked fantastically and I loved the patterns so I still enjoyed the whole experience. The ground was good to run on but it was very hot and the grass had been cut really short and was a bit slippy. Niamh lost her footing a lot more than normal and I had to change my timing on turns to stop her chinning herself all the time. I think there was just one course all week that I really made a mess of. I was actually pleased with the way we tackled the european patterns, even the opposite end of tunnels! Andy and I both competed at level 3 as you work in the equivalent class to KC grades. Grade 3 is equal to our 6/7 level.
Another big difference is that judges can run their dogs. The dress code is informal which means that provided their judging session doesn't clash with the class their dog is entered in they can dash straight from one ring to another and from role of judge to competitor all in the space of ten minutes! Andy felt very uneasy dressing so informally but he was soon persuaded it was a good thing when he got to run nearly all of Kizzy's classes. I didn't get a single run with her!
There was a training circuit set up which was available to all competitors to use throughout each competition day. It wasn't a proper ring, just a set aside area and people are free to use it as much as they like. The one proviso is that you cannot move the equipment, I guess to prevent people setting up sequences from the day's courses! People are very accommodating of each other when using the practise area and stand aside as soon as a new person joins the queue to use it. All very civilised.
One evening Johanna held an informal training session for young dogs and invited us to come along. It was great fun and we both taught our dogs a new trick during the session. Another good experience for Zeki working in a new space with lots of other dogs. Naturally she was the noisiest little dog there!
With my lack of results I didn't make the final but it didn't matter because it was nice to chill out and watch it from my deck chair! Andy judged the final and set a flowing course with a bit of a European flavour and some UK ideas thrown in for good measure. The course is amongst those on the website. It was an exciting final to watch and although I was happy to watch I did really wish I was having a bash at it with Niamh! p.s. Andy did wear a suit to judge the final! Certain standards have to be met!
Once the final was over our adventure was all but over, just the journey home as described in the previous post. We really did have the best time and would love to go again!
To finish this post here are some action shots of Niamh and Kizzy competing in Denmark:
I love this one of her stretching out of the long jump. She looks so streamlined, agile and focused.
I like this series of photos below showing Niamh weaving. It really illustrates how she uses the one foot technique and is starting to use her power.