Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The WAO Experience

We had the most fantastic time in Belgium.  Compared with driving to Austria last year for the EO's the journey was pretty easy.   Our hotel was really nice, a bit oldy worldy but very comfortable and just under twenty minutes from the venue.  We had a chilled afternoon and met everyone in the restaurant for a meal in the evening.

On the Wednesday we had our first training session and I for one found it really helpful.  It was a well organised session and we had loads of time to cover all sorts of stuff.   It really made me feel positive about things and really up for the competition.

On Thursday we had the shorter and more formal training session and again this a good session with all positive vibes for me and Zeki and I think for everyone else too.  We had our team dinner on the Thursday evening and this was really good (even for us vegetarians!)    We also had our team photos taken in the sunshine at the hotel.   Thursday evening was also the opening ceremony and Zeki barked her way through most of it ... what a surprise.


Team England 400's

Team England Shelties

Team England
The venue itself was pretty spectacular and very large!  The walk from the outside rings to the main arena was quite a long way but it really wasn't a problem as the way the event is organised means that you know exactly where to be at what point.  There are three groups A,B, and C and all courses are walked and run in rotation.  It's a brilliant system which means you can watch all your team mates run and support each other.

Before we go on to the competition itself, here are some more pictures of Zeki  and her buddies:

Enjoying her antler


Room mates

Snoozing Herbie

Zeki and me

Zaz and Zeki

Herbie, Zaz and Zeki

The competition was just brilliant.  I loved nearly every single course that I ran with the exception of one which needed too many front crosses but even that was a challenge.  I didn't run clear on all of them but I am really glad that all the training we did prior to the event paid off in that I walked them with conviction and attacked them when I ran.  I can honestly say I didn't walk into a single ring and say to myself  "I can't do that".  Instead I just got on with committing the patterns to memory and then figuring out how I would handle them.  The training helped not only in handling terms but also in my ability to commit tricky courses to memory quickly.   My worst case was three courses to walk in a row but even that didn't throw me because once I'd walked them I knew we would be running them in the same rotation so I just concentrated on the first one and so on.  It really helped.

I made a bad choice in one course where I handled the weaves differently from most people in order to get up on the course, Zeki completed the weaves beautifully but I lost her over the wrong jump; in two other courses she ran brilliantly and I screwed up at the last but one jump.  A bit frustrating to say the least.  In our games classes we completed the snooker opening section successfully but then blew out in the closing section and similar in the gamblers.  We ran clear on three courses, one of our runs helping our team to get into the final.  All in all I was thrilled with Zeki and pretty happy with my own efforts.  We had the benefit of Tace helping with our dogs (and ourselves, if needed, thank you Tace!) and so they were really ready to run each class.  I also spent time warming myself up and found it really helped so I am going to make more effort on this front in my normal classes especially champ runs.   By the third day this was a necessity for me as my back had begun to seize up quite badly.  The ibuprofen and stretches kept me going!

The whole event was enhanced by our brilliant management team:  manager (Jo Rhodes); coach (Ant Clarke) and sports and canine massage therapist (Tace Allen-Hunt).

Of course I mustn't forget our team mascot Riley:

You can see all the course plans here.  Zeki and I competed in all of them and ran team agility on Friday.

Here are some videos taken by various friends, in no particular order.  Some are repeated but shown from different angles.

The final video is a little compilation by Wendy Botto, thank you so much for doing this.  Also thanks to Bernadette, Lian and Colin for the other videos, much appreciated.

Zeki watching the final prizegiving, waiting for the people to tear past doing their lap of honour.  She loved that!

Sheltie Power
The closing ceremony was rather long but there is no way round this.  Several of our team got medals including clever little Tia (left above) with Marilyn.  Well done everyone and thanks for being great team mates and making it such a fantastic experience.  A really superb event and I feel really honoured to have been a part of it.


  1. It's great to read about an event from someone else's perspective. You had some great runs and a couple of very unlucky eliminations. Thank you for being a great team member, it was a privilege and a lot of fun to be in the team with you. Maybe we will get the chance to do it again sometime?

  2. Congratulations and great to Zeki running for England :-)

  3. Cool!! Was there a team Scotland?
    I like your shelties!
    Pippa :) wuf wuf