WAO Part 1 – Handling and Skills
This blog post is 1 of 3 in which I will release over the coming weeks, in this first blog I will be discussing courses and handing, the 2nd will be mindset based, and the 3rd will cover fitness.
WAO is one of my favourite events of the year, not only does it test your agility skills but also your endurance and mindset.
The courses this year contained a mix of handling within small areas with multiple obstacles were the dogs listening skills were crucial and larger courses which required handling at speed. The team agility by Ivan Amez was 235 meters, although you may think this is a long course it flowed so well that running it was easier than the more intricate smaller courses were finding a rhythm with your dog was harder. Ivan’s course was my favourite of the weekend as it tested your agility skills at speed while maintaining connection with your dog for the full 235 meters!
Skills that stood out as being crucial were independent weaves and being able to cross/ handle at the end of the weaves without worry, the video below shows how many weave exits required distracting handling on exit for the dogs…
Also, rear crosses were needed on a few occasions, now anyone that knows me will know that I don’t like a rear cross as I love to be running, but these courses illustrated that the rear cross still plays a crucial role in some handling scenarios…
The use of tunnels on the courses was brilliant,they were perfectly bagged to allow the dogs to pick up full speed. Tunnels were used in inventive ways and illustrated the need to be training with tunnels around all of the time no matter what you are training. At any one time at my field, I will have 5 tunnels set up, so that my dogs get used to seeing them all the time and when they get to a competition and see an array of tunnels they are not drawn by them. Take a look at Sally Jones’s use of tunnels in the below clip…
And finally running dog walks, there is no denying a running dog walk will give you an edge over the competition, but it isn’t always crucial. Harvey demonstrated this by winning Gold with his stop dog walk, and Nicola Giraudi won Gold in both Pentathlon and Biathlon with a stop dog walk.
The main take away from the event was to never stop trying, you just never know when your dog will have their day.
Keep an eye out for part 2 on mental preparation for large events 🙂