Becky Schiltz from Luxembourg competed in European Open with both her shelties -and it’s already quite an accomplishment to be there with one dog! Even though she’s still very young, this was her 3rd European Open with Dizzy and first with her youngster Mii! Their first run with Mii was a clear one with good time -less than 1s from the winner. In agility team small, Becky did a clean run with both dogs placing 7th and 48th from 195 dogs.
Preparation for sand surface paid off
This year's European Open was run in extreme weather conditions. The Netherlands hadn’t experienced such a heat wave in decades and the organisers had to reschedule the runs so that there was a brake during midday. This meant that competing started very early and lasted very late. It was nice to see that the organisers put the health of the dogs in first place, even though reorganising caused them loads of extra work.
Due to being away for two weeks, Becky had no possibility of preparing herself and her dogs for the competition in the way she wanted: “We only did small things like revise cues for jump directions and dog walk. Participating in Zürisee-Cup prepared us for the sand surface and that really paid off in European Open.”
Building connection with Dizzy took years
Both of Becky’s dogs have always been fast and used their speed in agility. However, being a team on the agility field has not been self evident with either one. Cooperation with Dizzy took years. “She was such a difficult dog when she started doing agility. My brother ran with her because she ignored me, but later on she only wanted to run with me. I did not do anything in specific, but after some time she just got more interested in me than my brother, so I started to train with her again. That‘s when we started to become a team.”
While it took years for Becky to become a team with Dizzy, with Mii it‘s been completely different: “He was always by my side from the beginning, and our bond was very strong - until we stood on the field. There the bond disappeared. It was like he was in his own world. It was a real struggle getting him to the finish line.” Becky says that all she could think of at the start line was that he would just run like crazy and not listen: “That, and the fact that I did not trust his weaving skills made me nervous. But during the past year, through training, these things have changed a lot. He‘s more focused and he understands better what I want from him. And on this we are building up our team spirit to get better and better.”
Team spirit plays an important role in consistency
To get to EO with two dogs requires a good level of consistency. We asked Becky to explain what she has done to get there: “I know my dogs. It is a big part of team spirit, that you know each other by heart: the handler really understands the dog’s strengths and weaknesses. This is where team spirit affects consistency. If team spirit is good between human and dog, you know whether or not you can handle the course, because you know how to best lead your dog through the course, how to handle in the best possible way for him.
Big change in courses and in handling the dog
According to Becky, the courses have gotten harder. “In EO, there was always an open weave entrance. Weaves have been a weakness for both of my dogs but in EO Dizzy showed me that this has changed! I was amazed by that.”
So, have weave entrances gotten harder in the last few years? “Yes, weaves in general have become harder, and people know that it is the hardest obstacle of all and have started to train it so that the dog can do it as independently as possible. However, not only the weave entrances have become harder but the whole course. A few years ago people wanted to have dogs close to their hand, so there was always time to think about the next obstacle but nowadays people lead their dogs from a distance and the only way to do so is with all the cues we provide our dog so we have more time to prepare for the next obstacles. ”
Bonus: Becky’s routine before a competition run
going for a 5 min walk
warming up myself
warming up the dog
doing some tricks, so the dog will get focused
watching the last three dogs before me
going to the start line
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