Bild av Jenny Damm

Jenny Damm

Road trip 2013 & course design analysis

Our European tour has almost come to it's end. We are on our way home after a three weeks long trip. It almost feels like several months but it has "only" been three weeks… 🙂

The trip started with me and Lilli missing the train to a seminar in Germany. Again I was guessing time for departure and this time it was in the wrong direction…! But as usually my mistakes ends in a good way and finally we arrived in time, after some extra running and logistic work. With small margins, but who cares… 😉 Luckily Lilli is an easy dog that follows me everywhere, with a smile. The seminar was hot, hot but well organized. So much good food and perfect service! Thinking of my shape, I was happy it was just two days… 😉 My favourite jack russel terrier Silke was at the seminar. She is adorable, fast, crazy but with so much brain. I just love that dog!

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Little Lilli in the big woods. Morning walk in Flensburg.

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Christina served so much good food during two days and on Saturday night we had a big barbeque. I enjoyed it with a cold Flensburger pilsner.

Sunday night, after the seminar, I had a ride with one of the participants, Jutta, down to Dorsten. She was the translater on the next seminar organized by Melanie Lehman. Luckily it was in a hall so we didn't have to stand in the direct sun. But anyway it was really hot also indoors. I usually enjoy all my seminars and so I did also in Dorsten. Lots of fun dogs and people. I fell in love with two working cockers from Hungary. Maniac dogs with a never ending energy, but like Silke, with so much brain. Love that character in a dog! 

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 Super nice working cocker Photo: Martin Preißner

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One more, how cool they are! 🙂 Photo: Martin Preißner

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Training distance send in a sharp turn. Future and present… 🙂 Photo: Martin Preißner

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Morning walk in Dorsten. This trip and summer will go down in the history with all this beautiful sun!

In the evenings I trained some RC's with Lilli. She is doing so well now and it so much fun! Straight lines and sharp turns both in to me and way from me are almost 100% in training. Soft turns, BX's and FX's are also working quite well but it's definately more difficult. I need to practice my timing and Lilli needs to get used to me making crosses in front of her. But I like challanges and to find new situations in competitions that we can train at home, trying to perfect our handling and the dogs understanding. As I said, so far we are really pleased with Lilli's RC's, but even if we one day start to get problems in some way I will never go back to 2on2off. It's too much fun with RC's, it's like a drug for both dog and handler!

One of the things I was most excited over for this trip was actually Lilli's Running Contacts. We were really curious how she would handle different situations in big championships. Of course we could expect much more difficult situations than what she had tried so far in competitions. And yes, she really got tested, it was so many different kinds of turns and situations after the DW during these days! First she did the DW's in the training at EO very good. I was doing mostly straight lines but also one turn and she felt relaxed and confident.

The first agility run was for the team and it was a sharp turn after. I told er my verbal turning command and she was doing it perfectly, it was the first time I was using the turning command in competition :). The second DW was continued by a soft turn and it felt a bit messy after with lots of obstacles around. Many dogs, both with RC and 2+2 got fault on the contact, so I was a bit concerned before the run. But again Lilli did the contact perfectly! Also in the team-final and in the runs at BCC she did it great. I was especially pleased with the first agility run on Saturday at BCC. It was a really tricky end with a backside-jump straight after the DW and it was also other jumps on the sides. But she did it without any problems 🙂 She run totally nine agility courses during EO and BCC, eight of them were perfect! For me that's a lot more than what I expected when we started this project, about a year ago. Lilli is the first dog we train with RC so we didn't know at all how it would end. Ok, this is not the end but it's a really good start! 

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A video with Lill's RC's from EO and BCC!

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Lilli Running on the dog-walk! Photo: Martin Preißner

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Her favourite obstacle! Photo: Martin Preißner

Enough about RC, for a while… 😉

Tuesday night Nettan and Ingemar picked us up with my fathers camper that he lend us. Me and Nettan are too young (! 😉 for driving that one so Ingemar joined our road-trip as a chef, photographer and driver! We stayed over night in Dorsten and the next morning, after a swim with the dogs, we drove about two hours to EO in Belgium. It was really nice to travel and have the camper at the shows, all the things close and a good place for the dogs to rest. Luckily we have friends who helped us when we got problems, like with electricity or when the camper got filled with water after a heavy shower…  EO this year was held on a really nice place and with heavy thunder storms in the middle of very hot days I think everyone was happy it was indoors. The only bad thing about the place was that it was difficult to watch. 

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The Swedish camp at EO. Swedish flags, fence for the dogs and nice guests, what else can be needed? 😉

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The camping viewed from the walk in the little mountain behind.

On Thursday it was time for training, veterinary control and opening cermony. They checked all dogs really carefully and they pulled some dogs from the competition this year. I think it should be like this control every year, so we make sure our dogs are in good condition and shape. 

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The Swedish team prepared for opening cermony!

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Opening cermony, hot, hot, hot… sweaty, sweaty, sweaty….

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Training time! I love watching the training at WC and EO. I always try to be seated the whole day because I find it really interesting to see the different styles, how people train etc. It was just hard to be focused on four courses at the same time… :/ It was a little stressful with three dogs when we trained and the surface was a bit heavy. But my dogs did well and I had time to try the things I had planned.

The team agility course on Friday was a fun course but it was a really stupid entry to the chute. Sometimes I really don't understand how judges think when they design a course. It has happend several times this spring. For this situation it was no special challenge to have a soft compared to a hard tunnel, it was just a big risk for injuries. What was the point for putting the chute so the dogs were coming from the side in full speed? Don't we all have the accident at jr EO fresh in our minds? In the seminar in Dorsten I had a student who lost her dog three months ago becuase her dog got injured in the flat tunnel. So WHY on earth even think about a situation like that?? I got really pissed and we were several people who complained to some judges, teamleaders and finally a quite important person I thought could do something about it. His answer was: "It's not my course." Who cares who's course it is??! Isn't the most important thing that our dogs can run through the courses without a big risk for injuries because of the course design? However, finally they changed the angle a bit so the dogs came more straight in, but still it was many dogs that got stuck in the fabric when they tried to turn after, as they should do in the course. 

In Italy I found a similar situation, but this time it was the entrance of the DW. Whatever side you turned your dog to over the jump before DW it was a really bad approach. Many dogs fell off or crawled up. Ok, you could push the dog out in a big, time consuming circle and in that way also put your self in a bad position for the coming sequense after the DW. But, is that really the point of our sport?! To make extra turns and plan to get the dog alive and avoid injuries around the course? For me it would be much more logical to think "You need to trust your dog in the situation before the DW and on the contact zone to be able to solve the sequense after in a good way." I really can't understand how these judges are thinking… I would like to have a discussion with them and hear their point of view. We tried to complain but the judge seemed not at all understand what the problem was. A bit difficult also in Italian language, I know some words but not enough for a discussion like that… :/

Well, let's go back to EO. I liked the agility courses for both team and individual on Friday and Saturday. The indivuídual jumping course was quite ok. I like courses with a lot of speed and technique together and with big distances so you can run and send your dog and then come a another tricky part. I like courses with many challanges but still with a nice flow. Especially the first jumping courses were too narrow for my taste. 

My dogs did well and I was really pleased with Lilli. There were some small things that happend, and it felt just like lack of experience together. She is promising and a fun little dog, I really enjoy to run with her! She didn't qualify for the individual final this time, but it was so, so close and next time I hope we will run the final!

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Mixed video from EO in Belgium

Ina qualified for the final and this was her fourth EO-final 🙂 Unfortunately she got a mistake on the down contact on the DW and then a refusal because of that, in the next situation. Otherwise she felt so good and to the dog-walk we had a really great run.

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Ina turns tight over the double jump in the final run on EO. Photo: Ian Watts

Ogin did some really nice runs but unfortunately none of them qualified for the final. It was either me or him who did a mistake in every run, so we got faults or time-loss.

Lilli's Swedish team qualified for the final but the final was a mess… it started with that we couldn't find our Croatian friend who was with us in the team. Then all of us got disqualified because we started before the wistle etc… But, we had FUN ;o) 

After EO we drove some hours north, to Dwingeloo in Holland. It was time for another seminar, organized by Susan Mouwen at Mouwens Agility Center. We were late and I think we arrived there close to 1 am. It was a small little road with trees and ditches aound. In some way we missed one ditch and suddenly we were stuck and we had to call road assistance. Hm, that was a new experience and a little different entrance… It was almost morning when we came up from that ditch so it was finally not that many hours sleep before seminar started, but it was enough :). Also this seminar was delighted with a working cocker, as before I liked it a lot! Crazy, fast and always focused. I also experienced two for me new Dutch breeds, Markiesje and Drentsche patrijshond. 

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Der Blaue See in Dwingeloo, really nice place and all dogs loved it of course!

Both people and dogs at the seminar were great and I had two fun days of work. On Tuesday night after seminar was finished and we had trained our own dogs, we started the 1000km long drive to Italy. 

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We got a bit lost in Switzerland and picked the long way through the mountains. It was scary in some parts with the big camper but also beautiful.

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The Swiss Alps

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Swiss Alps in sunset

Border Collie Classic 2013

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We got invited to an nice international dinner when we arrived in Italy. So many nice people in one place – love it!! Thank you all for the dinner and your lovely company and for inviting us to share your celebrations of EO!

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Thursdays competition in Italy. Lilli got a 2nd place in jumping and in agility she was the fastest little dog of all 150, but unfortunately with one dropped bar in the end. A funny coincidence was that Radovan Liska who won had the first start number and Lilli was the second and she got a 2nd place… 🙂 It was also nice to share the podium with my friend Romina, a really talented girl from Argentina. 

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Lilli and me in action!

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Bella Lilli in Italia!

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On Friday we had a day off and we went to a nice river to let the dogs swim. The heat has been totally crazy so it was a nice break for both us and the dogs. 

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In BCC all dogs placed 1-10 out of 400 dogs, in any of the totally six runs, qualify for the final on Sunday. Ina was running so well this weekend and she qualified in two runs already on Saturday! 

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Lilli had to work also on Sunday to qualify, she was a bit unlucky on Saturday. Two runs were really good but just a stupid up-contact in agility and a dropped bar in jumping. The time had been enough. But on Sunday she qualified in both runs before the final! 

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I was the only one from Sweden and I had four dogs, so I made my own team. Marco, the organizer, came and ask if I wanted to split my dogs and put hem in different team so I didn’t have to run with all four in the same… No, grazie! The fun thing was to have an own team 😉 Have to try something new and I could only blame on my self if it didn’t work. 

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Crazy, old Elvis!

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Preparing for the last team-run… Just a little bit tired, got a cooling shower from Nettan 🙂

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Uncut video from the team runs…

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BCC-Bronze for TEAM SWEDEN in the Team Final! Gold to France and silver to Finland! It started like a fun thing to try but the Swedish Team ended up 3rd of almost 20 teams, crazy! Maybe we can start a new class in our sport; ”One man and his dogs” 🙂

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The Happy Team Sweden! This was a totally crazy but really fun experience! I think I had the EO-final in my head, that the time between the dogs also counted, so I tried to hurry up as much as I could between the dogs. It felt like I waited in an eternity before each run but I can see on the video I didn’t… It was only before the last run they forced me to wait a bit longer while they slowly raked the field… 😉 So many people was cheering and supporting and even though it was hot like in a sauna and I was tired like hell in the end, I got some last energy from the exciting final spirit! Lisa Frick ran and changed T-shirt, to a Swedish one, befor the final, nice support ;). 

Border Collie Classic was a great experience and lot of fun. So many runs and so many good dogs in one weekend! The show was held on a riding center with nice space for all four field. It was only the showers and toilets that wasn't so good. We had to stand in the que for a long time and we had to shower in ice-cold water in darkness… Because of the hot days it was pretty ok anyway 😉

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Video with runs and photos from BCC in Italy. Most of the photos in the end of the video are shot by Ingemar Johansson.

I really like BCC with the huge numbers of good dogs, many runs and nice atmosphere but it's one rule I don't understand. The medium border collies are competing against the large ones and that's really not fair. They are almost the same hight and the medium BCs are running on 20cms lower jumps. Guess who use to win if they run clean..?! In my opinion border collies shouldn't run in medium at all. It's a large breed and they belong in the large chategory. I think they generally destroy the medium class and I don't like the idea about breeding small border collies for agility. But now when they are anyway running in medium and competes in BCC I think they need to have an own class and not just be compared to all the others who jump on large hight. The laws of physics say that of course it takes more time to jump 65cms than 45cms… Am I wrong?!

The individual final was held right after the team final but I still felt quite fresh in my mind. The dogs looked a bit tired as soon as we came to the camper, but close to the course they were always ready and focused. I really admire my dogs that could hold their focus during the whole trip and especially young Lilli who started her first trial not even four months ago. The final course was a nice course but again a turn after the DW so it was not that big advantage with RC unfortunately. Lilli did another perfect contact on a verbal turning command but I don't think it goes faster than a 2+2 in such a sharp turn. Both Lilli and Ina did nice clear rounds and ended up 7 and 10 in the final of BCC totally almost 400 dogs! A summary of Sunday: A good Sunday! 🙂 Lisa and Hoss were as good as they use to be and for the second time they won BCC, congrats!!! It was an exciting final with many great, clean runs! 

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Video of Ina's and Lilli's final runs!

But unfortunately it was a sad end on such a beautiful and fun weekend. One of the competitors dog suddenly died. It had been sick in some way but she was anyway in a good shape and she was running the competition without any problems. So it was a huge chock for the owner and he was out of control of sadness. The ambulance came and picked him up because they were really worried about him. I felt so, so sorry for him and I can't imagine finding my dog dead like that… what a trauma. And the man was such a nice person with a big heart and lovely smile. I hope he will be able to smile soon again and remember all the bright and fun memories together with his dog. I'm trying to send some positive energy…

When BCC was over we stayed another night and started our trip back Monday morning. It was a loong way, 1650km….

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We found a beautiful place in the Swiss Alps to take a lunch break. In this crazy heat I think the dogs really appreciated the ice cold water from the mountains. 

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Lunch time – tuna sallad!

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We found a beautiful orchid

 A summary of this road trip is that I'm coming home with so much new experience, knowledge, new friends and so many fun memories. It has been a long and hot trip but I have enjoyed every single second. Thank you all who has been a part of this trip. And a special thank to my father who lend us his camper, to Ingemar who has been driving us through Europe and cooking food and to Nettan who helps me with everything. Without you all I would just be a "fart in space" as we use to say in Swedish… 😉

When I come home I have one day to wash my laundry, clean the camper, move my sheep, pick up Zaa, visit some friends and do some work and then it's time for the Nordic Championship for Ogin on Sunday! On Saturday it will be a normal competition were all my dogs will participate. But until Saturday they will only REST!