However you adapt to this new Covid-19 world, enjoy the summer and your dogs

However you adapt to this new Covid-19 world, enjoy the summer and your dogs

By Mark Laker

As lockdown gradually eases in most parts of the UK, people are adapting to the new ways of living and working with Covid-19. I’ve recently changed roles in my daily work life and having a vertual interview, meeting my new colleagues and team all online virtually, has been an interesting experience. Going into an office is an unlikely prospect for me until sometime in 2021.

Talking about new roles, my successor as Agility Team GB Manager, Greg Derrett is now in place. I’ve been in touch with Greg a few times and offered my support as he gets up to speed in the role… although I don’t think it’ll take him too long. Greg has a wealth of experience and a lot of passion for our sport – I’m sure he’ll do a great job.

It’s strange times for many sports

Some activities are still very much stopped, others are easing their way back and the more innovative ones are finding new ways to play. I’ve spoken to people who are taking stock of their interests… dare I say life, and considering their future direction in this new Covid-19 world. Many people have already adapted to a different way to life over the last four months and are enjoying spending more time with their families, appreciating the natural world more, taking more exercise and making different use of their time. 

As someone interested in psychology, the ability of humans to adapt and change according to our environment both fascinates and worries me. I’m shocked how people can be so destructive to one another and our world, but also amazed by how creative and resourceful we can be too.

One things for sure, those of us reading this article will always gravitate and find solace in our dogs.

Enjoy the summer and your dogs.

Mark.

Strange Times

Strange Times

By Mark Laker

Life is strange at the moment isn’t it? We live in a peaceful world (mostly) with people who love to spend time with their dogs. For us particularly, that involves training our dogs to be great at agility. With no shows to attend for the foreseeable future, we’ve taken the opportunity to establish and enjoy more relaxing routines and weekends.

Our dogs have been brought up to utilise their energy and enjoy regular training. They’re fed high-quality food to enhance their performance and maintain tip-top fitness. With no shows or training classes to attend, like many agility competitors we’ve scaled down the agility training.

In our household we currently have four border collies and a terrier-cross and they love learning and being active. They’re on a training programme of: learning how to just chill-out and relax around the house and garden; learning how to loose-lead walk and practicing social distancing around the extra people, bikes and horses we meet on our usual walks.

The Border Collies and Pikachu’s all love working, and although running round an agility course is the most fun in our house, anything that involves figuring out what we want them to do is fun too.

We’ve started using other activities to channel their mental and physical energy. These include:

  • Waiting in their beds patiently while their dinner is being prepared.
  • Waiting at doors & gateways until they get called individually.
  • Waiting for their turn to fetch their toy (Torro (old boy) doesn’t get this and gets 3 x as much exercise whilst we are doing this with the others). And Pikachu was a bit snooty of joining in, but now has her own toy which nobody else can have.
  • Doing sit, down, stand or a left / right turn before or on the way to their toy.
  • Loose-lead walking – in the past the main time they were on a lead was on the way to the agility ring and no one was interested in doing that calmly. J
  • Walking and balancing on logs.

They play most of these games all together, which challenges them further and its intriguing how they learn as a pack members and as individuals.

As we come out of lock down and small training classes are restart, it’s noticeable how some partnerships have definitely got tighter with this extra time we’ve been spending at home with our dogs. We’re going to keep up some of the fun training we’ve been doing as we all enjoy it.

We hope you and your dogs are keeping safe and well.

Mark & Karen.

“Stay safe and make the most of this opportunity to grow” Mark Laker

“Stay safe and make the most of this opportunity to grow” Mark Laker

thumbnail_Control the Controllables

May Agility blog

By Mark Laker

We’re still in lockdown, the world is still coming to terms with covid-19, and life still goes on as people adjust to the situation.

Coping strategies

Over the last month or so I’ve been asked to share coping strategies that might help people while they’re working remotely, feeling isolated and are concerned about what our new normal might look like. I thought I’d share a few with the CSJ readers.

My sports psychology research and learning has led me down some interesting paths over the years. One common thread I hear from many experts is ‘turn obstacles into opportunities’. And even though this phrase was around long before the coronavirus, it still applies.

For me this means, I could mope around at home longing to get out, socialise, travel and be free to wander. Or I could accept that the situation is the right one for everyone and turn this into an opportunity to get stuck into projects and activities that I never normally get a chance to do. There are lots of new opportunities out there at the moment, we just have to look for them.

Control the controllables

‘Control the controllables’ is another well-used tip. There is little point worrying and wasting precious energy on things we cannot control e.g. when is lockdown going to be eased, when are canine competitions going to restart. We can be mindful of these things, but we cannot control them. We’re better off putting energy into things we can control. Like:

  • What can I do to maintain my physical and mental health and fitness;?
  • How can I offer support to family, the community and friends?
  • Controlling how much/little news and social media I absorb

Focusing on contrallables helps to build resilience, confidence and self-esteem, which are good traits to have in these times.

Don’t let the external affect the internal

My third ‘top tip’ this month is ‘don’t let the external affect the internal’. Start by writing down your key values and beliefs (if you haven’t already). Revisit them and think about how they influence your life and your decisions. Don’t let external influences distract you away from these values and try not to let external pressures sway you. Maintain a growth mind set and live to your values.

Stay safe and make the most of this opportunity to grow.

The world has changed massively…

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April 2020

By Mark Laker

Wow, the world has changed massively since my last blog. Who would have thought nearly half the world’s population would be in a lockdown situation under the threat of a nasty virus back in February.

I hope all the CSJ readers are keeping safe in these difficult times

It’s a huge challenge to the world. I have been home based for the last six years, so I’m lucky that I’m used to this way of working. We also have space to get out for daily exercise and living in a rural area means social distancing isn’t a problem either. However, I do understand the challenges, the worry and uncertainly other people are experiencing and readily offer my support where I can.

I’m confident we’ll pull through this and move on to a stronger future

In March I announced my retirement as the Team Manager for Agility Team GB. I had always planned to review my position in 2020, and after seven years in the role I decided that the time was right to hand over the reigns.

My time as Team Manager has been immensely rewarding. Of course there were challenging times and some incredible highlights too. In a role like that you grow broad shoulders and learn a lot about people; I’m sure there’s a future book in my journal somewhere.

I thought I’d have a lot of time on my hands now with no agility shows and no team manager responsibilities. However I’m finding myself busy with other projects and interests that have been on hold… a subject for future blogs.

I hope all our readers keep safe in these difficult times. And if anyone wants any hints and tips about working from home I’m more than happy to share.

Mark Laker

Agility Team GB Manager

Follow Mark Laker’s blog: http://marklaker.blogspot.com

 

Agility competition in Hoogerheide, The Netherlands raises money for children’s hospital

Agility competition in Hoogerheide, The Netherlands raises money for children’s hospital

By Adelaine Bastiaansen
Sophia benefiet wedstrijd podium 2
We had a competition last weekend in Hoogerheide, The Netherlands on 6-8th  March.
It was a competition to raise money for the children hospital Sophia in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. They raised 17.710 euros.
We had a several clear runs, but on Saturday Spice and I went 3rd on the agility course.Sophia benefiet wedstrijd podium 1

 

Watch the run on Facebook:

Happy New Year – 2020. Mark Laker talks about the challenges facing dog sports

Happy New Year – 2020. Mark Laker talks about the challenges facing dog sports

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Happy New Year – 2020 has arrived and promises to be another interesting year with big challenges facing us politically, on a world scale, the environment and of course topics closer to our own interests – dog sports.

On the 1st January a new jump height was introduced at Kennel Club licensed agility competitions. The new height is 50 cm and called Intermediate. It aims to address an age old issue of smaller large breeds (if that makes sense) jumping in the highest jump height category (65cm). So in effect, Border Collies (sorry to be breedist, but they’re a good example) could measure into either the intermediate or large height category.

The debates, arguments and reasoning for this additional height have been going on longer than Brexit. I won’t go over all the pros and cons – it’s done and it’ll be interesting to see how the competitions deal with the increased number of classes this year….we could have probably told Teresa May that even a simple thing like changing agility dog jump heights can’t be enacted in less than three years; she didn’t have a chance on a Brexit deal in any less! 

MLaThe new height category doesn’t effect my current agility dogs Rhyme (large) and Pikachu (small) but the three existing heights (small, medium and large) have all been reduced by 5cm too. So they will be jumping slightly lower obstacles in the future. Karen’s young bitch Chic has measured in this new height.

This reduction in jump heights for the small, medium and large categories bring KC competitions in line with the FCI and most other organisations – a good move. Increasingly more countries who compete under FCI rules are introducing a 4th intermediate type height and I wouldn’t be surprised if the governing body introduce this at their showcase European Open and Agility World Championships within the next five years too.

A more pressing matter is to get Rhyme and myself back up to agility fitness ready for Crufts in six weeks (yikes!). We’ve both had a few injury niggles over the last few months, and put on a few extra pounds over Christmas. We now need to knuckle down and get working on our fitness plans.

All the best for 2020.

Mark

Winners all – CSJ Agility Open – Day 4

From Virginia Harry and the CSJ Agility Open Team

After watching you all perform over the last four days I can absolutely confirm that you all deserve your Win On Spot… You were all fabulous to watch, your phenomenal handling and training skills – it was an honour. Especial congrats, of course, to Steven Richardson#sponsoredbycsj, for winning the 500 category. Happy now, Steve???

From left to right – Jo Tristram and Brite, Steve Richardson and Digit, David Wright, Ashleigh Butler and Sully, and Sarah McLean with Milo (holding her puppy, Ember).

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Well done to you all! The top three in the CSJ National Final in the 400 height were:

  • 1st Samantha Towe and Franky
  • 2nd Becci Chant and Jaffa
  • 3rd Abigail Doxford and Wiggy

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Well done to these three competitors who have all been a total joy to watch this weekend. Such skills! The top three in the CSJ National Final in the 600 height were:

  • 1st Ola Kordas and Dessa
  • 2nd Anthony Clarke and Ava
  • 3rd Joanne Tristram and Brite

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Steve Seale gets it together when it counts! Huge congrats to Steven Richardson and Digit and Karen Marriott and the national treasure that is Puzzle. The top three in the CSJ National Final in the 500 height were:

  • 1st Steve Seale and Flec
  • 2nd Steven Richardson and Digit
  • 3rd Karen Marriott and Puzzle

64565844_856162244752256_6747327762987483136_nAnd not forgetting the ‘Smalls’, known here as the ‘300s’. Fantastic effort, ladies. Lucy Osborne-Norton – running well! Roz Quail, on form as per last year. Amazing. And Sarah Mclean – I think I’ve said it all on other posts… props, lady. You and your dogs are awesome. The top three in the CSJ National Final in the 300 height were:

  • 1st Lucy Osborne and Fling
  • 2nd Sarah McLean and Milo
  • 3rd Roz Quail and Tula

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The WAO 2020 super win on spots for England, Scotland and Wales have been published. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone in the Netherlands in May 2020.

https://theagilityopen.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Try-out-2019-FINAL.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3ldeE2P_7-U2RKC2f1hAGq0FOf3js-e_-gKJcEpbxCiT6hGejA5tLSJq8

The winners of the future prospects award have been announced. Congratulations to them all.

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Championship Final Results
600 (Course Time: 45 seconds)

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View the results online

Superb photography throughout the event by Simon Peachey, can be viewed on The CSJ Agility Open Facebook page

CSJ Agility Open – Day 2

From Virginia Harry & the CSJ Agility Open Team

And the action starts again…

This afternoon’s CSJ Agility Open course plans. Notice the very tricky weave entries in both classes. In fact, the entry looks easier on paper in the Pent Jumping 2. In fact, the dogs have to make quite an adjustment after the tunnel to get in the correct weave. Of course, some are making it look very easy.

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Two more clears for young Steve! This time in the CSJ Championship Jumping Round 1. Currently lying in 3rd with Digit and 6th with Future, whose round is posted below.


So… in the Biathlon there’s a jumping and an agility round and the scores from the two are added together. A very unlucky pole from Digit put them in 8th place, with 6 clears above them, so all is not lost if they excel in the agility – and others don’t, of course! Here’s their run. Future crashed a jump and 
Steven Richardson wisely retired her.

Some very nice distance work from Hayley Laches and Atom…


Tonight’s Steeplechase Final course plan.

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The courses here at The CSJ Agility Open demand top level skills from dog and handler (@!**!#) difficult, in other words!) but of course there are always handlers who make you wonder what all the fuss was about. One such handler is Sarah Millwood (I hope you don’t mind my posting, Sarah!) with her dog Phaze. And as you can see, I had a bird’s eye view of her run. So many dogs are going from the weaves into the tunnel – it’s very close – so props to anyone who didn’t get eliminated there!


Rather annoying refusal for Steve and Digit in an otherwise flawless Pentathlon Jumping 2.

Photos of today’s action are available on the CSJ AgilityOpen Facebook page

 

CSJ Agility Open – Day 1

Pentathlon Agility 1 

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Today’s course plans

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First round CSJ Agility Open and Hayley Laches and Atom nail a 3rd place in the 600 height! What a great start.

Steven Richardson and Digit win their height in the Steeplechase 1 class!

Sarah Hamblin and Princess Karma were the first to run in the CSJ Agility Open’s first class, Pentathlon Agility 1.

Snooker… Here’s Steven Richardson and Future having a go and finishing in 11th place.

Taming Canines Dog-Sports Team

A ‘tail’ of two halves, the one in which Atom leaves his ears at obstacle 3 and gets them back at 8! Fantastic second half. The second half of this run is amazing…. Hayley doesn’t break out of a walk!

Two fabulous runs from Steven Richardson is in the Pentathlon Jumping 1, putting him 2nd with Digit, so far, and 3rd with Future. This superb run puts them in 1st place in Pent Agility 1 – for now! Also a nice run from Future…. that’s a very tricky weave entry!

Steeplechase Results

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Pentathlon Agility 1 results

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See you tomorrow for Day 2

Superb photos here from Simon Peachey on the CSJ Agility Open Facebook page.

Pentathlon photos

More Pentathlon Agility

Gamblers photos

Mobile Uploads

Remember, you can watch all the action on 4 Legged Flix YouTube channel.

 

Ne’er cast an agility clout till May be out…

By Mark Laker

hawthorn (2)Maybe summer is here now, although I remember an olde English saying ”Ne’er cast a clout till May be out”… in other words don’t get rid of your winter clothes just yet. Anyway, after a glorious Easter, May so far has been a bit of a downer for me in more that just a weather related way.

Last October I picked up a muscle injury in my hip area (I told people I’d broken my bum as that’s what it felt like!) Apparently I’d damaged a deep muscle which wasn’t easy to stretch or repair so I just had to be patient and do the exercises. It meant I couldn’t run or do anything too strenuous for about five months.

Easter came and I’m fixed, exercising again and gradually getting back into training with Moog. Then we had a change of plan and decided Moog needed some proper dog training… I just pretend to be a dog trainer, Karen’s the dog trainer. I’m the people tamer!

Karen’s first run with Moog was at Shrewsbury earlier this month and they did well. I ran Karen’s well trained dog Rhyme and had a 1st place, a 2nd and a 5th which I was pleased about. So there we are, Rhyme and I both fit and running well again – some would say “ye olde magic is still there”.

Then without warning last week I picked up a back injury (ye olde-re occurring back pain). Fortunately it isn’t serious and everything was put back into place by the Physio. However I’ve had to miss another weekend of competition while it recovers.

I’ll be working on my fitness when I get the all clear and plan to enjoy the rest of season competing with Rhyme and supporting Karen with young Moog, Chic and Pikachu.

One of the many good points about dog ownership is even when you’re not feeling 100% dogs still want to be you and will enjoy anything we do with them. Whether it’s out for a walk, a run, agility or other work they are always keen to join in.

Have a great May and remember no casting of clouts yet…

PS – apparently the saying is also related to the Hawthorn being in flower too.

 

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