European Open 2013

I was so grateful to be selected to run at the European Open (EO) in Belgium this year. As you know, I started out pretty bad by injuring my ankle back in March and then the muscle pain side effects showed. Actually, I am still not fully recovered yet… I had been looking forward to the EO and a sore ankle and thighs weren’t what I had hoped for, but managed with Kinesio Tex tape and massage 😉 On top of that, Sookie had blisters on her hind feet – but thanks to Stalosan, the blisters had healed very well and only the skin was a bit thin.

I was driving with Channie to Belgium and the trip went pretty well. We arrived at the hotel in the evening and decided to stay and get some food and then go to the EO venue early next morning. Hotel was in the Netherland but only like 20 minutes’ drive from the EO venue. It turned out that the British team was staying at the same hotel and some other EO participants from other countries as well. The hotel and staff were very nice – but, no aircon – and it was soooo hot!! Unusually hot according to the staff.

Next day, Thursday, we went early to the venue and found a place to setup our tent. It was already hot but also very humid. I had carefully Sookie’s blisters with toilet paper and Kinesio tape and she could walk and run with no problem. Just wanted to minimize the risk of cutting the paws. The EO venue was at a riding centre and the rings were placed inside in the riding hall – but around the riding halls the ground was covered with asphalt – which got extremely hot 🙁 Sookie wasn’t paying attention to the bandage but at the veterinary control I was asked to remove the bandage and have Sookie running in the riding hall… sigh.. then the paws were pretty dirty afterwards and no reason to try make a new bandage. When standing in the riding hall it suddenly started to rain heavily – like a monsoon. Combined with the heat it got really humid inside the riding hall.

After the vet-check, the Danish team was to train in the other riding hall, where two courses were placed. I had decided to minimize the training, as it was just to introduce Sookie to the obstacles and get her used to the surface. She is not sensitive about obstacles (or anything) – for instance, everything that looks like a tyre, she confidently takes – I don’t have to worry about shapes or colours of obstacles. Nice 😀 The Dogwalk was a bit bouncy bit she did hit the contact both times. But.. the riding hall ground was really heavy to run on.. My ankle wasn’t happy 🙁

In the afternoon it really started to hurt and fortunately the physiotherapist at the hotel could look at my ankle – I was advised to take it easy the rest of the day.. I wrapped it in a cooling bandage and I was laying on the floor with foot elevated. I had decided not to bring Sookie at the opening ceremony in the evening, as I wanted her paws to get as much rest as possible. But my ankle kept hurting so I decided not to go to the ceremony – not happy about this decision – do believe we all should show up. Walking on the heavy ground again would probably make my ankle hurt even more.

Friday we started with the Team Jumpers run. I was called to start but then it took 3-4 minutes before I got the signal to start.. imagine how excited Sookie was at this point 😉 But she stayed at the start line and we had a great run – clean run 😀 Channie also had a clean run with Zindy so we were pretty happy 🙂 Next was the Team Agility run and I was so looking forward to it – but when I had walked the course I felt despair – the placement of the collapsible tunnel would be really challenging for Sookie and there was a great risk that she would get stuck in it. Had it been the individual agility run – I would not have run it!! Nevertheless, I’m here as part of a team and decided to run and try helping her as much as I could. We started out okay – but when we got to the collapsible tunnel Sookie got stuck and she came rolling out – I just felt so bad – bad because I knew that this would be a risk and even then I put her through this.. I was so mad at myself afterwards that I wasn’t focused on running the course and we ended up being eliminated at one of the last obstacles. I promised myself that I will never ever put my dog through this again – and I will keep this promise – I do not want to have my dog injured due to bad course design!

Saturday we started with the Individual Jumpers run. First obstacle was placed in the course – and my main focus was on keeping Sookie from jumping 😉 If you haven’t seen Sookie at the start line then she tends to be in front of me jumping up in the air – not seeing if there are any obstacles behind her, so she often bumps into them 😉 We started out fine but then Sookie was about to take a tunnel and I was asking myself why I didn’t call her – well, giving myself feedback on my performance while running the course was not the smartest thing to do – so only after having run half the course I got my act together and had a pretty good run afterwards – when Sookie was headed at a wrong last jump I didn’t correct her. We had so many faults anyway.
Next was the Individual Agility run – I really liked this course – it was fun and challenging 🙂 Sookie started like a cannon ball, which caught me with surprise, so had to work a little more on getting connected again. She did really great – and at the end I had decided to run on the right side of the obstacles – I saw her getting out of the tunnel and I was running (as fast as I could on the heavy ground) but I had only run a few metres and she had caught up with me – OMG, she was crazy fast!!! And she continued to the dogwalk, which she wasn’t to take..

Sunday the finals for team and individual were to be run – well.. this year I didn’t make it to the finals.. I was anyway pretty pleased with our performance 😉 We stayed and watched the team finals. I had brought Sookie to the arena so she could watch the dogs running – thought that would make her mentally tired before the long drive home 😉 Sookie was happy that I had brought her – but not as happy as someone was blocking her view – she then moved to the other side of the person. She had difficulties viewing the entire course, so she could better see if she was standing on the seat.. standing was too hard, so she figured out that she could just sit on the seat instead 😀 She was so funny – and other spectators had fun watching her 😉

Sookie - spectator at the EO finals

Sookie – spectator at the EO finals

Here’s a video of our team jumping run: