I thought before I started talking about our winter training I had better round up our year of racing. The up's and down's and what we need to work on.
Well to be honest we had a slightly disappointing start to the year with regards to times and also to boxwork. We put in an awful lot of work over last winter and unfortunately partly due to us not having the new box until the beginning of March and partly due to me not pushing the dogs on quick enough, the last few weeks of training before competition were very rushed. This resulted in the dogs not doing enough repetitions with the props in so when we went in to competition alot of the dogs reverted back to their old turns in varying degrees. This wasn't exactly disasterous as none of the dogs had slammers turns anyway but it was disappointing. Times wise we hit 18.00secs at our 1st show at Easter which we were pleased with especially as Asher was barely hitting sub 4 back then, which I was gutted about (as he had been at 3.8-3.9 in 2008). But then we didn't beat this time for nearly 3months until Frimley when we finally went sub 18 with a 17.84secs.
The positives of the start of the season were bringing out all of our starters. We've had some real crackers come out this year. We had 6 dogs in starters at Easter and 5 of them debuted in May with them barely putting a foot wrong. Bonnie is cracking running 4.2s but I know there is more in her. The only disappointment we had with her is that she had to go start dog as she tried to nip the returning dog on her outrun although we are hoping to cure that this winter. Lacy is just a total star, she will run anywhere, she has a beautiful box turn and she runs consistent 4.3s after starting out around 4.6s. Jamie our little height dog looks like he has been running for years, there is definitely lots of room for improvement in his box which we are working on and will hopefully bring his times down from 5.3-5.4ish to closer to 5secs. Chelsey has also been so good, she has a lovely box and when we get some weight off of her I'm sure will be quicker next year. Then their is Fraggle, our crowd puller, he really is great to watch and he has improved so much over the year.
So after Easter the ballistics didn't have a full 1st team for a while due to various dogs being unavailable, we managed some good low/mid 18s times anyway but I think we all got a bit frustrated. I think Frimley was the turning point for us, running the 17.84 gave us a bit more belief and we won division 2, a win always lifts you up. After that we continued to get faster with 17.72 at Becketts and 17.71 at Chilterns, both without the full 1st team. It was at this point we changed the order, putting Asher 2nd. This gave me more space in the runback area to work him back properly and I was finally able to sort out his return drive. This is when Asher really kicked up a gear (although he did run fantastically at Cornbury Park in June). The real high came at Stockbridge in August when everything came together and we won division 1 with a fantastic time of 17.37secs. In some ways I was happier about this than winning our div at the champs. Just because we ran a faster time and also because we beat shooting stars and maple leafs in the process. Saying that, winning at the champs was fantastic, don't think you can beat that feeling of going up infront of anyone to get your plaque (apart from going up to get that gorgeous trophy ;-), thats the next target lol). The disappointing thing for me at champs was that Asher wasn't as fast, it was a shame because it was the only time alot of the people there would have got to see him run and it was probably one of the slowest he ran all year and I don't want people to think I lie about his times!!
After Champs we only had 4 competitions and although we didn't win anything I really enjoyed them as I felt Asher was at his best and was just a joy to run. Ending on a high at Becketts when he "officially" hit a 3.77secs running start dog. I say official as we don't record all of the dogs times particularly if we have to work them out from splits so I'd say it was very likely he had run under 3.8 before, we just hadn't recorded it.
At Shackerstone we had Luna debut dead on 18months. Unfortunately she had had little training over the summer months so her box requires a lot of work. However she was running 4.3-4.4secs which we were pleased with and also ecstatic about the fact she was measured as a 12" height dog. Alot of hope for her for next year.
Finally at Becketts in October we had our last debutee Elliot who was fab and will hopefully get faster with confidence and more work on return drive. We also tried Luna on the 1st team and will be working hard on this combination over winter.
Overall I think it has been a successful year beating our fastest ever time by 0.7secs (would be thrilled if we could do that again next year lol!). We got 3 1st places despite never being top seed. I had at the back of my mind that the target for this year was to qualify for division 1 at the champs (as i'm sure it was for alot of teams) and based on the seedings for last year we would of done but the quality this year just seems to have improved alot so to win division 2 was the next best thing.
Things to work on over winter are mainly boxwork and return speed although it does vary for each dog. We probably won't do any full runs until after christmas although as we are now planning to do Wimbledon we may do 1wk of team training before that! We have our new group of starters and only 2 full collies, how novel! I've got high hopes for them! Although a couple of them are looking like they are going to be hard work! So thats it, Asher is currently having a break, he's had 2 weeks of complete rest to give his muscles and soft tissue time to recover and he's now back to gentle (for Asher!) exercise. He'll probably start flyball again in a few wks and just work on power jumping and box work. The aim is to have him at the absolute peak of fitness for the European Champs.
10 months ago