Two Years in the Making
This was the culmination of two years work, which ended in an excellent result for the IPO Sport in Great Britain.
Both the GSDL and BAGSD decided that to select a team for the WUSV competition, a joint trial would take place to select 5 handler and dog teams plus a reserve.
The trial took place at Bromsgrove RFC, a great weekend, judged by Dirk Stocks (S.V.). The Top 5 handlers and dogs chosen to represent Great Britain in 2012 were Travis Foster with Vongalanburg Kai, Henriette Bohnstedt with Beckenberry Casper, Eric Wight with Yanka Teufelsgrund, Carol Phillips with Haus Bailey Flint and Thomas Nye with Vytensa Asko. Bryan Vandaal and Argonne Drago would be reserve if needed .
We decided that all team members would meet at the Stadium in Steyr, on Sunday 30th September.
We met at 3pm where myself and Alison Lawrence (Vice Captain) registered the team and were given our training times, bibs etc. followed by appointments with the vet to have the dogs checked -all competitors have to show their dog is healthy before they can start the competition. After a quick meeting to sort out the training schedule, which would be on the Monday, we were off to our hotel, Landhotel Schickleburg, a beautiful place in the Austrian country side, the same Hotel we had used 10 years previous.
Before we left home I had arranged an IPO club near our hotel for us to train at, SVO Bad Hall, who’s chairman Wolfgang Fellner, was a great help to us. We also had a football pitch in the same village as the hotel. We had our one 25 minute slot to train in the stadium on Monday, with the help of friends and family running around with hides, send away balls and keeping an eye on the stopwatch, with the whole session running like clockwork -even allowing enough time for a couple of extra sendaways.
Monday evening we had to attend the opening ceremony, a short walk from the stadium to the centre of Steyr. We were given ﬂame lit torches, as were all the teams, a great sight with lots of children involved. A big crowd welcomed us into the town centre for an impressive ceremony.
On Tuesday, Myself and Alison had to attend the Captains meeting. We were introduced to the judges for the weekend, Pierre Wahlstrom (tracking), Walter Lenk (obedience) and Josef Vonarburg (protection). Each in turn pointed out what they expected for the duration of the trial. We changed into our Team GB tracksuits for the draw, which was a very colourful affair, followed by a quick meeting to work out our schedule for the competition.
The Trial Begins
Wednesday morning 5am, Eric had drawn in the ﬁrst group to track. After a short drive we were up in the Austrian mountains, with the clouds below the road, it was a magniﬁcent setting for the tracking phase. Unfortunately for Eric, his track went up the mountain, the steepest part of all the tracking ground. The ground was beautiful lush grass, but the tracks were huge. Eric ﬁnished with 83 points. Thomas was next to track, but unfortunately his dog struggled and had to ﬁnish with only 19 points. I had to go off to the stadium as Carol was to do obedience at 12.00pm, Alison stayed at the tracking ground for Travis and Henriette who would track later. Carol put in a tidy performance with 82 points. Then came the news that Travis and Kai had a track score of 99 followed 30 minutes later by Henriette and Casper who scored 100. This for me was not a suprise, Henriette has constantly put in excellent tracking performances at all the major competitions. A fantastic ﬁrst day ended with the score board reading team GB ﬁrst and second!
Thursday was quiet with only Carol having to track. The draw had been kind to the team and after Carol’s track, which did not go to well with only 10 points, we were ﬁnished in the mountains. The rest of the day was spent either watching other teams, or some went back to the hotel to make use of the fantastic facilities, swimming pool, sauna, gym, etc.
Friday was protection day for four of our team with Henriette going ﬁrst. After what seemed a very good round the judge gave her 88 points.
Travis was next, and after winning the joint qualiﬁer we were all excited at the outcome. Travis and Kai did not disappoint, and the long ﬂight was one of the best in the competition, so much so, the helper put his sleeve on the ﬂoor to shake Travis’s hand. A score of 93 put him in great shape with the obedience to come.
Eric came next, but after a nip at the helper he was disqualiﬁed, which meant the end of the competition for him and Yanka.
Thomas was up next, again a very tidy round with 87 points.
Saturday was another early start with Travis to do his obedience at 6.20am. The breakfast room was very busy at 5.00am then we were all off to the stadium. The ﬂoodlights were on with frost on the ground but Trav and Kai put in another very good performance with 91 points and a total 283 . The highest ever score by a competitor from Great Britain. Henriette and Casper were on after lunch, again a tidy performance with 82 points and a total 270 points.
Sunday -the ﬁnal day of the competition and yet another early start. At 6.40am Thomas and Asko, only a three year old dog, did their obedience and again a good round with 87 points. Last up for team GB was Carol and Flint in protection, another good performance with 85 points. For the rest of the competition we watched the handlers with a chance to go above Travis on the score board, but dog after dog fell away and by the end of the trial Travis was 7th, which meant a place on the podium, an unbelievable achievement.
The Finishing Line
The closing ceremony took place after a couple of hours of torrential rain, but nothing would have dampened our enjoyment!
The competition had been a great success with Travis on the podium and Henriette with the only track score of 100, it was a shame we didn’t get a team score.
I must mention Paul Flanagan and Sepp von haus Silma, who also had a fantastic competition and ﬁnished in 11th place with a score of 95 93 94 – 282
The help and support of many people, and the togetherness of the team made my job pleasurable.
I must make a special mention for Alison Lawrence, she knew everything that needed to be known and was a fantastic Vice Captain.
Recognised by the WUSV
At the WUSV meeting/Judges Debrief the following Monday, a special mention was made as to the progress of the teams from Great Britain and Ireland in such a short time.
The Protection Judge, Mr Josef Vonarburg said in his report, “Particularly striking is the fact that England (Great Britain) had been very strongly represented and achieved excellent performances.”
“As regards the very good works, the same is also true for Ireland.”
Report by GB Team Captain Philip Sergent
Edited by Ashley Foster
The original version of this article was accompanied by photos kindly provided by Pics4Dogs, Louise Jollyman, Andy Phillips, and Lorraine Foster.