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International Agility Championship . . . The First Time All Over Again

Posted on 05/23/13 30 Comments

I just got home from my participating in my second WAO (World Agility Open) event held in Oviedo, Spain. Some consider this one of the four “world championship” type agility events; FCI in October, European Open in July, WAO in May and IFCS held every other year.

This is my second year competing at WAO (doing so in 2010 as well). It is my 12th trip like this to a “World Championship” and 11th trip to Europe for such an event over the years. It all started back in 2004 with my first IFCS trip, which coincidentally was also to Spain.

I love Spain!  The culture and history is amazing. John and I traveled with our friends, John and Lynda Hill, and took a few days prior to the competition for some relaxing and sightseeing.

Here are a couple of pics taken in Segovia, where they have this amazing Aquaduct built by the Romans in what is estimated to be 1 AD.

Susan Garrett trip to WAO - Aqueduct in Segovia
Aqueduct in Segovia, Spain

Our hotel was just gorgeous and the weather was beautiful…it was a perfect way to start our time in Spain.

Susan Garrett & Family in Spain
John, Feature and I at our hotel in Spain

By the time we got to Oviedo where the WAO competition was being held, the weather turned on us. Bitter cold and non stop raining was not what I had hoped for but the positive spin I kept telling myself was it was a great test of my focus and mental prep for competition.

The event had us run two runs outside and one run inside each half day on the first day for a total of 6 runs. On day two the weather had gotten so miserable that they moved everything inside for the afternoon and that is where we stayed, warm and dry . . . well at least dry (the temperature was dipping below 10 C (in the 40s F) during the later runs of the competition . . . and those runs were later! We left the hotel every day at 6:30 AM and our last run of the day on Saturday was 9:30 PM at night.

Susan Garrett & Feature running weave poles at WAO
Feature and I Running Weave Poles at WAO
Susan Garrett and Feature on the Teeter
Feature vs. the Teeter


Susan Garrett & Feature Doing A Victory Lap
Feature and I Doing A Victory Lap!


Susan Garrett and Feature take first!
Feature and I celebrating!

Yet another test of your competitor preparation; did you plan your nutritional needs and can you function at your best on very little sleep? In bed at 11:30 every night and up again at 5:00 to get ready for the day.

Yes there were a LOT of sick competitors by the end of it all; I am pleased to say I was not one of them. Being a vegan, I am used to planning my meals away from home before I ever leave home so my nutrition was top notch throughout the entire time away.

In spite of the poor weather and lack of sleep, I had an amazing time in Spain. Loved it.  From our wonderfully relaxing vacation to the chance to run at yet another “big agility event,” the whole week was a thumbs up for me.

Although I am not new to the sport or new to big competitions I was really looking forward to this event for a number of reasons:

  1. I enjoyed the format and courses at the 2010 WAO looked forward to coming back.
  2. I have hired more staff here at Say Yes, so I have been able to push away from the computer more frequently which has resulted in me improving my own fitness level.
  3. This would be the first “big” agility competition for me to run with my new handling style and I was really looking forward to testing it out on the more challenging European type courses.

So for me even though it wasn’t my first, it was very much like a first on many levels.

Over the next few blog posts I will roll out video of my runs from Spain. I will start today with my five runs form the Individual Pentathlon event. Here competitors hope to run five classes; two standard agility, two jumpers and one “Speedstakes” which is like standard agility but without a seesaw or dogwalk. I say “hope” to run 5 runs because the competition gets pared down as the event rolls on. There is a “cut” after rounds 2 and 4, taking the numbers down to just the top 18 dogs for the final round.

Feature and I had a magical weekend together. I felt it was one of my best weekends as a handler and one of her best as a performer . . . hmmmmm I wonder if there is a connection there?  Not that I don’t think we have done great at events in the past, it is just this weekend I felt a consistency in our connection together I haven’t felt before.

Here are our five pentathlon runs from the weekend:


Today I am grateful for the amazing Management team that organized and took care of us all in Spain. With a 23 year old coach and a staff of 4 managers none of which had ever been to a World Championship; you would think it would be a recipe for mayhem . . . but it was quite the opposite. One of the best run, best organized most cohesive group of people that I have ever had the pleasure of working with during my 20 year career in agility. My sincere thanks to: Justine Davenport, Paula Collins, Stephanie Taillefer and Tamara Hauglum; you ladies made the event something really special for our entire Canadian team.


  1. updated blog post says:
    Sunday, June 9, 2013 at 12:35am

    Hello! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this website?
    I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve had problems
    with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform. I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.


    • Susan says:
      Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 8:39am

      Hi! I use WordPress as well! 🙂


  2. Judy Martin says:
    Thursday, June 6, 2013 at 10:16am

    Loved watching you run. You are an inspiration!!!


  3. Jane says:
    Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 3:05pm

    That was smokin’ hot! Nice job.


  4. Deanna says:
    Sunday, June 2, 2013 at 6:37pm

    Congratulations to you and the Canadian team! Thanks so much for sharing your thought, videos and photos, Susan. I have learned so much from your comments, especially about physical and mental preparation prior to running a course.

    In a future post, I’m wondering if you could explain in more detail exactly how you plan ahead to make sure both you and your dog are well fed and as rested as possible during a long day of trailing. As a relative newcomer to the sport of agility, I find this can be a challenge at times.


  5. Dave says:
    Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 8:35am

    Congratulations and well done Susan. Really enjoyed the Video, literally got goosebumps watching it.


  6. Lisa Frenette says:
    Wednesday, May 29, 2013 at 12:43am

    Love this new handling style, very fluid. Saw movement like this when watching Jaakko S. Well done!


  7. Lisa Frenette says:
    Wednesday, May 29, 2013 at 12:41am

    I love this new handling style, very fluid. I first saw movement like this when watching Jaakko S.


  8. Louise S says:
    Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 11:09pm

    Congratulations to you Susan and Feature. I hadn’t realised just how far that clever girl flies over the long jump! There was a really good shot side on in the second video which I found super to see. Feature takes off so far before the jump – impressive and breathtaking. Meanwhile you’re not kidding about working on your fitness – you look fabulous Susan. You go girls. PS How is Encore doing?


  9. Billie O'Connor says:
    Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 10:59pm

    Wow! You made that look effortless, congratulations. Amazing skills on your girlie, those weave entries are incredible!


  10. Gary says:
    Friday, May 24, 2013 at 11:25pm

    Incredibly inspiring in SO many ways! The efficiency of the handling system, the remarkable foundational skills, and the speed, of course, but more than anything else, the lesson in perseverance! Without that trait, even the best talent never rises to the top. Thank you, Susan. I am very grateful for your courses and for your exemplary leadership!


  11. Blanche says:
    Friday, May 24, 2013 at 10:05am

    You and your dogs are always an inspiration to watch!


  12. Jane Harding says:
    Friday, May 24, 2013 at 9:39am

    Just wonderful to read about and watch. You and Feature were indeed in TOP FORM. just perfect!
    Thank you for posting


  13. Christine Schragel says:
    Friday, May 24, 2013 at 3:32am

    Congratulations!!!! and thanks for sharing!


  14. Annette says:
    Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 11:01pm

    Great job congrats


  15. Bonnie says:
    Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 8:38pm

    I stand in awe, and the little breath that is left in me allows me to utter only one word. WOW.

    What else is there to say but WOW.

    I tell everyone in my obedience world that I think the greatest trainers today are the agility trainers, and to Me, Susan shares the top of the podium with the finest.


  16. Aino says:
    Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 5:58pm

    I have to say Susan, I really like your new handling! Congratulations on your success!


  17. Denise says:
    Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 5:54pm

    Love how the changes to your handling system are keeping you ahead of your dog on course.


  18. Vineta says:
    Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 2:57pm

    Super awesome runs! Congrats to you and Feature! Look forward to more videos! And those looked to be very challenging courses!


  19. gail lawson says:
    Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 2:12pm

    Awesome! Wonderful job.


  20. Susan says:
    Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 2:08pm

    You and Feature both were fit, focused and fast! Congrats on a fabulous week!


  21. Karen says:
    Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 1:57pm

    Loved the format of the video showing the course maps first. Always fun to try and see the handling path before the run. Congratulations on a great performance.


  22. Janice says:
    Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 1:47pm

    Was a pleasure watching you and Feature run. Congratulations on a wonderful WAO. Am going to be studying those videos for some time!


  23. Shauna says:
    Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 1:43pm

    Great work Susan!
    We could really see the change in style, looking really good! Obviously it paid off! 🙂
    Many many congratulations,
    looking forward to meeting you soon
    Shauna and Clara-Ffion, Germany


  24. Corry says:
    Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 12:49pm

    What else can you say, but, Wow! I got goose bumps watching poetry in motion.


  25. Ninette says:
    Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 12:25pm

    Awesome, Susan, just awesome!


  26. Marjorie says:
    Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 12:08pm

    Oh my, Susan, you did blind cross !! And you look to be on form 😉
    Congrats to you, Feature, and all Team Canada. I was a real pleasure to follow Canada runs on the web !


  27. Kate says:
    Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 11:58am

    Congratulations!! Loved runs 2 & 5 especially. Feature is awesome. As are you!


  28. Paula says:
    Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 11:54am

    Love the blog Susan! Especially the part about potential mayhem . I know all 4 of us were honored to support the 17 Canadian handler and dog teams throughout the event!

    You and Feature had a spectacular event to say the least!!

    Hope to be able to do it again with you in the future!


  29. Laura W. says:
    Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 11:39am

    Incredible runs, even with the ‘bobbles’ – her speed gave me goose bumps.


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