WOW, what a weekend…. finally back in the lanes after the horrific time that has been the Covid-19 pandemic. As a team, we were very excited to be able to host the first indoor UKFL event since March 2020, offering a stepping stone back to full racing with a singles and pre-cadet only event.
Setup took a degree longer than normal as we were all a touch rusty, but the lanes were signed off on Saturday (and Sunday) morning as being perfect, and the ring looked fantastic!
Saturday saw us competing in the singles divisions with Kylo, Poppy, Bailey, Bishop, Taggle, Lennie & Dizzy, as well as Rowlf, Zebulan, Weaver and Finnick playing on pre-cadets again the super reliable Ruby & Oscar. It was Kylo’s debut into competitive flyball racing and to say Ellen was a tad nervous might be the understatement of the Millennium, but he absolutely nailed it, posting himself a time of 3.64s over this full height of 10″ and placing him joint 3rd in the UKFL singles ranking. Our other singles dogs on Saturday were all solid racing dogs that were there for a bit of fun and to see how our training was paying off and they all nailed their sessions. Bishop is currently ranked as the top Labrador in the UKFL singles list… let’s see if he can hold onto this glory til the end of the year! The PC dogs are obviously slightly used to the barn as they train there every week, but adding the lights, banner, barriers and noise changes things a lot for them, but they all took it in their strides and worked hard, progressing throughout the day.
Sunday was our slightly more crazy day with Hope, Tristan, Quest, Zola, Coda, Jake, Indi, Marley, Lord and Whisky all in singles as well as Khaos in a PC slot. That includes a lot of dogs to debut into their competitive flyball careers! Hope, Coda, Marley & Whisky showed their reliable natures taking 1st, 1st, 1st and 2nd in their respective divisions. We deceived to go NFC with Zola to enable us to introduce him to the hype of a competition whilst still reminding him of his good form and giving us the time to wok on his reward system… he only ran out once and didn’t chase a single ball in the other lane! Quest competed in the morning and showed us she is right on that cusp of going out into open, posting a new PB of 3.89s. However, racing her brother in the afternoon blew her head and so we made the call to go NFC with her as well and correct the issues before they become too ingrained. That left Tristan to win the division…. but he didn’t just do that… he posted a new PB of 3.95s becoming the 10th dog that we have trained to run sub-4s.
Also making their competitive flyball debuts were both Jake and Lord, both handled by Mark. Jake’s first run, and with a 0.03 early he posted a 4.14 on the clock… ie a line to line time of 4.17s, for an 8″ cocker a few months off his 2nd birthday at his first comp…. needless to say, Mark was a touch ecstatic, LOL! A spot of interference in the afternoon saw Jake struggle to a degree but he was quickly fixed and ended up 2nd in his division with the current UKFL Cocker Spaniel singles time for 2021. Finally, we have Indi… after debuting him a couple of years ago, Indi worked out it was MUCH faster to run down the side of the jumps. We did fix this issue literally as we hit the first lockdown so we weren’t sure how ingrained the fix was. However, his handler worked her socks off through all the lockdowns. He ran again this weekend and for the first time we didn’t have to even think about whether he might or might not complete, but instead we could work on pushing him to race and build in a better reward system.
Khaos also came to play in PC on Sunday, working amazingly well with dogs barking all around her. We progressed her from chute work through to taking a ball of the mini-chute from a distance, quite some progression in a day, and she didn’t exit the ring once to find those barking dogs!