The start of December saw a new race venue for us at Cranwich in Norfolk. The trails in Norfolk are very different to what we train on along the Quantock Hills, the trails are straight and grassy and we train on hardpacked and hilly. We train 3-5 miles, four times a week using a rig and although the trails we run on are the same mileage because of the surface difference we feel it would be a good idea to up the mileage in training to counteract the softness and 'give' on their legs from the grassy trails and thus will up the dogs fitness to respond to the new trail conditions, we are also training now in bigger teams so even though we race two small teams the dogs will be used to running quicker in training. Without the use of a quad and the hilly nature of our training trails it is very difficult for the dogs to learn to run at a consistent speed so we are carefully adapting our training methods to suit the race conditions. We love that in these new racing conditions we are learning so much and are having fun adapting teams and training accordingly. We never usually time our runs, as we are very much go with the flow but we have started timing runs and the difference between average mph when we run on flat trails and run on our home training ground is huge and is a very useful tool for us moving forward.
Matt ran in the two dog class with Mars who is two years old and Snik who is 9 years old continuing the mentoring. The first day's run the first day was great with Matt getting 7th out of a competitive class of over 20 competitors. With Snik being that bit older we expected a slower time the second day and placed 12th. The beauty of competing with BSHRA is that the times are all so close with the first place and the 15th place all being within a minute of each other so a matter of seconds can affect your placing. This is exactly what we were hoping for when running with BSHRA this season. Running dogs with the integrity you are competing against really good teams. A placing becomes far more valuable in these circumstances.
I ran in the three dog class and what was the biggest and most competitive class of the weekend. Running two teams with a small kennel we run the dogs we have and sometimes this means that dogs may not match with drive, conformation, age etc and I am really finding this with my team this season so finding it a real balancing act but the dogs are getting out there, having fun and every race is a good experience for us all. The dogs and humans are having an awesome time this season whatever the trails and our lovely dogs always come in with waggy tails and are looking and feeling in great, hard condition despite all sporting the burst cushion look!
Unfortunately on the way up to our second rally of the month the van broke down (clutch cable snapped) so we had to cancel Santon Downham but happily having the second van we could still get the dogs out for training runs. We don't think the dogs minded and we have enjoyed exploring new trails on Salisbury Plain.