Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Interview with Helena Potfajova

This month the PRO that I have interviewed is an amazing trainer and handler from Slovakia , now she lives in Belgium. Helena Potfajova is an animal physiotherapist and with Geert (the husband) they have the Tanaina Lika , a vet. practise and fysiotherapy ,specialised in sportdogs and horses . Helena dog sport carrer starts in the year 2000 . Today after 12 years she the winner of the Crufts Large International 2012 .At the Crufts 2012 she also finished 9th at the International Freestyle championship. In her sport carrer she was present many times at the Agility World Championships , European Open and many more high level competition. A very powerful person. 
Read this superb interview!

Helena and the warm up questions...

Do you smoke ?

Have you ever tried Kiteboarding?

What do you think : Is there a time limit on fortune cookie predictions?
Everybody is responsible for his own fortune. Some cookie prediction should not be something that mess it up.

The Interview...
Could you tell our readers a little about yourself
I come from Slovakia, now I live already 4 years in Belgium. I work as a sport vet and animal physiotherapist. We live together with 9 dogs, but not all of them are active in agility sport. We have 5 border collies, 1 mixbreed, 2 smooth fox terriers and 1 golden retriever.

Tell me a little bit about your start in dog sports?
It started very innocent with buying a border collie. He needed to be busy, I was interested in agility sport, and slowly my interest grew over to addiction, I took another dog, and than one more, and one more... Of course they all needed to by busy and I could not stop sporting with them. I also never thought about to do so, there is nothing so nice as a tired dog sleeping in front of the fireplace.

Do you remember your first agility competition?
Ooh yes, it was in the summer 2001. Fortunately I had a great dog to run with, my great Benny. He was than just 15 months old, of course we did not win, but later on I did participate on many AWCs and other big events with him. He was active in sport until his 10, now he is retired and enjoying being old.

At the 2012 CRUFTS you won the Agility International Championship with Eggoray and finished 9th in the International Freestyle championship with DJ Te Pito O Te Henua . What's the first thing that comes to your mind thinking about this event?
It went so smoothly. I was in good mood, dogs were relaxed and listening, there was nothing that could bring me out of my balance. Easy bussines, nothing to worry about. This is it, this is what you need, if you want to win.

The most beautiful and the worst competition ever made ?
The one that I will never forget is the AWC 2005 in Spain, I was than alone there to represent Slovakia. The atmosphere was so great, unforgetable. I think this gave me a big push in my sport carrier.
And the worst one? Did not happen yet. My nightmare is that my dog will get serious injured on the course.

Who was behind you at the beginning?
My parents of course. They have bought our first dog, they helped me to feed him, they were bringing me to the trainings and supported me on the competitions.

Who is behind you nowadays?
Absolutely my husband Geert. Thanks to him I started to train the dogs in much more possitive way than I did before. He teached me how to use clicker in the training and also to be patient ant take it easy if something is not going good in the training. He supports me in the trainings and on the competitions.

You are competitive in agility and dog dance and both in high level competition . How much time you devote to training during the week?
Describe your typical training day?
I don´t train with my dogs that much as people would think. With Egor I spend maybe 2 times 30 minutes in te whole week on the agility course, sometimes even not that, depends how busy I´m at work. With DJ in dog dance it is even less. Important is to keep the dogs fit and relaxed and to create a trusful relationship with them.
My typical training day doesn´t exist. Becouse of my job, I never know what I will have to face that day and how much free time I will have. Every morning I take a good walk with the dogs and then we see what the day brings.

In what does you have focused more in training during the 2011, in what does you have given more importance?
I was mostly focused on growing up my new puppy, the doughter of our Egorray. With himself it was mostly condition and muscle training and on the course just repetition of the basics, as 2011 was for him the first season to run after his cruciate ligament injury.

You are active in dog sports for over 10 years , how much has changed your way of view during the competitions from the early years to nowadays?
Of course I made lot of experience during these years. I actively worked with about 12 dogs of all ages and breeds, I followed lots of workshops and trainings, I gave hours and hours of lessons and seminars. I learned how to comunicate with dogs, how to read their mind, how to teach them new things and how to keep them motivated and concentrated. Now, more I know about dog behaviour and dog training, more I realise how much I still don´t know... What I try to do is to craete comfortabe surrounding for he dogs, respect their needs and understand their wills, Create a trustful relationship so we can go through the life together.

Plans for the future?
I have some dreams and ideas, but as we don´t know what tomorrow brings, my only real plan is to be happy and make people arround me at least as happy as I am.

Do you think that a good pair of running shoes can do a bit of difference during a run?
Your shoes are very important when you are running. If they don´t fit, if they are to heavy, if they slip over the groud, you cannot move smoothly, you cannot concentrate on your handling, you cannot give good signals to the dog and your run is a disaster. Unfortunately, most of the handlers blame the dog of making faults, instead of stepping into a good shoe shop and spending money on something worthy.

Tell us on what is based your workout / agility training.Does it changes before a big event ?
There is only one good workout, doesn´t matter if it is a big or small event or training. Concentration, conseqence, clear signals to the dog and having good fun.

Are you superstitious? Have you ever try something like a beg / conjure before a race?
On the course I trust only myself and my dog.

Which is the favorite toy for your dogs?
All our dogs play with everything what you say it´s a good toy.

Before the end , do you have any advice for a beginner at his first competition?
I would say "dont´t be nervous", but I know he would be anyway. So, just enjoy it, thats why you do this amazing sport. Not to bite of your nails, but to have fun, so go for it!


all the photos are a courtesy of Helena Potfajova

Agility - International - Large Dog Winner - Final - Crufts 2012
by OfficialCrufts

Crufts 2012 Helena Potfajova pour la Slovaquie
by pincemaille67


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