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Lesley Olden Profile

The first British Agility Champion

The British have their first Agility Champion. On August bank holiday Monday, at the Wilton agility event in the north of England, Lesley Olden from the Romsey area in the south, won her third Agility certificate with Loobie under the judging eye of John Tallentire. She was the right handler with the right skills and the right dog. Agility pioneer Peter Lewis salutes Lesley Olden and Ag.Ch. Waggerland Whoosh of Nedlo.

Answering to the name of Loobie, this excellent Working sheepdog showed her class by beating a strong field as she has done on two previous occasions this year. The other two Agility certificates were won at the Agility Club event in June under Gerry Eckersley, and Rugby DTC under Steve Croxford. Lesley had already had a good weekend when she won one of the Semi-finals to send Loobie to the Olympia Chum Finals in December. Together they won that event in 1999 which was Lesley’s third Olympia win.  I salute this latest achievement and I am proud to have been able to help her.

I have always said that an over simplification of how to succeed in a dog training discipline at the top level only requires three factors. They are the right handler with the right information with the right dog.  Lesley certainly was the right handler and I believe she has that natural gift to train dogs which could lead her to succeed at any dog training discipline she sets her mind to.  Therefore as the right handler perhaps I gave Lesley the right information when she started for it was not long before she was able to work things out for herself. Certainly she had the right dog for the pedigree is that of winning dogs. However is it just coincidence that so many of Lesley’s dogs seem to be the right one?

Agility Championship Status
Although Britain started the sport, this is the first year it has been possible to have an Agility Champion and such dogs need to be eligible for the Advanced class. 

We have six official classes, with Advanced being the top class. A dog must win its way through classes, and to reach the Advanced class they must have won four times in total, two of which must be agility in either Intermediate, Senior or Open. This allows them to enter the Advanced class at a Championship Agility event. Under FCI rules Advanced would be the equivalent of Agility 4 but the FCI only have three official classes.

A Championship Advanced Agility class then consists of one Jumping and one Agility round with points awarded in each part on the basis of one point for first two for second etc. The twenty dogs with the lowest accumulated total are then eligible to compete in a final Agility round. If the winner has a clear round in this final they are awarded one Agility certificate. Three agility certificates won at three different events under three different judges make the dog an Agility Champion.

A Working Sheepdog is a Border Collie where perhaps one piece of paper is missing yet most have full pedigrees going back may generations. WSDs are not recognised as a pedigree breed in the UK so, therefore, they are not eligible for the FCI World Agility Championships. Therefore along with others of high quality, Loobie could not be considered for the British team in Portugal this year. What a shame for they have to be one of the best combinations in the sport and Lesley has proved she can handle pressure!

Lesley is also active administratively as she is one of the two representatives from the Agility Council to the Working Trials Obedience and Agility sub committee of the Kennel Club.


About the author
Peter Lewis has spent most of his life studying dogs and their behaviour. While these days much of his work is for veterinary surgeons who refer clients that have dogs with behavioural problems, his skill in this sector of dogs has been strongly influenced by his vast experience as a dog handler. For very many years, not only did he teach pet dog owners, he also achieved much success at the highest levels in competition dog training including Obedience, Agility and Working Trials.

He is highly regarded as having played a major part in developing Agility. Though not handling at present because of orthopaedic problems known as knees and hips, he is still teaching and judging agility, nearly always in another country. So far this year he has visited Germany, Finland, Belgium, Japan, Italy, Prague. 

Along with Mary Ray, he has turned Heelwork to Music into another dog competition. Currently he is chairing a working party looking at official rules for Heelwork to Music. He is also very much involved with the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme while working towards KC accreditation as a dog trainer/behaviourist. He is still writing books and articles about many facets of dog training and behaviour. Together with all this experience, Peter has to be one of the most knowledgeable all round dog trainers and problem solvers of this era. 

Whatever spare time he has is spent growing fuchsias, Begonias and Bougainvilleas.

At the end of the month, he's off to the FCI World Agility Championships in Portugal so he is learning how to sing 'Two nil for the Eng-er-lund!'

Peter Lewis' advice about Dogs web site is http://www.adviceaboutdogs.co.uk/.