is said that Agility people may be better at navigating
around a course than
expressing themselves in writing but, thanks to social media,
most everybody now has the chance to share their ideas and observations. This is
somewhere where you can express your thoughts and perhaps start a conversation
about something you feel strongly about. So put fingers to keyboard and share
your thoughts. Send them to
Maths Meets Agility
If I deal you 13 playing cards, how many
ways can you arrange them?
And what has this got to do with agility
Turns out quite a lot.
At Agility Plaza, I have been getting
things ready for a series of COVID compliant KC shows over the coming weeks with
the first one this weekend. To keep things as safe as possible, we apply the
‘Rule of 6’. This means just six people walk each course at a time, and even
with only five minutes allowed, the total walking time for the day can stretch
between two to three hours in each ring. So it is vital that we make best use of
the remaining time especially with shortening days.
Although we apply the Rule of 6, we
actually have ‘cohorts’ of 12 broken down into two teams (red and blue) each of
six people. This means rings operate on batches of 12, but the the teams are
kept separate with their own queuing areas.
Another innovation we have introduced to
minimise risk is mixed height cohorts, so someone with dogs of different heights
can run them all at the same time. This means that KC classes now run
concurrently with G1-3 Agility Small, Medium, Intermediate and Large runs
interwoven in the same ring with the same course (but as different classes).
This is why the KC relaxed the rules on course walking to make this possible.
Mixed height cohorts are great for safety,
but a pain for the judges if they are constantly having to move jumps up and
down. (We are getting back to the original question slowly).
We like to go the extra distance for show
organisers who use Plaza so have been timetabling all the independent COVID
compliant shows from the get go. In fact, it is nearly impossible to run a COVID
compliant show without a detailed timetable, because the last thing needed is
chaos and confusion.
Until now, we left it to the Show
Secretary to work out who should be in which cohort. This was (sort of) okay
when the shows were small, but has become a major pain as they have grown. And
with the added complexity of even larger KC shows has become too challenging to
get right, so we decided to automate this process.
It turns out that allocating runners to
cohorts is reasonably simple to do electronically. You have to make sure that
owners with dogs of similar mixed heights are grouped together. There are a few
technical gotchas to avoid but nothing too challenging.
So having created a set cohorts with
assorted sizes, how do you decide which order to run them in?
Actually this turns out to be more
complicated than is sounds as we want to minimise the number of jump height
changes. So sml, sml/med, med, med/sml requires just two changes but arranging
these slightly differently sml, sml/med, sml/med, med adds another height
Simple, I thought.
Just look at each option and then pick the
one with the fewest changes. Easy enough to write the program. That done, I
pressed run and made a coffee. The program was still running when I got back.
And continued to run for a very long time. Eventually I got bored and pressed
stop – and then engaged my brain.
Turns out the first ring had 13 cohorts,
hence my original question. And what I was doing was arranging these every which
way (exactly as you would with the playing cards). The answer then to my
original question is – a very big number. 13 x 12 x 11 x 10 x 9 x 8 x 7 x 6 x 5
x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 to be precise (otherwise known as 13 factorial or 13! for
short). And this comes out at 6,227,020,800. Yes, over 6 billion! My computer is
quite powerful but not that powerful.
The solution – much more programming work
to only consider options that were ‘likely’ to be optimal. This cut the choices
down to a much more reasonable 32 million which was doable.
So maths meets agility.
If you are thinking of
putting on a COVID compliant show over the coming months do get in touch with
Agility Plaza as we have
already put in the hard work to make sure things run as smoothly as possible
despite the additional challenges.
On the Day that Olympia 2020 Was
From Dan Shaw
Last weekend would have been the World
Agility Championships and today we learned that there is to be no Olympia 2020.
Our amazing sport is so great as it gives people things to aim for, inspire to
and push themselves for. I have heard from so many agility people over the last
few months that without completions their ‘mojo' is declining or they have no
motivation to train etc etc.
Yes, it was to be expected. Yes, there are
much worse things going on in the world and yes, our time with our dogs is not
just about agility, but this does not mean you are not allowed to be
So here is how I look at things:-
- I love training my dogs.
Competitions aside, I get such a buzz when they hit those crazy hard
weave entries we set at training, they hit that perfect dog walk or I
make that blind that I thought wasn't possible! I'm focusing on those
moments and making a point of telling my friends and Dave about them.
- Our sport keeps us around
like-minded people who share our love for dogs and passion for the
sport. When lockdown rules have allowed us to, we have loved having our
agility family over to train together! We have pushed each other,
laughed at each other and celebrated how amazing our dogs are. These
sessions have left me more motivated than ever. Organise to train with
- I don't believe in training my
dogs if I'm not In the right mood. If we are tired, grumpy and lacking
drive, we are unlikely to have a productive, fun and happy session. On
these days, take an extra long walk and explore new areas. I have found
so many new walks through lockdown that the dogs and I have really
enjoyed. You don't have to train.
- If I am seeking some inspiration,
I will head to YouTube and watched videos of partnerships I look up to.
I have even on a few occasions watched back videos from my dogs
competing last year to remind me of the buzz I get from shows. Seek
inspiration from those you look up to.
- This extra time that I would
usually have spent at competitions has given time the time to fix or
improve my dog's performances. Boffin has been on ‘operation weave
exits' and Geek has been on ‘operation independence'. When shows come
back, they will be stronger than before. Set yourself a challenge.
- This extra time has allowed me to
see more of my family and non-dog friends than ever before - socially
distanced, of course. It has reminded me how important it is to keep
agility in perspective and to make time for those that really matter.
Remember, there is life outside of Agiity.
We are allowed to be pissed off. It's how
we deal with it from there that counts!
A Word to Agility Parents
From Dawn Gilmore
Parents, let your
children grow up to be agility boys and girls, because they will learn quickly
and repeatedly that life isn't fair, that hard work is often trumped by Lady
Luck, and that every defeat, no matter how terrible, is temporary. Let them
dream big. Let them learn confidence, grace and grit. Let them build big muscles
and stay fit.
Let your children grow
up every weekend in a field in the middle of nowhere surrounded by tents,
caravans and crazy dog folk. Let them learn that dogs need feeding, exercise and
looking after, even when it's raining, even when it's frozen, even when they
have a different idea for how the day should go.
Let them grow up with
dogs and with good dog people, because it will teach them to be humble, to be
resilient and to be brave.
Agility is a way of life
for many of us and it has shaped so many of our young handlers into the people
they have become today.
A moment of Disappointment
From Amanda Pigg
Okay, just one moment in
amongst all the amazing stuff I have seen recently at some huge shows.
It went like this. A
handler took a dog into a ring. Things went wrong very early on. At the weaves
as I recall. It was the handler moaning at the dog that caught my attention.
Wasn't shouting, just moaning. Let's just get this A-frame right, let's get
something right. And so the dog did get it right. Lavish praise? No nothing.
Handler and dog left the
ring. Handler picks up lead. Puts it on the dog. No praise verbal, food, or
Off walks the handler.
Dog gazing up into the handler's eyes. Tail gently swaying. Nope nothing. No
Handler stops to chat to
someone they meet, moaning about the dog and still the dog gazes and wags.
You may not have shouted
or screamed at the dog, hit it or abused it.... but that dog's eyes. I just
wanted to scream at you to just give your dog a hug. Time is short. Don't waste
it being cross.
I'm filled with delight
when I get a ball shoved at me, no matter the run.
Not that grade should
matter but let's just say this was at the lower end.
Stop Judging Others Please
From Hannah Grantham
We are all trying our
hardest in unchartered waters. None of us have had to deal with this situation
before, and most of us are just treading water and trying to do our best.
Some trainers/clubs will
choose to remain closed, and some people will choose or be forced to stay
home... they should not be judged for that.
Some trainers/clubs are
offering venue hire and 1-2-1 sessions and will not be considering group
sessions at the moment. Some people will choose to hire a venue or attend a
1-2-1 to train their dog. They should not be judged for that.
Some trainers/clubs will
now be thinking about or planning to reopen their group sessions. Some people
will be thinking about attending group sessions.They should not be judged for
As long as we all
understand the risk, gather information, follow official guidance and use all
this to make an informed individual choice on what is best for us and our clubs,
then why should we be judged for that?
If you have walked a day
in someone else's shoes, experienced their life, their battles, their thoughts,
then you may be able to understand just a tiny bit what they are going through
and what is important to them, be that agility, family or friends etc.. but you
still shouldn't judge them.
It saddens me how quick
people are to judge others, and this situation has highlighted this more. Leave
the judging up to our wonderful agility judges when the shows restart.
(29th May 2020)
First published on Facebook
Is It Practical for Shows to Go Ahead?
From Simon Chandler, Chair of The Agility Club
I have recently read
posts on FaceBook about shows cancelling and maybe going ahead. I cannot see
many - if any - shows going ahead as mass gatherings will be the last thing to
At the moment it's the club's decision
whether to cancel early or wait.
At The Agility Club, we decided to cancel
early to protect the members' funds. If we had left it and booked equipment,
marquees, radios, skips and everything involved in running a show, then we could
had incurred major financial losses. But that was our decision, and likewise
it's down to individual clubs to decide.
For those who would like shows to go
ahead, there are countless things that maybe you haven't thought of. Firstly,
yes certain aspects of 2m social could be controlled, but the show starts before
people even arrive.
Shows are generally run by a small loyal committee who, along with a a few
helpers, set the show up. Will those who want shows to go ahead step up and help
set up rings, camping, sort out trophies and rosettes whilst maintaining 2m?
When the equipment arrives who is going to help set it up. Putting up A-frames
potentially takes four people to set it up. Difficult to maintain 2m distance.
Seesaws similar. Score tents don't go up themselves so normally it's down to the
usual suspects to do these tasks. Will clubs get more people to help setting up.
And then the perennial problem of breaking rings and equipment down. Will more
people stay and help?
When the show day arrives, car parking
would need to be policed more stringently, maintaining a safe gap between cars
which could be impacted by space.
Onto the rings
Whilst maintaining a 2m gap around the rings can be controlled. Walking
courses is harder so more time and more control measures would need to be taken,
with maybe a time limit of five minutes to walk a course which, watching some
people, is certainly not enough.
Tablets and score pads are going to be
shared around so will need to be constantly cleansed. During the show, how are
toilets - whether they be portaloos or purpose-built loos - going to be
constantly cleaned. How many people would want to be sure they have been cleaned
before you use them.
Ring parties are hard enough to get under
perfect conditions but, in the current climate, how many of you are willing to
pick up poles etc.
Importantly as somebody who provides First
Aid cover at shows, how do I treat somebody who needs it. Accidents do happen so
how do I treat somebody who has a possible broken leg/ankle from a distance or,
if god forbid, it's more serious like serious bleeding, heart attack/stroke what
do first aiders do.
Lastly, proper risk assessments with more
measures being put in place are going to be needed. Are insurance companies
going to insure clubs unless there are more stringent hygiene measures put in
place. Potentially these measures could be financially prohibitive for some
clubs, and they may risk running a show without insurance.
I'm not being a killjoy as I'd love to get
back training and competing along with everyone else but, as somebody whose club
runs one of the biggest shows of the year, I'm trying to point out the
logistical and health issues to people who think it's so easy to organise a
First published on
Someone Out There
Sophie Hudson from cromwellandlucy
Somewhere right now there is a handler
gutted that their season is over before it's even begun.
All their hopes and dreams on hold with
the future so uncertain.
There are people wondering when they will
see their fellow agility handlers, their weekend adventures all cancelled, no
dates in the diary.
There is a dog owner struggling to find
the hours in the day to simply exercise and stimulate their dog whilst working
overtime in an essential role.
There is a handler with their own field
and equipment, disappointed that all their training and competitions are
There is a handler without any where to
train, wondering how they are going to stay on top of their dogs skills.
There are self-employed trainers, dog
walkers and host venues, trying their best to make ends meet as the lockdown
means they can't work and any potential clients for online opportunities are
running out of money.
There are vets risking their health
because they refuse to compromise animal welfare.
There are people feeling guilty for
training because the hoards have called them 'selfish,' despite it being the
only way to keep them mentally 'okay.'
There is a handler feeling deflated and
low, because they have chosen not to train as they don't want to break
legislation to get to their training venue.
And somewhere out there is a little girl,
stuck inside, looking at Crufts videos on YouTube wishing she could run her
friend's dog at weekly training as she doesn't have her own dog, but all lessons
Everyone's problems are relative. Make the
best of what you've got and be grateful for it because the likelihood is...
someone out there will be wishing they have what you've got.
Stay safe, be kind.
First published on
Facebook (April 2020)
Perennial Starter Writes Again
From Sally Jones
Sitting in the sun yesterday afternoon, we
could have been forgiven for believing the world was normal. The birds were
singing, the daffodils were doing yellow, the grass was looking more green than
brown and the lads from the farm opposite were screaming around the fields on
their off-road bikes. A rural idyll, as long as you had a set of ear plugs and a
high tolerance for petrol fumes.
Whilst enjoying the view, I wondered how
long it would be before I became thoroughly sick of it. After all, agility folk
are almost nomadic for part of the year and aren't used to spending every day of
every week at home. Until now.
Looking at our campervan parked on the
drive, I hatched a plan. You can all join in if you like. In order to ring the
changes, why not sleep in your caravan, camper or tent? Then, when you wake up
in the morning, you can draw back the curtains and see a totally different view
of your next door neighbour. If that becomes old, try making up the bed the
other way around so you are rotated through 180 degrees and you get yet another
new view. Once that novelty has worn off, why not turn the van around on your
drive so it's pointing the other way? Endless opportunities for mixing it up -
well not strictly true, probably only a couple of versions are realistic for
most driveways. I suppose the ingenious amongst you could enlarge a photo of
your favourite show ground and put it behind the curtains for a nice surprise in
If you have the space, you could even set
up your garden and put your fairy lights out. No worries about them draining
your battery as this particular venue has electric hook-up. It also has way
better toilets. Set your alarm for 5am and make sure you use the dog bark ring
tone. From experience that tends to be the time that someone's yappy dog decides
it needs to start the dawn chorus, so it will add to the authenticity of the
experience. Reset the alarm for 6am and fall into the deepest possible sleep so
that when the alarm goes off you either sleep through it or wake up with such a
start you bang your head on the bunk above you.
Leave the kettle boiling whilst you stand outside in your dressing gown
watching the dogs be very confused as to why they're in the drive and, when you
go back in, you will have created your own sauna. You may also have woken some
neighbours thinking the sound of the kettle was their car alarm going off. If
that's the case, give them a cheery wave. I'm sure they'll appreciate it.
Dogs need feeding and exercising and
you'll need to pick up and drop it in the black bin liner that is always already
full. Then it's bacon sandwich time. It's important that you eat this whilst
standing up and staring into the distance. After all, you are normally waiting
for the judge to finish tweaking and announce that the course is ready for
walking. It's always a stressful time. After all, you want to be in the first
wave of people to rush onto the course. But you can't do that if you still have
food in your hand. But rushing your weekend treat isn't top of your priority
list. It's a delicate balancing act of watching the judge's body language and
trying to lip-read what they're saying with pacing yourself so that the last
morsel passes over your palette just as the ring-manager raises the walkie
talkie to announce, 'Yyou may walk the course.'
Quite how we are going to recreate course
walking, I haven't worked out yet. It's the antithesis of social distancing best
of times, so perhaps we need to use our imagination and do shadow handling
manoeuvres whilst avoiding imaginary people so that the neighbour you woke
earlier thinks you are a karate novice having a seizure.
The noise of an agility show should be
quite easy to replicate. Either make a recording of your dogs barking and play
it on a loop or replay a video of one of your rounds at a show and turn it way,
way up so that you, and the dogs, can hear the tunnel and the seesaw and the
WEAVEWEAVEWEAVE command. That should get them going. If you have WiFi connection
in your drive, you could be doing this on FaceTime or similar with friends. That
would ensure that dogs up and down the country and indeed all over the world
could bark excitedly and annoy far more neighbours than normal.
Of course, the benefit of being on your
drive means that you didn't have to pretend you were working at your screen
whereas you were really waiting for the camping to open for Thames or KCIAF. If
you miss that kind of excitement, why not try to secure a home delivery spot
from one of the supermarkets. They are all fully booked for up to three weeks
but every day another day gets added. Can you be one of the first to nab a spot?
It certainly got my adrenaline going but I'm proud to say I am getting a
delivery on April 13th. That was better than getting a clear round, believe me!
I hope you all find something wonderful in
today. The weather is certainly helping.
Stay at home!
First published in
Agility Eye (April 2020)
30 Years Down the Road to Crufts
This week marked my 30th consecutive year
running at Crufts, a record I'm very proud to have achieved after setting the
goal back in 2008. After winning the singles that year with GT, I was very close
to calling it a day but, at the time. I was lucky enough to be training a former
Olympic athlete who had started Agility.
I gained a lot of crucial advice on mental
game strategy but the best piece of advice he gave me was to set a long-term
future goal - one that wasn't specifically about winning but would keep me
focused on staying in the sport and persevering with every dog, even on the days
when you do want to give up. And one that was going to be a challenge to achieve
but essentially I could control.
12 years later and eight more Crufts
titles to my name, the goal is achieved and, if he's reading this, thank you.
I've run in some truly remarkable teams
over the three decades and enjoyed winning and losing with all of those great
handlers and dogs. Some of those wins rank above many of the individual
If today turns out to be my last day at
Crufts, I'll look back with no regrets but thankful to the eight amazing dogs
I've been lucky enough to run with over 30 years.
First published on
So What Do You Guys Struggle With?
From Shellie Smith
I have been doing agility for over 10
years with my terriers so I am
experienced!!!.. nothing prepaired me for my young, fast and very powerful
collie who is called River!
I adore the bones of that dog. but I
sometimes feel I don't do him justice as, at the moment, a lot of the times I
don't get things right. I feel like a brand new handler and not the experienced
one I actually am, especially my command giving and timing. My instructor is
awesome and totally encouraging, and we have produced this speed demon!
However, I have to stop kicking myself up
the backside as I have forgotten how far I have come with this lad. Last season
was his first out. I didn't go out there to win or get a clear round, but to get
bits right - and a lot of the time he did. There were some awesome bits - and
some not so! He got a 3rd place.
So far this season, I have done one show,
and he has exceeded all my expectations and already got a 3rd place. I'd set my
self a target of getting his contacts and weave entry and anything else on top
of that is a bonus, and he did that in every run he did. I have a long way to go
with him yet and I am learning every step of the way and we are teaching each
other on our agility journey.
So I guess what I am saying , don't beat
yourself up if it goes wrong. Look at the bigger picture and pick a target. If
you exceed that, then it's a bonus and a massive confidence boost! And before
you know it the magic happens!
Sean Cameron Photographic
From Simon Chandler
Having got back from my judging
appointment at Olympia, it's time for some reflections. Firstly huge thank you
to the Kennel Club for entrusting me with this hugely prestigious honour. It's
something that will live with me forever and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
But my judging was tarnished on Saturday
when I missed a brick coming out of the wall which had a huge knock on effect
for two people. I have gone over it in my mind time and time again, watched
videos and I just did not see the brick falling. I am human, and I made a
mistake which will never leave me.
However how bad I felt though it cannot
begin to be as bad as Nicola Wildman did having the 1st place taken off of her
after being paraded around Olympia as the winner and on such a high. Then young
Megan Hunt was told she had won. What went through her mind I wouldn't know.
But these two young ladies showed
Sportsmanship I couldn't even begin to explain, they humbled me and yes the
three of us cried tears, but ladies you have my utmost respect and my gratitude
for how you handled a horrible situation, you both are first class examples of
human beings and hope you have a Happy Christmas and I send you my
love😥😥😥💕💕and thank you to all who gave and sent me messages of support.
On a happier note I loved the rest of my Olympia Experience, the atmosphere is
unbelievable, the noise in the afternoon is loud but the evening crowds take it
up a few decibels more. 😊😊 to be in the middle and watch some wonderful
partnerships cope with the pressure was something to behold.
I was very pleased with how my courses
ran. I wanted to have a mixture of technique and a fast flowing feel with the
crowd getting involved at the end and I hope I achieved that.
So many thanks to give - Robyn, Rob, Alex,
Gina, Amanda, Mike and Warren from First Contact (Hail Caesar) and Arthur for
keeping me calm when I was fretting. Laura your organisation was faultless, Only
when people have seen behind the scenes would they understand the intense
pressure you are under to produce and produce you did. Thank you for your
support. Paul and Kate thank you and you know why.
Congratulations to all the winners. You
delivered under the highest pressure and deserved all your success.
Also congratulations to everybody who took part. You made the event what it was
and embraced my courses.
Finally thanks to Karen staying behind to
look after dogs except for one day when Pete Catt helped and she came up to be
So would I do it again? Too Bloody right I
would. It was an amazing experience - good and bad, so I wish you all a happy
Christmas and a prosperous New Year especially to two wonderful ladies, Nicola
First seen on Agilitynet Facebook on
23rd December 2019
Photo: Jane Ambler
The Happy Sport
As the 2019 outdoor season draws to a
close, it is a good time to pause and reflect on issues in dog agility, proposed
changes and the general feel and organisation of our sport. There have already
been lots of posts about how short the summer seems to have been. I do not
intend to add to the debate about changes, but rather, to reflect on AGILITY –
THE HAPPY SPORT.
There has been much talk recently about
Mental Health awareness. This has included primetime coverage of a 'team talk'
involving prominent footballers and Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, who
spoke about their issues.
Agility has always been considered a happy
sport. Indeed, the Kennel Club promotes the idea of 'Fun Competition.' That does
not mean that it is not competitive. Handlers are always striving for wins or
points to progress to the next grade. At the peak of the sport, there is the
challenge of trying to be the best in the world.
Most competitors seem to accept that they
will not always win or go clear. It is a case of learning from what did not go
quite right and coming out again determined to do better. For some people, not
being successful is not quite that easy to manage. Over the last couple of
years, I have heard an increasing number of overt criticisms about courses and
judging. The same applies to ring parties and show management.
It saddens me to
hear such remarks.
That is not to say that judges and ring parties always get everything
right, but any suggestion that whatever went wrong, was deliberately targeted
against them, has no place in our sport. When I hear such comments, I am often
tempted to respond, that if they can do better, they should do some of the jobs
themselves, but I resist this on the basis that the level of anger will diffuse
more quickly without fuel being added to the fire.
Despite these outbursts, I still feel that
Agility is a happy sport. That is not to say that everyone at a show will be
happy. MIND, the mental health charity, reports that one in four people will
have a mental health issue in any given year. Speaking from personal experience,
as someone who receives treatment for anxiety related problems and depression, I
can vouch for the fact that most of us try to hide it. People assume that I do
not have depression because I am full of nervous energy when I am with other
people and can be the life and soul of the party – organising the making of
reindeer antlers from a pair of ladies tights and balloons at a Christmas party,
springs to mind.
Most of us with anxiety and / or
depression find it very difficult to initiate contact and conversation with
strangers. We think it is safer to be left alone. It is easier to hide away,
even though a rational part of us knows that this will exacerbate our systems.
It is a real life Catch 22.
We cannot know
the personal circumstances of everyone at an agility show
There is certainly no need for us to become busybodies. What I can
say, with certainty, is that there will be some people who are lonely, others
who are overwhelmed by coping with life and those who have recently lost loved
ones. There will also be those with relationship problems, others facing health
issues and those who running scared of life.
You might be thinking that it is difficult
to help if we do not know who these people are. Perhaps you do not need to know.
If you strike up a conversation with four people, the statistics suggest that
one of them will have some mental health issue. Who knows what help that kind
word or gesture may be to that individual?
All this is not just about being
altruistic. I promise, that you will also feel better from making a new friend.
Surely that is much better for our 'Happy Sport' than getting angry about
judges, ring parties and show management.
Go on, please give it a go.
Where Am I?
From Belle MacIntosh
So I need help agility people.
I am somewhere called 'home' this weekend.
It has solid walls, indoor plumbing and a
husband who is nice.
But what do I do?
Waiting for a tannoy to tell me.
I thought I might put up some weave poles and
a jump and see if a can go clear.
Suggestions are welcome.
A Plea to Judges
Mavis Sherwin on FB
Just putting something 'out there'... I
notice whilst both competing and judging that alternative obstacles i.e. long
jumps, tyres, rising spreads, walls etc. are not being included by many judges
(apart from champ classes of course). I acknowledge there are other competitors
that have expressed their views on this, too.
Don't we (as judges) owe it to competitors
- including the many of us who compete - to include at least some of these
obstacles in all grades of classes. It is a rarity to see more than one of these
items utilised in courses, yet we are expected to negotiate tunnels three, four
or more times within a course. The result is that many competitors can move up
the grades without negotiating any of these (alternative) obstacles.
Come on fellow competitors / judges – give
us some variety of obstacles in your courses.
From Simon Chandler on
Being unable to run gives me the opportunity
to watch other rings. Over the last few weeks I have seen to me what seems to
becoming an uncomfortable trend. I know the weather has been/ is hot but judges
please dress a lot smarter. It's a bugbear of mine I know but we can all look
smart even in nice shorts and tops.
To me not being smart as a judge shows a lack
of respect to the show and competitors and, in my opinion, also puts you on the
back foot if there is an incident to deal with.
We need to stand out from the competitors,
have a sense of professionalism about how we go about our judging. Yes, we need
to be comfortable while standing in the ring but we can still do this whilst
Most judges are excellent, but it seems a few
are letting the side down. Only my opinion but thought I'd air it.
From Linda Mecklenburg
”…if you want your young dog to become a champion, you must believe in him. You
must treat him like a champion. You must make him believe he is a champion.
You cannot fret over how wide his turns are, how slow his times are, how so and
so beat him etc etc. You cannot be disappointed in him. You must instil
confidence. You must build trust. You must come off the course making him feel
like a champion no matter what happened. Your response at the end of the run
should be so positive that your dog wants to make it happen again. You must
convince him he is a champion even when not doing a agility (tell him, and
believe, what a great dog he is).
You must believe in your dog so he can believe in himself”
Just for Fun Agility
I think people sometimes takes widely used and understood terms
too literally. e.g. pet agility or 'fun' agility does not actually mean anything
other than local, accessible, on your doorstep, pressure free classes, averaging
£10 per week, with no intent to buy a tent, caravan, campervan, additional dogs,
start setting off every weekend at 5am to live in a wet muddy field, nor drive
50 miles to spend £40 on a couple of hours with various trainers to perfect a
weave entry or French twist.
It often is a starting point. But more often is just something
different to do to get out of the house, and a nice social thing to do one
evening a week with new friends and is still fun for people. But because it has
to be local - and people won't or can't travel far - it is down to luck as to
what, if anything, is available for people so locally. So they might he lucky or
they might not.
That is all it means,
The Real Rules of Agility
Agilitynet FB page
If you really want to get better at agility, take it up at an earlier age -
and grow an extra three inches of leg to run faster.
An agility competition is a test of your skill against another competitor's
Agility is about working harmoniously with your dog around a course. On the
other hand, a dog's idea of perfect harmony is chewing up a sock in the back garden.
If you want to end a drought or dry spell, wear a new customised polo shirt
or running shoes outside.
Aggressive or untrainable dogs have perfect health, long lives and beautiful
Some talented, highly trainable dogs just sometimes can't seem to learn what a contact is in the ring
or come out of the weaves at no. 10.
You will run the best clear of your lives, only to be disqualified for
wearing a dangly tag on the collar.
Never keep more than 300 separate thoughts in your head before a run.
Never keep less than another 300 separate thoughts in your head during a
Dogs do not improve their runs because you have Doggo Parcours running shoes
or sponsored Lycra leggings.
If you choose a funky costume for your pairs run, everyone else will be
dressed normally and you will be called crazy. If you decided to wear
normal clothes, everyone else will be doing fancy dress and you will be
The less skilled the handler, the more likely they are to share their
critique of your run.
If you are considering the services of a dog clairvoyant to help you with
training, then you have reached the point of total desperation - try the new
Your dog doesn't care about what your trainer said last week. It will still
run exactly the same as the week before.
No matter how badly you run a course, it is always possible to run a worse
If it ain't broke, try changing your handling and it will be.
Judges only suffer from temporary blindness - or kindness - when they are
judging someone else's run.
If you fall over in the ring, there will be someone videoing your run.
If you are feeling confident before a show, then three of the Agility team
GB will turn up to give their young dogs some 'experience.'
Your dog will perform it's best 'round the back' ever, when you asked for a
straight 'go on.'
Since runs of bad competitions come in groups of three, the fourth
competition is actually the beginning of the next group of three.
No one cheats at agility because they all fear the wrath of the Agilitynet
It is surprisingly easy to end a competition with perfect weaves and
contacts after having been eliminated four times on jumps.
The result of an expensive lesson from a top pro is that you will stop
believing in that tiny piece of innate ability that was holding your
Remember when buying an agility dog advertised as 'needs experienced
competitive handler,' this really means 'needs the skills of Team GB just to
stay in the ring.'
If you think your run was better than someone else's, it probably wasn't.
If you pay £600 for an agility line puppy, you will be beaten in Grade 2 by
a six year old rescue dog.
Clinics given by someone with an interesting accent are not necessarily
superior to those given by the homegirl.
If you go to the
expense of buying an expensive, agility line puppy, it will have a talent for
learning Obedience and no jump worth talking about.
and edited from a dressage group
I feel it is my duty to give a warning to all those new to the world of agility
about agility addiction. A few years back I remember being told this sport was
addictive and I am sure like many others I just laughed this off as a funny
I would like to put into perspective what an addiction to agility actually means
should you catch this disease.
You will find yourself out of bed at some ungodly hour stuffing your car
full of gear while the rest of the world is having a nice weekend lie-in and
planning a lovely Sunday roast dinner.
You may find yourself taking your dogs for massage, acupuncture,
chiropractic treatments, laser work and water treadmills while you yourself
are stiff, sore and falling apart at the seams.
Your social group will change to mainly other doggy friends so you can
satisfy your desire to have a good old gossip about rule changes and the
highs and lows of your last agility weekend.
You may have promised yourself you would never be seen dead in lycra
sportswear, yet here you are clad in skin tight leggings waving a
multi-coloured fleece pom-pom in a random field at 7.30am in the morning.
Portaloos which used to be reserved for those wild days at rock concerts
when you were young are now the regular norm at weekends.
Your bank account will never be the same again.
You will try to come up with ways to escape weddings, anniversaries and
family gatherings to go to an agility show that clashes on the calendar.
You will find yourself on a start line with a bounding amount of hope that
this could be it... that moment to shine and 30 seconds later be saying
words in your head that are unrepeatable in public.
You will need more storage space for all the stuff you will end up buying to
aid your addition.
You will get wet, you will get muddy, you will get sunburn, your clothes
will be covered in dog paw prints, your hair will be a mess and you will
most likely smell of liver, sausage and dried fish.
Your diary is about 80% dog.
Agility will most likely influence what your next vehicle will be. It will
be kitted out with crates, fans, non-spill water bowls, folding chairs and
Your dreams of your perfect house will be less about inside and more about
whether the garden could fit an agility course in it.
Your dogs will own more types of coats than you do.
You will become obsessed about contacts. You will think about them, watch
them, talk about then, get frustrated by them and admire other people's.
You will learn and talk a new language. This could include phrases such as:-
It was a good E, not a bad E
Maybe I will pop in a German
I should get round to washing that clam
Not sure I can fit in a Flind there
I need to reinforce my wait start
Should I blind or front
Lala lala lala lala
It's classic displacement behaviour
I might attempt the hard gamble
That was a lovely rear
These things will not mean anything to those non-agility friends - assuming you
have any left.
You will also have the best time of your life, get tons of fresh air, get
fitter, meet so many new friends, feel a rollercoaster of emotions and build a
bond and understanding with your dog like nothing else.
You have been warned!
For more information about the
future of agility training, updated monthly, designed to suit all styles and
needs. Delivered online by world class trainers direct to you, in the comfort of
your home regardless of the weather, go to
What's the Hurry?
From Hannah Louise
I know this has been talked about over and over again but something needs to be
done before a dog or a child is seriously hurt.
I was recently at a show and the speed of cars coming in and out the venue this
weekend was appalling! We were parked at the gate and I've lost count how many
times I had to literally scream at people to slow down and I know I am not the
only one! I don't understand what is going through people's heads. They
seem so desperate to get to their spot whether it's camping or day parking!
What are we going to do?
I think clubs are going to have to start being firm and saying you speed you
leave! Come on show managers and clubs, it's time to start being
aware and get firm!
You speed you leave.
Following on from this post, Gleniffer has decided to crack down on speeding
vehicles. If anyone is seen speeding at Gleniffer Show in the future, their
vehicle registration number will be noted and placed in the incident book. This
will be sent to the KC, and a record of the vehicle will also be kept on a
spreadsheet. If the same vehicle appears twice, you will not be allowed back to
our shows. We will be very strict on this. 5mph is walking pace - nothing more.
You have been warned. Let's hope all KC clubs join us in our bit to slow
everyone down. (12/09/18)
When Judges Say No
From Beth Burton
If you have asked a judge more than once if you
can put your dog back on the contacts and the judge has not verbally replied but
is looking at you in away that clearly says 'No,' then, in my opinion, you
either carry on or leave the ring. Surely if you have a problem with this, you
should take it up with the judge at the time or speak to the Show Manager
at the time,
not jump on FB here or your personal page, afterwards because you didn't get
what you wanted?
To me, a non-verbal answer to my first request = 'No' and the look,
grumpy/cross, would mean that I am right in thinking that's a no then.
It's not the judge's fault your dog can't hold their contacts if you want them
to stop on them or that you broke the rules.
Recently a friend of mine was running her dog at a show when he put himself back
on the contact. Though my friend knew why she had been E'd, the judge made sure
she knew the reason. She friend appreciate this and said how lovely it was
of the judge to check she knew why she had been eliminated.
judges give up their time so we can enjoy competing with our dogs for little to
no thanks - unless we get it right on the day and are placed.
love you all and am very grateful for what you do for us competitors.
From Victoria Paine
I see so many proud posts on Facebook with a zillion rosettes
from competitions, and that's really awesome. But do you know what I'm most
I'm proud that after rehoming my idiot collie from a totally
unsuitable home that we've become a team - and that we are becoming an awesome
I'm proud that I can see where we've come from, not just in his
abilities but in mine, too. And I'm excited for the journey we have ahead.
I'm proud that I've a super awesome club that grounds me, lifts
me, teaches me, laughs with me and cries with me (sometimes literally). It
doesn't matter if we are having a shocking run or a super awesome one, because
look how far we've come and look how hard we are trying to do it right. And if
that takes us all of our life, then who actually cares?
I'm proud that on my journey I've learnt how best to take care of
the idiot that is now my collie and, as a result, he is fit and healthy. He
jumps and runs balanced without rattling poles and is, touch wood,
generally injury free.
Because who actually cares whether we hit the top grades quickly?
Because if and when we hit them we will be fit. We will be healthy and we will
deserve to be there. And above all, we will have had an awesome time getting
Do People Want from Our Hobby?
From Simon Chandler
Yes, of course we want our dogs to be as safe as possible. We hope that the
equipment that is used is of a high standard and as uniform across the board as
possible, but we have to remember a few things.
Firstly Agility is inherently dangerous. We are asking dogs to do unnatural
actions, sometimes at high speeds. Accidents occasionally happen as they do in
any physical activity whether it is undertaken by humans or animals. But surely
we are all aware of this when we decide to partake or ask our animals to do the
We cannot keep trying to make changes just for the sake of it. If you want to
alleviate risk, then we will have no equipment left to compete with. People
wanted new distances because they didn't like seeing dogs screwing themselves
into the ground trying tight turns. Now the courses are generally more flowing
which, of course, is good for the dogs but that brings more speed so conversely
more risk of accidents.
I'm encouraged when I look at some courses, knowing that the judges have thought
about lines etc. Of course, there will be those that maybe aren't up to what we
may like, but then we have a simple solution. Either run it or don't. You have
Then, of course, we have to accept the fact that Agility is an activity that is
not suitable for all breeds of dogs. If I had Great Dane, Irish Wolfhound or dog
of a large size, I wouldn,t dream of doing Agility with it. There may be dogs
like that that are doing it, but does it mean they should be! Let's face it...
I'd like to be able to do numerous somersaults in a race with a proper tumble,
but the fact that I'm built like a baby elephant and have the athletic prowess
of arthritic Orang-utan would mean I'd lose. So maybe I shouldn't attempt or, if
I did try, soon realise that this isn't for me.
Agility is like that for some breeds, so maybe we shouldn't be 'dumbing down'
equipment and courses in the belief that it is helping certain breeds.
I'm not against anything that potentially makes it safer for me to run my super
fast dog around a course but not at the detriment of making courses too easy.
After all, we need to remember that the Agility competitions we enter are tests
and should be treated as such. I want to test my dog against the judge, his/her
course and against my fellow competitors in that test. I don't want to just run
around thinking this is boring. I want to push him and show his athleticism off
to others. Does this make me a selfish owner? No, I don't think it does.
We enter competitions for various reasons but just because we sometimes don't
get things how we want, why should we change it to suit ourselves. We should
look at the bigger, wider picture and think of others who maybe are generally
happy with their lot.
I see a lot of comments that start with 'my dog isn't suited to this' and 'This
doesn't suit me' or 'I can't do this because I have to run.' Add this to the
already growing trend of 'judge bashing' and soon competitions will be sterile -
jumps on the floor, A-frames and dogwalks six inches off the floor, no tunnels,
So please people, let's just get on with what I believe is a great hobby and try
putting a smile back on faces when we stand in the middle of a field sending our
dogs over sticks.
Food for Thought
From Graham Partridge
I have just spent the day judging in Finland where they offered four runs per
dog. Entry fees for first run is £12. Any other runs are £10.50 per run, so four
runs = £43.50.
No trophies, no rosettes, goody bags only.
saying sometimes we do not appreciate how lucky we are.
Just in Case...
From Gill Cowie
I know that the
majority of us have plans in place for when illness etc strikes and our dogs
need looking after but I am just rethinking the whole scenario.
I am writing out my
dogs daily routine – to leave in a clear wallet that someone can take with them
should the worst happen – because sometimes the unexpected does happen. You go
out for the evening – and don't return, for instance, for a day or so. Although
people KNOW you and your dog, trying to find everything they need – where it is
etc – in a panic – it is so much easier to have it written down etc etc - peace
of mind. Nuff said.
Can We Not Have Fun AND Compete?
From Rebecca Harris
Why do some talk
about competing as if it is a bad thing?
On so many dog
training and pet groups people say, 'I am doing agility for fun not to complete'
and you sense the undertone.
Well, I do agility
because my dog loves it and I do competition for me. My dog still loves it, and
I love seeing him love it - we have fun! I would not train or compete if it
wasn't fun for my dog. I think that is the majority of people at agility shows
and attending competitive clubs (to compete more effectively) each week.
Wouldn't you agree?
downing those that do not compete - unhappy about judgemental people that take
it upon themselves to judge others that compete as not possibility doing it for
enjoyment with their much loved dogs.
I have changed over the 25-ish years since I started agility. At first not,
I said, competitive till the day my extremely naughty and unreliable dog
suddenly started to behave and get placed. Then, further on, thought there
seemed to be little point training and not going to shows, then ended up more or
less retiring as I was unable to run.
Now back to training
having found a good instructor to help with distance handling, very rarely
compete, do it for fun and satisfaction but still aiming for competition
I was like that. I'm not someone who enjoys competition. However I do enjoy
setting and achieving personal goals, so trials helped me to see how we were
progressing. It took me a long time to enjoy trials, ignore the fact that it's a
competition, and just treat it like a personal test of skills that is not
compared or judged against others.
So many different reasons why people compete. I spend a lot of time and
money training my dog in two disciplines and I absolutely love the training - we
take it seriously. Competition for us is a chance to put it all together 'in the
ring' and see how it goes.
After 16 years in
agility and five in obedience I am finally getting to the point of view that it
is just another training opportunity, but if it all comes together on the day
there is no buzz like it. Rosettes and places are icing on the cake. I do want
to progress though, because the challenges are different and skills need to be
better the higher you go. This motivates me for training, so it is a big fun
circle. Huge plus is the competition day out with atmosphere and social side.
Apart from helping, which I really enjoy, who doesn't want to talk dogs all day!
Love training my dogs, Love having a whole day out at competitions with my
dogs, Love winning, Love getting round clear, Love getting round with faults.
Just love seeing my Houndies have fab time playing agility. Agility is awesome
for dogs and handlers
I just do it for fun cos my dog is 44cm high and we didn't get a 4th height
so are seen as a bit of a joke. So I may as well laugh and just enjoy the
privilege of being able to enter something at all - but just not take it all
that seriously. I'd love to compete properly & fully though but we aren't meant
to want to!
A Post-Valentine Thought
From Hannah Graham
There is a group of
people associated with agility who never get a mention and are rarely
Here's to all our
non-agility husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, partners etc. Those long
suffering individuals put up with our agility addiction which usually leads to
multiple dogs, a camper or caravan, dog vehicles, agility equipment everywhere
and dog related everything, plus the large amount of money spent attending shows
and training. Long weekends away from us or spending supporting us at shows, our
chauffer's, chefs, dog sitters, walkers and grooms, they'll never run a dog, but
they're willing to support us. They are the ones that pick up the pieces when
everything goes wrong or are proud of us when we get it right.
Without this group of
people who stand by our side, would we actually be where we are now?
appreciate mine - and never tell him enough so this weekend let's give them a
bit of love.
The Cost of Training
One of my friends
asked 'Why do you pay so much money for your daughter to do Dog Agility?'
Well, I have a
confession to make. I don't pay for my child to train her dogs.
So, if I am not
paying for them to train, what am I paying for?
I pay for those
moments when she becomes so tired she wants to quit but doesn't.
I pay for those
days when she comes home from school and is "too tired" to go training but
I pay for her
to learn to be disciplined.
I pay for my
her to learn to take care of her body.
I pay for her
to learn to work with others and to be good team player.
I pay for her
to learn to deal with disappointment, when she doesn't get that clear round
she hoped for, but still had to work hard in the grading.
I pay for her
to learn to make and accomplish goals.
I pay for her
to learn that it takes hours and hours and hours and hours of hard work and
practice to create a champion, and that success does not happen overnight.
I pay for the
opportunity she will have and will have to make life-long friendships.
I pay so that
she can be in the arena instead of in front of a TV screen.
I could go on but, to
be short, I don't pay for dog training. I pay for the opportunities that my dog
provides her with to develop attributes that will serve her well throughout
their lives and gives her the opportunity to bless the lives of others. From
what I have seen so far. I think it is a great investment!
The Cost of Dog Agility
Reading another post,
it seems Agility is a very expensive hobby in other countries and especially
Europe. Some handlers are paying as much as €50 to enter one dog per day.
It also appears that
if you do not have a pedigree dog, then there are certain things you are
excluded from like national finals. Seems we may have some issues here but. at
least, we cater for all from mongrel to pedigree.
European Courses v. British Courses
From Elizabeth Saggers
I had an interesting
conversation at the Kennel Club International Festival (KCIF) with one of our
European judges. He told me that British courses were different.
I asked if that was a
bad thing and he said 'No, just different.'
So I went on to ask
how they were different and he said in his country 'We run, run, run'.'
Then I asked what
about the disabled, older, less mentally able or very young handlers and was
told quite simplythat they just don't do it'
I am not adverse to
changes for the welfare of our dogs or improvement of our sport. I enjoy the mix
of courses, some suit me some don't, but I do not want to see a situation where
the agility which so many of us enjoy for a weekend away with our dogs is
altered to suit what appears to be a minority.
The only reason to
alter things should be the safety or welfare of our dogs not just to suit some
other form of competition. After all variety is the spice of life.
Big Distances for Small Dogs
From Lu Candy
Dear KC (Agility section) -
I know you've brought
in the new distances so dogs can get enough strides in between obstacles and,
therefore, put less long term strain on their bodies, but I don't see the logic
as we now seem to have many 'obligatory' go round the back of's' where it looks
to me like dogs are having to take off and turn almost 180 degrees from one
We would not ask
Olympic level hurdlers to run round and take every 3rd hurdle from the wrong
side and, as far as I know, in the equestrian world no one would set that
manoeuvre in a show jumping course.
Also why have we got
the same distances for Small dogs as Large dogs? Surely they have a shorter
stride pattern so should have relatively shorter distances.
morning on my way to a competition, I thought to myself why am I doing this.
What is it about agility that I have become so addicted to>
When I look back I
realise how happy I am on my training days and how much I look forward to it. I
realise how much of an escape it is for me after a hard day of working hard to
try and cure people's loved ones and even my loved ones from the terrible
dreaded word cancer. Just running around with my dogs and having fun makes me
realise just how lucky I am.
So next time when you
are at show, make sure you are cheering each other on and don't slate people.
You don't know their stories.
I love being around
like-minded people who just enjoy the sport and being with their dogs.
By Sue Jones
It's 4.30 in the
My oldest dog has
just asked to go outside. I get up, throw some clothes on over my pjs, collect
the puppy from her crate and take them both outside. Both have wees and we come
back in. Oldie goes back up to bed and I put pup back into crate.
I go upstairs and get
into bed and then it starts. the screaming banshee is now fully awake and
doesn't want to go back to sleep.
I give up all
hope of sleep and we all get up. I feed the dogs and then decide to prepare
Ingredients for the breadmaker. I'm in the kitchen and I look to my right to
see a small puppy at the back door. I grab my coat and take her back out into
the garden where she immediately does a poo and a wee. What a little star!
I bring her back in.
SHE is now asleep.
New Rules for Dog
Agility in Scotland FB
By Dawn Gilmour
Suggested Agility Topic
- a day to moan about everything and anything to do with Agility
- a day where we all come clean about all the naughty thing we do that p**s
- a day of what I would like to see that would suit me and only me
- a day to be thankful for the wonderful dogs we have, and be thankful for those
that give up their time to allow us to compete and have fun
- a day of joy as we are all off to Shows and in a good mood for a change.
Silent Saturday -
a day of not many posts as we are all knackered
- a day of happy posts with our win outs, clear rounds, Champ wins or just
having the best time ever with my friends and dogs
The Real Joy of Agility
Steve Seale wrote this
It is not the winning or
going clear. It is not the equipment or shows. It is not hero worship or faint
It is the relationship
and bond between you and your dog, that individual closest of ties you build,
with the simplest of looks between each of you and you both know, the
unconscious communication that is second nature between you, the sense of joy in
being with each other competing, training or resting. That sense of togetherness
as you wait to compete and, after, walking back to the car.
If you know these things
and have them with your dog, then you have won in agility regardless of rosettes
A Message to All Show Organisers
Just to broadcast to
everyone I won't be going to any shows in 2017 that don't specifically cater
only for me and my dogs! This is so that all show organisers know that they need
to contact me directly to discuss what I want. Otherwise that's it. I'm not
By Dawn Gilmour
Dear Weather -
It really is nice of you
to try to average out the temperatures between Summer and Winter, however here
are a few things you should know -
I like sun in the
I love frost in the winter.
My winter duvet has not seen the light of day this year.
Agility Shows across the UK have been cancelled due to your poor judgement of
what you think is best for us.
Thousands of agility
handlers and their dogs have been left distraught as they
have had to do housework etc. when they should have been at an agility show!
My van does not cope well with mud and there has been more than enough of it in
My thermal knickers bought especially for this year are still in the package.
Please return the
weather to normal for 2017 or I may need to remove you as my friend!
Thank you in advance.
Out of the Skies
By Alan Gardner
This is a true story and a surreal moment...
I was up the field training when an airplane lands in the
field. A man gets out panting and runs up to me.
'Are you okay?' I asked.
The pilot replied, 'Yes, just landed as my engine is running cold and I need to
put some tape over the vent. Hope I didn't disturb dogs?
And here is the clincher...
He looks at Jaidi and says, 'I didn't know you could do agility with
Bernese Mountain Dogs!'
So now people drop out of the sky to see what breed he is...
Rambling with Rebus
By Elaine Thomas
The twilight is deepening as we set off across the fields –
the last remnants of the sun striking the clouds gold.
The dogs chase through the long grass – their passing
leaving a smoke trail of pollen.
They barrel after the ball, so intent they don't see the
fox in the hedgerow – it watches them quietly and then slips into the dense undergrowth without
My old Dalmatian Morse, slops along in the collies wake –
content to watch them circle and spin. Old age has robbed him of his graceful economical trot,
but on a quiet summers evening, he is quite happy to spend an hour nose down, tail ceaselessly
waving, nearly but not quite keeping up.
On the horizon a jet takes off from Gatwick through the
layers of gold and purple, and I wonder what holiday destination they are going to.
Rob turns his head just to check I'm there, and Morse rubs
his head on my leg. I lean down to pull his ears and decide I don't want to be anywhere
else than here, in the darkening twilight with my dogs.
Five seconds later I walk into a ravenous swarm of midges –
and the mood vanishes. Rebus then hurls himself into the river with no thought as to how he
will get out, and eventually scrambles up the bank, showering me in smelly water, mud and
Still, the squall of stagnant water frightens
off the midges.
Smelling like the bottom of a pond, we squelch