They've been a long time coming...
It was two years in the planning, but they finally did it! Canada has finally put together a National Championship program. The Agility Association of Canada (AAC) held it's first ever National Championship at Spruce Meadows Equestrian Centre in Calgary Alberta on 1-2 September 2001. It included a Power & Speed course designed by our own Jo Rhodes. By all accounts, it was well worth the wait. Kim Collins explains how it worked.
The road to the Nationals started last March when the first of seven Regional Championship Qualifiers were held across Canada. Dogs from each AAC Region who had earned 300 points or more at their regional were invited to attend the National Championship.
is how it all worked…
In Standard rounds the emphasis was on handling and obstacle performance with bonus points for all seconds under standard course time (SCT). The round had to be fault free to earn the bonus points. Standard rounds were based on a total 100 points so if a dog runs clean and 20 seconds under SCT, it would earn 120 points. If a dog runs 20 seconds under SCT but has five faults, it would earn a score of 95 points for that round.
In the Gamblers rounds a successful Gamble was awarded 35 bonus points which is added to your opening points. If you do not complete the gamble, you keep your opening points only. There was no doubling of opening points.
Jumpers was scored the same as the Standard with bonus points for under SCT, fault free.
Faults were based on AAC Masters rules with minor changes. Off course was 20 faults - not an immediate elimination, and all refusals were faulted. There were no maximum faults. This system worked great in that it did not eliminate a dog from the competition for a 5-fault run.
Every dog entered was guaranteed to run six rounds over the two days. The competition was not over until the last dog ran, so the suspense was great. Everyone knew at the end of Saturday where they ranked, and they knew what they had to do to move up. Clearly the pressure was on for every round to run fast and clean.
This approach met with a bit of controversy before the first Regional but the participating judges had no problems with it and felt they got some good ideas about different course design from judging someone else’s courses. Of the judges who were not in favor - and there were only a few - none actually participated in the events. I noticed the judges at the USDAA Nationals this year judged other people’s courses quite often and I think they still felt honored to be there, and they did a fabulous job!
The courses were also selected by random draw on the morning of the trial. They were all in sealed blank envelopes and a competitor was asked to come up and select an envelope of their choice, sort of a 'what’s behind door # 3?' thing. It was great! The competitors loved it as they got a chance to run on courses designed by judges they might never otherwise run under. It also gave clubs some insight into new judges they had never hired before. It eliminated the problem of clubs hiring judges for their Regionals because they have notoriously 'easy' courses, or because the courses they design suit a particular style of dog. It also leveled the playing field all over the country.
The decision to allow International judges to submit courses and also to judge at the Nationals was also a bit of a controversy as people said that it would not be a truly Canadian event. However, it was decided that because anyone could register their dog with AAC and compete, it should not be restricted in any other way either. It was also felt that because AAC is one of the younger Associations, it was time we started seeing and participating in a more global form of agility. Allowing courses and judges from outside our Association, would help open up opportunities for Canadians to experience different styles of courses and handling techniques required to get through those courses successfully.
The rings remained static with one course set in each ring all. The groups A, B and C rotated from ring to ring. All course walk throughs were 'shotgun' starts so every ring had to be completely done before the next walk through started. Walk throughs were split into 22” and 26” Regular dogs walking first for their ten minutes, and then all the Mini’s, Specials and Vets next. This format worked so well that we were done by about 3:45pm on Saturday without rushing people through or eliminating dogs for minimal faults. It was very relaxed and calm.
A great show!
Results were as follows:
Her Sheltie Piper was the first Mini dog to earn the AAC title Agility Trial Champion, her Border Collie Bryn also holds the AAC title of Agility Trial Champion, as well as being, to date, the dog who earned the Master Agility Dog of Canada title the fastest in AAC history ( 49 days ) and also holds the record for being the dog who earned the ATChC title the fastest (8 months) and is the youngest dog to earn that title in AAC.
Kim competes in AAC, USDAA and NADAC agility with all of her dogs. Piper won the 16” height class at the 2000 USDAA Grand Prix National Championships and won the 10” Specials class in the 2001 AAC Nationals. Bryn was a finalist in the 2000 USDAA Grand prix and placed fourth in the 22” class in the AAC Nationals in 2001.
Dave Steinman & Blue...
The reason for my email is when I went to your international page Agility in the America's - North, South and in between. I was truly impressed you had a page about agility in Canada - the AAC and another about their 1st nationals event.
You might want to update your info though as this coming August will be AAC's 11th national event, but please do not remove the existing info as that info like this may not be archived anywhere else.
Last year was AAC Nationals 10th anniversary and it was held at Spruce Meadows, the same venue as the first Nationals. Blue and i had a great time and she placed 14th overall out of the 55 dogs in her class. She was the only dea fdog competing.
Agility in Canada as everywhere has really grown there must be over 3000 members in AAC now. At last years Nationals there was 650 dogs that had entered. (19/07/11)