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Meeting the challenge

Handi Agility in France

Well known disabled handler Philippa Armstrong has sent us this information about a new category which is being created in France - the Handi category. It's a great step forward for people with disabilities to be accepted in this sport. But there is a problem.

The handis would be allowed to compete, but separately, sometimes alone in their category. At present, there are about a dozen all around France. They would be allowed to run and to have 'fun' with their dogs as per the CNEAC guidelines to judges and organizers, but they are put out of regular competitions.

For some people with disabilities, it should be quite satisfactory, but for others, not. What interest in competing is there when there is no challenge?

The regulation will classify disabled handlers separately and adjust their SCT (Standard Course Time). Many prefer to compete with the able-bodied, just like everyone else. Of course, they know they will rarely be on the podium but who cares, it's their choice! They will have competed with able-bodied colleagues and have proved themselves. They will show that, in spite of their disability, it is possible. And, if by chance they were on the podium, the cup would be the more beautiful!

There is a petition which both disabled and non-disbled competitors alike can sign to request exemptions for handis while using their devices such as wheelchairs, canes, guides, bell collars to locate the dog to allow them the choice to be classified separately or with everyone else.

Philippa said, 'UK handlers - disabled and non-disabled - can vote and International handlers too, for that matter.  A few of us have already signed the petition, and I would like others to have the choice to too, as it struck me it was all about choice or lack of.  Also if handlers in the UK have strong feelings about the issue, this could be a good opportunity to debate the matter.'

An English translation is below.



Cognac, 15 February 2010

In France, there are fundamental values upon which the republican democracy of our country bases itself:

  •  Freedom (Liberté), to have the choice to make one’s own choices.

  • Equality (Egalité), to give equal opportunities to all, whatever are our differences. Not to resolve differences, differences are our wealth.

  • Fraternity (Fraternité), to treat each other as brothers, united by a moral bond with sincerity and without any ulterior motive.

One could summarize by saying that French society could be explained by  this sentence: “Equal and free brothers, united by a very close relation which could be defined by the three core values cited above”.

The decisions taken by the workgroup Handi agility don’t seem entirely to agree with the very foundations of the Republic that dictate our rules and our laws.

If they do not allow free choice of being classified with all the competitors or in a separate handi category, Freedom seems shaken.

If the courses of the handi competitors are modified or lightened, Equality seems shaken.

If little by little, these changes would push handi competitors to compete only among themselves, Fraternity seems shaken.

One may answer that the decision of choosing a handi license is a personal choice. We say okay, but then let’s authorize the traditional licenses, with control of the situation of disability, to use assistive devices – unfortunately related with and inseparable from their disability. If they could have the choice, they would not use devices!

The decisions taken by the workgroup Handi may seem judicious to some people, they are perceived as unfair by others.

The only thing we require is to accept exceptions in order to allow freedom to all.

It is the right that republican democracy gives us.

'There can be no true freedom nor justice in a society where equality is not true'  -  Condorcet, 1793.

Disabled Handlers ‘Do It Differently’ in All Weathers

It was quite a start to the 2008 Summer Season!  Strong winds, ice cold temperatures and horizontal rain, but at least we had a show to go to.  Awnings were put up on the Thursday and taken down again very quickly on Friday morning and the term 'mobile home' gained whole new meaning. Philippa Armstrong reports on disabled handlers competition at the Kernow K9 Show

Altogether there were 11 DHA handlers with a total of 25 dogs from all over Southern England as well as Susan Rekveld who came over from Holland - all vying for the Gold and Platinum Best Overall Disabled Handler (BODH) Trophies.

The Platinum Level Trophy was won by Chris Morse with her WSD Freddy with Liz Spreadbury coming 2nd with her BC Tri and Jackie McDevitt 3rd with her WSD Millie. Chris commented, 'I don’t really feel disabled, like a wheelchair user, but I certainly do handle my dogs differently.' For those of you who don’t know Chris, she was one of the first persons I ever saw to successfully work her dogs ahead of her whilst handling at walking pace. Very impressive.

The Gold Level Trophy was won by Marion McIlherene with her Papillon Fizz.  Fizz had two 3rds, a 4th and a 5th over the weekend. I'm telling you, whatever she's taking, I want some! Second was yours truly with my younger WSD Binky and 3rd was Sarah Tailby with her WSD Flame.

It was lovely to see old friends again and meet new, many of whom managed to squeeze into Anne Gill’s awning / garden party on the Friday evening for some of Anne's famous hospitality. I think Susan Rekveld was pleasantly surprised by the standard and number of disabled handlers in the UK and by the way we organise our Association. I, on the other hand, was amazed to find parts of Holland are closer to Dogs In Need than I am in Devon.

Thank you to Kernow K9 for allowing us to hold the BODH Trophies at their Show and to Exeter Disability Centre for sponsoring the lovely Trophies on this occasion.

The next BODH Trophies will be taking place at UKA KATS on 31 May - 1 June 1st in the Rushmoor Arena, Aldershot and at the Thames Championship Agility Show on 7-8 June at Newbury Showground. We look forward to seeing many of you there.

Don’t forget to send us your points for the Annual League. Remember points from all shows count.  

If you are interested in taking part in the League further details and Registration Form are available via our NEW and now regularly updated website.  www.disabledhandlersassociation.com