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Managing an Agility Ring

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Some tips for newbie (and other) ring managers

If you've been asked to manage a ring and are not sure what is required, Lynn Jamieson and Jim Gregson, two experienced show organisers, have lent us their show notes which you can use as a guide. These days with so many shows being run by a small club or group, a well organised, efficient ring makes all the difference. So go on. Give up just one day to run a ring. You'll make a lot of people (and dogs) happy!

If you have some tips to add to the list below, send them to Agilitynet

The judge may be the Captain of the ship but you are the first mate who runs the show. You are the power behind the throne. You set the tone and make everything happen. You should be able to do all jobs on ring and be prepared to step in, if necessary. Better to delegate. Try not to commit to doing any jobs at particular times leaving you free to cover if someone needs to nip to the loo or go off to walk a course. Make sure you will have enough people available at all times and don't turn down any offers to help.

The Night Before

Your job starts the night before. If you cannot get there due to work commitments etc. talk to the show organisers about getting someone else to do the set up work.

If possible, help your judge to build the course or, if you have the course in advance, put it up for them prior to their arrival.

Put up any tents plus tables and chairs for your ring. If it’s raining heavy on the morning of the show, you will be pleased you thought of it

Morning of the Show

Aim to be the first on the ring, if at all possible, to welcome your judge, organise ring party and deal with any last minute questions etc.

Find your Judge and agree with them how they would like the ring run. Some will be happy to leave everything to you. Others will like to suggest queue sizes, start/finish procedures and position of pole pickers etc.

Try to help your judge to finalise the course, peg it all especially if it is windy. Put out ring numbers, prior to competitors walking it. That may mean you to be present in the ring one hour + before the show starts. Otherwise you may find there are not enough pegs for all the rings and you plus others will be picking up poles and wings all day.

When the timing person puts up the equipment, try to make sure you can move it into the tent should it start to rain etc. If you ask them politely, they will try their best for you. Test the electronic timing.

Check the ring ropes are not lying all over and peg them down at the gates to the ring.

Ask your judge if they would like to take a break or work through to the end of the class.

Make sure you have all the important things:-

  • The chocolate biscuits and sweeties for the scorers. They get grumpy without them.
  • The running orders and competitors list
  • Score pads
  • Clip boards
  • Score sheets
  • Weatherwriter for scribe in case of rain
  • Pencils, pens and/or markers
  • A very good pencil sharpener
  • Clips for score pads/score sheets etc
  • Disinfectant bottle
  • Stopwatch plus new battery. You never know when the electronic timing might fail.
  • Food and drink during the show for your ring party

Locate the closest loo to your ring... just in case.

Ring Party Duties

Treat everyone working on your ring party with respect even the youngest. They will work harder for you.

    You should be able to do all jobs on ring and be prepared to step in if necessary try not to commit to doing any jobs at particular times leaving you free to cover if someone needs to nip to the loo or go off to walk a course. Make sure you will have enough people available at all times.

    If they have dogs to run, organise cover for them to go and advise them what time you hope to have them back.

    If you are running a dog ask someone to keep an eye on your ring and tell everyone at the tent where you are going plus which ring and how long you may be, then come straight back. There's nothing worse then helping on a ring when the ring manager has told everyone their jobs and disappears the rest of the day, then swans in about the rest of the time in their Ring Manager's polo shirt gift for bog all.

    You will also be responsible for organising breakfast tickets (probably the traditional bacon butty) for your judge and scrimer and burger van vouchers or lunch boxes to those helping all day. Please do not give to people only giving and hour or so.

    Find out what time dinner break is and where it is! It is usually between 12.00noon and 1.30pm. Some clubs stop the rings for lunch, others stagger the times to help the catering staff.

    Keep an eye on drinks etc – radio for refills etc. Take refreshment box back to Secretary's Tent at lunchtime for refilling and collect at start of pm. Don't forget the lonely pole pickers!

    Keep an eagle eye on equipment in ring. Is tunnel coming unfixed? Does the see-saw need staking again. Have the weaves become unstaked. Make sure you have bucket of stakes, hammer etc. to correct this. The Judge might not see something and you are another pair of eyes to help.

Running Your Ring

Nothing worse then helping on a ring when the ring manager has told everyone their jobs and disappears the rest of the day, then swans about the rest of the time in their ring managers polo shirt gift for bog all. You have many dogs to get through. Keep pushing them through and tighten up admin where poss!

    Position the caller person in a place so as not to be in the way of people queuing and can be seen clearly by people wanting to book in.

    If small queue, take anyone who has dog with them – must keep ring moving – especially before 9.00am.

    Remind the caller-in that dogs must run in correct order when handler has more than one dog.

    Ensure finish and start areas are kept free of people queuing, gossiping etc

    Brief the caller and the pad person about where you want handlers what you want them to do at Start and Finish.

    Keep the ring running. When possible, have the next dog on line ready to go before previous has finished. You'll probably need to tell the next handler when to step up to the line.

    Keep the board indicator, if there is one, up-to-date

    Brief pole pickers as to what to look for. They are often the least experienced ring party and change most often.

    Keep an eye on how many dogs are in the queue and radio for more, if necessary.

    Oversee scoreboard and help if necessary, – take results to secretary’s tent as soon as class has finished. Record clear rounds by ring numbers on results sheet.

    Be sure you have water and send for disinfectant for any weeing or poo-ing mishaps etc

    If your class is scheduled to start after lunch, decide with our judge if people will be allowed to walk the course while you are away.

    Inform your judge when you are getting close to the end of the class.

    Take the names of anyone who is working ring party who might be late for the class. You can put an 'L' by their name to remind you who they are. When the class is about to close, ask the secretary to call them over the tannoy.

    Warn people that the class is closing well in advance. Ask the person on the tannoy system to call to end of class. For instance, class closing in 10 minutes, class will close in two minutes – class closed. Calls cannot be put out while making a presentation, so try to avoid calling in at this time.

     Check the ring slips for run offs. Ask the announcer to call those people back to run against the clock.

Looking After Your Judge

Taking care of your Judge is one of your most important responsibilities. Their job is to judge. Your job is to make sure their ring runs smoothly.

      Whatever they want - whether it be a cinnamon doughnut and a cappuccino or a bottle of water-  see it gets done plus anything else they should require.

    Be sure your judge' gets their bacon butty and cuppa tea before you start if it is the morning class or a drink and a biscuit if later in the day.

    Take your judge and scrimer to lunch. They'll appreciate the company and the chance to relax. You can discuss the events of the morning or what will happen if the class is scheduled for the afternoon or just talk about dogs!

    Keep you judge and scrime hydrated. Don't be stingy with the drinks. If hot, ensure cold drinks and ensure they do not sit out in sun for long periods and keep reminding them about skin protection.

End of Day

Your job does not end when the last competitor has run. There is still the equipment to put away and the paperwork to do. If you have it organised well it may finish early. If not, you may be very late.

    If it’s the end of the show, do try to organise and oversee your ring party plus any and friends to strip the ring down including the wings etc and stack it all at one corner of the ring for the van/trailer to pick it up. It takes 5-10 minutes with everyone helping and gets your showground vacated quicker at the end of the show.

    At the end of the day/class make sure all the paperwork plus any ring equipment is packed up and returned the Show Secretary.

    Please help tidy up even just a little bit at the end of a show. The show organisers will be delighted even if they did not have time to tell you.

    Don't forget to thank everyone who helped. It may seem like a small thing but a word of thanks makes all it all worthwhile.

Your Suggestions

Make sure the scorer etc. knows the course time - helps for working out time faults, obviously - but amazing how often the scorer doesn't know it. Martine Wates

I've taken to putting a post-it note on the scorer's table saying `Places to 10th..' or whatever it is - seems to be one of the most frequently-asked questions! Martine Wates