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Home Alone Without Agility Equipment?

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Repair, refurbish and/or make your own...

In these unprecedented COVID-19 times of social distancing and self isolation, many people would like to be able to train at home but don't feel they because they don't have equipment. Long term you may want to invest in proper equipment but for now, you may be able to renew some old jumps or knock up something cheap and cheerful, using things you find around the house or caravan. Di Whiting and Mike Jackson have done just that.

Make do & Mend
Di Whiting

Enforced long periods at home haven't bothered me. I enjoy a bit of DIY and have made jumps for horses in the past, so I've been making jumps and renovating some old Agility and Working Trials equipment.

In the past, I'd gathered together an A-frame, donated by a friend who had upgraded, three old jumps and a number of wooden poles which were thrown in when I bought a working trial scale from another friend as well as a non-spec tyre, left in one of my paddocks (I'm horsey!) by a group who used it for agility. More recently I bought second-hand but perfectly useable a dog walk in excellent condition, a seesaw in need of TLC and some good weaves. I already had a working trials long jump which wasn't quite spec for agility but not far off.

So, after checking the dimensions on the Kennel Club website, I foraged around our farm for some pieces of timber left over from building repairs and construction to make some wings. Luckily there were some odd pots of paint and timber preservative lying around as well to finish the job. It meant there was not much uniformity among my new jumps, as I was working with oddments of wood, but no doubt the dogs won't mind! All the wings were finished with wood preservative as being easy to apply and maintain.

I'd previously bought some plastic jump cups to screw on from the internet. Training only at 60cms, I didn't need to consider different heights.

Furthermore, I have started renovating the A-frame. It's covered with sanded gloss paint which is a devil to get off but, once this is done and the surface repaired with some additional plywood in places, then prepared, I will put rubber granules on it. These were ordered via the internet from Contactacoat excellent service!

I had to use the internet for additional paint as well as the rubber granules as DIY stores are currently closed and I wanted 'Post Office Red.'

Dis collies, Eric (left) and Fluke with the  newly built stone wallI am proud of my 'stone wall' with lightweight capping made of half round white guttering. I have also made a small 'brush jump' stuffed with heather and trimmed up. Nice to be a little creative!

The seesaw is a job in progress dismantled and prepared to paint. I'll put rubber granules on the contact areas if there are some left over, or may push the boat out and get some more! However, I consider traction to be far more important on the A-frame. The dogs have been using the seesaw quite happily with a sanded surface to date.

In addition to Agility, I compete at Working Trials and now have three useable, smart WT obstacles now. The scale has been dis-assembled, treated and re-assembled, and a clear jump built from scratch with scrap timber and a broom handle. Before I was using an agility jump with higher cups. The long jump elements have been renovated, using metal paint on the supports and tops stripped and repainted.

I hope this enforced virus holiday will last long enough for me to complete everything!

Jumps & Weaves
Mike Jackson

I had decided I wanted to build some new agility equipment, so I raided the garage and van to see if I could find some materials to use starting with jump made with plastic waste pipes, a hot metal gun and some cement left over from building some steps. A couple of people have asked me how I made the jump wings so I posted some information on Facebook and then agreed to write this article.

As I am a plumber I had some pipe kicking around but the likes of B&Q and Screwfix are open for 'essential' supplies and, at this time, so you can still order online.

Here's what you need to start:-

  • 6m x 1 1/4 waste pipe per pair of wings and one jump pole
  • 1 1/2 pipe for cups
  • Caps for the poles
  • Jump cupSolvent glue
  • Hot metal gun
  • Plastic pipe shears/cutters or saw
  • 16 x tees
  • 6 x 45 degree bends
  • 6 x straight couplings
  • 6 x blanks
  • Solvent weld cement
  • Ballast to weigh the poles such as cement, PVA slurry, pea beach or sand

* You can use 1 1/2 pipe but it will alter some of the measurements of pipe lengths.

Note: The pipe lengths in the picture are taken from one of the jumps but not all fittings are the same size so they may not be exactly the same for your jump. It gives a good idea of the amount of pipe needed though.

I started by laying out the fittings on the floor in the correct positions to confirm the pipe sizes. Then I dry assembled the whole thing to make sure it all fitted together. If you want different jump heights, put one section of pipe in 520 long and mark where you need to cut the pipe to get the supports at the right height. Don't forget that the height measurement is to the top of the pole not to the height of the jump cup.

To make the jump cups, I took a tee and cut through the branch just over half way down so the pole doesn't sit in the cup too tightly. Then I cut at 90 degrees, removed the top section and sanded the rough edges off and rounded the corners.

For the final assembly before gluing, I made the wing in two sections. For the first section, I glued the bottom together as far as the bottom rail so that you have got three sockets facing upwards. Then I assembled the top section. Before joining the two sections together, put in whatever you are using as weight. You can use cement and PVA slurry but pea beach or sand would work just as well. Make sure that whatever you use for weight that the sockets on the bottom section are clean before you attempt to glue the two sections together. Don't forget that the glue used is a solvent glue and shouldn't be used in confined spaces.

You should now have enough pipe left over to make a 1.2m jump pole. I wrapped black gaffer tape around the pole in a stripy or spiral pattern so that it was easily seen. You could paint the pipe but warning... paint tends not to key to plastic pipe very well and will scuff off very easily.


Next project - weaves

To make freestanding weaves which can easily be used indoors or outdoors when it's not too windy, you need:-

  • 3 x 3m lengths of overflow pipe
  • 11 x tees
  • Glue

These measurements gave me the correct 600mm spacing with the tees I was using so I suggest that you check before cutting all the pipe to length.

  • Outriggers = 300mm
  • Uprights = 700mm
  • Lengths along the floor = 520mm
  • Short sections joining the tees that are close together = 50mm

I started with a single tee with the branch upright and fitted a 520 length into this. Then I fitted a tee with the branch pointed to the right, followed immediately by a tee with the branch pointing up. Then a further 520 section followed by a tee with the branch pointing to the left, followed by another tee with the branch pointing up. Carry on in this fashion until you have completed the whole length, alternating the every other tee. You can now fit all of the outriggers and the uprights.

Dry fit everything before gluing to make sure that you have got everything correct. Remember that the outriggers should be on the opposite side of the upright to where the dog passes and the dog enters the weaves with the first weave in their left.

Once you are happy that all is correct you can glue it together. To help with keeping everything in the correct orientation when gluing up, you can put a pencil mark across each joint before you disassemble and line the marks up when you glue. I made up the first section as two weaves and then left the end of the tee after each pole free to make the tees easier to transport and store.

About the authors...
Di Whiting enjoys showing, herding, therapy work and working trials with her Border Collies as well as agility.

She started agility a relatively short time ago after realising that her nine year old dog Eric (litter brother to Naarah Cuddy's international dog Sassy) wasn't going to manage the six foot scale and nine foot long jump in Working Trials for much longer. He took to agility with enthusiasm and reached the Kennel Club Starters Cup at Discover Dogs last year, coming 3rd in the Jumping

She lives in Surrey.

Mike Jackson took up agility about ten years ago with Bertie, a Miniature Schnauzer. Bertie is Grade 7 and still competing at nearly 11 years old. He also runs his five year old Miniature Schnauzer, Boris, who is Grade 6.

Mike qualified as an instructor in 2015 and is now head instructor at two KC clubs. He also qualified as a Kennel Club judge in 2017 and now judges on a regular basis.

He  is a self-employed plumber who lives in Sussex.


First published 6th April 2020


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