A Brief History of Dog Agility
In the UK back in the late 1970s, dog trainer and working trials competitor Peter Meanwell was asked for assistance by dog show committeeman John Varley to devise some sort of entertainment for the audience between the Obedience and Breed competitions at the well-known dog show Crufts. Varley's connection with horses had given him some idea of what would excite an audience, and from this the two men put together a largely jumping-style course resembling something from the equestrian world, to demonstrate a dog's natural speed and agility. Many of the obstacles used back then are still used these days - weave poles, tyre, canvas tunnel, dog walk, etc.
So in 1978 the first 'demonstration' was held at Crufts to much enthusiasm by the general public. By the following year several British dog training clubs were offering training in the new sport, and that December the first Agility Stakes competition was held at the International Horse Show at Olympia in London. The rest is history...these days in England it's not unusual for there to be week-long competitions, and the most popular Kennel Club shows regularly run ten or more rings a day with up to 450 and sometimes more runs in each ring.
Agility is now a huge, growing and constantly evolving world-wide sport. In Australia it became a national sport in 1986, and in 1994 the organisation which you will see this weekend, the Agility Dog Association of Australia (ADAA) was formed, with strong links to the Unites States Dog Agility Association
Why This Event is Being Run
Over four days in 2012, from Thursday May 10 till Sunday May 13, the International Federation of Cynological Sports (IFCS) will hold its World Agility Championships at Will Rogers Equestrian Center in Fort Worth, Texas. WAC 2012 will be the third time Australia has been represented at an IFCS world championship and the second time we have sent a full team of 12 handlers. The Agility Dog Association of Australia (ADAA) is an IFCS member organisation, making Australia eligible to compete in IFSC world championships.
The ADAA dog agility competition being held in conjunction with the Sydney International Three Day Event is a fundraising event for the Australian team’s tour to the WAC 2012.
The final team of WAC competitors — six running small dogs and six running large dogs — will be chosen from our current training squad of 16 handlers. Handlers for the training squad were selected on the basis of their performance in four selection events staged at the ADAA Nationals in May in Tamworth this year. This 2-day dog agility trial was attended by handlers and their dogs from all over Australia. The chosen squad has 11 handlers from Queensland, one from Western Australia and four from New South Wales. All 16 handlers, plus a Team Manager and Team Coach will be travelling to Texas. Those who are not selected in the final group of 12 handlers will be team reserves and will be asked to step up if any of the handlers are unable to compete.
All four NSW squad members should be competing here today; Lisa Henshaw, Andrea Gibney, Natalie Winter and Siegfried Clever, along with the team coach Elsina Meyer.
World class competition is always an enormous challenge, but because of our quarantine laws, the Australian Team will be competing with borrowed dogs against top competitors from other countries running dogs they have trained themselves and have worked in close partnership with with for years. Are we up for it? You bet we are!
Classes Being Run
Today's competition is for dogs which already have their 'novice' titles, so numbers will be down compared to our usual competitions. Included are the usual agility and jumping courses, at both Open B and Advanced levels, and three games; Strategic Pairs, Gamblers, and 3-Leaf Clover - a novel and unusual game where the dog/handler team gains bonus points for successful completion of a chosen numbered sequence within a fairly tight time- frame, double points being gained if the handler chooses to stay within the lines and distance handle the dog. The aim of all classes is to find the balance between the control of the dog and the speed of the performance. Scoring is based on faults, similar to equestrian show jumping. A dog that completes the obstacles correctly within the set time will earn a Clear Round. Dogs earn titles when they achieve a set number of clear rounds.