I carried out my first judging appointment for 2016 last weekend. I try to judge 3-4 times a year as I do enjoy these days and it gives me the chance to see different dogs across the grades and heights. A couple of people asked for copies of my courses, so I've posted them on this blog.
I'm going to start training to be a Championship judge next month which I'm looking forward to. I'm not sure how long it will take to become fully qualified, however it gives me something else to work towards this year and it's been in my agility 'bucket list' for a while.
Way back in 2012, Steve Croxford and I set up Agility1st as an educational supplier for dog agility instructors and clubs. We were concerned about the some of the training we were seeing at competitions and thought we could provide agility instructors with knowledge and training programmes to help them and their students.
Four years later judging 400 dogs last Sunday, I noticed an improvement in many areas of agility such as the dogs skills on the contact equipment, on weaving poles and their jump action. Of course there is still more work to do and its disappointing when I see dogs and handlers in the competition ring way before they are ready.
It made me think that somewhere along the way agility seems to have lost that recognition of the need for basic dog training. I saw a lot of dogs and handlers (over 60%) struggling with start lines and what I call the 'basics' on Sunday. There are still plenty of instructors and training clubs out there that Agility1st can help.
The main talking point at the weekend wasn't about my courses, it was the news about the jump height changes at KC competitions. Wherever you went people were discussing the pros and cons and how the changes will effect them.
I need to absorb the details a bit more before I make any sweeping statements on my thoughts. However, generally in life choice is a good thing. Handlers now have choices about what height to jump their dogs at. With my Team Managers hat on, I can still see the top dogs and handlers winning their way to the National Qualifiers where they'll gain points towards a squad place. As to what happens across the grades, I'm interested to see...