FCI regulations only allow pedigree dogs in the Agility World Championships, so in 2000, Petra Fuchs founded the IMCA event which was solely for crossbreed dogs. The 2000 show was held in Italy as a stand alone championship. Then in 2001 the show was held in the Czech Republic and, at this show, it was decided to also allow pedigree dogs to take part. In 2002, in Hungary, the ParAgility was introduced and joined forces with IMCA to enable international dogs and handlers (both able bodied and those handlers with disabilities) to take part in an international event. Since that time the combined IMCA & PAWC Championships has grown into a major international event which is like no other. It has become a 'family' of countries and handlers that meets each year with friendships and support given across the two Championships held at the one event.
Linda Croxford has been appointed Team Manager for the second year.
News flash... All Team UK Para applications have now been accepted and will be taking part in the PAWC Championships in August. This is probably the biggest Para teams there’s been and hopefully one of the most successful
This year, the UK is hosting the International Mix & Breed Agility Championships (IMCA) which is taking place from Thursday 23rd to Sunday 26th August 2018 at the Wood Green Animal Shelter in Huntingdon (Cambs). We hope that many UK agility handlers will come to watch and to witness the truly wonderful event with seeing some of Europe’s top handlers compete in IMCA – along with of course supporting the UK Team!
Each year interest in this event grows, and with the UK hosting the event in 2018, we had even more entrants than we were expecting to the point that we were totally full.
The competition will be held on Juta Grass Competition AstroTurf which is not cheap but one of the best to compete on.
IMCA Selection Day
Paul Hinchley had judged the championships in Austria in 2017 and he kindly agreed to judge the Selection Day. He was able to describe to the handlers the special qualities of this event along with passing on knowledge of the type of courses which might be set.
And so with Easter Eggs, rosettes, van hire, equipment, refreshments etc all sorted and only the one ring to manage, it should have been a fairly straight forward day. How wrong could that statement be thanks to the return of the Beast from the East!
Severe weather warnings had been posted by the met office for the Canterbury / Faversham area, stating that we could expect a heavy snow downfall on the day before and up until the early hours of the morning. We received lots of enquiries if we were going ahead with the day but, from an organisation point of view, we really had no option but to try. A number of people had already travelled so far and had hotels booked for the event. We could only hope that I could drive the van to the venue in the day.
Although forecast was supposed to be really bad in Kent, it transpired that we didn’t get anywhere near the amount of snow that was predicted. Despite nervous energy waking me up every two hours to check the snowfall levels, by 4.15am I was able to text people who had requested an early notification that we intended to go ahead with the day. There were quite a few people who unfortunately were unable to make the journey and we really felt for them. Some had made an early morning attempt to travel but turned around depending on their local conditions. However, for those who were able to get to the venue, there was a nice roaring log fire to sit around in the café which kindly allowed the dogs in to keep warm!
We made an early decision that, due to travel conditions, people would not want to be leaving too late to drive home, so we decided to reduce the number of courses to two Agility and one Jumping.
The courses Paul set were some of the best I have seen at any of the Championships or try outs I have attended. Each course had a little of everything, but each was designed to test a primary function of a partnership. The first Agility course was a very fast flowing course which required speed of handler to negotiate each corner of the ring along with obstacle discrimination. The second had tighter lines with more obstacle discrimination and pull offs from other inviting obstacles. The Jumping required the partnerships to watch for lines of approach, being able to send the dog wide on a flat line of approach and reading their most appropriate course line which was different for many partnerships depending on the speed of both the handler and dog. In my opinion, the mark of a good course was that there was not one single place over any of the three courses which seemed to catch people out – if people went wrong it was not always in the same place!
Some people that we expected to do well on the day unfortunately didn't and there were some who were not as well known to us who had some really good rounds. Speed / meters per second were to be taken into account on those rounds, and notes were kept of every round where any errors were made. Touchpoint accuracy (and speed), meters per second of dog, start line waits, handler’s ability to cover the ground etc were recorded for us to review after the Selection Day.
This year it took around three weeks to come to our final team selection, having looked at so many different team set ups. The rules say that we are only allowed an overall total of 15 dogs in the Individual Championships with no more than seven in any one height which made it so very hard this year to choose. We could have announced the IMCA team several weeks ago but wanted to announce both parts (IMCA & PAWC) of the UK TEAM together as we are ONE TEAM.
The UK has been taking part in this ParaAgiity event since 2002 when Sheila Partridge first represented the UK. Since then, the UK has had a presence at the event, travelling all over Europe to compete.
The PAWC event is divided into seven groups of disability which range from those in wheelchairs and varying degrees of mobility issues to sight and hearing issues etc. Each PAWC competitor submits an application to the organising board members who assess eligibility to participate in the event.
There is no limit to the number of handlers a country can enter in a PAWC Team. Each handler, however, is restricted to entering a maximum of two dogs. Each PAWC competitor has to complete an application form stating what their disability is and how it affects them competing such as restrictions on the ability to turn, inability to accelerate pace, poor vision issues, lost limbs, wheelchair handling etc. Their doctor has to sign and confirm the diagnosis and mobility restrictions stated on both the form and in a letter. Along with this we have to supply three videos of the handler and dog in a competition environment which is then sent to two of the officiating board members for them to review and decide if each application is acceptable or not.
With the Championships being held in the UK this year, we knew that our numbers would increase from last year in Austria when we had six competitors. This year's UK Team truly encompasses this statement as our team members ages range from 13 years to 77 years!
This year we have sent in applications for a total of 34 competitors which will I am sure make us the biggest ever PAWC team ever to compete.
Within the team there are some handlers who have competed abroad before but, for many, this will be their first time at an international competition, probably due to not being able to cope with the travel abroad. Hopefully once they have taken part in the magical atmosphere of the competition this year, we can look at ways to overcome their travelling issues to join us again on the Team in Spain 2019.
So, as the UK Team Leader, I am proud to announce that the following handlers and dogs have been selected to represent the UK at the 2018 IMCA & PAWC Championships. I have also listed all the people who have applied but not officially accepted yet following requests for additional information.
IMCA & PAWC 2018 Combined UK Team
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