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The last agility weekend...
Pearson has always felt that all judging appointments were special, not just because the
host club had invited her to fulfil an important role for them, but Championship
classes always created unique memories and the Small Championship class at North
Derbyshire DAC show last September was no exception for very personal reasons. What she had not
told anyone beforehand was that this would be her final weekend of dog Agility
as she had decided to retire from the sport. No-one knew until, in a voice
breaking with emotion, she explained at the end of her Champ final briefing that
these would be the last 20 dogs she would ever judge.
was invited to judge
both the Small and Medium Championship classes for NDDAC but, when the entry
closing date arrived, it transpired that, allowing for 20 dogs of each height in
the finals, the KC maximum 450 runs for a judge in a day would be exceeded by
just four. The club very kindly gave me the choice of height and I opted for
Small. Sincere apologies to the lady from Dundee who told me she had travelled
all the way down to Southwell for Medium Champ because she liked my courses. I
really hope instead you enjoyed those set out by Neil Ellis who kindly stepped
in to judge Medium.
I was determined not to create multiple pull throughs and frequent push round
the back of jumps. Nor did I want Small dogs - or their handlers - to face 10m
between every obstacle, so I designed courses that I hoped would flow and create
natural lines for the dogs but nevertheless required attentive handling to avoid
subtle traps of obstacle discrimination. For the most part, I think this is what
pleased with how the Agility course ran as there was no one specific
place where eliminations occurred. A few dogs just couldn't resist the
tunnel after completing the weaves while some chose to dart behind their
handlers to back jump 7 on the run from 8 to 9. A few shelties seemed to
enjoy doing this! Others found the A-frame more enticing than the see
saw especially if handlers were not on the ball with their commands
after taking fence 9.
just me but does an elimination seem more frustrating when it comes in
the last few obstacles of an otherwise clear round? Some dogs went for
an early finish at the tyre instead of the tunnel at 18, or went back
into the tunnel when they should have taken the tyre at 20. So close to
a clear but an ĎE' instead.
award for 'ultimate hard luck run of the day' must go to teenager Emilia
Bowers with Rory Run Delap who were about to achieve a clear round when,
needing only one more stride to complete the course, Rory came to a
sudden stop with his nose almost touching the tyre and squatted to
relieve himself. Emilia was understandably gutted, and my heart went out
The Agility winners were:-
Butler with The Closet Monster of Ashpen - 39.390 secs (C)
Foden with Ag.Ch. Mohnesee's Miss Chief AW/G - 44.110 secs (C)
Roberts with Bing Bong Bella - 44.823 secs (C)
the Jumping round which had a fast running first part with more handling
control required in the latter stages. Obstacles 15 to 20 didnít seem to
flow as easily and naturally as I would have liked but perhaps, in some
instances, this was due to people trying to ensure they didn't get
eliminated and so give themselves an excellent chance of making it to
There were not
as many eliminations in this round. A few of them were due to taking
Jump 12 from the wrong side, dogs preferring the tunnel instead of
Jump 14, and then there were some communication breakdowns in the
sequence from 15 to 19 with differences of opinion between dog and
handler as to which side the obstacles should be taken from!
The Jumping winners were:-
Staplehurst with Jet Black Jazz - 38.009 secs (C)
Ray with Sybray White Blossom - 38.793 secs (C)
Lowes with Totanium Penny Black - 39.000 secs (C)
qualifying courses suited different dogs and handlers as illustrated by
the top 3 placings in each. Only four people achieved double clears so
well done to Lou Cadman, Clive Foden, Helen Roberts and Jan Smith. This
meant that as the points from placings in the two rounds were combined
handlers with faults in one or both runs had anxious eyes on the champ
results monitor screen to see if they had made the elite top 20.
Congratulations to everyone who did - an achievement to be proud of.
And so we came to the final.
Again I set a course which would allow handlers to run at speed
whilst needing to maintain clear and timely instructions for their dog
if they were to take the correct obstacles. After a day of scattered
showers and cloudy skies the sun was now shining as people gathered
ringside to watch.
If you are
first to run in a final then, in my opinion, you need just one tactic Ė
go for it! Thatís exactly what Hayley Tindall did guiding Tindall's
Usselby Princess AW/S to a clear round in a time of 43.298 secs. This
set the benchmark and meant everyone else had to attack the course
which, Iím delighted to say, they did.
now tried to find the tightest lines, slightly mistimed cues resulted in
refusals or dogs taking the wrong obstacles. A couple took the tunnel
instead of the A-frame, and some didn't turn sharp enough after the wall
at 11 and ended up on the dog walk instead of the see saw.
With R/O 7
Donna Hathaway and Chiltern's Dillie Snowdrop AW/G gave us the next
clear in 49.523 secs, showing just how quick a time Hayley had set. This
was followed at R/O 10 by Julia Durrant and The Only Way Is Up, clear in
46.573s. Lou Cadman with Ag.Ch. Another Mad Moment stepped up to the
start line at R/O 15 and together they put in a lovely clear in what
would prove to the be the winning time of 42.605 secs as the last five
to run all picked up faults or eliminations.
congratulations to Lou and Twiggy on gaining their 7th CC - definitely
thoroughly deserved as they were the only pair to go clear in all three
Well done to
Hayley and Fifi on taking the Reserve CC. You rose to the challenge of
being first to run in the final and it paid off!
Thank you to North
Derbyshire for entrusting me with the responsibility of judging the small
championship classes at their show. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and am grateful
to everyone who helped on ring party for ensuring that it all went so smoothly.
But most of all my thanks go to the competitors for the positive way you each
worked with your dogs. There was not a hint of harsh handling or being
frustrated when things didnít go as you wanted. There were so many 'oh so
nearly' moments, but you still left the ring with a smile on your face and
thatís how it should be, because, after all, agility is meant to be fun.
After an emotional Small Championship final on the Saturday, I then
did my last competitive runs with my Shelties on the Sunday. Itís a good job
these were on a lovely straightforward course - as all
the Animal Heath Company water jump ones are - because it meant I could still
just about see where to run despite the floods of tears. I also had enough
breath left to praise and thank to my dogs at the end because the distance was reminiscent
of shorter lengths from years gone by.
All that remained was
to clear away my camping spot. Driving my motorhome away from the venue there
were more tears as the wonderful hobby which had dominated my leisure time for
the past 20 years came to an end.
agility certainly wasnít what I had
the start of 2017. Even
though I was still reasonably fit, I realised within the first few shows
of the year that
I simply couldn't physically cope with the 200m sprints now required with
spacings. I know that
Agility isnít all about winning Ė itís about having fun with our dogs - but was
it too unreasonable to hope that, if my Sheltie and I ran our hearts out, we
could perhaps achieve a clear round and some warrant points? It seemed so,
because now virtually every run we did on a Grade 6-7 course incurred time
faults which was so demoralising.
I then had to decide
about judging. Although
my dream as a Championship Judge had always been that someday I might be
fortunate enough to have the opportunity to officiate on the 'green carpet,' I
increasingly felt that, in reality, my chances of ever achieving this were very
slim indeed. Although there seemed to be an almost equal gender split of current
Champ judges, this ratio was not reflected when it came to appointments for the
high profile events such as Crufts, Discover Dogs, Main Ring Semis and Finals
at KCI etc. so I decided North Derbyshire would be my last ever agility weekend.
What better way to finish my judging career than for my last appointments to be
at Wirral, my most favourite show ever, Large Champ at the Welsh KC and then end
on Champ with my fellow Small handlers.
I've competed for
over 20 years and judged for 15 of them with approval up to Championship level
in 2011. Agility has
been a wonderful hobby and has given me experiences with my Shelties that I will
remember for the rest of my life. Over the years, my dogs and I qualified for
more than a dozen Mini/Small finals including three at Crufts. I made many
wonderful friends and also had the honour to judge Green Star (Champ) for the
Irish Kennel Club at their St. Patricks Day show in Dublin. For such wonderful
memories to treasure I shall always be grateful.
in Leeds all her life and is proud to be a ĎYorkshire Lassí.
She competed in dog
agility with her various Shelties since 1997 and judged since 2002. She was
approved to Championship level in 2011. Agility was her main leisure interest,
filling the time outside of her work commitments as an Occupational Therapist.
Having recently taken
early retirement from work, she now fills her days enjoying walks in the
countryside and local parks with her two current Shelties as well as relaxing in
front of the TV, doing jigsaws and cross stitch.
of the winners: Simon Peachey
First published 14 January 2018