Pictures by Tim Stevens.
think that Agility is the most enjoyable of all the
canine sports both for dogs and humans.
It is fast,
furious and a great favourite with competitors and
spectators alike. Agility is
a comparatively new form of
dog competition, where the animal's fitness and the
handler's ability to train and direct the dog over and
through certain obstacles are tested.
If you decide
that Agility is a suitable activity for you and your
curly, your next step is to receive some expert
training, again, details of such clubs can be obtained
Shows, Trials and
of the Kennel Club. Make enquiries well in advance so
that you can go down and visit the club and chat to
members about the training schemes. It is worth looking
for a club that has had some experience of training a
range of breeds, including larger breeds and gundogs.
The very special nature of the curly means that it needs
gentle handling and a varied training programme or it
will become unresponsive. Some clubs have set starting
dates whereby the classes start on a particular date and
run for a certain length of time, other clubs you can
just turn up as and when you are able to. Dog training
clubs are generally sociable places and welcome all
standards of handlers and dogs to be trained. Training
can be started at a very early age but jumping should be
restricted in young dogs until joints and bones are well
developed. Dogs cannot compete in agility before they
are 18 months old.
become quite addictive. Itís fun, friendly and
keeps you and your dog in good condition. Curlies
enjoy agility and respond well to the very close
teamwork that develops between handler and dog. Most
people's view of Agility comes from the television
coverage of Crufts each year and the competition held in
December in conjunction with The International Horse
Show at London's Olympia. However, there are 300
licensed Agility Tests held annually, not to mention the
numerous special sponsored events which take place
There are 16
obstacles allowed under Kennel Club Regulations, ranging
from a straightforward hurdle to a long jump, tunnels,
weaving poles, an "A" ramp and a see saw. Whilst the
basis of the sport is jumping hurdles no higher than
650mm (2ft. 1.6ins), the full set of Kennel Club
approved equipment requires the dog to be agile in
various ways. Agility also requires the dog to be under
the handler's control at all times.
are run against the clock to ensure that handlers do not
take their dogs round the course at a walking pace in
the hope of ensuring a clear round. The setting of a
reasonable course time, together with the careful design
of the course, allows the dog and handler to show their
skill at control and speed. Special ABC (Anything But a
Collie) classes are available at many shows, where the
course time and layout are designed with breeds, other
than collies, in mind.
There are a few curlies who
compete at agility shows and I'm sure their owners would
be more than happy to discuss agility with you if you
Pictures by Mechelle Jacques.
Maycourt Black Ice