The internationalization (what a word!) of agility seemed mighty irrelevant in my life until we were asked to blog about the topic as part of our quarterly blogger day.
I play agility. I love agility, don’t get me wrong, I was hooked before I had a dog I could share agility with and I am quite sure the game will be a part of my life for many years to come. I spend quite a bit of money on coaching, learning and participating at trials locally. That said, I can’t see a time where I will be regularly traveling internationally to play this great game. I am a backyard player who is excited if I can fit more than 5 days of trials into my life in a year.
So when the awesome Steve posted the topic I thought that I had nothing to say on the topic and might even not participate. Mulling it over I realized that internationalization of courses here could contribute to better attitudes for handlers. As courses get more complex are handlers going to rise up to the challenge and understand that one mistake on a run doesn’t ruin a run? That mistakes are opportunities to learn? That an error made can be a cause for celebration? I sincerely hope so.
The flip side of that frightens me. Humans getting angry at dogs for holes in training; dogs being over faced/over challenged for the sake of ‘getting it’; possibly a sense of failure if courses universally get ‘too hard’ . Starters courses should be fun places to play and learn how a dog may change in a trial setting. In the AAC we have a class called Challenge that is designed to let those who want to play at the most complex level do so. In my part of of the world there seems to be a great divide about these courses- people believe that the courses are way too hard for them or they think everything else is too easy. Many trials locally have either stopped offering the class or only offer one as people seem afraid of it. I hope the attitude changes and the class starts filling up with people wanting to test their skills and find the holes!
I’m looking forward to checking out what other people have to say on this topic – we are an eclectic bunch on the agility bloggers group some folks have less experience than me -others trial around the world regularly. it should be a fun couple of days of reading – here is the LINK again if you want to see what people are doing!
Perhaps internationalization will help people grasp this concept too:
I can but hope.
I think that's a really healthy perspective. The courses get harder, unprepared handlers get frustrated and blame the dog. yikes. Fact is, it is our responsibility to train the hard stuff, and ours to accept that we might not train it all to fluency and when thing go awry, we should smile at our dogs and tell them, "Good Job!" and not wonder why they failed. Always failure is because of us…we're the trainers.
Very thoughtful post. Around my neck of the woods UDAA had the Masters Challenge courses and they weren't being offered or had a small number of entries. As soon as Challenge was added to Nationals as a class almost every club started offering them and participation increased.
Interestingly, I heard from some competitors what you hoped for: "that showed us what we need to train for".
It is always the handler's fault…
Thanks Melissa and Steve
I am delighted to hear a Challenge class got added to Nationals rather than every course becoming a Challenge course just at Nationals. I'd hate to course design for a Nationals honestly – finding a balance of hard enough, and fair to everybody from everywhere must be quite tricky!!