Rhyme reached Grade 7 this time last year and I knew that I would have to change something in order to be competitive in qualifiers and champ classes.
On individual sequences and on his skills, Rhyme's times are up there with the best of them. One thing that holds him back is my ground speed and mental quickness for giving commands.
I realised one thing to work on was my fitness and my fitness revolved around my weight.
It is unbelievable how much better my running is with less body to cart around.
Luckily I have Zumba with my neighbour, my Wag & Tone class and a local cycle track to take advantage of over the winter to come out super fit in the new season.
On top of that and improving Rhyme's fitness I'm hopeful that we will be having a great year in 2017.
Then I look on social media and wonder if we will still have an understandable format to compete in :(
I applauded the fact the KC were giving people options on what height to run their dog on so the dogs could run at appropriate heights not entirely governed by the dogs strict height. EG a large breed could run at LHO and so minimise compression on joints due to being well, - large, whilst smaller dogs could continue to work at full height if that suited them, dogs near retirement could enjoy a slightly longer career, young dogs coming out could start at a lower height until they got stronger and muscled up etc. Well in my eyes a load of reasons where choosing a height that was good for your own dog was good.
However the initial outcome is a bit chaotic at shows and people are being questioned for their motives of what height they jump including discussions about winning, being beaten by dogs jumping different heights. If you are doing a combined height class and feel a need to win then it is surely your prerogative to jump the lower and quicker height. If you have a reason to jump your dog at a larger height then you may need to accept that show is not the one you might win at.
It seems the more personal choice people have the more conflict and accusations exist. It would be great if we could all just respect each others choices.(Sorry any excuse to show a clip from The Blues Brothers is a good one imo)
For my own reasons I will mainly run Rhyme at full height and Pikachu will start out jumping LHO until we are strong enough to be contenders in qualifiers. If Rhyme goes to a show that has no qualifiers then I may even run him at LHO. He is a big dog so I can't see a reason to jump him higher than required. That said we usually go to shows that have qualifiers anyway.
It seems like I am in favour of the changes for my dogs BUT..........
my ears and my brain do not like it one little bit. Classes being called all over the place, closing this class, walking this class, graded, combined, LHO, small, medium and large. I look across to see a class being walked and think it is the class before mine only to discover it is the LHO of the class before the class before mine. By the time mine is ready for walking I've lost the plot LOL.
Would it work to just have to go through the wings/cones like a slalom event in skiing or inline skating (I didn't even know this existed as a sport)?
Just queue up and go. Depending on class numbers awards are given as first overall then grade/height splits as appropriate. Would save all the different course walking and changing. Dogs are measured on the day they compete (going under a bar like at Alton Towers etc) This would avoid the difficulties of dogs heights changing as they mature, get more muscled with competing etc. When it comes to qualifiers of the different heights dog go in their average height category. 3 to 4 different slalom courses a day.
There are a million reason's why this wouldn't work in practice. I'm sure any system based on the height category of a living being is very hard to manage fairly. You only need to look at the huge variety of classes in the para-olympics to see the difficulties of matching like for like. Even in car sports like F1 there seems to be anomalies. If you can't even ensure machines are matching then it demonstrates how hard it is to split animals with something as simple a measure of their height at a given point.
I really have no answer and am like everyone else heart broken for how this is playing out in our sport at the moment. I hope our sport can recover from all these changes and come up with rules and the application of the rules so we can again feel we, our friends and most of all our beloved dogs are being treated as fairly as they can be, given so many variables.
Deep down I am saddened as I don't think agility can ever be totally fair to every individual, there will always be benefits for some and disadvantages for others In a search for that fairness, the fun and camaraderie will be lost as each person strives to make their own dog able to compete in a level playing field that doesn't exist.
Then I look around and I know that the agility community can pull through this and we will find the best way forward to enjoy our sport at our own level whilst helping or admiring those on a different level to us.