Believe it or not, we can still remember the feeling of stepping into the ring for the first time - and it's a complex blend of excitement and blind terror! ;) Fortunately you are much better prepared to set your dog up on the start line than we ever were, as the training and challenges we've pushed you to in training are far above what you will meet on your first show outing and we wouldn't suggest it if we didn't know how capable you and your dog were.
We suggest that a great way to begin competing is at small, independent shows, which often offer 'training runs' or NFC (not for competition). This generally means you can run your dog over the course in the competition environment and test the skills that you've taught your dog, and those we've taught you (!) in a more stressful situation than you'd be doing in training. Because it's not an actual competition round you can repeat things that don't go well or miss out things you're not confident on, providing you keep within the judge's set course time.
There are a couple of things you need to do before you can enter two of the UK's agility organisations shows - here are the details for each:
KC (Kennel Club) Agility Shows
- These are shows licensed by the Kennel Club and a list can be found at the AgilityNet website under 'Show Diary/ Schedules'
- Shows can be entered by filling in a paper entry form or by joining agility show processor sites like iShow Services
- To enter a show your dog must be registered with the Kennel Club, either on their breed register if they are a pedigree or on the Activity Register - you can download a form to register here.
- Dogs also need to be measured to ensure they are competing in the appropriate height category - Large, Medium or Small. This can be done at shows organising measuring sessions or dog agility clubs arranging local sessions. We will see about organising one for new dogs competing :)
- You CANNOT run not for competition (NFC) at a Kennel Club show, though they do sometimes have a practice ring where you usually pay £1/ minute to run your dog in a competition environment. These are excellent and well worth utilising :)
UK Agility Shows
- These are shows licensed by UK Agility Ltd and a list of their shows can either be found at the AgilityNet website as above, or directly via their website
- Shows can be entered by filling in a paper entry form or via their website once you've signed up as a member and have log in details.
- To enter a show your dog must be registered with UK Agility - full details can be found here.
- Dogs also need to be measured to ensure they are competing in the appropriate height category and this needs to be done even if you have been measured for KC shows as they have slightly different categories. Measuring sessions take place at every show - listen out over the tannoy or ask at the secretary's tent when you arrive for what time it's taking place.
- You CAN run NFC at UK Agility shows, provided you tell the ring party before you enter the ring. You may take a toy into the ring in a NFC run, but you are NOT allowed to use food.
So to support our newbies in those tentative steps, we've come up with some 'school field trips' - shows where we will be attending ourselves and happy to help hold your hand whilst walking courses, queuing for your turn, and celebrating at the end :) We will be adding to the list below as we go through the season, but here's a couple to start you off. Click on the links below to find out more and don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions (however silly they might seem!) so we can help your first experience run smoothly :)
UKA Agility Rocks for Winter, Sunday 2nd February 2014 - the closing date for entries has passed, but it is possible to enter on the day. We can explain further on the day :)
Stretcholt Equestrian Centre, Bridgwater, Somerset. TA6 4SR
Half Moon Stud, Motcombe, Shaftesbury SP7 9PL