Show jumping for horses involves a set course of prescribed jumps, horse and rider, electronic timing and a Judge and Steward.
A course is built to a Judge’s specifications, a rate is set for the horse to complete the course and the competitors take numbered turns. After the first round the slower horses and horses with more than the limit of faults are relegated to perform another day.
The above exactly describes Agility with one minor adjustment. The competitors are dogs and the handlers run beside the dog directing it over, under and through obstacles.
This sport is not for the faint hearted or the unfit. Agility in Australia is growing in popularity as more handlers are turning to this fun exciting sport that involves teamwork, precision, speed and a faultless performance. This is a very exciting mixture and is not easy to obtain. The balance between dog and handler must not be one of fear as this reflects in the willingness of the dog to co-operate. It must not be one of over-excitement, as control between the partnership, under pressure, can be unstable.
The excitement of watching excellent performance dogs is matched by the excitement of tabulating scores and trying to decide who is the winner before the Judge’s announcement.
Agility is a dog competition open to all dogs and brings out the competitor in us all.
This desire to be the best must always be tempered with a care for the welfare of the dog. A dog that is overweight should never be allowed to start basic training. The idea is to have dogs negotiate various colourful obstacles to assess and enhance their intelligence and ability. It is educational and sporting, an activity intended to improve the dogs’ integration into society.
The sport requires a good rapport between dog and handler. Competitors therefore must be familiar with elementary training. Whilst speed of the dog is to be desired, steadiness of work is essential to a faultless performance of the course.
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