Agility bloggers are submitting their opinions on March 6th about the "internationalization" of dog agility, all articles linked to here, which means the effect of the European influence on our sport. Clearly agility is taught and practiced differently in different countries.
NOTE: I originally put comments in this post more suited to an upcoming Blog Event about improving our sport, so I removed them and will repost later. My apologies for being too broad on the subject of Internationalization, which apparently refers only to handling and course design . . . . . not anomalies in classes, jump height, judging, trial situations and growing the sport.
That apology said, I'll reveal that competing on the international or even the national plane is not my game -- yet. But challenging and improving myself as much as possible and exploring the limits of what dogs and handlers can do, is my game. So I'm interested. I have no way to compare systems except to listen to the voices of others thru articles, blogs and podcasts, and watch videos of the FCI worlds and other YouTube videos.
My observations are thus:
The Internet: With the advent of the internet, (YouTube, Facebook, search engines, key words, cloud storage, free blog space and podcasts where individuals can share what they know for free, and without the necessity for "position" or "credentials"), and with a universal language most people can speak (lets thank the English for something) the world is opening up to allow humans to display their inately generous spirit. We all want to share what we know, and learn what others know. We are no longer trapped by our locale. We are less provincial. Education has exploded as we watch a wider world explore and interpret their experiences. It's a Yahoo time to be alive, and this flows into our sport! Let's keep it Yahoo.
Things I've learned recently:
Running Contacts are elegant, beautiful, and efficient. Watching dogs creep down the boards or stick the bottom of the A-frame and Dog Walk, or worse, back up and stretch a back leg backwards to touch the board, looks stupid. So I've quit training 2O2O, though I still don't know how to train Running Contacts. I'm looking for an online teacher because nobody locally teaches it yet, and I hope Running Contacts becoming the standard way we train those obstacles. Whoever came up with it, it's a great advance.
The Moves: All the various crosses, (front, rear, blind, blended, reverse flow, ketchker, etc.) and the other moves (reverse flow pivot, backy uppy, etc) are very cool, fun to practice, important to know. Bring them on. Add new ones. Just don't include them in the novice level courses. And don't forget the newbies. One of the problems I've seen with "experts" is they get bored with teaching the simpler moves and rules.
Distance Handling vs. Close Handling - Europeans seem to favor close handling and fast running, whereas in the US we have been in love with distance handling. I have spent hours teaching my dogs to "go out" so as not to be chided for "babysitting" my dogs. I love DH because as an older, less atheletic person I need my dogs to work away. And it's thrilling to watch when done correctly, especially by handlers with infirmities who can't move well. I love to review a course map and draw a line of what I call the "handler's corridor", the minimum space a handler might traverse to efficiently direct his dog over all the obstacles. But DH can also be an excuse not to learn to move your carcass! I love that we are beginning to realize we need to train handlers to move and developing exercise strategies for our human atheletes! It's not just about the dogs' agility and atheleticism. It's awe inspiring to see young people getting into the sport who can run fast.
Commentators: For our sport to grow, we will need commentators building interest and educating viewers like every football game has. I believe the challenges introduced by European-style courses and handling maneuvers builds far more excitement into the sport for spectators. They are far more amazing to watch.
Well, now I'm going to hang back and listen to what everyone else has to say. I expect to have my eyes opened wide.
Upwards and onward!