Most silly agility course ever
When the public is charged entrance fees to partake in official trials, one would expect the organizers to conduct the trials in a professional manner. The organizers must not only be independent but must also be seen to be independent at all times. Here’s what happened on that day:
1. The course was designed by the organizer who also had a hand in judging the trials, despite the presence of an appointed judge from Thailand.
The organisers should have exercised better judgment by leaving the design of the course to the appointed judge. With the organisers setting the course and also having a hand in the judging process, the integrity of the trials is called into question. Certainly begs the question, 'Why invite an overseas judge in the first place?'
More ever, with 2 judges (1 official judge and 1 from the organizer) in the ring, there was confusion as to whom the scribe was taking instructions from? How does the scribe keep track of 2 officials at the same time and how will the scribe know that the 2 judges are calling for the same fault or different ones?
2. The course designed by the organizer was bizarre to say the least (bear in mind that agility is a fairly new sport in this country and the dog clubs have only run novice level trials to date). In my lifetime of surfing the net for agility courses worldwide, never have I come across such a silly layout. Here’s a rough sketch:
If you managed to decipher all that, then your run will look something like this:and if you think it looks bad on paper, imagine what it looked like on the open field itself!
If you look carefully (obstacles 3-4 and 11-12), teams actually had to recheck and heel to get to the next obstacle in sequence which were placed on total opposite ends of the ring. Traps were aplenty with certain obstacles barely 2 feet apart. There was even 2 sets of 12 pole weave thrown in for good measure. As a result, runs were choppy with a lot of start and stops, handlers searching for the next obstacle and weird heeling moves in between. 1 team actually executed an OB heeling pattern to get to the next obstacle in sequence!
Evidently, teams were confused by the maze and most slowed down to jogging pace to maneuver the obstacles. As a result, the runs were unexciting and confusing to watch and a poor advert for the sport.
Was a truly weird run particularly for faster dogs like me, as I had to keep coming back to Mr Owner to recheck my pace … felt like a ‘Yo-Yo’ at times. Needless to say, I ended up with too many faults and didn’t get a placing.
In fact, all teams had a fair number of faults and would have ended up being eliminated under normal rules if not for the original faults system thought up by the organizers ie. ranging from 5, 10 and 20 faults for different severity of mistakes. How was the scribe ever going to read the judges’ signals for the different faults?
The unorthodox layout left competitors wondering if they were running a Gamblers or Snookers or Rally-O course instead of Standard Agility. Many teams commented that the organizers was trying to be funny or perhaps had no clue really. One observer even quipped that it made the US ESPN Outdoor Games trials look like child’s play.
The primary criteria when designing agility courses is to promote smooth runs with equal emphasis on speed and control. As it is, teams were reduced to jogging pace in this peculiar trial and the spectators would have had a hard time trying to reconcile the fast, pacy and exciting runs seen in regular trials with this one.
3. Course layout and numbering were not placed properly leading to many queries from teams as to which direction should the next obstacle be attempted from. At times, the organizers were unsure themselves and some decisions seemed to be made at the spur of the moment.
4. Organizers were not well versed with the trial rules and when asked about faults for missing the weave poles the 2nd time around, they looked at each other. A competitor then suggested 5 faults which the organizers then readily agreed as they couldn’t figure out what else to do??!!
5. Official trial results (ie. time, faults and team placing) were not announced or released except for the 1st and 2nd placed teams, leaving competitors wondering as to how they had actually fared at the trials.
Certainly, a far cry from any resemblance of the dog sport of agility, much less an official trial… which is a shame really as we are all trying to promote the sport in this country. Teams from other clubs were even more skeptical saying the organizers set out to achieve a desired result for their own teams. Over eagerness perhaps, inexperienced maybe … I would give them the benefit of the doubt in that they are also on the learning curve. Perhaps they should stick to running their usual casual fun events until they actually get a good grip of the game.
Well, all was not lost though, as the Dog Squad also took part in the casual games and brought home plenty of prizes and medals in Simon Says, 60 Pole Weave, Hurdle Race and Fastest Recall games. In fact, the casual games offered more prizes than the agility trials and what more, they were free of charge compared to the RM30 entry fee for the trials … huh?? ... no point even trying to make any sense of this ...
Those puppy people ... always getting into puppy mischief.