In this episode (32:14)
In this episode, Jennifer, Sarah, and Esteban highlight recent and upcoming events in the agility world.
You Will Learn
- When and where USDAA Cynosport, UKI’s US Open, the AKC Invitational, Westminster, and the European Open team tryouts will be held.
- Where Jennifer was last weekend.
- How COVID affects these events.
- Previous discussion on the Incredible Dog Challenge: Episode 199: How to Speed Up Your Agility Dog
(upbeat music) - Welcome to Bad Dog Agility. (dog barks) A podcast, helping you reach all of your dog agility goals. Whether it's competing under the bright lights of the televised finals at Westminster or successfully navigating a homemade course in your own backyard, we'll bring you training tips, interviews, and news about the great sport of dog agility. Are you ready? - I'm ready. - I'm ready. - I'm ready.
The show starts with your hosts, Jennifer, Esteban and Sarah. - I'm Jennifer. - I'm Esteban. - And I'm Sarah and this is episode 291. Today's podcast is brought to you by HitItBoard.com and the Teeter TeachIt and easy to use tool that controls the amount of tip on your teeter so you can introduce motion to your dog in a gradual way. Go to HitItBoard.com for the new Teeter TeachIt
and other training tools and toys. Use discount code BDA10 to get 10% off your order. That's HitItBoard.com. - Fall is finally here and with it, cooler weather. - Yay! Agility is on everybody's mind and there have been a lot of events, well, there are a lot of events coming up. We just had a big event this past weekend. And so in this podcast, we're going to do a
state of agility. We're going to take a more macro, wide view of the agility world, talk about these events, what's going on and where we see agility heading for the end of 2021 with 2022, really just right around the corner. - Yeah, and I'll go ahead and say right now that the focus of this podcast is really about the upcoming events here in the United States. So we're
going to talk about several events but they're all here in the United States. So just putting that out there, but yeah, we're looking at what's going on and, as you mentioned, there was an event this past weekend. And so Jennifer, why don't you tell us where you were this past weekend? - Yeah, this past weekend, I was able to head to St. Louis, which is in kind of
the middle of the United States for the Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge. This was the finals, the 2021 finals. How the event is situated as they do kind of like West Coast, East Coast regionals and then we come to St. Louis in the middle for the finals. So in April, I was in Tampa for the East Coast regional and was fortunate enough to actually win that event,
which guarantees you a buy to the finals in St. Louis. So we are just headed home from that event. - Yes, and it hasn't been broadcast yet, so we're not really gonna talk about the event or who won or how you did or anything like that, but we just wanted to bring it, you know, start there, start with what has just happened and we'll all be on the
lookout for that televised broadcast. Do you happen to know when that is? - I do not know because it is, from my understanding, kind of understanding it as a syndicated event, which means it plays on different channels, at different times, in different parts of the country. The Incredible Dog Challenge is kind of an interesting agility event just because it is one that is televised. We don't have many
of those, it's kind of a made-for-TV event. So, when we know, we'll post about it, but it certainly is a fun event. If anybody ever gets the opportunity to go, I'd say yes to it. - Yes, and I will also put in the show notes a link to a podcast that we did several years ago on the event where we did go a little bit in depth of
like how the event is structured and things like that. So if you want more information on that event, you can listen to that podcast. So that's kind of a what's happening, like, you know, right now, just this past weekend. And then, as we look forward in the fall, the next big event here in the United States will be the USDAA Cynosport, that's October 20th to 24th. I was
going to say-- - That's really soon, that's two weeks from now. - I was about to say, it's like, you know, a month away and then I looked at the calendar and was like, oh wait, no, that's actually right around the corner. - It's October. - Yeah, yeah. - So that event, what do you know about that event, Jennifer? - So that event is going to be held
in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I will be attending that event. The plan at this point is to attend as a bonus talk about fall, like, oh, fall's my favorite season. You know, here in Ohio, it's just so pretty. But it's also a super busy season as we're getting ready to go through all of these events and, for me, summer has been prepping for these and it kicked off with the
Incredible Dog Challenge. And, as you said, I've got like two weeks lined up between all these events, so USA Nationals only about a couple of weeks away and it is a big five day event. So it's a big event for agility competitors. One of our longer events starts on a Wednesday and goes all the way through to Sunday because there are kind of cuts along the way. So
it starts with quarter finals, then you're going into semi-finals, then you're going into finals. You have individual events, you have team events. So it's a pretty big, pretty complex event. I think the numbers this year are down from what they've been in the past. Based on what I could gather, there's just under 600 entries, 594, I think, if I did it correctly, which seems smaller than what it's
been in the past. So I don't know what's affecting that. Could it be COVID, could it be the fact that it's only two weeks before the US Open, so people are starting to pick and choose events? You know, so there's a lot of different factors, I think, going into play there. - Mm-hm, and, you know, I do want to touch briefly on what we do know about the
COVID precautions at these events, because you know, each of these events is run by a different organization, has different rules, and then, on top of that, you have to layer in, like, the location. So for USDAA, what are their COVID precautious that they're doing for that event? - So USDAA is requiring masks anywhere inside the Coliseum. So it's kind of an indoor horse arena type facility. They've got
big doors, you know, opened up on the ends, assuming it's not raining, but anywhere on the competition floor warm-up areas, walkway seating areas, vendors masks at all times. If you would like to run without a mask, so we're actually talking in the ring, when you go run your dog, you have to take a negative COVID test within 72 hours, and they've put a very specific type. It is
an at-home test but it's one that you like logon and you do in front of a proctor and they, you know, monitor that you do it correctly. You have to show ID and then they'll like, send you like a PDF print-off with your name, verifying as you. You can't just go into CVS, grab a test, take a photo and say, here you go, it's negative. You have to
do this certain kind, and then what will happen, you'll get a wristband, so when you run, you can take it off and then right when you come out and like, you're putting your leash on your dog, you'll have a little area to put it back on. If you don't do that, you have to run it in your mask. - All right. I really like that they're putting those
precautions in place and really making it very clear for the competitors and as safe as we can, you know, in today's, you know, COVID environment. And I think that, kind of, as we look at the fall schedule, we're figuring, I think everybody's figuring out, the competitors and the organizations are kind of figuring out how they can manage things more long-term, as it's not something that is just completely
going away and then everything goes back, air quotes, to normal. Like, you know, there's gonna be a new normal. - Oh yeah, that ship definitely sailed. We haven't talked a lot about COVID from, you know, a big, broad view basics. If you haven't been vaccinated, go and get vaccinated. If you're eligible for the booster, get a booster. I expect over the next several years, that new updates to
the vaccines will happen and there'll be various drives to get vaccinated. I think we have a lot more data than we had a year ago. So we know, you know, that it's better to be outdoors than indoors, for example, right. We know that proximity matters, things like that. So, as agility organizations plan these events, you can kind of look at all your high-risk points and really do a
lot to minimize it, right. And I think agility is definitely among the safer sports that you can actually do because it's not one where you are getting face-to-face with your competitor, right. It's not football where you're lining up across from each other. It's not basketball. It's not wrestling. You know, you really don't have to be around other people and we can manage events in that way. I think
it's going to be largely pretty safe, especially if you're vaccinated, of course. If you have risk factors, you have to make some decisions of your own but for those folks, I definitely, highly recommend using a high quality mask like the KN95s that are widely available right now, as opposed to just a cloth mask. - All right. So, next on the list, and we're going chronologically here, is the
US Open, November 11th to 14th. So I'm just kind of eyeballing that at, like, two weeks after the USDAA final. And I agree with you-- - Wow. - I think that people are now having to choose between, a large group of people are having to choose between those events being so close together. And so you're going to get some overlap but not huge overlap. So I think that
is probably affecting Cynosports numbers. So, US Open, you will also be going to that, Jennifer. - Yes, that is the plan, I'm entered in planning to go to that and, as you just mentioned, that as a four-day event. So, I think a big part of why people can't do or won't do both of it is just the length of time, you know. You've gotta be there on Tuesday
to check-in, compete on Wednesday for USDAA, and be there on Wednesday, start showing on Thursday, so we're not talking weekend events. So, you know, when you talk time off work, travel, all that it is kind of picking and choosing. So the US Open just announced today that they have their entry numbers, they're having a 20% increase in their entries and therefore are going to eight rings. Eight rings!
I think that's like the biggest event here in the United States, I think, that at least I've attended. (clears throat) I think eight rings is a lot but I... That's what helps to keep it to four days. So, we're USDAA, that's five days, because they do, if I am correct, five rings. UKI is going to eight rings, eight judges, eight groups, but they are able to keep it
to four days. So Wednesday being a check-in day and then start running on Thursday morning. So the entry there, if I did it correctly, 736, roughly. So, don't hold me to that, UKI, but I think that's what I gathered from your stats. - That is super interesting. I think of it as an event, typically, that has between 200 and 300 people. So this is a big increase, and
I wonder what effects it's going to have on the agility ecosystem here in the US. Are we talking about a new rising power? Is this something that is going to be able to challenge the AKC, even though the AKC now has these fat contracts with the television networks to produce their big events? And is this gonna trickle backwards down to local events for UKI? So as people focus
a little bit more on the US Open, they're going to attend more local events put on by UKI and choose those events over, say, an AKC trial that weekend. So, I'm pretty interested in seeing where this goes and I wonder what led to the spike, the spike in interest. You know, because they've been around for a while and they did some stuff, COVID, the COVID at-home stuff. You
know, the AKC decided they weren't going to do anything like that and yeah, I just wonder, it's pretty interesting. - There's a couple of things that affected, and their numbers have been steadily growing year after year after year, I mean, it's been a while since they were down in the two or three hundreds, but it isn't Open. It's a US Open, you don't have to qualify to attend.
- Ah. - So I can literally have not gone to any trials because of COVID or whatever reason and go to a national. So I think that is a huge appeal to people. The other thing that I know, for me, that I like about the US Open is there's multiple events run individually from one another. So, you know, UK, or excuse me, AKC nationals, you know, when we
talk big events, AKC nationals is such a tough one. You hit the first bar of the first course on the first day and you're pretty much out of it. - You're out. - I mean, yeah, okay, we have the backdoor through challengers and everything, but UKI has like seven or eight different events that run. So I think, you know, you can mix and match, oh, my young dog
can do this class, but I won't do this class. Or I can do this dog here, or if this class goes real poorly, that's okay, I still have a shot in this. So, I think there's a whole number of reasons that we're seeing the growth in UKI. Maybe we'll save that for a whole 'nother podcast. - Yeah, yeah. - But I do think, without really getting into it,
I do think we're seeing those shifts in numbers. Notice USDAA numbers are down, UKI numbers are up, And I don't think that is just this year. I think we're going to see a trend to that way. - Go ahead. - Yeah, I was going to say, yeah, because I think that, I think that there's a more direct competition there, I would say, because those events are so much
more similar to each other in that they do have lots of different outfits. - That's what I was gonna say. - USDAA is getting squeezed out. You have two very different styles. - Right, right. So, when we'd say two very different styles-- - You mean between AKC. - Between AKC and then USDAA and UKI have similar styles. They both have things like amblers, and snookers, and games, and
they have these national events that are multi-event events. There's not like a single final. - Yeah, you can be the biathlon winner, you can be the Grand Prix winner, you can be the steeple chase winner. - Exactly. Exactly, yeah. On UKI, you know, they have like a similar structure. You can be the games winner, you can be, you know, and so I think that they compete with each
other and it certainly looks like UKI is winning that heads-up comparison. Now, does that mean they're taking on AKC? I'm not sure about that. That's like a very different kind of agility. I think there's a lot of people who do both, but there are a lot of people that are very happy to continue to do AKC agility, to maybe focus on their purebred dog and, you know, things
like invitational where they get to-- - AKC also has that one winner, right? You go to the invitation, there's one winner. - Yes. - And, you know, when you go to events and there's like five different winners, you know, I know that some people think of it as, oh, borderline participation trophy, there's so many different ways to win. And I'm like, well, you know, the different events, different
targets, different goals. - Right. - Exactly what Sarah said, here's, there's a percentage of people who are doing both, but I think there's a lot of people who are doing one or the other. Meaning they're either doing UKI or USDAA or AKC. I know for my personal experience, I have a ton of students who only do AKC, I have a ton of students who are only doing UKI.
And then there are some that are doing both in that crossover. I also think, looking at the popularity of UKI and the US Open, the US Open, keep in mind, is the tryout event for WAO's world team. - Right, so do we do the-- - The nationals and the tryouts. - Yeah, for me, personally, as a national event has a little less draw just because it's such a
big event, and it's so long, and it's Florida, and it's far away, doesn't mean I wouldn't go anyway, but where I have all my draw, my focus, is it is the trial event for WAO. So that is my main focus when I go, is not winning any individual class or winning any round, per se. My goal is in what are the rules to try to win my spot
on the team because the rules to win on the team are different than the rules for the individual, the event itself in the UKI event itself. So I think that draws some people in, too, as if they want to try out for that team, they gotta be at this event. - Yeah, that's true. - All right, next on the list after US Open, we have EO tryouts, December
3rd. Oh, wait, sorry. I've got to go back real quick 'cause I don't think we talked about the COVID precautions for the US Open, which I thought were really great also. - Yeah, the US Open actually put in their premium that anyone attending the Open, whether you're a competitor, vendor, friend of a competitor, you must present proof of COVID vaccination. So with our entry, I actually had to
scan in and send in my proof of my vaccination. Now, if you are not fully vaccinated, then what you must do is you must present a clear COVID test within 72 hours before the event. and you have to wear a mask at all times. Now, if you did submit your COVID card and your proof of vaccination, you still need to wear your mask when social distancing isn't possible.
So walk-throughs, awards, hallways, that kind of thing, but you are allowed to take it off when you run. So, at the US Open of eight rings, I think only two are inside, they're like big indoor arena type. The rest are all outside. So, it will allow us to take them off when we run and then keep on for when we can't distance. If you are not vaccinated, you
must keep it on at all times. - Awesome. - I like it. - And given the big numbers, I think this is a little bit of a proof of concept here. - Right, yeah. - Competitors are willing to do that. I would say, probably, a majority, given what I know about the demographics of agility in this country, both gender and age, you know, are going to be vaccinated,
more than half are going to be vaccinated. They were giving you a route if you're one of the people who cannot be vaccinated or choose not to be vaccinated as well, you can still participate. And it seems pretty reasonable. - All right, so then we go to EO tryouts December 3rd through the fifth. - Those are really close together. - I know. - It's like every couple of
weeks. - I know, right. - I see now, we haven't mentioned this but, Jennifer, you have a child. I know we've got two kids. And the other big fall event, of course, is school, right, on top of everything else. - School, yes. - So, you're doing all of this and I feel like, even though we have a junior in high school, he's practically an adult, we're getting-- -
He drives himself-- - He drives himself to school and practice, right. So once the kids can drive, it's like, you get to minus a kid and, in fact, they can even help out with the other kids, right, and take out the dogs or whatever, so it's like almost we have an assistant if we really needed it, but you've got that kid. He can't drive yet, close. (Jennifer laughs)
But not yet, how old is he now? - The golf cart, maybe. - How old is he now? - Yeah, I mean, as we were writing out the list of all these events starting with this past weekend, who I took my kid to, by myself, my husband stayed home. I took my son with me, just me and him in the RV out to St. Louis, I'm like this
list is just like my fall stress list. All the events I got to prep for, get the dogs ready for, work on the travel arrangements, which ones is he coming to, which ones is he staying home for. So, yeah, he is staying busy with school. Cross country is almost over, so that will help a little bit as he has cross country three days a week and then meets
on the weekends, so it's balancing that out. So yeah, and then we gotta throw Thanksgiving in there and the holidays, your end-of-the-year holidays, Christmas and all that. - Yeah. - So yeah, EO tryouts, the best part about EO tryouts for me, is it's only about three hours from home. So where these other trips are big endeavors, Cynosports, I will be taking Ethan for part of the trip because
my husband works weekends and he's out of school. Ethan is out of school on a couple of those days, so he'll be coming with me, but even tryouts, a nice easy three-hour drive and it's only a two-day event. So, Saturday, Sunday, two-run Saturday, two-run Sunday, much easier to just slip away, go show, come back home for. Now, Friday is a practice day, right. But, potentially, with like an
afternoon practice time, I don't need to leave home until, you know, late morning and still make it over there. - Right, and where's the event being held this year? - It's in Latrobe at the BNB Sport. It's the same facility it's been at the last several years. So it's over, I think, Pittsburgh is the nearest airport, but it's in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. - Gotcha, okay, all right. So that's
December, the weekend of the fourth, fifth. Okay, and what's up after that? I mean, we're right into Christmas now. - Right. - Invitational! - Next week, the invitational. - And it's always right there near the holidays. I think that's a big lure for a bunch of people is kind of going to Florida right before the holidays or getting away. I know a lot of people that go to
the invitational, make it a little vacation as well. - Right, right, especially, I guess from where y'all were, it's like really cold, then it's like a nice, temperate, you know, 60 degrees or something like that in December in Florida, that's kind of like the same weather we have here in Houston. So that's December 18th and 19th and of course, that's only for those who were invited and that's
all been, you know, set in stone in the early summer. So people know whether they're going to that event or not but that's one. So you don't have to do that one, Jennifer, right? - Yeah, last year was the first year I didn't attend for the first time in a while now. I've never been to the invitational with my own dog. I competed many years ago now, but
the last two to three, three to four, I went and coached last year with COVID and the uncertainty, I did not go. So I missed the last year and I missed it this year as well. So I get that weekend off. - Yay, all right. So, and then we'll go ahead and talk about this one, even though it's, now we're going into 2022, but I want to mention
it because this is an event that has not opened yet and so competitors still have the opportunity to decide if they want to do this. And that is the Westminster Masters Agility Championship. That's going to be January 22nd. So, historically, it's usually been like the first week of February, except for last year where it moved to July because of COVID, they moved it. - Oh, wow, they really
moved it up then. - Right, so it's moved up a little bit, but the big thing about this is it opens November 17th and this is a trial which has always filled on opening day. So anybody who is considering about doing it, you have that day marked on your calendar. You have to get your entry in on that day, November 17th. So even though the event itself is
in 2022, I wanted to highlight it for those who are looking at their fall calendar that that November date is coming up here, November 17th for the Westminster Agility Championship. And I would say, I mean, just a general state of things, I would say that I would expect all of these events to happen. I, personally, this is just my personal opinion, I think we're kind of past the
days, especially here in the United States, we're past the days of things getting canceled. Like everybody puts precautions in place, and then they continue to have the events that they have planned. But I think for things like the US Open and trying out for the team and the EO tryouts, I think there, you have to, you have to understand that nobody really knows in terms of international travel
and events happening internationally, and then even if they happen internationally, those places allowing, you know, a country, all the countries to come, I still think that part of agility is up in the air, right? We haven't seen these big major events come back yet. And so we're holding tryouts on the hope that these big international events will be able to happen in 2022, but I don't think anybody
can give any guarantees. And so people have to expect that they could go, make the EO team and then never actually be able to go. But I think the events themselves are so exciting and gratifying, like if you go and you smack down some amazing runs at the EO team tryouts, like, that's going to be a fun event for you, even if it never goes beyond that. -
I like the idea of using a lot of these tryout events as endpoints. - Yes. - So you may be someone who's like, well, even if I made the team, I wouldn't go because I don't want to, for example, maybe fly my large dog in cargo over whatever 14 hours, 16 hours, you know, we're simply not going to do that. And so this becomes your championship event. Courses
are really great, they're big, maybe you don't normally compete on those kinds of courses and it would be great for your whatever, you know, your really fast dog, or your large strided dog or whatever. So I think it's fine to treat those as the end point type events, you know. - I, 100%, agree. I mean, even before COVID, there's a ton of people that will go to these
events, knowing that they're not actually going to go, you know, whether or not it's canceled by the organization or not, they're going for the experience to run on those courses and I think you're right, it's a great way to set some goals and set that end point. So, whether or not the events happen, they're very exciting events and I think you'll see a lot of people going, regardless
of the outcome of those international events. - Yeah, there are a lot of fun. I can say for AKC folks because I'm pretty much exclusively an AKC competitor. I have not done a UKI trial and it has been well over 10 years since I ran it a USDAA trial. AKC, a lot of our big events are on dirt. AKC nationals every year is on dirt. And when you
go to the tryouts, they're indoor facilities. And so the traction for the handler is different, right. It's one of the few places where your speed actually increases a little bit relative to the dog's speed because we're getting you off on dirt and onto the surface. And the course of yardage for all these international courses really increases. So it's a very different style of running and handling. It's a
lot of fun. get some variety in your diet, in your agility diet. So I really enjoy that. I had one other random thought about COVID and seasonal patterns, because there's a question from a scientific perspective, like what is going to happen to COVID and five years, 10 years, 20 years and does it become a seasonal thing like the flu and which version of the flu and, at least
in our very, very small sample size since COVID has been here, it looks like we're getting two peaks a year, right. That's just right now. And I think it would be pretty solid for these agility organizations to notice that, right. And maybe plan some of your events to happen in the valleys rather than the peaks, right. So rather than have knowing the cases are going to spike at
a given time, pretty consistently, well, maybe let's move some of our events off of that. Right? And let's get most of your trialing and qualifying done. I think they they've been very good about being flexible there, lowering the requirements and standards, I think that's why you're gonna see-- you've seen this. Like, you were mentioning to me, Jen, about US Open, qualifying at an Open event. I mean, that's
obviously going to be a much more popular. And if you put that event and you have really good precautions and it's happening at a time when cases are not through the roof and 2000 Americans are dying a day, or a week, or what have you, then, you know, I think people are more likely to attend. - Do you think that's a factor that Westminster took into account to
bumping up their event? - I have no personal-- - They only bumped it up two weeks. - I have no personal insider knowledge, but this is a very, in my opinion, savvy move by Westminster based on the available data, but who knows what's going to happen this year, who knows how it's going to respond to a vaccination and the boosters and if there's going to be a new
variant that, you know, rips through the unvaccinated population. - Yeah, Westminster moved up two weeks, I think. They used to be, as you said, February, now they're January. And they changed their location. - This is the first time. - And they went back to the MOC. So they've changed quite a few things. - Yes. - Yeah. - I mean, this is the first I've heard of this and
I am super interested in the reasoning why? And I don't know. - Yeah, so I don't think we can read too much into too many of these things, because I would say they moved the location because like a ship literally like crashed into the pier. - And the pier needs repairs, yes. - But they used to have this event-- - They only moved it a couple piers down,
which is probably what affected the date. - Right, so then they moved to like last year was the big change, that was strictly due to COVID. Now this is really just kind of moving it back to the way it was and the same with the MOC. They had been requiring the MOC, they lowered the requirements because I think they were really uncertain how many people would be willing
to do an event like Westminster in the COVID era, especially because when they put out the information on it, we're talking about the one that happened this past July, they had to kind of plan it several months before the event. And so, then, there's all this uncertainty about are cases going to go up or down, and how many people are going to enter in then pull, and all
of this stuff, and so I feel like this is pretty much a return to the original idea of this is an event of champion dogs, that's why it's a MOC, right. It's a champion of champions sort of thing. So, yeah, I don't read that much into to those changes, the MOC and the pier and all of that. - Okay. - All right. - We'll see, we'll see. -
All right, well, I think we have covered the very jam-packed calendar that we have coming up here in the fall in the United States and kind of where we see things going. - It's fall! - It's fall. - Everybody be on the lookout for the Great Pumpkin. Oh, I was thinking the other day, you know, there's an entire generation of kids who have no idea what we're talking
about. (Jennifer laughs) Wait, Jennifer, you understand the Great Pumpkin reference? - Yes, I do, yes. Yeah, like we all grew up with, you know-- - Charlie Brown. - Yeah, yeah. - But my son would have no idea. - Our kids, too. Hannah tried to watch it and she thought it was too boring and slow. The only part she liked is when the teacher goes, wah-wah-wah-wah. She thought that
was hilarious. She's like, oh, that's so true! But, otherwise, it just wasn't for her. - Yeah. - Oh, well, that's all right. That's all right. All right, well, happy fall, everybody and happy training. (upbeat music) - Thank you for listening to Bad Dog Agility. We hope you enjoyed today's episode. For more information, updates and links to all our socials, just check out our website www.BadDogAgility.com. If you haven't
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