March 10, 2022

Episode 304: UKI in 2022 with Greg Derrett

In this episode (49:53)

UKI co-founder Greg Derrett joins the podcast talk about UKI in North America, including the US Open, cup events, and the new West Coast Open.

You Will Learn

  • How UKI started as an organization created by competitors, for competitors.
  • Why UKI created the West Coast Open.
  • How many members UKI has in North America.
  • The difference between a “Cup” event and a “Classic” event.
  • How the bye system works in UKI.

Mentioned/Related

(upbeat music) - Welcome to "Bad Dog Agility", 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 host, Jennifer, Esteban, and Sarah. - I'm Jennifer. - I'm Esteban. - And I'm Sarah, and this is episode 304. Today's podcast is brought to you by HitItBoard.com and the new Teeter TeachIt, an 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 BDA 10 to get 10% off your order, that's HitItBoard.com. Today we are joined by Greg Derrett, longtime competitor household name in the agility community, and he and his wife, Laura, created the organization UKI, which now has become very popular here in the United States. I think in terms of entries is getting more entries than the USDAA, a step behind

AKC, but definitely on the rise. And we just had the US Open in the fall, and some announcements were made for the upcoming year and people had questions about some of the changes. So we wanted to have 'em on this podcast today to go through what's new, but also give those of you who are not familiar with UKI a little view into the organization and the events that

it supports. So welcome to the podcast, Greg. - Hi, how you guys doing today? - We're doing good. - Thanks for having me. - An introduction. - I know, all in one breath, right? - So name, I like that. - Well, I mean, definitely at least in our household, let's put it that way. So we wanted to start off first for, to kind of bring people up to

speed who aren't as familiar with UKI. So give us just a short history of UKI, like when you started it, why you started it, and kind of what makes UKI special? - Well, I guess we originally started in the United Kingdom with UK Agility, and that was in 2004. And that was basically Kennel Club is, or has been the only organization in Great Britain since the start of

all dog sport. And we just felt there was a market for an alternative and a need from alternative, basically to keep The Kennel Club on the toes a little bit, but also to offer a different way to compete. Kennel Club back then was very much a win system. So unless, when you had to beat 400 dogs to progress out of beginners, for example, so it was a very

competitive and didn't, it was good in one respect for the sport but not so good for other dogs. So we came in with sort of UK ethos of agility for all dogs wanting high level competition, but also to create different heights and a different progression. So we were running six or seven years. And at that time I was doing a lot of seminars in North America. And every

time I came over, it was, "Can you bring it here? Can you bring it here?" Was constantly asked. So in 2010 we sort of made the decision to, "Okay, well, we'll try it in North America and move across the states." And really the ethos point was, at heart I'm a dog trainer, a competitor, and I've got an idea of how agility should be run without all the politics

of Kennel Clubs and organizations. And that's kind of how we run the organization with that at the forefront of our decision making, is that it should be about dog agility and the sport and nothing else, and trying to make it the best it can be for competitors more than anyone else that's involved on the outside of the sport. So that's kind of the history, and we've grown fairly

rapidly. We're approximately about 14,000 members in North America. We've just got into Mexico, we've got a few shows in Singapore and Australia, so it's kind of, it's gradually creeping around. But UKI, the main focus is the US and Canada really, and that's where we're largest. - I think it shows our age in the sport that we think of UKI as a new thing. 'Cause when you said 2012,

did you say? Or 2010? - 10. - 2010 here. I mean, that's like, we're past the decade mark and everything, and I thought, "Wow, I guess it really isn't all that new anymore." But I think that if people go and read the rule book, it becomes apparent how much it really is built around the competitor. Like I know that that's what you say, and I know that's what's

on your website, but I am constantly impressed by how every decision that is made really comes at it from what is the best for the competitor. So I think it is a really, a cool thing that you've done to be able to come in as a competitor and build an entire organization that is now as popular as it is. - I see. It's good to hear that you

guys think that, so, yeah. But that, I mean, that really is it's always whenever we have a role discussion, it's like, "What would we want as a competitor? What do I think needs to improve as a competitor? It's where we're from. And it's really, we don't know any other way, I guess is probably the best way to look at it is that, that really is our thought from

my thought from a 12 year old kid competing all the way through to a few years later. It's been that, what would I like to do? And what should it be? What should a competition look like? - In my experience, not just to account what you want as an exhibitor, but I feel like you listen to your competitors a lot as well, as a person who does UKI

and a competitor of UKI. I think you guys take the feedback that hear, and you really, really work hard to accommodate the competitors and the exhibitors a lot. - Yeah, I think it's important that you can go into sort of customer relations and everything like that, but actually the person that knows agility best is competitor, and the guys on the ground are telling you what's wrong. There's obviously

everybody wants rule changes for their dogs and their current situation, but you have to be very mindful of not all rule ideas are great, 'cause they are very specific to, "My dog would do better if you did this." And you have to look after sport. But on the whole, when you hear lots of people telling you there's a problem, it's normally true, and it's normally needs addressing. So,

that's really, if one person's asked for rule change, well, but if 50 people from all over the country are asking for rule change or improvements, or what we could do, then let's listen to them because they probably know more than we do. - That's awesome. So let's start with what is new for 2022? One of the things that really got people buzzing was that you announced an inaugural

West Coast US Open. So the US Open is an event that happens every year, it just happened this fall. It doubles as a national event and as a tryout event for the WAO. So tell us a little bit about this new event that's being added. Like why are we having a second Open? - So I mean, it's a separate event. So the US Open will still be the

US Open, and that will be the main national event, and main way to get on WAO team. The reason for the West Coast Open is demand in the West Coast is growing. A constant call for us to take the US Open across to the West Coast. However, we are, being bland, we are all much much bigger on East Coast. And when we bring a team of 20 guys

over from the UK to run the event, we need a certain amount of people turning up to help us basically pay that bill on that one. So we are looking to sort of see what the demand is on the West Coast. People love these type of event, it seems to be that. It's where agility is gone the last 10 years. They want tournament styles, cup style events. Not

just in North America, but if you look throughout Europe now, there's all sorts of different Opens. Naming them throughout, most countries now have their own Open event, Polish Open, Hungarian Open, Arabia Open, Czech Open. And it's where everybody's going, and what they wanting. And they want that kind of high level event, and certainly at the highest level of the sport, maybe not the lower level, but the higher

level. So obviously, the US is a big country, and traveling from one coast to the other to compete is quite a commitment. So the idea is to have a very similar format of event, and long term, if it takes off on the West Coast, then we could be looking at one year the US Open will be on the West, and there'll be an East Coast Open, and then

the following year it'll flip back. So there'll be the West Coast Open and the US Open will be on the East. So that's kind of a thought we could be going towards. It really does depend on the uptake and the popularity of it in California or on that side of the states, of whether we do that. But that's certainly something that's in our planning, if it works really.

And it's trying it, this year, it's we've made the events slightly different. Some events are similar, the biathlon in the games, we put pentathlon there. Instead of the US Open, we only want one US Open event, the UK national, sorry. So that will stay at the US Open. So instead of having a nationals, we put on a pentathlon, which is a WAO event, which we've not done before,

that type of event. So similarities, but a few changes and a few differences to keep it a bit unique. - Excellent, okay. That totally for me clarifies, and it was not at all the way, I was thinking of the event. So I think that'll be very helpful for everybody listening. So it really is like a standalone event that's similar to the US Open, but the US Open is

still the US Open, and that's the nationals, and that's the tryouts and all of that. - I mean, it's there to give people that don't wanna travel 3000 miles across the states an event that's similar, to give them experience. I think, as you try and develop a sport as well, people need access to these big events, in my opinion. I'm also, one of my other jobs is GBT

manager for the FCA, WEC and EO. And one of my big pushes to people is that where you get good agility is by competing at big events under pressure. And if you hide from them, you won't develop those skills, and you can be brilliant at that local show, but you've gotta step up and learn how to compete when you've got the scary people like Jen Crank standing next

to you. So I think it's good for the lower level people that aren't going to travel across state, but they can also go and experience an event like this and decide, "Yeah, this is for me, I do want to get better. This is something I will travel for." And they learn how to do that, and how to compete at club event. So that's also, in our thinking, a

little bit to help. I'm probably wrong to say this but, politically wrong, but people say that the East Coast is currently a lot higher standard than the West Coast. Now I personally don't know that, but that's the feedback we are getting from competitors. And maybe that's because we've had the US Open on the East Coast for the last eight years. And it's, we did run the US Open

on the West Coast for a couple of years back in 2010, 2011, I think 2012. But since then we've been on East Coast, and maybe the development on the East Coast has been because they've got this type of event and this style of agility to aim for and compete at. Whereas maybe the other nationals don't push the level as hard as the US Open has. They'll always say

that, causing too much flak. - No, I agree 100% that you're gonna get better at just being a competitor in dealing with your mental game, the more of these bigger events that you go to. And for so long it was always, you could go to your local show, and then you could once a year go to a national event. So, and that's in a lot of organizations. But

like I was super excited when you guys added Classics and Cups, and that was something that UKI added maybe two or three years ago, and that was kind of like took it to the next level and then we all flocked to those and loved those, and then now this West Coast Open kind of giving us one more level up. So the more of these opportunities that come to

the competitors, the better we're gonna get as a whole, and I think that's gonna do nothing but be a positive for our sport. - I mean, that's really the Cups and Classics. We're again, to give people an exposure to a slightly higher level than a local show and bit pressure of gaining by ease, and just more people coming into that area. Which, I guess from my knowledge of

USDA, that's what the regionals kind of did. So it was kind of a look at that, but also though trying to create that tournament style that you're gonna see at, not just in UKI but also we you get to WAO, and also you really look at EO and AWC, FCI, they're tournament stars really. It's one or two runs, but you've still gotta progress through at the EO. You've

gotta get through that individual team, and AWC, you've gotta put your two runs together over a couple of days. So all of that stuff is aiming for those type of events, and the more we can encourage people to improve the better the sport gets, in my opinion. And it makes us our job easier when the standards higher as well, so. - Well, the two of you just made

my job easier because this is the perfect segue to asking about the Cups and the Classics and Buys, which you have mentioned. So what are the differences between the Cup and the Classic? Like, what, is it just name? - I guess the Cup's slightly higher level on the competitor. And also, it really depends on what your goals are for the event, but the Cups will give you a

buy into the nationals, whereas the Classics give you a buy into the speed stakes. And there's a couple of other things that they move you into, but the Cups just a slightly higher tournament level, I would just on the two. When we started with Cups, and they were just so popular and basically trial managers just screaming that they wanted them, and we don't want to water the Cups

down, so there's 500 Cups a year. We want 'em to stay five or six a year. And so the Classics was sort of an alternative that we could appease some trial managers that wanted Cups that weren't gonna get them, and also just give another, a format of competing. So Classics, again, are similar but there's a few variations depending on which one it is. And I think now we've,

I think it's seven or eight in the US and five and six in Canada of each type. So, yeah. Then, so the buys for the US Open, I mean, it was one thing to actually clarify that the US Open, anybody can enter, you don't have to ever do UKI to enter, everything of the US Open. And that's one of the misconceptions at times is that people think they

need buys, and you don't, the buys help you progress further. So if you turn up and have a disastrous day one at the US Open, a buy will save you basically to get out of jail card almost, but you don't need to ever get a buy to attend the Open. And the word open is that's really what we want the US Open to be, it's open to everybody,

everyone could turn up and enter every single event. The buys just give you a bit of safety basically. - So Jennifer, sorry, go ahead. - No, go. - So Jennifer, I wanted to ask you from your perspective as a competitor, how important are those buys? How hard are you gonna work to get them before the Open versus, as Greg did said, just showing up to the Open. And

what's a good buy strategy for people who are thinking about coming to, they know they definitely are gonna go to the Open. That's their big event for the year, they're gonna go, maybe this is their first year. How do you approach getting those buys? - I think the answer can be a little bit different for everyone with regard to their goals. So for me last year, I did

not do any local UKI, we do not have very many in our area, and they always fell on weekends that I had stuff going on, but I did decide to go to a cup. And the reason I made the effort to go to the cup is because I wanted to buy. And what I like about the Cups for my busy schedule is there only two days, so it's

just a Saturday, Sunday. The one that I attended was only Saturday, Sunday, versus I feel like more and more events are getting thrown out, like, "Oh, a warm op on Thursday and then a three-day event." So I went to the Cup and I really focused on it more for the two that I was going to be trying out for WAO. Because of the way that the selection process

worked for WAO, you want to get further in the progressions. So the buy at the Cup into the nationals round to the finals is a big part of the scoring system for our WAO team selection. So dogs that don't make it into the national final are deducted a lot of points from our WAO trial process. So one of the dogs that I tried out with, I got the

buy at the Cup, the other dog I did not, and it turns out that I was able to go to the US Open and win on the all around spot anyway. So in the end, I went with no buys, no local shows with B, and still was able to get the all around win on spot. But it's much nicer, especially if there is a run. Once you get

to the Open that doesn't go well, like Greg said, kind of get outta jail, or there's a run that for whenever maybe you've injured a muscle and you need to skip a run. If you already have the buy, you can bypass that round, or maybe do a little bit of training if you already have the buy, like use the preliminary run to do a little bit of training

on your contacts. I mean, a lot of it it's just your mental game, to go in there and say, "Okay, I'm gonna do a nice job, but I know I already have the buy." So for me, the buys are huge, they were big, not enough that I went to a Classic because the buy there isn't as significant, but I've gone with dogs that didn't have buys and it's

still a great event. You just have to work your skills a little more and a little bit better with your mental game. But what I like about the US Open, and we've talked about it on past podcasts, is there's different events, it's not like all on one in class. So if you have a bad run in one of the classes, you might not progress in that particular tournament,

but then there's a different class, a different event, that you maybe can do well in. So I encourage people to try to get buys, but they're buys 'cause they're hard to get. And you're gonna go to these Cups and these Classics and you're gonna be up against some really good competition. So I would encourage people to go for 'em, but don't be discouraged if they don't get a

buy. The US Open is celebrate event to go to, even if you're walking in with no buys at all. - I remember for like way back when from our USDA days that I felt like buys could be really helpful for teams that were fast, but had an Achilles heel, So bars or contacts. So if you've got a dog that can win, but sometimes faults out for those reasons,

you can go to several events, get, have your good run that happens at the right time, you get your buy, and then if you miss that contact on the day of the event, you've got the buy to get you out of agility jail. - I mean, the other thing to mention is buys can also just be achieved at the local shows as well if you get enough clear

rounds in those. You don't need to go to Cups and Classics to get 'em. There's certain types of buys that are only available at Cups and Classics, but there are the normal buy. The big thing to always encourage people to do is go to the webpage and look, we've got a tracker on there that explains it in nice black and white. And I dunno how many messages we

get a year where people ask about buys and we just say, "Open the tracker and you'll be able to see everything you need to do." So anyone looking for that information on what buys, which way they take you, if you just go to the webpage, click on US Open, the first thing you'll see is a tracker, open that document and it's nice in black and white for you

on what, the different ways to get to the different events. - And we will put a link directly to that on the Show Notes page for anybody who is looking. I actually had in my outline for the podcast, talking about the teams and the team selection and the WAO. But I think that it's actually a little too complicated to just off the cuff talk about, and it's probably

better for people to go to that tracker, to use that for the buy, or talk to somebody in your local area who does a lot of UKI that can help do it. But we were talking a little bit before this podcast about how, reading the full premium, reading the description of the events that you're planning on doing. In any organization, I encourage people to read through because sometimes

there are just little subtleties that can make a difference in how you approach and how the scoring is done. And people really need to take that time to fully understand the rules of what it is that they're entering. - I think with rules, and again another thing that we've tried to do with UKI, WAO or UK, is they're written for the competitor. So they're not that scary rule

book that's just deepen, so many different clauses and stuff, it tries to be a bit more black and white and hopefully written for agility person to understand a bit. It's not sort of a law book, it's about this is how the event works and these are the rules. So hopefully things like the tracker are actually very simple to understand if you just sit and just read them. That

they're not the complicated things that you see with some of the chemical rule books, for example, that get to great depth and stuff on sort of almost a lawyers speak rather than just black and white agility. So we have tried to write them to help as well. Basically, I don't have the skills to write lawyer stuff, so. - I'm gonna jump in here as the newbie and admit

that I've never ran at a UKI trial. I've never run a course, maybe we did a practice course, but I've never done it. And I think in the my most recent 10 years, it's been almost exclusively AKC, the American Kennel Club, because of our limited time. And so we just focus on the one venue here. And I I think there are probably a lot of people who are

like me, and they're hearing now about UKI and there's a whole generation of people, coming out of COVID, I think. New dogs, new puppies, their dogs are two or three now, like our young dogs are two and three. And now they are interested, but kind of the only world they know, and the courses they know are AKC. So when we talk about out course design and options, how

are they different from what you might see at your typical AKC local trial? And I wanna start here with Greg, first of all, are you kind of familiar with the kind of courses we're putting up at national events and local trials and things like that? It's very different. - My knowledge of AKC is limited, if I'm honest. We hear a lot of negative stuff about AKC courses from

where we sit. And again, I don't have time to look at AKC courses 'cause it's just, it's but my opinion or what we're told on those is they're very controlled, judges are very, they have to sort of tick certain boxes. What we try and do with UKI, and it's more of the European feel is that the judges are the designer, they're there to design, they're the expert on

the design. And there's guidelines, and there are obviously rules to like straight approach to contact is in today's sport is a must. So that's a hard and fast rule, although it's not in a lot of organizations, it's incredibly still at the stage. But we try and have a lot more flexibility, allow the judges to design with flow, space and distances more. We have changed our course approval in

the last six months, or even less, to be honest. Laura has traditionally done every course, and approved every course throughout UKI, which was getting to a point where her life was literally 70, 80 hours a week on approving courses. So we had to make some changes and we brought in some five or six guys who were respected in America, North America's competitors. and judges obviously, and course designers.

And we've looked at people that we think understand the type of course designs that we want in UKI, which is about the speed, the flow, the safety aspect of course design. And also the challenges to be level-appropriate, which is really important. If you look at some courses, they are designed to be very, very high level. We do want that for the high level people, but we also want

the beginner dog to be treated correctly. So they've got courses that develop them as a beginner, and that's quite a skill for a judge. And if you have them to set up certain things and certain traps, I think you can lose that design aspect of the what's good for a young dog and what flows, and what creates that gradual increase of skill in the competition ring, which is

a vital. It's vital for our dogs to learn what. The Classic phrase of how great their dog is at home, but it can't do it in a competition ring. Well, that's probably because the competition ring hasn't allowed that handler to develop the dog properly because they've not been progression through the levels like they should be. So one of our big things is to make sure judges understand that

you're designer for beginner dog, you're designing for a beginner dog and it needs to be appropriate. And as you go up those levels, you should be able to justify why it's now a harder level. So, but there's a lot more freedom, I guess, in our course design compared to perhaps AKC, which is, I'm not an expert on that, but that's why I get told. And we've already taken

the European ethos where, until UKA in Great Britain, and still in Europe, there is no course approval. A judge can turn up and build what they want, nobody ever looks at it. So when you see some of these European courses, they will only have been seen by that judge. Some of the big events the like AWC and EO, there is a little bit of approval, but still very

much on the judge to design what they want to design. So, and if you're looking at some of the European designs at the moment with big distances that are beginning to come in, you can see that no one's approving them 'cause they're all illegal. 'Cause especially maximum being a 7-meter dog path currently. it's slightly changing in 23, but currently is a 7-meter distance. You're in straight line distance,

you're allowed, that's it. And you're seeing some of these guys designing nine, 10 meters, well, that shows you no one's approving them. There's a lot of freedom, which is good, and they can be bad as well, obviously, with no approval. But I think that's, an outline of our course design sort of ethos, safety but level-appropriate, and also challenging. As a competitor, I always wanted it to be challenged.

If you walk away thinking, "Oh that was five easy runs today, I didn't get. I got my five clear rounds and without breaking sweat. That is nice in one respect, but the end of the day it's an not gonna improve the sport, and it's not gonna improve me." So that's also something we want, it's a level appropriate, challenging people at the right level. But with safety also at

the forefront, obviously now, even more so now safety's a huge topic in course design, and a very difficult topic. The biggest problem we have as an organization is that when people don't like something, they throw out the safety word to try and get a rule change, and that's makes it difficult because the minute someone says, "Oh, that's dangerous." You have to consider whether it is or not. And

then, and that's always gonna be an opinion, it's never gonna be a black and white answer on safety. Because at the end of the day we're doing, our dogs are hitting what? 30 miles an hour at times, and only going at a lot of speed with bits of wood, metal and plastic in front of them, it's never gonna be 100% safe. So there has to be some understanding

of that as well. But that's the most difficult courses issue at the moment, I think personally is safety, getting the balance right. - You've covered a lot of different topics there, and you segued perfectly into some of the things that I wanted to talk about. So let me just take a moment to back up. First I think on safety, I think all three of us here are in

agreement as far as safety. I think, just overall dog agility is a sport that comes with inherent risk, it's no different than someone playing soccer or you would call it football, football. - You play with feet. - Or basketball or anything like that. Rugby, certainly. But when I come back and I think about AKC, and I think about my own experiences over the last 10 years, the two

things that really jumped out to me, and part of it was working with a dog who would knock bars in certain situations but not all situations. One is there is very often what I would consider tight spacing for dogs, as small as jumping in the 16 inch class, where their front feet would only hit the ground twice before they would have to get up and take off. And

you'd throw in a turn there and suddenly you're dropping bars. Whereas if they can get their feed down three times or four times, they can make the proper adjustments, and bar knocking diminishes somewhat, if not a lot. So spacing flow, certainly. And when people hear this, especially people who run bigger dogs or people who have dogs that drop bars occasionally, UKI starts to sound really good. Greg, you

come on here, you start talking about this, and then they're like, "Okay, I'm gonna do that." But there's a caveat here. They're looking over at FCI courses. And when they think about non-American courses, in their head they're thinking those huge courses with the young handlers who are running around with the border colleagues that are highly trained, and they might conflate the two, UKI and FCI, and say, "UKI

isn't for me." That would be their concern there. And it's interesting because you are the manager now for Great Britain for these big FCI events. - Yeah. - Is it gonna be enough for your people? So I guess these are two related questions. Is it enough for your team members to just train on UKI type courses and succeed in FCI? And what is the distinction between UKI and

FCI such that the average American competitor can say, "Okay, let me try UKI." - I think you have to also realize what you're looking at sometimes on Facebook. So what you see as the typical FCI course tends to be probably a massive high-level event, and isn't an FCI trial, it's AWC or EO or one of these Opens that we spoke about earlier, Dania Cup, Moravia, those kind of

things. They designed those events for the highest level competitors. They're not designed for the, it's not a normal trial. If you had to a normal FCI trial, you won't see those challenges, you won't see those. You'll see a more reasonable course, I guess you wanna say that. And I think that's where people have to remember that you get an impression, and we get an impression here in England.

We look at the European course and like, "Oh my God, they're so technical." But we only have a look at the high-level events. If you look at all the high level events here, and I only looked at them in America, if you only ever looked at say Cups and Classic courses, they're gonna look very different to the local trial courses, and the course designed for the beginner. And

that's something that it's difficult to get a point across, but when you go enter an event and when you're judging an event, you need to be designing for that event, or as a competitor you need to be going there prepared for that event. And if you don't wanna do high level FCI courses, don't enter AWC, 'cause that's what you're gonna get. But you can enter the FCI local

trial if you live in France or Germany, and you're gonna get a course that suited to your dog. So I think there needs to be that balance of what people's understanding of what they're watching at times on courses. Because if I watch football, I watch champions league football, and I watch the guys playing, Liverpool, Milan is tomorrow night, for example. So we're gonna watch some of the best

players in the world playing tomorrow night on TV. If I go down the local football pitch, I'm not gonna play guy that level, I'm gonna be paying some flat old 45-year-old men like myself that are gonna be falling over, very little skill, and very little fitness. So it's still the same sport, but it's a different level that I'm competing at. And therefore all that needs to be taken

into consideration. So yes, UKI, the highest level, for a US Open if we brought in a European judge, which we do, we would expect him to be designing the difficult courses in the master's agility, but in the speed stakes final, we want a nice Open blast that anyone within the slightest skill can get around, because that's the idea of that particular event. So we've got variety as well

in even at our big events, but our local events that is definitely something that course app rovers are very aware of. They need to be designing for a local trial, it's a local trial, so. - I think that's- - And as somebody who's done, as somebody who's done local cups and then the US Open, I 100% agree with Greg's last comment. When we have our local shows, 'cause

we hold trials at my facility, it's a local show. And we have really nice courses and anybody could show up. You're not walking into Columbus, Ohio, and competing at the WAO. So I think as Greg said, people think, "Oh, UKI." And they're envisioning maybe like a AWC or WAO or EO, and there's different levels and different classes. And I think the best way to really figure out is

enter a show, go try it out, check it out. But I agree 100% with what Greg said about what your expectations are given the different event and the different classes. - I think that's very well put, especially when you talk, Greg mentioned the social media. And I think social media is something, it plays such a huge role in today's sport. And we don't really talk about it because

no one notices it. We all kind of acknowledge it, but we never really talk a about it. The impact that it has on a course design, the selective pressure on judges, when competitors are out there in complaining, or they're praising this judge for that course or whatever. But definitely this, I'm not sure if it falls under the category of confirmation bias, where you're seeing these courses. And I

think even we're guilty of that. So in recent years, what I've done, as part of our online membership training program, every month, I'm breaking down a map and a handler run from a big event. Well now you've got 12 months of complex difficult maps, and then these big events from AWC, EO, and stuff like that. But I've thrown in there an A1 type map, an A2 jumping map

from Europe. So people can see, this is what the lower level competitors are doing. So I've tried to move away to give them a broader view and a different sampling. And I think as I guess, kind of leaders in the agility community, instructors in general maybe are a little too top heavy, like a little too focused on these big events, and the agility world, it's AWC or bust,

it's world team or bust. And they're not really putting in the work or bringing back to their classes, the skills and the breadth that you need to really develop a strong community of dog handlers who can succeed and enjoy the sport with a wide variety of dogs in a wide variety of settings. So things very interesting what you've done with UKI and all the different options that you're

seeing there. - So to get a, if your goal is to get to that level of AWC, you've still gotta develop that dog through some stages of training and competition. And if you were a two-year-old dog that's, the average two-year-old dog being thrown into some of the courses that you've just seen at the Polish Open, for example, you're gonna blow its mind and you're gonna shut that dog

down. And it's gonna be over faced, and it's probably that's it. So it's also, our judges need to hopefully understand that developing dogs to get to that level is also you've gotta take them through the lower levels, through their training and their competing. And I think that's our judges having traditionally always looked after our dogs. I don't think in helping them develop, they've either made it very simple

course or really hard course. And we've not had enough transition through the levels for dogs to be able to gain skills at shows, which actually I think is a massively important thing is. What you can't reward and punish, for example, at show, but your dog is learning to do behaviors in environments, which is crucial. And they do know the difference, whether we like it or not, they know

that competition environment, and that nerves that goes down the lead from you in a different way you behave and all those kind of things. - Absolutely. - And we need to gradually, as they're faced with those kind of challenges, then also the course difficulty needs to gradually increase as well. So that's what we try and encourage the judges to do. And we are looking at over the next

year to try and bring in some sort of course design training for judges because it is now probably the most important topic. People complain more about course designers than they do about missing contacts. And 10 years ago, they'd complain if a judge called them badly on contact, they don't really anymore. It's the course design that's key. And it's, as obviously as you said, it's a huge topic, it's

huge course design and it's so complicated. And sort of motive on people's opinions. So it's definitely time that we were looking at trying to get some better training into our judges, and that's actually something we're currently putting together with our course approvers and discussing the topics. And actually the biggest thing is narrowing down the number of topics to actually bring into a training situation, because there are so

many topics with course design, and it's focused on maybe the main ones to start off with, and then have a higher level of judge goes onto the more diverse topics. But they're always important, always the whole way through, that's the problem with course design. - My concern about judging is that people are just not gonna wanna judge anymore. Like, why judge all day and work so hard and

design all these courses and spend all this time and invest in your own education, and people are gonna abuse you on social media? - A worldwide massive issue that we need to look after our judges. I think they might have been not here talking about GJP that resulted into a global judging program, which we've traveled around the world doing. And it's a huge problem because judges need help.

And the problem is they make a mistake and then they get ridiculed on Facebook or Instagram and that's it, they quit. And we don't allow our judges to also make mistakes, unfortunately, because when they do make a mistake, it does tend to be, it can be disastrous for that competitor on that day, they've got a bad call, or if it's a course design mistake, it can be a

serious issue. So, but unfortunately people have to make mistakes to learn, and we need to try and help our judges learn faster maybe, and think more in their preparation. I mean, I'm a big believer that most of our judging issues is because people don't do enough work at home on their course design and their thoughts, judges' path and their design issues. So then they're faced with a problem

in the middle of the day and you're in trouble now, 'cause you're in the middle of the day, you've already set this course up, and you're in whatever you do, you can't win. So I think that's something we need, I would like as UKI to develop more is a course design judges' training program. - Interesting. With the rapid growth of UKI here in North America, would you say

that you are asking more of the judges that you have, or you are genuinely getting an influx of new judges over the past two years? - Obviously COVID has made that quite difficult to answer, but we've certainly got a lot of people interested in designing for us because I think they feel the freedom with UKI. So we do hear judges like designing for us. But that also, there's

judges out there that if I'm bland, aren't great designers, and that causes a bit of conflict and issue as well with the approvers and the approval. And I think us, if we can start a good education of them, we would probably, people can see then who is designing good courses that will help encourage judges probably to wanna come across to us 'cause we can train them better. And

I think I've got some good people around me personally in agility that are very, very knowledgeable on course design, and we've got some good guys. Now we be previous that are very, very knowledgeable on course design and have got some great ideas. So I'm hoping that will be like a, I mean, what's the word? Incremental circle, it'll keep, as it starts, it'll develop role, the judges will get

better, then the design teaching will get better. And it's something that we can just keep building on to, to help everybody, not just the organization and the competitors, but also judges as well. And judges that do board organizations, that's the safer course design as we get in other organizations, that's all good as well. Because that's dog's not getting broken because of a stupid approach to a dogwalk or

whatever it is. So I think that's just good all the way through for the sport, if we can improve all judges. - I think one thing that I've said before on the podcast is that I think every competitor should read the judge's rule book for whichever organization that they are competing under. Because I am not a judge, but I have started the process of becoming a judge. I

don't know if I'll ever get to the end point, but just the process was hugely, hugely enlightening for me to understand some of the restrictions that were on course design, especially as you mentioned AKC, there are a lot of restrictions that the average competitor just doesn't even think about, that prevent judges from doing certain things or influence what they are able to do. And I think that it's

not really fair for any competitor to criticize a judge without understanding what restrictions the judge is working under. And so I would encourage all competitors to find the judge's rule book for your organization and read it, and you'll have a better understanding of the influences on course design that aren't even coming from the judge. There are rules that hugely influence what we see in course design. Like course

design rules, how far a judge can be away from certain obstacles, what their path has to look like, what they have to be able to see. Those are like, some of them we have to have, but they are artificial constraints on course design so that maybe what you think is an easy, "Well, why didn't they just do this?" May not be as easy as you think it is.

- I feel like a little bit like I've completely hijacked the podcast from UKI. But let me end then with this. Because I think we have covered everything - Yes. - that at you and Jennifer wanted to cover. But, Greg, what do you think, You know what I think UKI needs or UKA? Well, now I guess it would be UKI specifically in North America. You need to do

what the AKC has done, which is get those television contracts to broadcast their big events. So you need to get the US Open out there, lock up one of these networks. I have no idea what is involved with that, but- - No, mate. That is maybe a next goal to try and get the more exposure to the sport. I mean, we obviously, I thought they could fix all

our events, and they do a great job on the streaming, but. - Or maybe streaming is the answer. Maybe even, maybe they, it's not time here we've got TV. - I mean, we've got. - We've got "Crufts" on starts in couple of days, Thursday. And they, most of their exposure now is streaming, on the main ring streamed for the whole day. And they get a huge following. Obviously

"Crufts" is "Crufts", so it's a different level of dog event to dog agility. It's got so much more exposure with all the other dog sports and obviously confirmation, but they get a huge following on their YouTube channels. So I guess we're changing a lot of Facebook live as well and things like that, you get a lot of exposure, but. Anyone knows about network, giving me a shout, kinda

thing. 'cause it's a way that, that's something I've never really dealt with at all. - No, I think integrating it with social media, I thought the AKC, Westminster and certainly Fox, they were moving in that direction, and now in the last couple years, they've just kind of gone away from the social stuff, the internet streaming, social media type stuff. I mean, it's still there but it could be

done better. And the network is just like, "Well, we're just running this like a TV show and it is what it is." But I think the very successful shows, whether it's other sports, basketball, soccer, football, or just your favorite TV shows, your Netflix series, your "Bridgerton", they're gonna be successful because people are talking about them on social media. And so I think this integrated approach that you're talking

about here at "Crufts", I think that's something that could be very successful for anyone, or for an organization like UKI without necessarily needing to have the big deal with a Fox Sports or an ESPN. Yeah, very interesting. - All right. Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Greg. We hit all of the points that we wanted to hit. We got all of the scoop on the

changes for 2022, and I will definitely get the links on the Show Notes page so that people can follow up with the rules and regulations that you have on the website. - That's the best. Anyone's really got questions, likely our webpages got a lot of information on being, and the rule book being one of the ones with most questions that we get asked. They could very easily find

by looking at the index in a rule book and finding the answer quicker that way. But hopefully the webpages, and our webpages got a lot of information about the Cups, the Classics, the Opens, the two different tournaments. So the Facebook pages, both the Open and the West Coast Open have got our own Facebook pages where we put information up about them. So they're worth just following, just so

you get the notifications that there's an announcement, 'cause normally when we do post on those pages, it's information about the event, which is crucial information. So you know that that's there as well for people to follow along. So thank you. - Thank you for joining us. And that's it for this week's podcast. We'd like to thank our sponsor, HitItBoard.com. 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 already signed up for our email subscription, we would love to have you join the BDA community. Until next time, take care.

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