April 9, 2024

Episode 341: British Agility and the Longines Global Champions Tour

In this episode (21:48)

This week, we’re thrilled to have Anthony Clarke, founder of British Agility, on our podcast. Co-host Jennifer Crank recently competed in the Longines Agility Grand Prix 2024 in Miami, a new agility event held in partnership with the Longines Global Champions Tour. We’ll share insights from both the organizer’s and competitor’s perspectives, giving you an inside look into this new event.

You Will Learn

  • Jennifer’s firsthand insights and highlights from competing in the Longines Agility Grand Prix 2024.
  • How the event promotes dog agility to a wider audience.
  • Behind-the-scenes look at the planning and execution that goes into organizing the event.
  • Insights into the criteria and process for selecting competitors for future events.


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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 Estevan and Sarah. I'm Jennifer. I'm Estevan. And I'm Sarah. And this is episode 341. Today's podcast is brought to you by St. Rocco's Treats It's grace from Hounds of Hack. It's Amber from American Canine Country. It's Cynthia from CH Dog Agility. It's Lindsay from Y two Canines and we love using St.

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Thank you. And you can find a link to St. Rocco's Treats on the show notes page. Today we are joined by a very special guest. We have Anthony Clark joining the podcast. Anthony is a longtime competitor and also the founder of British Agility. Welcome to the podcast Anthony. Hi guys, Thanks for having me. So we wanted to talk today about a very interesting event that just happened over the weekend and our very own Jennifer Crank was at the event it was a,

a dog show that was held in conjunction with a horse show. So kind of a throwback to the roots of agility as part of the Long Jeans Global Champions tour. Jen, tell us about this event. So this past weekend I took Bee down to Miami, Florida and flew down on Wednesday evening to participate, I don't know if competes the right word,

but participate in a really cool opportunity to run dog agility on Miami Beach as kind of an exhibition event that took place at this horse jumping competition. So for me, I didn't know a whole lot about it going into it, it sounded like a really amazing opportunity. It was going to be run over three days. So we did agility on Thursday, Friday,

and Saturday and we kind of were at various points in the day competing between the Horse jumping event. So it was this spectacular event that took place on Miami Beach. And when I say on the beach, if you haven't seen the photos or videos literally on the beach and b and I got to compete along with seven other teams to kind of go side by side with this horse event to compete for I guess the title.

What, what exactly is the, the title that the winner receives Anthony? So The, the title was the British Agility Grand Prix Champion. There we go. Okay, so B and I finished in a second place and it was a really, really cool event. I posted a lot of photos and videos and people were asking me about it and I thought,

well why should I try to provide the information about the event? I'm just gonna bring in the expert. And so that's why we have Anthony on the podcast today. So I'll kind of kick it over to you to Anthony. Tell us a little bit about the event since you have such a huge role in making this all happen. So I was lucky enough last year to be contacted by the organizers of the launching event that were actually hosting one of the heats in London,

one of their kind of protocols is they travel all around the world into multiple different countries hosting the top class show jumping event at multiple iconic locations. So in London it was at the Chelsea Hospital, which is a really, really some kind of like exciting venue to be to be able to go in and compete at. And then we've got Miami Beach, they're off to Mexico City this coming weekend.

They've been in DOA and there's all sorts of different locations that they go to. But the, the idea of the event is creating the best for the best. That is the founders quote, Mr. Y Tops. He basically has put this, this series together where he brings in the best show jumpers from all around the world to compete at these locations to make sure that the sport is being promoted in the best possible way.

And when I was contacted last year about doing a heat with British agility in the London Heat, it was something I jumped at because one of the kind of strap lines that we use for British agility events is creating unique events. And the partnership we've created now with Long Gene and the tour is that we are gonna be traveling with them to several of these different locations and putting on these events for handlers in that country to start with into an exciting tournament going forward.

Awesome. So that is such an interesting idea and and to be going with them all over the world sounds so cool. One of the things that I immediately was curious about was British agility. So being here in the United States, I wasn't familiar with that organization and that's an organization that you founded. So you know, without making this all about British agility,

can you give us a few sentences about like when did British Agility pop up and and what are you doing there? So we started British agility events on a much smaller scale about 10 years ago, looking at building up a tournament event within the uk. So handlers would enter to begin with, there would be two jumping rounds, two agility rounds, and then the top 20 dogs would go into the final for prize money.

And then this over the years has increased in entry and popularity and this year was our biggest event where we saw around 550 dogs enter throughout the, the weekend at multiple different levels. And what we started to see were the, the quality and the desire to come forward into this championship tournament weekend and people really battling out and having to play tactics along the the process,

making sure they kind of understood what each round really meant. And I think that's something sometimes that we forget a little bit in the agility world about tactics. It's sometimes just kind of like all out go fast and hopefully win around, but the consistency sometimes drops. So this linking with the the Longine horse tournament is something that we're looking to try and develop going forward and our partnership is,

is growing more and more. So hopefully we're gonna be able to try and do that in the, the same process as they do with the tour. Wow. So on this global Champions tour, the Miami one is where Jen was, has there been one before this you said now they're at Mexico City. So were they already at London? So the London one is later this year.

Okay. So we part, we, we took part last year at the end of the season and they started in DOA this year they've done doa, they've done Miami Beach, Mexico and then it comes into Europe for a few heats and then goes back out to Shanghai and then back into Europe. And then around the end of the season London starts finishing off in the Czech Republic.

And so then you are going to have this kind of dog agility at all of those locations, Not all of them to start with. We've got five guaranteed for this year. And what we're trying to do is just make sure that the, the growth is positive, obviously making sure that we are working with longing on this process along the way, making sure that everything coincides and works together well.

The communication between us and the organizers is something that we're really working with, with being given certain time slots and being given different opportunities along the way. So it's, it's dramatically changed from the London tour last year to what we just did in Miami and then we're off to Stockholm and then we've got the London tour again later this year, which again, we've already put in place some slightly different protocols and different things that we're gonna try and do to,

to help keep everything fresh and exciting. And then either Jen or or Anthony, whoever you know, can answer this question. So then how are the competitors chosen? How did Jen get to be involved in the Miami one? And then when you go to these other locations, are you pulling competitors like specifically from the host country or you know, how is that working?

Does it all lead up to a mega event at the end? Long term, yes. A hundred percent will be. At the moment it's been an invite event 'cause we weren't sure how everything was gonna happen. To start with the, the launching show jumping is run to such a strict timetable. The times in which we are given to be able to come in and and kind of showcase dog agility in that in the best possible format is something that the competitors and also us as organizers needs to be really flexible.

A lot of their stuff is on live tv, there's different things that happen and we might be given a slightly bit more time or might have some time removed from us. So what I've done is I've worked with people on both last year's London and this Miami event or people I know fairly well and also competitors that can be flexible. They need to be able to,

at this stage whilst we're developing this relationship, understand that things might change last minute. And I know this year all the competitors were told prepare, get ready and then something happened within the, the show jumping ring and we had to sort of stand down for about 10, 15 minutes before being told, right, you're up, you're ready to go. So everyone needs to be kind of accepting of things changing and,

and for me on how I run my events and, and how my brain works in general, it's a really difficult concept but it's something that I think long term is gonna be really beneficial for the, for the dog world and agility going forward. So it's something that I'm putting a lot of time and effort into to develop. Awesome. Well I think this is the perfect time to then ask Jen about your experience.

What was it like, the good and the bad or you know, how did the event work? It was a really cool, unique, awesome experience. Not just the agility part but you know, the whole thing to like show up on the beach and be surrounded by million dollar horses, you know, the best and the best horse wise and just kind of the setup for everything.

It was definitely one in which I now would know going forward should I ever have the opportunity to do it or to talk to somebody who might be going there would be things that you would learn. As Anthony said, this year we had a really, really great group of dogs in terms of their ability to cope with the environment. So for example, the one day we showed up on site and we couldn't get into the crate area for like an hour to two and we just like found picnic tables and our dogs just laid in the shade.

And I think we take that for granted in our dog's ability to just go with the flow and hang out the people they're, you know, it's open to the public so the people that wanna come up, can I pet your dog? Can I say hi to your dog? The horses being all around. I mean if you had a dog that was,

you know, reactive or worried or either worried or excited about horses, that would certainly cause a problem because they're the, they're the, you know, they're there for their show. This is their event. You know, if we did anything to disrupt the horses or make them un feel uncomfortable, you know, we're gonna get the boot. We definitely don't wanna represent agility in that way.

So the ability of all the dogs to just hang out and then, okay, now you gotta run. We also had as, as Anthony mentioned, the warmup cool down, you know, know we're on their schedule. So the one day, the last day we like warmed up, we were ready to go and they're like, okay, come on up to the ring.

And we're like, okay, we're ready. And it was 35 minutes until we got to run and all our dogs were like in the shade and cooled back down and it was hot and you also limited walkthroughs. It was really cool. So I'm sure Anthony didn't appreciate this as much 'cause the pressure was on him. But on our end it was really cool because the agility course was built within the horse course.

So if you imagine this giant arena and there are horse jumps everywhere. So the horse course, I don't know if that's the right word, but the horse course is already set and they're like, okay, our end is set now go build your agility course. So you have to build the agility course around what is set. So there is no map,

there is no predetermined play out. Wow. Like Anthony's just walking around with bars like, okay, this will be a jump, this will be a jump. So as we're running the course, not only do we not really get a walkthrough, right, we kind of walked like as we were helping to build and we got a few minutes, but we don't have a map and you're running around these horse jumps and like within the flowers and it was very interesting.

On the first day we ran the same horse twice and the first time I ran it B was clean so it was great and we had to go run it again. Well it was really big arena and I was in the Miami heat and I'm like, I'm gonna try to shortcut. So I tried to layer one of the horse jumps and B was like,

oh is that jump for me? And so she basically did a like wing wrap around a long jeans wing. So there was this big decoration, this big long jeans like wing, like with a flower plant. And I tried to layer it and instead of going out to the tunnel, she did a wing wrap around like the horse prop. So I got a refusal.

But it was just, it was interesting the dog's ability to cope with that. Like it was more distracting for us and there were jumps everywhere and they're massive and the tunnel's going this side of a jump and then you're going over here. But it was really cool to be able to go out there and do that and you know, back on the go with the flow,

like you had 12 volt, 12 week polls one day, but six week polls the other day, like some days we had contacts and some days we didn't and you just, you didn't know what you were gonna get and you had to be able to, you know, work with it. You had to be able to be on the line when the dog in front of you was finishing up and we did like a victory lap and just all the handlers and all the dogs were so go,

go with the flow. And like from my end it was such a great representation of agility and what our dogs can do. And so hopefully those watching whether it was the spectators or the organizers of the event felt the same way. But it was just unlike anything I've ever done in terms of running within the horse jumps at sunset on Miami Beach with celebrities watching.

It was, it was very fun. Very cool event. That is so crazy. Now I'm totally appreciating Anthony's statement earlier about needing handlers that are flexible. Like I totally, totally, totally get that. What about the different heights? How, how is that managed and then how was the, the results? You know, like you've got different height dogs and stuff like that again go with the flow,

like nobody gets your feelings too hurt because it's not, you know exactly, you don't know exactly the strategy or whatever, but in terms of, you know, fairness and, and stuff like that. But how was it nominally handled to have different height dogs? So the way in which we, we sort of designed the process at the moment is the,

the organizers of the horse event have told us what they would like to see and whether we can deliver it. So my basic plan to them was I would deliver two dogs of each height. We would run a series of different courses built within the, the horse course that Jen's already mentioned and basically give them a spectacle of different breeds, different ages of handlers,

different qualities so that they could see an array of everything. Because what the event first of all started with was having the interest of a dog spectacle and then after seeing it in London they wanted more and they kind of handed me a list of things that they wanted to achieve and what they want to see going forward. So if this event does partner and continue to to travel with them going forward,

they'll know exactly what it is. When we go into Stockholm for example, they've got a under nineteens horse jumping championship alongside the main Grand Prix. So what they're doing there is they're opening up a youth rider seat scheme going into the the event as well. So they're trying to develop and make everything inclusive but at the very highest level possible to make sure that everything that the spectators are going to see,

they see at the best possible quality. So what we tried to do really on this was work in a, a setup of the course was timed and any faults were plus five seconds throughout the whole duration. There was a series of four different rounds all that was accumulated up to, to give us the overall champion really. But going forward this, this process will slightly change and I can't really expose any further information about how that will work at the moment.

But basically what it'll mean is there will be a winner per height going forward. So this year we ran four courses total. We did two on Thursday, it was actually the same course around twice and then one on Friday, one on Saturday and Saturday was jumpers I believe. Right. And then the others had some contacts in them, kind of a mix of teeter A frame.

One of them, both of them, I don't a hundred percent remember. So we ran four courses and then it was scored time plus fault, so none of the dogs were four for four on clean runs, B was too clean and then had the one refusal where I tried to layer and then on this weave pole entry. So the refusal I, I unfortunately had two refusals,

which meant that I get the five point penalty but also the time that it takes to fix 'em. Right? Where the dog that won the fault on the one round that she had was an knocked bar, which was like the best of the faults if you're gonna have it because it doesn't cost you extra time. Right. But all of the dogs from my end,

again, I'm not the organizer, Anthony May have different opinions, but I thought all of the dogs did a really good job of showcasing different qualities and good breed variety. So we had only one border Collie, we had two Shelties, we had two of, and I think that was the only breed that we doubled up on a border collie, a mixed breed,

a flat coat, a working Kelpie, a Labrador, and two Shelties. Is that everyone? I think so. It was a wondering propriety, I was wondering, 'cause I was looking at the overall podium and you got silver Jen and B, so there was Erin and Xcel and that looked like the working kelpie, right? Yes, yes. Okay.

And then there was Tessa and Molina and I couldn't tell what kind of dog that was. Yeah, I know it's a mixed breed. Okay. Anthony might know the details. I believe it is a poodle cross of some type, but I'm not 100% sure. Got it. Alright. And so as we wrap up the podcast, one last question that I know many competitors are gonna have on their mind is,

how can I get picked next time? So Anthony, what is the secret? So going forward as we build the the partnership with the organizing team, we will have a process in place. So if there are people that would like to potentially participate in these unique events, there will be options of details about how they can go forward and do that. So all that information is to come in the near future.

So if you were like following British agility on Facebook, for example, you would probably hear any sort of announcements along those lines. Yeah. Or on the official British agility website. There'll be, each heat will be listed on there in the future with details and information going forward. Excellent. All right, well that is it for this week's podcast. Thank you so much for joining us,

Anthony. This was fantastic. I had no information about this event until Jen was out there doing it. And even then I was like, what is going on here? So I'm really glad that we got to have both of you on the podcast to talk about it. Perfect. Thanks for having me. And before we go, we just have a few announcements.

Over the next two weeks, we're gonna be hosting a live webinar series called Blueprint for Agility Mastery nickname BAM, by Jennifer Crank. So we're gonna have the BAM web series, and because we are gonna be holding those live webinars, we are going to pause the podcast for one month. So a one month break. We will be back on, I believe the Tuesday is May 17th.

May 14th. We will be back on May 14th. So just a little bit of a break here. But you will see plenty of us during the webinar series. We hope you all join us live. There will be plenty of information on Facebook and out on our mailing list about that webinar series. We'd like to thank our sponsors, St Rocco's treats and HitItBoard dot com.

Check out the Teeter TeachIt only at HitItBoard dot com. The Teeter TeachIt is 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 dot 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 hit aboard.com. Happy training. 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 do bad dog agility.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. Why aren't kids allowed to see pirate movies? They're all rated R.


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