May 21, 2024

Episode 342: Interview with the First 12″ Westminster Overall Winner Cynthia Hornor

In this episode (50:25)

Join us for an exciting episode where Sarah, Esteban, and Jennifer interview Cynthia Hornor about the big win with her remarkable dog, Nimble, the first 12″ overall champion at the prestigious Masters Agility Championship at Westminster.

You Will Learn

  • Insights into how competitors felt about the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show venue.
  • Detailed discussion on the design of the agility courses at Westminster.
  • Cynthia’s strategy and approach to navigating the event with Nimble and Truant (last year’s overall champion).
  • Why this was one of the best broadcasts ever for an agility event.
  • Reasons why Nimble, as the overall winner, has garnered extra attention from the national media, from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal.


Nimble on TikTok

@wkcdogs History has been made! Nimble is the FIRST 12″ winner to be named both Westminster Masters Agility Champion AND All-American Champion! #WestminsterDogShow ♬ original sound – Westminster Kennel Club

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I'm Jennifer. I'm Esteban. And I'm Sarah. And this is episode 342. 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. Rocco's treats as our high value Reward. And you will too.

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Rocco Treats on the show notes page. Today we're gonna be talking about the 11th annual Masters Agility Championship at Westminster. That happened just a couple of weeks ago. We're joined by Jennifer Crank, as always our podcast co-host who was at the event, and also Cynthia Horner, who is now a two time grand champion of Westminster last year with her border Collie truant.

And this year with Nimble. Welcome to the podcast Cynthia. Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be here. Alright, well let's get right into this event. And Jennifer, I'm gonna, I'm gonna start with you and, and pick your brain 'cause you've been at, how many have you been to all of them? No, I have not.

I did not go in the early years. I believe if I did my math, this was my ninth one. Okay, okay. But you have been to all of the venues? Yes, And It happened, 'cause the first couple of years were at, always at Pier 94 in kind of the middle of Manhattan. We were at those early years ones.

And then did we go to the very first one? Yes, we were at the very first one and then since then it has moved a couple of different times. So tell us a little bit about the venue this year and was this the first year at this venue or is No, this is a repeat venue. Yeah, this is the third different location that Westminster has had their event at,

it was at the Pier, then they went to Hurst Mansion and in Terrytown and then now they are at the tennis center in Flushing. This was the second year at this venue and it was great for me because I went last year so I knew the lay of the land, I knew what hotel I wanted to be at. I got one a little bit closer.

I knew where Crad was, where parking was, what the situation would be. So it was definitely more inside my comfort zone this year than last year. Last year with it being the first time at that location, you know, it's, it's, everything's new. You gotta start all over. You gotta figure out where creating is, where the bathrooms are,

how do you get into the ring because the logistics of the venue are a little bit confusing if you have not been there, you know, you have one door to go in, but a different door to come out, one ring inside, one ring outdoors under a tent. So you can't see both rings at the same time. I, I like the location for me,

I think it, it was a nice location. I think there's plenty of seating. The indoor ring, you don't have to worry about climate control. Parking doesn't seem to be nearly the issue that it was certainly when it was back at the pier. So yeah, so this was the second time at this location and from my understanding will not be back at this location next year.

So they are now moving to yet another location. So now I gotta put that on the bucket list and try to make it out there next year. Got it. So we won't spend too much time on the venue since it's moving. But I do wanna ask, 'cause y'all are both experienced competitors and from the broadcast at least the the tennis center, like it really was,

it, it really was kind of like you were a little star struck, right? And they had like all these like commercial breaks where they show like tennis people hitting tennis balls and then dogs getting the tennis balls and kind of playing up the whole, you know, the whole cross promotion thing. So like as experienced competitors who have been to a lot of events in a lot of different venues,

were you starstruck at all or at this point in your careers is agility just like you show up and you run and it kind of doesn't matter where exactly you are? I, I love the tennis center, I think particularly last year, but even this year when you walked down that hallway that, you know, all the tennis GRTs have walked down to go to center court to play and,

and you see the pressure is a privileged sign from Billie Jean King. It, it just really is an amazing feeling for me. I think one of the things this year that was different than last year is I felt like they make it pretty spectacular regardless of the year. And I guess what I mean is last year it was the 10 year anniversary and they made a big deal about the 10 year anniversary.

And I thought there were certain aspects of like, oh, maybe it was just because it was the 10 year anniversary that it felt so cool and so different. But it was equally amazing this year I think it's, for me, it's giving me the opportunity to go to places and see things that I would not otherwise see. I can't tell you when else I would go to that facility.

As, as not an avid tennis follower. I don't know that I ever would've gone there. And it certainly, if I went to watch a match, I'm not gonna be walking through the tunnels that are posted with photos of, of famous players that had been there and, and kind of walking out and seeing the lounge where they hang out and just coming out on the floor with that sign as Cynthia said.

So for me it's still pretty spectacular because it's, it's getting an opportunity to do things with my dog that I never otherwise would've done. And I hope to, you know, continue to have those opportunities as agility grows and we go to more locations and different sports facilities and, and we've seen that a little bit with some of the other events. So it was definitely,

it definitely as cool this year as it was last year. Awesome. So let's talk just a little bit about how the two of you did with, with all the dogs that you were competing with. So Cynthia, we'll start with you. So you have two dogs there this, that weekend, Correct? Two dogs. All right. And, and then kind of what happened in your runs to Gitchi or not Gitchi to the finals with each dog?

So the last year's Champion truant, he started, he was my first run of the day in Jumpers 20 inch. And he was clean. I played it a little bit on the, a little bit of a safer, safer side just to make sure I had one clean run and then I immediately had to go run Nimble, 12 inch in standard. She had a really amazing run.

I think she was, I I really only looked at what the other all Americans were doing because after the top three go to finals, then it sort of goes by breed. And I know I think she was nine seconds faster than the next All American on that course. So I was pretty happy with with that run. And then I swapped a little bit and I ran truant and standard,

my runs were pretty close together so I actually had to have Nimble have a conflict for jumpers and I went to run truant and he unfortunately had a couple of faults so I knew he wouldn't advance since. And well the border colleagues, you really do need to have two clean runs to be able to go to finals. I immediately went to jumpers. They had already finished the 12 inch height class,

so they held the ring for me a little bit and let me go first with the 12 preferreds, which are scored with a 16. So it runs a little bit differently than the average trial. So I went first and unfortunately she had a bar, but I was fairly certain when I was done she would still be able to advance to finals because of her really fast standard run.

And her jumpers run was still pretty fast. It just had the bar, which is only 10 seconds added. I would like to say that it is time plus faults at Westminster, which certainly helps a dog like Nimble, right. Maybe have a little bit of a fault and still be able to go to finals. So overall the the day went pretty well and then we were just getting ready to make sure we went to finals and I was really excited to be able to run Nimble in finals.

I really thought the crowd would like her, which they did. She's just a fun run and she really does seem to excite many, many people watching the sport, especially ones that don't know the sport that well. So I I was very excited for her. Yeah, yeah, it was amazing. 'cause when I was watching the broadcast, and of course they do reverse seating of,

of the dogs in the finals and so I remember, I mean, I already knew that Nim won and I watched NIS run and then they were like with two more dogs to go and I was like, like I kind of cocked my head like, huh. And then they were talking about how, you know, these other dogs were seated higher and I,

and knowing how fast nimble it was, I was like, that doesn't seem right to have, you know, maybe there's one other dog but two dogs that were faster. Like that doesn't seem right. And so I looked at the results and that's when I saw that you were third place with 10 seconds added. So cumulatively you, you know, with 10 seconds added,

you were still in the top three. So then that made a little bit more sense. Yeah, I think that's interesting and we can take a moment here to clarify. So Cynthia was just saying that the top three get in and then it goes by breach. So what exactly does that mean, right, for people who aren't familiar with how Westminster Goes?

So the way that Westminster is structured, and, and I think it's a really cool blend of, of, of rules, I guess, is that they take the top three dogs cumulative time plus faults no matter what. So if they're all three, the same breed doesn't matter. They take all of them. If it's, you know, any combination doesn't matter.

They take the top three no matter what. And then after that they don't repeat breeds. So like after that they're gonna go down and if they get to a breed that they, that's already represented, they skip that dog and go down to the next one. Right. Until they get to a breed that hasn't yet been represented and they go down. And then I believe they also always ensure that there's an all American in every jump height,

right? So the highest Finishing All American, the highest finishing all American is gonna be one of those 10 Depending on your breed and your performance right there is the possibility that you can make the finals without two clean runs. And that's what happened here. Right. And depending on your breed, there is a possibility that you could be the fourth place dog cumulative and not make the finals.

Exactly. So it goes the other way too. Exactly. But you know, you know the rules going in and that's, that, that is what Westminster is. Right? What was so interesting about Nimble this year, right? It's not that, oh well there's only a handful of all Americans and she ended up being the highest all American you're saying with the additional 10 seconds outta to her score.

Right. We, we took a look at the actual results, she was still top three, right? So she actually got in as the, as the top three, which is unbelievable when you think about it. And, and that was the gap between Nimble and everyone else in that Height class. Right? Exactly. Yeah. So I thought that was pretty interesting.

And it may be that when they were talking about the reverse seating at the end and they're like, oh, well there's, you know, one guy asking, you know, there's two faster dogs coming. Well, not necessarily, they're seated higher and NI's definitely the fastest dog in, in in finals and they may not have been aware if it, if Oh of course was Perry giving the response,

he may not be aware of like the preliminary round and the nimble got a 10 call. Right, right. And, and things like that. Exactly. And exactly. I think the one other thing that I wanna mention that I assume is the same this year, but there are refusals called in prelims, right? So you can get refusals, but once you're running in the finals,

there's no refusals, right? Right. So if your dog refuses a job, it's not a fault, you just keep going. There's no just time penalty there. Right. So the rules for Westminster, they, they change depending on what round, you know, is it preliminary or is it the final? And so everybody, like when you go to any,

any kind of event, like you need to have a a, a good understanding of what the rules are. Yes. Right. No, it can affect like your, your attempts to move into placements and things like that. And I think at Westminster it's top four, right? So if you get for placements Yeah. For like ribbons and stuff Right?

Right. You get those big awesome fancy ribbons or, and and stuff. So just, just some stuff to keep in mind. Right. All right. Oh, sorry, I just wanna point out one thing. Rounds one and two really are just a normal AKC agility trial, right? It has a table. It is, they they count for your double Qs for national.

Exactly. Yeah. They actually count for titling and then it's a special event as the finals. And I do think the finals do a great job of showcasing different breeds and making how agility and what I love about agility is that you can do it with any breed. I've had all kinds of clients with many different breeds and it's exciting to see the bond and just a nice working dog and a bond with any handler.

Right. Absolutely. Alright, and Jen, tell us about your weekend. So I went to Westminster this year with two dogs. I had my shelter B and my border Collie high five. I entered two other shees and they did not get in. So those that follow Westminster know that it's hard to get in. You have to have your entries there very early.

So I did not get in with Rio or Taylor this year, so I just went with B and High five last year talking about the different scoring and the different scenarios. High five was double clear in the 20 inch class and finished fourth place. Oh. But because quarter college you did not get to go. So this year I had a little bit of a different mindset with her and having to push,

I was optimistic last year that just running double clear would be enough and I was wrong on that. So this year I had to push a little bit more. So I started with her in jumpers in, to my surprise, she actually won the class. I was very surprised. It seemed like a good course and a nice run. But you know,

she's not exactly the, the flashiest and most impressive dog out there running. So she won jumpers, which gave me a little bit of a buffer going into standard. And then unfortunately a handler error, 100% handler error. And basically my mental game cost me a fault there B was double clear. So she was that second place in both standard and jumpers.

So cumulatively she came in second place. Overall, there's a little bit less pressure with her being that she is a sheti and there's not as many shees in the 16 inch class. So for high five in the 20 inch being border colleagues, I have to be top three with B in the 16 inch class, I have to be the top. She so similar to where Cynthia was commenting that she was mostly paying attention to the other,

all Americans, I was mostly paying attention to the other Shees. There are quite a few border colleagues in the 16 inch class. So if they had taken spots 1, 2, 3, that would've been fine as long as I could have stayed on top as top Chelsea. But to much to my surprise, she was second place overall. So we got to go into the finals seated in a good spot.

So finals for B and just one clean run for high five. So not a bad weekend. I'm disappointed in myself with regard to the fact that my mistake was such a mental error on my part. But you live and learn and we'll do better next year. Right. And if we get in, right, Right. And and B was coming off of like last year B won the 16 inch class,

right? Yes. Yes. And and then And the year before. And the year before. And so then, and then, so two years ago when she won the 16 inch CLA inch class, she was the first non 20 inch dog. No, no, she wasn't the first, but she was a, she won the overall as a 16 inch dog.

Yes. You were the first handler to have done that previously with a different dog. Yes. And so now you had back, or not back to back, but different, was it back to back? No, it was, you're in between. You're in between. Yeah. She was the first she to do it too. Right. So not the first 16,

but the only 16 inch dog to win the overall or with me. Right. So pink and B, so Right, exactly. Pink was the first 16 to do it and then B did it again. And so yeah. And Then he went again with B. Yeah, yeah. But lost the grand championship to truant with Cynthia by three, one hundredths of a second.

So, so like we have like this whole web of winning and losing and beating people out. It's, it's a wonderful sport. I love it. So yeah. So you, I mean, you know that with B you've got really good chances of, of doing really well. Yeah. She, it's, it's a nice event for her, again,

being a she and knowing that they're not as many shees in 16 inches. There are some great ones there, but I felt like for her, if I could just have two solid runs, I wasn't as though I was trying to go for top three. So that was kind of nice. Again, a different strategy than what I had for high five.

And then in finals she hit a broad jump. So unfortunately did not place in finals, but over her career in Westminster, she's been eight for nine on clean runs, which I'm pretty proud of. Like that's a pretty good run at an event like that. Unfortunately it was my first ever non placement in finals at Westminster. I've been to Westminster eight times,

I've made finals eight times, I've placed top four, seven times. And this year it all came crashing down. So we've had a good run at it. It was gonna come down and I'm not disappointed at all. She hit a broad jump, she made a bad call. It mistakes happen, right? Like it wasn't something that was, if I say it wasn't her or me,

right? I mean it was just, it was just an error. It was just a mistake. Yeah. So, and she wasn't gonna win the 16 inch class anyway. Not that, not that that makes it any better. I would've loved to have clean run, but it, it was not gonna be for a three-peat, so. Right, right.

So, But luckily she does get guaranteed entries for here on out. So we'll be back with her. It's just a question if we can make it back in with high five. Oh, I didn't realize. So as a previous grand champion, it's not just the next year, it's all the years that you Get guaranteed. Yeah. You guaranteed for life.

So me and Cynthia are Really happy. That's not gonna, I'm not gonna be battling it. I'll stop asking You if you're going. I'd like to point out one, one of the really cool things about being the grand champion is because you have to have a mock or a puck to go to Westminster. If we were to move our dogs down into preferred,

which at some point I, I know I will move truant down at some point to preferred, since he will be turning eight in September, I don't have to get a pock, he is allowed to come for, you know, I think it's five years, which is pretty much their life without having any requirements, which is very nice. It's a nice perk.

Very cool. Interesting. All right, well let's talk about that finals course and kind of get y'all's opinion on it. I remember from the broadcast, I, I just wanna say like, we'll talk about the broadcast more in depth, but this was the best broadcast I have ever seen in the sport of agility. I was so, so impressed. Now part of that being impressed comes from being so,

so disappointed for years and years at, at agility broadcasts specifically and everybody, Not Westminster, not West. Well There have been a lot of broadcasts, right, with different networks. ESPN including, including Westminster, but also including other ones. And, and it, it's no, like, we've talked about it on the podcast and I don't think any agility person listening to our podcast will be surprised.

But the problem has always been that the camera work has always been way too close to even understand what's happening on the course. Okay, well With respect to that, I will, I will say I totally understand what you're talking about, but I am saying amongst the different agility broadcasts, in my opinion, Westminster has always been the best. Yeah, I would just My opinion,

I would agree with that. But even they suffered a little bit from some of the tight angles and and cuts. Yeah, no doubt. And this year was spectacular. Like their angles were fantastic. I think you could almost always see like four to five obstacles in every frame. Right. It was never tight in, they had higher up angles. Yeah.

That they would switch to when they did switches, the switches made sense. So it wasn't like you were suddenly you could keep up the handling, you could see the handling almost all the time. And then Terry Comments are like, they make sense, right? So now he's saying things and it's paired with the video. So yes, it's on point.

So Fantastic job. I'm so happy. 'cause it's been, as a agility competitor, all of agility competitors have been so frustrated with the representation of the sport on film and the fact that it's too tight in to actually see what makes agility a team sport, right. Between dog and handler. And I, I was just so impressed. So I actually felt like I got a sense of the finals course for like the first time being a spectator.

Yeah. Well, so let me just interrupt and say, I personally have not seen the entirety. I've not had the chance to see the entirety of the broadcast, the final broadcast. I did see Cynthia's run, I did see Jennifer's runs from, from the finals, and then you, Sarah saw the entire thing right. Start to finish. And have either of you had a chance to watch the broadcast yet?

I watched the broadcast when it was first put on, I guess. So it was a week ago Sunday. I watched it with my family because it was Mother's Day and they were very excited to That's Awesome. Aw, awesome. Yes, it was fun. I did not get to watch most of it, but I got to listen to it. We were driving home,

so we played it through the car, but we didn't have the like, visual. So I can attest the announcing more than I can say about the camera angles. Right, right. Okay. And and it was not live, right? No, No. It was, I guess it was, it was the next day. So it was on Mother's Day,

you know, I kind of forgot that aspect because it was taped on Saturday. I mean, the finals was Saturday, right? Correct. Sorry. So That's so funny because they were talking about it's Mother's Day. It's Mother's Day, it's Mother's Day, and it was for the, the, for the listening audience who's watching it on Mother's Day. Mother's Day.

But the event was actually on, you know, the day before Saturday. So yeah, For sports, I always liked that live element. I think the last time, and, and Westminster had done this previously, the live broadcast final, and I think that's, I think I ran in that final, yeah. Yeah. So that was the last time that they did that.

That was several years ago. They've never gone back to it. But I think I've kind of gotten over that. I, I think Not doing live. It's okay. I think it, I I think it actually makes for a, a better broadcast. I think if they can do a, a little more polished Yeah. If they could do it.

Like, if it means that it's a more polished production, then I'm okay with it. And they Still get it out very quickly. It's not like it's getting out a month late. Right. It's like the next day. Right. So yeah. You know, those People are working hard. Yeah, absolutely. So anyway, okay, so now we're,

now that we've talked a little bit about that, the broadcast from the perspective of the finals course, how did y'all feel running it and how did it, you know, was it what you expected? How did it compare to, you know, some of the finals courses that y'all have run and won in previous years? Cynthia, we'll start with your thoughts.

I think it potentially was a slightly longer course. I know Zach likes to have very nice distances between obstacles and he was the designer of the course. So it felt like it was, it, it interesting because they keep saying that Nimble had the third fastest time in history, but I actually think it was a longer course. So I don't know if it's,

people don't realize that we run different courses, so of course. Right. It's kind of a nonsense statement Yeah. On, on the course. But it, it did feel like they're so adorable. It maybe a slightly longer course. I don't know if that's accurate. We'd have to look at the yards and course it's a little difficult because somebody may wheel a little bit different than someone else.

Yeah, right. That was just my impression of it. I, I really did like it. It had some interesting puzzles to try to figure out to make sure that you could cue your dogs and it had different opportunities to showcase, showcase some skills. So I really, really did enjoy this finals course. I think that the finals course is a really nice one.

I'm with Cynthia. I liked it a lot. There was a lot of yardage and a lot of big distances. I think sometimes what people forget about Westminster is that the preliminary runs are still counted as actual cues, regulation, trial cues. As a person who's going in hunt for invitational, that double queue mattered a lot, even if I didn't make it into finals.

So I think people show up at Westminster and they're, they're thinking that it's like N AKC where they might see a little bit more spice or a little bit more pizazz, but they still have to follow the same rules that they have to follow for every other weekend or every other trial. So the preliminary courses I thought were very standard, nothing overly complex,

nothing overly boring. They were just shows or runs and, and courses that I would expect to see at any weekend show. But the finals course, it does not count. Right. So that's where you get a lot more liberty, more like a national event or a premier event where the runs don't count to kind of have your own flare on it.

And there was some good stuff, you know, again, long lines, you had that rectangular ring a little bit limiting with where the dogwalk can be because of the facility. The dogwalk has to be in the same spot at that tennis center. So if anybody's paying attention to the dogwalk what's exactly where it was last year, that has to do with some structural limitations.

And with that, I thought that the last year and this year and in prelims and finals, they did a good job of working around that. So there were some good challenges in the finals course. And what I personally liked about it, especially from the viewing standpoint, is you saw a lot of different handling options. So the standard course in the prelims,

you saw a lot of the exact same thing. I mean, I sat there in the stands and would watch 10 people in a row do the exact 10 thing, same 10 things. So it got a little bit boring. But in finals you saw so much variety on handling and people using the skills that work the section off of the teeter with all the wraps and backside going left,

going right backside, left backside right. You know, distance and layering leading out and not layering, leading out. So I thought it, it brought a lot of the elements that I would wanna see to a finals course. Yeah, absolutely. I, I thought, I thought it was a really great course, really fun to watch. And before we I guess start talking about the,

the grand champion, let's just talk about all of the winners real quick. I think this is the perfect place to put it and talk about our five winners. So in the eight inch class, the winner was Betsy Lynch with Papillon Lark. In the 12 inch class, of course Cynthia Horner with Nimble, who was also the top All American and also the overall champion.

Ooh, clean sweep. Clean sweep. Woo. In the 16 inch class was Emily Klarman with Border Collie vanish. And the 20 inch class was Amber McCune with Typo. And in the 24 inch class was Steve Basson with Weimaraner Hogan. And while we're name dropping people here, let's go ahead and give a shout out to the broadcast team that I was talking about.

You know, how good of a job they did, although I'm talking about a lot. Large part of that was the unnamed camera crew, thank you camera crew and, and the people who made those decisions. But the two commentators were John Strong and Terry Simon. So Terry has been, Terry is in the sport of agility. He runs agility, he knows the sport really well.

So he's like the expert. And then John Strong is the kind of the network pairing with Terry. Right. So John and Terry did it at least last year as well. I think this might be the third year in a row together. They've had various people over the years at Westminster, certainly. And again, my sample size is just the two runs.

But they did a really nice job and you watched the whole thing. I will, he said it was really good. I will say that they never said anything. I considered dumb and there have been times in the past where they, like, they used the wrong terminology. They just did something that made it very clear that they Not, not they Terry.

Right. Never Terry. So either it's gonna be the sideline reporter who this year was Allison Williams. Right. The sideline reporter is there on the side with the dogs and they typically interview the winners. Right, right, right after each round. And so they'll ask questions and you can always tell and, and there's been varying degrees of, I don't wanna say professionalism,

but I guess effort, expertise, effort and expertise. Right? So the sideline reporters who made, made it a priority to learn a little bit about the sport, put together some questions in advance and bring them to the competitors. I think they do a better job than people who just showed up and just tried to wing it. Right? Right. And you could,

you could kind of tell agility competitors could kind of tell. Right. So I think, you know, it's people like me, the super, the super fans of the sport who are always thinking about how is a sport being portrayed to the general audience. Right. You know, like what is the future of this event? Like those are the kind of things that are on my mind when we're doling out commentary.

And of course, please keep in mind people that these are just, these, these are our opinions. Like you're hearing my, of course personal opinion and I have very strong opinions about how the sport should be portrayed in televised broadcast, but a, a very nice job and I like how everything worked together. Right. So you have John Strong now that he's been doing it a couple years,

he can, you know, kind of ask some better questions and you know, he's more not cooperative or compatible, what is the word I'm thinking of? They like the Vibe. They vibe, yeah. Yeah. The vibe is better with, with Terry. Good. Yes. That is the word rapport. The rapport is there and it develops over time.

And then this whole idea of, of being able to take a wider angle on the, the course is, is is really good. Right. So I think that kind of goes hand in hand with the commentary that Terry's able to provide and that it makes, it makes a lot of sense to people watching the event. Okay. And you said, right,

and we've already talked, I mean we've kind of just worked his name in o off to the side during the conversation, but the finals judge was Zach Davis and which of the preliminary runs did he do? Standard. Standard. And then the jumpers judge was Susan Ner and of course the director of AKC Agility, Carrie de Young is always at this event helping it run smoothly along with Paul Campanella who's on the Westminster side,

like the Mastermind. Right, right. Paul, That's the mastermind. Right, exactly. And they always do a fantastic job with this event. So now let's talk about what it means to be a grand champion. So for those of you who may not know the grand champion, and I'm not even sure if they call it that, although I noticed that the sideline reporter at least once said something about grand champion,

we always use that word. And then I wasn't sure that it was even, right. They kind of call it the overall champion or the master's agility champion. But anyway, that, that kind of overall champion spot is determined by yards per second. And if you're in the sport of agility, you realize that different height dogs are allowed different yardage, which means you can have a faster dog with a slower yards per second.

And that often happens with the small dogs. And so when agility was, or when Westminster was first doing this, we criticized that a lot and I still, I'm not sure it's the right way of doing things, but at the time we're like, I don't know, like if it'll ever not be a 20 inch dog because the rules favor the 20 inch dog,

they have more yards. Okay. So for beginners who are listening, the yardage right? Is the judge gets out there with a wheel and that's what that judge is doing when you guys are trying to finish up the walkthrough. Right? Right. And so they're determining the kind of the hypothetical path that a dog would take. Right. And that's how you can get your calculations.

You have the dog's time, you have the yardage, then you can divide the two and that's how you get your yards per second. Right? And and so that's how they're determining the overall champion. Correct. Not the fastest time. Correct. And there have been many years where the overall champion was not the fastest time where the fastest time came from the 16 to 12 or the eight inch class,

but the champion was the 20 inch dog. Right? Then comes along Jen Crank and, and pink. And for the first time ever we had the 16 inch dog with the fastest time, but also with the fastest yards per second, winning the overall spot. Then Jen repeats it with the, and again shows that the 16 ish dog could do it,

but the 12 and the eights get even fewer yards than the sixteenths because the Judge even so naturally assumes they can run a tighter course. Right. So their lines are literally shorter, Which again makes sense because it's not fair to assume that that a 24 inch dog is gonna run an eight inch path. So it makes sense. It it like, like the short version is in our view,

there's really no fair way to compare a 24 inch dog and an eight inch dog against each other. I think Of, think of just the teeter, right? So 24 inch dog is gonna weigh more and be able to get that teeter down in about a second. Right? A very good Papillon Right. Could struggle to get it down under 1.5 seconds.

You lose half a second right off the bat because your dog weighs a teeny tiny amount. Right. Bringing down that teeter much Slower. Exactly. And so now here comes Cynthia Horner and Nimble putting in the fastest time that is, you know, that has happened before, but getting that fastest yards per second. So tell us like kind of how it played out when you learned,

you got it, like how, how you felt going in knowing, knowing that you definitely had the speed to win your class and probably had the speed to be the fastest dog. But you know, what did you think about your chances of ever being the overall champion? So I've had it work both ways. For me. Last year when truant went,

overall I had the fastest arts per second, but I didn't have the fastest time on the course Jen and B did that year. So I understand Westminster has their rules and I love the event and you go in knowing the rules as you go in, right? And I do believe it is a great showcase of dogs and our sport of agility. So I've always,

in the back of my mind known that Nimbles quite fast. I really never thought a 12 inch dog could make up the yards per a second to be able to win overall. So my whole thought process, bringing her to Westminster is that we can win the 12 inch class, we can potentially be top all American, which is what I thought would be much more capable for her.

I knew Saturday night she absolutely had an amazing run. She literally almost did not have a foot at a place on the entire run. And I was so proud of her. So I, they had told me to wait around for the top all American presentation. So I, while I was waiting there, a couple people thought, you know, it's possible and I really didn't quite think it was possible.

And then they pulled me out when they have everybody line up at the end, they pulled me out for top all Americans. So they're awarding that and then they started talking about the top overall. And I still at that point thought it was probably going to be Emily and Vanish. 'cause we were very close in our yards per second. And then all of a sudden I heard NI's name and I was quite surprised,

elated of course. And, and I was just, it really did sink in. Wow, a 12 inch dog was able to be able to do this. And again, I didn't think it was possible. I'm not sure it'll ever happen again, but I will enjoy this moment where she was able to quite be the underdog and be able to take the overall.

Yeah, I mean it's fantastic. So first of all, congratulations for being the 12 inch dog that does that. And to give people a sense of this accomplishment and what we're talking about here in the math, let me give you the actual winning times, right? So this is Nimbles time was 28.76, I believe she was the only sub 29 dog,

right? So 28 76 Vanish, who is a phenomenal dog, right? Emily is a wonderful handler. Ran a a a just a great course 29 87. Okay? So they ran it a full 1.11 seconds slower than nimble. But, and, and just to throw in another comparison, the 20 inch winner, 31.4, okay? And so Sarah did the math calculation by yards per second.

How much did Nimble beat Vanish by? Right? How much faster would Vanish have had to have gone to take over and be, become the overall champion? Just three hundredths of a second, right? So imagine that vanish goes four one hundredths of a second faster, right? They still get beat by Nimble by more than a second, but they are the overall champion.

So it can be hard for the viewer and certainly I think even for most agility competitors, to really wrap your head around it, that if there's a dog and, and they won by more than a second one full second on a course, like how are they not the champion? Right? So that's kind of the issue that's that's raised here, but that's how close it was this year and it's been even closer in past years.

So it's always an interesting thing that we're always gonna talk about. It is a perk of, of not a perk, a quirk Quirk, yes. Peculiarity yes. Of Westminster and their strong, very strong desire to crown a grand champion to have an overall winner. And of course this parallels what they do in confirmation, right? Which is like, it's huge competition and ultimately you get down to the one dog the Best in show And that one dog gets to go on Good Morning America and make all the rounds and really represent the Westminster brand.

I think that's what they're going for, for agility. And it's a, it's a little bit hard for me to argue against that because you and both of you have been in this position, both, both Jennifer and and and Cynthia again of being essentially the, it's almost like Miss USA Miss America or Miss Miss World or Miss Universe or, or whatever they,

they call it, but, you know, representing the sport and Westminster for like the entirety of a year, right? So I I think that's kind of what they, what they're doing there. Yeah, Absolutely. So Cynthia, tell us a little bit then about what has happened since, like what kind of, what kind of interviews have you had and media cover?

I mean, I know you're really honored to be here on our podcast, but it's like This is the only one that matters. That's right. Forget about the New York Times or whoever was Right, right. But like, how, how has the, the, the Westminster Hoopla been? Well, last year I was, I was slightly prepared because Truant did win it last year and he did get some hoopla,

but nothing compares to what Nimble has done. I believe she has been on every single news media outlet in the last week. I keep joking around that she now needs her own press secretary because it's taking up a lot of time on my end. But we are enjoying our 15 minutes, or we both are. She's enjoying it. Also, we've had e everybody from the New York Times,

the Wall Street Journal, my local newscasters, I'm having one come out to my house tomorrow to do Where in the world is he? And he's with Nimble at her house. Aw. And it's, it's just been, it has been amazing. I am so happy that so many people have really enjoyed my little dog and watching her run her heart out in New York.

Yeah. And she is amazing. You Haven't seen the run you need to go on social media at least, you know, if you don't watch the broadcast access to the broadcast. Right. Go and watch the, I think on TikTok, my daughter told me that as of maybe a couple days ago, she had 2.6 million views on her Westminster Run. Wow.

So how old is your daughter? My, my daughter's 24. Oh, Okay. So, so, okay. So she's a little old to, for, I was wondering if this made you cool, but she's kind of past that stage of like, my mom isn't cool and now she's in adulthood where she's like, all right, you're, it's all right.

Two Thinks I'm cool again, I think. Yeah, yeah, exactly. So, so one thing that was very interesting about your win, or one thing that kind of came out of it. So for, for the inside of Agility world, right? The big deal is a 12 inch dog, one the, all the, the overall right to the outside world.

They are obsessed with the idea that an All American AKA Mutt one Westminster. And so we wanted to talk a little bit about kind of that angle, because Nimble is a mixed breed dog, but she is a, a sports bread mix, which basically means this was a planned breeding of two different dogs. She's border half portico, half Papillon. Correct,

correct. Right. And so in AKC agility, right, you're either papered, right? You either have AKC papers for one particular breed, or you are all American if you want to compete in the sport. And, and there there is no, there is no other options and there's no distinction in the All American between a sports spread mix. A absolute,

like I have no idea what this dog is rescue from the pound, or this dog is like, looks a thousand percent like a Rottweiler purebred Rottweiler. But I picked him up on the side of the road and I don't have papers. Right? Like there's no distinction there. And I know that there is some angst about like her being called a mutt when you know who both of her parents are and stuff like that.

So I guess I just kind of wanted to talk about that just a little bit to just kind of point out that you are running your dog registered in the only way that you have available to you to register her according to the rules and however the grand media does it, like that's on them really. I know that I, I saw several places in different interviews where you talked about her breeding and her being a border border pap,

it's what we call 'em Border pap. Border collie Papillon. So kind of what, I guess what has that been like? I guess it's a tiny little, tiny little dark cloud on a, on a very, very, you know, exciting event. I've had mostly just positive things about it. I she is a mixed breed. So, and to me a mixed breed is a mixed breed.

Whether you got your mixed breed at a shelter or rescue versus getting your mixed breed at a, a person that bred it and you got it from puppy hood. I've, I'm quite upfront that yeah, she is intentionally bred. I loved both her, her parents. So when they were breeding them, I asked to be on that list. They certainly aren't health te health tested and it was a very nice breeding,

but you know, at the end of the day, she is a mixed breed. I had to register as a mixed breed. She had to be spayed to be able to run her in AKC agility. So just like any other pal dog that it, I had to follow all the same rules and regulations. So to me she is simply a mixed breed,

right? And how everybody else wants to look at that. That is, they can do that. But to me, she's my cute little mixed breed. Right? I remember it, it, it reminds me that, I think it was, yeah, it was, I think it was the first Westminster, like the media went crazy when they added agility because now you suddenly had a,

like, there there is no notion of a mixed breed in confirmation, right? Yeah. It doesn't not, it doesn't make sense because the entire point of confirmation is how well you conform to a breed standard. So there's no notion. So then when Westminster added obedience and agility, suddenly there is now a venue that allows mixed breed dogs to compete because you know what,

what you are registered for doesn't really affect how you perform obedience or agility. Right? And so I remember then in the very first wins Westminster, that, that, those were the headlines, right? Mutts at Westminster and, and they went crazy. And people at my work, and I worked, I don't work in dog agility, I worked in software,

right? And people at my work were like, I heard they let Mutts into Westminster. What do you think about that? You know? And so yes, the the, the media goes a little crazy with that. And they did that in that first year. And I'll put in the show notes 'cause we had an article about like the, the mutt hysteria take,

you know, taking over media. But yeah, I think that's more of like a, a general media kind of click beatty headline sort of thing. And when you think about it, the media's job, right, is to get the stories out there, to generate stories sometimes where there perhaps are none. But it's interesting commentary and I, you know,

let's go back like 20 years, like it's a big deal that AKC there was a time when you could not compete in dog agility, right? Unless you had the appropriate registration. Right. Pure bred. And so it, it was a big deal that kind of opened up the doors and we've been moving in that direction, in my opinion. That's a great thing.

Absolutely. I understand the purpose of the AKC is, you know, to advance the interest of the purebred dog, right. Just largely speaking. But I think you're, you're seeing in more recent years this drive, this trend not just at AKC, but in society at large to be like for all dogs, right? So there's an exclusivity kind of the,

the country club set, you know, where, hey, we're here and you're out there and you're not part of this. Right. A drive to be inclusive. And I like it because it's going to bring out fantastic dogs, right? Who otherwise wouldn't be able to compete the whole border pap phenomenon and any, any two pure breads that are mixed together,

or even three different breeds producing these dogs, I think you're seeing a spike in popularity, not just among competitive dog sports people, but obviously among just regular pet owners, right? Right. So this, I mean, this is how when people get really bent outta shape about this, right. To me, I'm always like, well, where do you think all the other breeds came from?

Right? Right. At some point someone said, you know, this retriever, I I think I'm gonna play around and do something a little bit different. And now look, I've got a different retriever now. Right. Okay. So this is how it happens. Yeah, yeah. You have these breeds. They do things, people like how they do things,

they like the breed, they dedicate themselves to the breed, and boom, you got a new breed. Right? Right. And so it's just the nature of the world. And so I kind of, IIII like it. I like too. And so I'm, I'm not at all against all of those storylines, but, but yeah, obviously the media's gonna go for stuff like that.

Yeah, Absolutely. Yeah. All right, so as we wrap up, Cynthia, give us an idea of what's next for you and your dog, kind of your upcoming big, big events and you know, are you planning on coming back to Westminster? And if anybody is listening to this podcast and they wanna get ahold of you to like, I don't know,

bring you on on some awesome TV programming that you're gonna tell us about later, how should they get ahold of you? So I will definitely come back to Westminster next year. I am already looking forward to coming back with both of my dogs and I think they both get invited so I don't have to worry about my entry not being accepted. Luckily, I am gearing up,

most of my next few months will be gearing up to make myself as competitive as I can be for the European Open with Nimble. So I am mostly gonna concentrate on ISC type trials. I have a couple of UKI classics to go to. And then mostly just really practicing as many courses for the judges that will be judging me at eo. I am hopeful that we can go there and have a very good showing and potentially make individual finals,

which would be my ultimate goal with her. And doing well in individual finals would be amazing. So that is really what I am been gearing up almost all year for actually. So Westminster, which is part of that gearing up for eo, anybody that wants to reach me can reach me either my email, far farside or find me on Facebook under Cynthia Horner.

Is that kine like K and the number nine? Yes, the letter K. The number nine. Okay. All right. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. It was great to talk to you. So excited for you. Congratulations again. And of course, thank you, Jen, for joining us and kind of giving your perspective on all of the courses in the venue and all of that.

Absolutely. It's been a fun time. Thank you. And that's it for this week's podcast. We'd like to thank our sponsors, St. Rocco's Treats and hit it 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 HitItBoard dot com. We'll see you next week. Happy training.


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