AWC 2018 in Kristianstad, Sweden, was extremely well organised and the courses offered excitement for the audience. Iina Asunta, a Finnish agility coach, spent most of the weekend analysing the courses and we had a chance to interview her.
Handler’s courage and speed, and dog’s skills tested to the extreme
Iina was very happy with the courses: “It was great that in small dogs, for example, the best three succeeded so well on both courses. They were also doable with a very fast dog - if the dog was well trained. I prefer this to the courses in which there are almost no clear runs, and that speed plays a significant role in success.
All in all, Iina was impressed with the skills of the dogs and the running speed of the handlers: “The courses required handlers to have courage to proceed to the next point very early, and leave the dog to perform his part independently. It was impossible to babysit the dog and take him from one spot to the next hand in hand.”
Independent weaving skills needed on almost every course
According to Iina, dog’s weaving skills were tested on almost every course: “The more independent the dog’s weave poles, the more the handler benefitted in the next situation.”
This year turns from the A-frame and dog walk weren’t tested as much, and, thus, we got to see many good running contacts. On the other hand, the see saw was tested: “In the small individual finals, the handler needed to take side distance and in both large and medium finals, the dogs needed to have enough patience to perform the see saw while the handlers needed to continue fast to the next spot.”
Different factors affecting speed
Speed has definitely increased in agility and this could also be seen in AWC. To succeed, it wasn’t enough to make a clear run, you also needed to go very, very fast. The courses were extremely fast and required good movement from the handler: “The handlers had to make sure not to slow down the dog in any way. They also needed to be able to control the dog in full speed.”
Iina thinks that several factors are needed for fast performance in agility, e.g. the following:
A dog needs to maintain full speed also independently, without the handler running ahead of him
The dog needs to accelerate after a turn to full speed very quickly, so that the turns don’t eat up the speed.
The handler has to make sure not to slow down the dog by being late or unclear, or by being on the dog’s line.
The most interesting courses in AWC 2018
Andreas Silfverbeg’s course for team agility medium
Andreas Silfverbeg’s team agility medium offered interesting moments for the audience. This was, according to Iina, the most interesting course of the weekend. “Only the fastest runners survived. Especially the part from obstacles 11 to 15 required an independent in-in and back side jump of the dog and fast feet of the handler.”
Nicolas Renaud’s individual agility course for medium dogs
Also Nicolas Renaud’s individual agility course for medium dogs offered exciting moments for the crowd: “Obstacles 12-13 and 19-20 tested the differentiation of a back side jump, a hurdle and a tunnel, the first one from the running contact.”
Nicolas Renaud’s individual jumping course for large dogs
“Nicolas Renaud’s individual jumping course for large dogs was an insanely fast and fun course to watch, especially the part from obstacle 2 to 5! It was such a fast straight line. Another interesting part on the course was after the weaves (7-9). There were different handling alternatives, also from different sides of jump number 8. Also the part with obstacles 15 to 17 was interesting. Some did an in-in to jump 17, others a back side blind.
Andreas Silfverberg’s course for individual small finals
Andreas Silfverberg managed to maintain the thrill right until the end of the small individual finals: “The tunnel-dog walk differentiation at the end of the course made the course exciting, and we saw a lot of good runs get disqualified there. Also the part from 11 to 12 was interesting because the weaves were partly on the line of the handler, which forced the handlers close to the jump and it was easy to push the dog to a back side instead of an inin. All in all, it was great that the win in small dogs required perfect runs. The level in small dogs has improved a lot!”
How to succeed on a national or international level in agility?
When asked what someone who wants to compete internationally should do to reach the required level, Iina, who herself has competed several times in EO with her dog Xenon, gives the following tips:
Concentrate on the speed of the dog. This is especially important for small dogs. They should maintain their speed independently, so don’t do too many things that eat up the speed. And also focus on how to get your dog to accelerate from turns to full speed.
Train obstacles extremely well: e.g. running contacts, weaves, and especially weave entries.
Keep the joy and a relaxed attitude towards agility. With overdoing and being straight-laced, things just start to go wrong.
Develop your running and speed to be able to be on time in the places where you need to be on the course.
Maintain humility and an open mind: you are never perfect, there’s always something new to learn.
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