The outdoor agility season draws to a close with success for Jasmine and Flyte.

I can’t believe another outdoor agility season has drawn to a close following an action-packed September. With an agility show every weekend, both Jasmine and Flyte were definitely on a roll putting in some super runs and producing some really good results including numerous top three places between them, such a great way to round off another competition year.

Agility 2018 will stand out in lots of ways. Firstly, of course, there was the weather! The extra-long Winter which extended into a very soggy Spring and then almost overnight transforming into the hottest Summer ever and finishing with a very windswept Autumn – all sent to try us and test our agility skills to the max, sometimes causing us to forfeit runs or even abandon shows altogether! We have taken in some new shows this year with Anglesey and Cirencester being particular highlights as well as all our usual haunts closer to home. Most have been Kennel Club affiliated including the largest show of all, the International Agility Festival. We also rediscovered UKA shows which we hope to do more of next year. Goals were reached including winning into Grade 7 and being placed in the top three in Grade 7 classes as well as achieving a podium place in the Low 550 National Jumping Cup Final, so plenty to be proud about all round.

Agility 2019 will see some changes for the better with the eagerly awaited agility regulation changes which have just been announced by the Kennel Club in response to the findings of consultations with the agility community over the last three years. This will see significant changes to grade progression to include an increase in the amount of wins or points needed to progress. The Dog Walk height will be lowered slightly to align the height with international competitions and the Pipe Tunnel will now be a minimum of 3m in length and may only curve in a single direction. The really big news is that the jump heights are going to be lowered and an extra height will be introduced (making four heights in all) which I believe has taken more than a decade of campaigning to achieve. Sadly, this will not come into effect until January 2020 but knowing it definitely will be happening, even if perhaps not as quickly as we would have liked, is better than it not happening at all.

So, lots to be thankful for in the agility world for the future. In the meantime, we shall now go into Winter training mode with lots of agility workshops lined up, one indoor show in the diary already and we hope to brush up on our Hoopers skills too. Even I am planning to improve on my own fitness and have signed up for a series of workshops with the amazing Stacy Weeks at Control Precision Flow which is all about conditioning, speed and strengthening for the dog sport handler ….. it’s definitely the way to go!