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18th Annual
Saratoga Festival and Dressage
Memorial Day Weekend  May 26-27, 2007
Saratoga Springs, NY

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Dog Agility

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Dog Agility is a competitive sport in which a handler directs a dog over a timed obstacle course. Dogs race against the clock as they jump hurdles, scale ramps, race through tunnels, balance on a see-saw, leap through suspended tires, run across a plank 4 feet off the ground, and weave through a line of poles! Agility Certification Tests are being offered for several levels of difficulty in standard agility, snooker, jumpers, gamblers, and pairs relay. Scoring is either based on faults, as in equestrian jumping events, or on point accumulation. Competitors who achieve a specified number of clean runs (no faults) in their standard agility class, earn a title at that level and progress to the next level of competition. Because of its fast pace and simple, objective scoring system, dog agility is an exciting spectator sport.

The standard agility class is comprised of fourteen to twenty obstacles adapted from the equestrian world and military canine corps, set out in a pattern of the judge's choice. Handlers are permitted to walk the course without their dogs to develop strategy prior to each class. Course faults are assessed for errors such as knocking poles from hurdles, failing to touch the yellow zones on ramps of the "contact" obstacles (the A-frame, see-saw, and dog walk), jumping off a pause table before the end of a five second count, missed weave poles, and running off course. Course faults and time penalties are combined for a final score, with the lowest score being the winner.
Snooker is patterned after the British billiards game of "Snooker". The obstacles are labeled as to their color and point value which ranges from 1-7, with 'red' jumps having a value of 1. There is an 'opening' sequence of point collection, requiring the dog to successfully complete a 'red' jump prior to attempting an obstacle of any other color, followed by a 'closing ' sequence of a set pattern for obstacles 2-7.
Jumpers consist primarily of hurdles and may include a tire and tunnels and must be run in a pattern set by the judge.
Gamblers consist of a course with no pre-determined route and each obstacle is assigned a point value. In the 'opening' period the handler seeks to accumulate points by performing the obstacles of his/her own choice in the time allotted. At the conclusion of the 'opening' the handler attempts the 'gamble', a sequence designed by the judge to be handled from a distance, for additional points.
Pairs Relay consists of a standard course with one dog and handler running a portion of the course, followed by a baton exchange to a second handler and dog who run the second portion of the course.

The Dog Agility Masters® Team Championship is a pentathlon event which places emphasis on dog agility as a team sport, with each individual on a three-dog/three-handler team competing in each of five classes of competition: standard agility, snooker, jumpers, gamblers, and three-dog team relay. Team rankings and placements are based on the cumulative scores through the five classes of competition. The top 50% of the teams will be eligible to participate in the national finals to be held in Scottsdale, AZ.

The USDAA® Grand Prix of Dog Agility® is a single tournament class, offered as a local qualifier. Competitors earning 7 or less faults in each of two local qualifiers, may advance to one of six regional qualifiers across the country. The USDAA® Grand Prix of Dog Agility® World Championships will be held this November.

Agility began in England in 1978 as an "intermission" between events at the Crufts International Dog Show. It was so enthusiastically greeted that it became one of the most popular dog sports.
The USDAA was organized in 1986 and has grown to over 80 affiliated clubs nationwide, and more than 16,000 registered dogs.

Dog agility provides a great opportunity for people and their dogs who want to stay in shape, have fun and challenge themselves to compete for USDAA agility titles. The USDAA encourages agility as a family sport and is open to all dogs, purebred or mixed-bred.

For more information about local events and Y Agility, contact Brian Young, 4 Haber Way, Castleton, NY 12033. Phone/fax (518) 732-2180, or e-mail at [email protected]
For information about the national USDAA programs, contact Heather Smith, USDAA, P.O. Box 850955, Richardson,
TX 75085-0955. Phone (972) 487-2200, e-mail at [email protected], or visit the USDAA web site at