On October 14th, 2017 the 2nd annual Midwest Agility Open took place in Dixon, IL at the Granny Rose K-9 Enrichment Facility. Last year the event was held outdoors at my house, but this year I wanted to move it inside because you don’t want to tempt mother nature too much. And as it would happen, thankfully we went inside this year. It was a gloomy and rainy all day long with periods of thunderstorms and torrential rain. As I told the competitors during the briefing if we were doing this outside and I woke up to this I would have told everybody not to show up because I wouldn’t have went outside in it. Granny Rose has fantastic turf that is great for dogs and handlers. On top of that, they have a turfed ring of 110×90 which allows for some fantastic course design focusing on allowing the dogs and handlers to open up and run.
For the event this year I took on the task of designing the courses. I’ve been designing courses only for my classes and workshops that I teach at, but never for an event that competitors were paying to attend. So I felt a lot of pressure to design great courses. Thankfully Linda Mecklenburg agreed to be my course reviewer to insure safety, flow, and challenges were upheld. She designed the courses for my 1st Midwest Agility Open so I knew she would be a good resource to insure my courses would be good. Her help was greatly appreciated as she has such great insight into course design. She offered many great tweaks of my courses that upped the challenges in certain sequences, produced a better line, or just in general made me think more about elements I included in my courses. One of the things she pointed out was that I like to make backside jumps on a straight approach and not on slices that create better flow for the dog. I looked back through my courses and never even noticed I was doing that. So I will be keeping that in mind for future course designs. One other item about course design that I have now registered into my brain is putting slices on a jump that includes the start or finish timers. I don’t ever user timers in my classes or workshops so it was something I didn’t even think about. However, I did this on 2 or 3 of my courses for this event and actually had 1 dog crash the timer because of the slice. Thankfully, the dog wasn’t hurt and no other dog crashed into them, but that is definitely something I will take into account from now on.
As for the event itself we had 25 dogs entered with 22 showing up. Height breakdown was the following: 24″ – 8 dogs (5 running); 20″ – 10 dogs; 16″ – 5 dogs; 16″ Performance: 1 dog; 12″ – 1 dog. The competition was small, but fierce. Each course was longer and had more obstacles than most of the competitors have ever run on. The smallest course was 181 yards long with the longest being 236 yards. 6 of the courses were 200 yards or longer. 7 of the courses were 22 obstacles long while 1 course was 23 obstacles long. 2 teams (Curt/Winston & Kathy/Totem) in the 24″ class were able to navigate all 4 courses with incurring an E. All of the other jump heights saw the teams incur at least 1 E at some point.
Because of the small turnout all dogs were eligible to run in the final round, but only teams who ran at least 1 round without an E were eligible to win the prize pool in the final round. The 24″ class had 3 dogs running for the prize. The 20″ class had 7 dogs. The 16″ class had 4 dogs. The 12″ class had no dogs. The final round was a standalone round that was for all of the glory. No previous round’s results mattered. To win the final’s prize pool you needed to put it down against the competition. When the smoke cleared we were able to crown the winners for each height. In the 24″ class Curt Meissner and Winston took home the gold by turning in the only clear round. Cathy/Totem & Laura/Dash put in some fast times, but each had at least 1 fault. In the 20″ class, it came down to the last run of the class. Steve Schwarz and Flyer came into the final round seeded #1. We had already had 1 clear round in the 20″ class so Steve and Flyer needed to not only put in a fast time, but needed to do it clean to insure a win. After 23 obstacles they came out the other side clean and fast. In the small, but competitive 16″ class Deb Schulman & Trek were able to survive the tough course by turning in the only non-E run in the class.
Even though deciding to put on these types of events is always scary and risky each time I have been so happy that I did. Hearing the competitors talk with glee about the courses will never get old. Seeing the teams go out, execute the course, and then react with excitement when completing the course makes everything worth it. I will continue to put these events on–looking to do 2 of them next year–and will try to support (judging, course design, logistical support, etc.) any club/individual who wants to put their own on.