Tuesday, November 2, 2010

National Agility Events – AKC and USDAA - compared..

Bill and I attended both the AKC Nationals in Tulsa, OK, as well as the USDAA World Games (AKA – Nationals) in Louisville, KY this year.  I’ve had a couple people ask me which I preferred.  In reality, it’s like comparing Border Collies to Portuguese Water Dogs, I love them both, but they are different. 

AKC Nationals moves every year.  This gives those in different parts of the country a chance attend a National.  Not everyone is willing to travel a great distance, or fly their dogs. Our preference would be to stay within a 13 hour driving range.  That being said, Marsha/Tessie, Krista/Lily, and Molly/myself, did do a ‘girls’ trip to Houston, TX.

As for USDAA World Games, they seem to stay in one location for an extended period of time.  I should probably give a disclaimer here, as I’m not totally sure it will be in Louisville, KY again next year.  That’s probably just wishful thinking, as it’s a pleasant 8-9 hour drive for us!  They were in Scottsdale, AZ for a few years in a row however.  So, I’m banking on that being the case here.  I could be wrong! 

As for the length, AKC Nationals run from Friday – Sunday (3.5 days).  Generally you arrive on Thursday to get checked in, pick up the ‘goodies bag’ and get crates unloaded and set up.  

Friday is the “State” competition, and you can run twice.  This consists of one International Standard course (no table), and one JWW course.  It’s not a required entry, and most people use them as ‘practice’.  Time well spent getting your dogs, as well as yourself use to the surface and equipment.  Normal AKC Scoring rules applied and you get ribbons for clean runs.

On Saturday you run two courses again, Standard (no table), and JWW.  On Sunday you will run once, unless you've made the finals or challenger round.  If you run in the challenger round and win, you move to the finals.  So overall for the 3 days you could run as from 5-7 times.  Normal AKC Scoring rules applied and you get ribbons for clean runs.  These clean runs do not count toward title legs however.  

For AKC Nationals, plan on long days!  Arriving at the facility by 6:30 am, and leaving around 9 pm.  Normally the 20” class is the largest, around 300 dogs, the 12” class, normally isn’t far behind.

The Championship round is based on a Standard Course (without a table), and is run on Sunday Evening.  

 AKC Nationals - Tulsa, OK

USDAA World Games - Louisville, KY

At the USDAA World Games this year, it ran from Tuesday – Sunday (6 days).  I’d heard it was one day longer this year, but I don’t know if that was true.  Tuesday was the ‘arrival’ day; you received a ‘goodies bag’, found your crating space, and in the late afternoon ran the European Standard course.  This class wasn’t part of the National competition, but gave you a chance to get on the dirt and equipment before competition began the next day.

There are multiple variables at this event that determines the number of times you run.  If you qualified in all 3 Events, DAM Team, Grand Prix, and Steeplechase, you ran more often than if you only qualified for one or two events. 

If you qualified in all three events, you were guaranteed 4 runs in DAM Team (Gamblers, Standard, Snooker, Jumpers), and one run in Grand Prix, one run in Steeplechase.  There were also optional classes; European Standard and Renooks (aka-snooker backwards).  So, a minimum of 8 runs over 6 days.  If you did well, starting in the Quarter Finals, you could run as many as 13 times over the 6 days. 

Scoring for USDAA is slightly different than AKC as bars down, and refusals will result in a fault, and added to your ‘score’, while an off course is elimination.  There are not ribbons for clean runs, but there are for placements. 

The largest class is the 22”, which consists of dogs under 21” tall.  There were approximately 335 dogs competing at this height. 

There were more days involved in this event, but the days were shorter.  Arriving around 6:30 and ending by 4:30.  Times could vary slightly, depending on your walk through times and running time. 

The Steeplechase finals are run on Saturday Evening.  The Grand Prix finals, and DAM Team finals are run on Sunday afternoon. 

Regardless, National Events are always exciting to attend!  You get to see some amazing dogs and handlers! With AKC’s event in the Spring, and USDAA’s in the Fall, it gives you a nice respite between the two.   If you have a chance to attend one or both, I say "DO IT!"

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