Cape Region residents can now watch the fastest-growing dog sport in the country in person.
The Blue Heron Agility Association of Delaware, a licensed American Kennel Club, holds sanctioned agility trials throughout the year in the Delmarva area. BHAD’s first trial of 2014 will be held Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 8 and 9, at Heartland Equestrian Center, 200 Robbins Road, Frederica. This trial will take place in an indoor horse arena with a giant heater around which people can meet and greet.
Agility trials start early in the morning and usually run through the late afternoon because course times and jump heights are adjusted according to the dogs’ skill levels and size to make the competition equal among entries. Visitors can watch trials all day. Admission is free.
This trial offers three types of classes in increasing levels of difficulty to earn titles of Novice, Open, Excellent, Master and Master Agility Championship. The Standard class includes contact obstacles like the dog walk, table, A-frame, and teeter (seesaw) as well as weave poles, various styles of jumps, a tire (hoop) and tunnels. The Jumpers with Weaves class does not include any contact obstacles. Time 2 Beat is a class built primarily with obstacles from JWW with the judge’s option of including one or two contacts. This class differs from JWW and Standard because each dog has the chance to set the time to beat for each jump height division instead of the time being set by the course yardage as measured by the judge.
The schedule for the Frederica trial is as follows: Saturday, Feb. 8, highest jump height to lowest for all classes: T2B; all JWW classes (Excellent/Masters, followed by Open and then Novice), all followed by STD classes (Excellent/Masters, to Open, to Novice); Sunday, Feb. 9, lowest jump height to highest for all classes; all Standard classes (Excellent/Masters, Open, Novice), followed by all JWW classes (Excellent/Masters, to Open, to Novice).
After the last class Saturday, there will be a demonstration by the Delaware State Police Canine Unit. Late last year, BHAD donated $2,000 toward the purchase of two bulletproof vests for these highly trained dogs. Selected members of the unit will show how these canines work with their handlers and the importance of the vests when carrying out their duties.
The club invites the public to volunteer as ring crew, leash runners, and score runners to help the trial run smoothly and efficiently.
Agility requires physical conditioning, concentration and training for both dog and handler to complete an obstacle course successfully in the designated amount of time. At any given agility trial there will be youngsters, Medicare-card-carrying seniors and people of all ages in between.
There are several training opportunities in the Delmarva area, including BHAD. This club offers outdoor group classes in Georgetown for the beginner to the experienced dog and handler in spring, summer, and fall. Instructors Sandy Moody and Joy DeSipio also conduct a limited number of private and semiprivate lessons and several weekend workshops throughout the year for intensive handling training.
For more information, go to www.bhaad.org.