UKI: A New Agility Frontier
By Brenna Fender
UK Agility International (UKI), an American offshoot of an international agility flavor, held its first trial in the US on May 29 and 30 in a suburb of Austin, Texas called Cedar Park. Sarah Dow, the trial manager from trial host LoneStar Agility, felt that the event was very easy-to-run and successful. “The first trial went smoothly without a hitch; it was so easy and [UKI creator Laura Derrett] is always so fantastic and available for any questions,” she says.
Since then many trials have been scheduled, indicating steady growth. Laura Derrett (who began the organization with her husband, Greg) believes that UKI has gotten an excellent start. “With all the shows that have happened so far response has been quite good. We immediately sent out reviews to the judges, trial managers, and to some competitors and have received quite a bit of positive feedback on the trials. People love the Not for Competition (training rounds) runs, the variety of course design challenges, new games like Snakes & Ladders, and the relaxed atmosphere. This is very interesting to me as we have received this comment over and over again in the UK; in fact our trials in the UK have been coined ‘the way agility used to be.’ It is important to us that this carry over to the North American market, and it looks like it already has started.”
UKI has some differences from more familiar forms of US agility, including allowing training (with toys) in the ring (any run can be declared “Not for Competition” (NFC) and used for training) and titling via a point system. (For more information see Clean Run’s article on the subject click here.). Are these differences well received? See what competitors saying about the version of the sport:
Sherry Swanson (Competitor, Edmond, Oklahoma) says, “I have competed at two UKI trials: one in Edmond, Oklahoma and one in Springdale, Arkansas. At the UKI trials I found the registration and entry process to be extremely easy and user-friendly. Both trials were quite small but had a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and everyone seemed to be having a good time. The courses were fair and yet challenging. The variety of courses was fun and there was no ‘QQ pressure.’ The option of running a dog “Not for Competition” was great for providing a trial atmosphere and still be able to reward on course.”
Toni Duralski (Competitor, Nunes Agility Field trial in Turlock, California on June 12 and 13, 2010) comments, “Everyone loved being able to do “day of [show]” entries. I think that’s a great idea as you never know if something is going to come up or if plans will get changed, dogs come into season, etcetera. Another positive was the “Not for Competition” aspect. That is a great thing for me and my baby dog. If we have an off run or need to work on a specific aspect, I can take a toy in for the next run and get her focus back or train on whatever is needed and I can do this in a trial atmosphere which is so hard to replicate.”
Ariel Solomon (Competitor, LavaDogs trial in Brownsville, Oregon on July 17-18, 2010) says, “I absolutely loved my first UKI trial! The courses were fast, fun and challenging! I loved the having the option to train in the ring; this gave me a forum to bridge some of the gaps my dog and I have between training at home and a trial. Having this option also lent a relaxed feel to the whole trial and took a lot of the pressure off. It took the focus off of Qs and put it back on learning and having fun with your dog. I loved that if a course had a particular challenge I wanted to work on, or I just felt brain-fried, I could opt to train!
There was really nothing I didn’t like about the trial. It went a little slower than other trials, but this had more to do with the newness of the venue as opposed to the UKI format itself. I am really hoping that UKI will continue to grow in the US. I thoroughly enjoyed the trial, and I’ve already signed up for more!”
Brownsville, Oregon UKI trial. Photo courtesy of LAVA DOGS
Laura Hartwick (Competitor, Nunes Agility Field trial in Turlock, California on June 12 and 13, 2010) shares her impressions, “The Derretts are working really hard to get this going, and I really appreciate their hard work. It’s not easy to start a new venue, and I love the idea of experienced competitors starting up a venue themselves based on what they, and their peers, like about agility. Very DIY.
The courses felt different than typical USDAA courses, yet similar at the same time. The way things were run, rules, entries, jump heights, and so forth, were an easy transition for me from USDAA. NFC runs are brilliant and totally different. The ability to do a training run during a trial with a toy in the ring, especially with my young dog, was almost too good to be true.”
First place winners strike a pose at California's first UKI trial. Photo courtesy of Veronica Adrover
Mary Van Wormer (Trial Manager, Nunes Agility Field trial in Turlock, California on June 12 and 13, 2010) says, “Overall, I have to say that hosting UKI was extremely easy! The UKI organization takes care of a lot of the responsibilities that usually falls onto the trial secretary and even though this was one of [the UKI organization’s first American] trials they were ready to go. I don’t think we even had one glitch; it really went extremely smooth. We have hosted “first trials” before so we do have something to compare it to. This UKI trial went exceptionally well.”
Sarah Dow (Trial Manager, LoneStar Agility trial in Cedar Park, Texas on May 28 and 29, 2010) has this to say, “The trial managing process for UKI is a breeze! I would call it very easy. It is the organization with the least amount of overall red tape and definitely the least amount of work for trial secretaries/managers. Other organizations require the secretary to do all of the entry paperwork; UKI’s system is so easy since it’s mostly online, and then all of the trial paperwork just shows up in the email box for printing. Even the day of show entries go very smoothly and I love that option, and getting to run NFC if we choose on a run.”
Danielle Carducci (who earned UKI’s very first leg and then UKI’s very first title), her dog Anja, and judge Lisa Jarvis at the LoneStar Agility Trial. Photo courtesy Sarah Dow
If you are interested in checking out a UK Agility International trial near you, visit http://www.ukagilityinternational.com/ShowDiary.aspx for information on upcoming trials.