Sometimes I'm not sure why we do this. We get up at silly o'clock, travel a very long way, stand around for hours and hours and hours, and spend a total of about 2 minutes in the ring. All too often we didn't do so well and often it's raining. Then one day this happens and you know it was all worth it.
Entering your first show
It's really exciting to enter your first show and a bit nerve wracking to be honest. It feels like you're diving in at the deep end. Before you enter it's best to make sure you've checked the rules on registering and measuring. Each organisation has its own rules and you must stick to them otherwise your results won't count, you may have to give back any prizes and the organisation may impose a fine.
Where to find out about shows
The Kennel Club has an online tool for checking out which of their shows are being held across the country. You can search for a show using your postcode and bring up shows locally or anywhere in the country. You can also ask to search for shows within the next year or more. You'll need to filter the type of show you want such as breed, agility, flyball etc. The Kennel Club covers a lot of disciplines. You can find the Kennel Club tool here.
The Kennel Club doesn't publish shows schedules but the schedules are always published online. Most shows these days are entered via a show processor. This is an organisation that handles all the entries. You can check which show processor is handling entries in your area by checking the schedules published in the Agilitynet diary. The site provides links to all the schedules sent in by club secretaries including Kennel Club, UKA and other independent organisations. Be careful though, Agilitynet depends on the show secretaries sending things in. If they're a bit late you may well miss something when checking which shows to enter.
When you've found a show you think you want to enter open up the schedule and look through it. The schedule will tell you when and where the show is being held and will give you contact details for the organisers.
On the schedule below it says the closing date is 18th August. The other date on a Kennel Club schedule is the qualifying date. On the schedule below it's 27th August. All this means is that anyone who won a class that put them into a higher grade needs to enter the new grade if they won on or before 27th August. The schedule gives you a link to the show processor which in this case is called Agility Plaza.
If you've looked through the schedule and decided you want to enter it online you'll need to register with the show processor.
Once you've registered your dogs on the site you can enter your first show. I usually open the schedule and save it to a folder on my laptop so that I can access it easily at any time. Make a note of the closing date. If you want to leave your entry until pay day make sure pay isn't after the closing date. Clubs and show processors would love to accept late entries but under Kennel Clubs rules we aren't allowed to do it.
Decide which classes you want to enter. If it's your first ever show you and your dog will be grade 1 unless you're running someone else's dog that has won out of that grade. You can enter all of the classes you're eligible for up to the limit allowed by the show organiser. Occasionally there is a choice of classes but the organisers have set a limit.
The show processor site will have something like "enter a show" on their menu and it should be easy to complete all the questions on the website. Make sure you enter your dog at the right height and any confirmation of entries has exactly the right details. Usually if you make a mistake and it's before the closing date you can cancel your entry for the show and start again. Once the closing date for the show passes you can't amend your entry so double check everything is correct. Show processing sites usually allow you to pay the entry fees via bank transfer.
If you are taking a dog with you that is not competing at the show you'll need to enter the dog as NFC or not for competition. This lets the organisers and the Kennel Club know which dogs will be at the show even if they aren't competing. It is up to the organisers to decide whether they will accept nfc entries but I've never known anyone refuse.
Once the closing date has passed the show processor will let you know that your entry has been accepted. A couple of weeks later they will tell you your running orders are available. It takes this long as it gives the organisers time to work out their ring plans and decide which rings you will all run in. It's quite a lengthy job that's done by the show secretary and then passed around the committee for checking and amendments.
The other way of entering Kennel Club shows is by post. You'll need to complete the entry form and send it in along with a stamped addressed envelope. You'll have to pay for the entry using a cheque.
The schedule will tell you everything you need to know about the date and venue and what time the show opens, the judge's briefing and what time the judging starts. On the schedule below the judge's briefing is at 8.15. The judge will tell you important things like the time allowed to complete the course and they will sometimes give a reminder about not carrying food in your hand. The first classes start at 8.30 and you will need to have walked the course by then and worked out your strategy.
You'll also find details of the judges and the show personnel as well as the vet on call for the show on the first page of the schedule. This is crucial if a dog injures itself. There will be directions to the venue on the schedule as well.
Make sure you get there early enough to park and with plenty of time to find the ring where your first run is held. As well as walking the course and you will need to walk your dogs to make sure they pee and poo. You may need to shade the car and leave windows and a tailgate open for the dogs and give them some water. Switch on any air conditioning in the car. An early start is essential.
Entering UKA shows
All UKA shows now have to be entered through the show processor Agility Plaza.
The schedule will give you the date of the show and it will tell you the capping level. Sometimes entries have to be limited depending on the size of the venue and the depending on how big a show the organisers can manage. If the capping level is unlimited then you should be safe to leave your entry until the closing date. With UKA shows you can also enter on the day providing the capping level hasn't been reached. The classes are more expensive if you do it this way.
When entering UKA you can run a dog as NFC. This means the dog is running for practice only and will not be judged. You can train your dog in the ring for the length of course time and then you must leave the ring. You will still need to enter in the usual way but you'll need to tell the judge it's an NFC run on the day.
UKA has its own set of rules and you can find them on the UKA website.
The UKA main website can be found here.
There are many independent show organisers and each one has it's own set of rules. If entering their shows you should be able to find the schedules on the organisation's website or on Agilitynet if the organiser has sent them them schedule. In each case you will need to read the rules carefully as the independent organisers usually have different ideas to the Kennel Club and they may change things quite a lot.
Some very small independent organisations, perhaps a private trainer or a small independent club may only accept postal entries. In this case you'll need to read their rules very carefully.
Another thing worth mentioning is that it's an idea to make a note of the organiser's mobile number in case you get lost on the day. Some of these events are located in weird and wonderful places down tiny country lanes with no signposts. A club may put up their own signs on the road so that competitors don't get lost.
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