Grade 2 Classes

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On 1st January 2007 the former Starters classes were replaced by grade 2.  The rules for grade 2 say that it's:

"For owners, handlers or dogs which have qualified out of Grade 1 but have not gained a first place in an Agility Class or three first places in Jumping Classes at Grade 2 at Kennel Club licensed Agility Shows, or elected to progress on points from Grade 1. N.B. Owners, handlers or dogs previously qualified out of Grade 2 (Starters) are not eligible for this class."
 

Grade 2 Courses

Some courses are fairly easy and others are more tricky with several twists and turns.   The easier classes really suit the speedy dog that likes a quick blast round but if you have a slower dog the more difficult courses will eventually be the ones you like best.  Most courses will have a "trap" that is designed to test the skill of the handler and the obedience of the dog.   It's up to you to spot the trap during the walking time and work out how you're going to deal with it.  Usually it's just something like a jump placed invitingly in line with another obstacle when you need to turn the dog in a different direction.  You can often spot the bits of the course that might cause problems by the number of people hanging about in that area.  Some will look worried while others will have called in their mentors.  The main thing is work out a strategy and practice it again and again.  It took me ages to cotton on to this but now that I have we hardly ever take a wrong course.  This doesn't apply to training classes where we take a wrong course most of the time.  This is mainly due too not walking the course first or possibly due to me not paying attention.  Oh dear, all these years after leaving school and still not behaving in class.
 

Video Clips

The clips shown below are starters courses but they are identical to the kind of courses you'd expect in grade 2 today.

Starters Agility

This was a large class with an easy course and the Judge expected a lot of clears.  In the event the one little bit that needed thinking about caught out some of the dogs, while others missed their contacts or the weave.  The smaller number of clears allowed us to come twelfth.  Getting a place isn't always about speed, even in a large class.

 

Starters Jumping - League Match

Here we're jumping as part of a team in a league match.  This was a nice easy course but it was more important to go clear and get some points rather than race round hoping to win. Here we're ever so careful at the weave so as not to get faulted. At the end of the starters classes our team came out on top with Jamie as top starter.  We won the match and came second in the league. 

Starters Agility - Individual Match

This video shows a common arrangement of jumps that you might come across in starters.  A box is a set of four jumps arranged in a square.  You will usually be asked to jump across two opposite sides of the square and then the course will bring you round so that you jump across the other two sides.   The danger is that your dog will want to jump out sideways so you need to come in nice and square.  This course looks easy down the home straight, with a nice sequence in a straight line.  Don't be fooled.  The dogs  picked up a lot of speed and left their handlers behind.  Those that hadn't been taught to enter the weaves from a distance picked up faults.  Jamie was halfway through the weaves before I caught up with him.  We were beaten into second place by 0.8 of a second but if I had taught him direction commands we would have won.  Sasha has been taught "Back" for left and "Right" for right.  

 

Starters Jumping - Individual Match

Here's a sequence that's often used at the beginning of a starters jumping course.  Three jumps set at right angles to each other.  To get the straightest line you need to jump at an angle.  This course is fairly straightforward but one or two jumps are offset.  Going towards the tunnel for the second time most people chose to cross in front of their dogs.  I chose to cross behind as Jamie is quite used to this and it was a bit quicker.

Jamie Gets His First Win

I couldn't believe it either. Accuracy and obedience rather than speed brought us our first win in Starters Agility at the Cornwall Agility Club match on 30th October. Thanks to Sue Pill for being such a lovely judge.   Here's a video clip of his winning round.  

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