Tuesday, May 18, 2010

ASCA Agility

There are several different organizations that sanction agility trials and they all have their own rules and quirks. Normally, we trial at only AKC events, but this past weekend we had our first experience with Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) Agility. I have to begin by saying that this trial was out of the ordinary for any club. After days of rain, and continuing rain during the trial, the ground was saturated, making an extraordinarily muddy course. Obviously, this in not the norm for any organization. However, I will try not to let the course conditions color my opinion of this experience.

I have mixed feelings about ASCA agility.
The courses seem to be designed for speed with huge looping turns and long straight ways. It appeared to me that the standard course times (the time you are given to finish) was shorter than in AKC- meaning that a slow dog would have a difficult time finishing the course in time. For us at least, it was much easier than AKC because speed is never a problem. Also, ASCA does not call a "refusal" meaning that the dog can stop, look away, or even go around an obstacle as long as they are taken in order. I would never make it through those long straight runs without it, because Maggie will stop when she is 2 or more jumps ahead of me and encourage me to catch up. In AKC, that is a refusal, so we would be eliminated.

At least on this trial, and this judge, I did not see any difficult handling sequences... no off-course jumps set up to "trick" the dog or difficult discriminations (two obstacles side-by-side and the dog has to do the right one). Though the gamblers courses did seem more difficult than an AKC FAST run, requiring the dog to get some serious distance from the handler to complete the gamble.

ASCA is also less "serious." Now this might be because the only ones willing to run in the mud had to have a sense of humor, but everyone seemed to have a lot of fun. There was joking and kidding, almost everyone pitched in to set up courses, and it wasn't a big deal if dogs ran out of order if someone needed to change running order (a complete heresy in AKC-YIKES!) I liked the idea of having a "high in trial" and "high in level" award. Not only are the ribbons and honor nice, but it keeps everyone there until the end of the day to receive their award (so they can help work the trial). One of the things I did not like was that the judge changed the rules about running times for someone after they didn't make course time and complained. I could understand the judge adding some seconds for course conditions, but to change rules in the middle of the day because someone complained was unprofessional. But then keeping a trial fun/flexible and staying professional is a thin line to walk.

Another plus to ASCA is that you can run more than one per day (per event). In AKC, we have on Jumpers run, one Standard run and maybe one game. In ASCA, we got two of each, so instead of 2 or 3 runs, we got in 6 during one day, twelve for a 2 day weekend.

Overall, I'm okay with ASCA. I would do it again if it were in town and didn't conflict with an AKC trial, but I would not travel all over for a trial. I guess because an ASCA championship title would be much easier (for us) to earn, it didn't give me the same level of satisfaction. But you can't deny that we had a lot of fun!

No comments:

Post a Comment