Healthy attendance at the world’s largest agility festival


FROM POODLES to Papillons, and Manchester Terriers to Border Terriers - all scooped prizes at the Kennel Club’s fifth International Agility Festival that took place at Kelmarsh Hall, Northampton, from 14th to 16th August.

The event, which is sponsored by PRO PLAN, is the biggest agility event in the world and this year welcomed a record number of 2,600 dogs from 24 different countries. This is a 203 percent increase since the first year the Festival ran and is testament to the ever-growing popularity of agility as a sport.

For the first time ever a Companion Dog Show was held at the Festival, so that dogs and their owners could try their hands and paws at showing. There was also a ‘Have a Go’ ring where visitors could experience agility firsthand for themselves.

And the Kennel Club was this year hosting the Fight the Flab with Fido challenge at the event, which aims to get people and their dogs fitter and healthier through taking part in dog events and activities such as agility. This is particularly important as shocking research recently found that 52 percent of dog owners are too lazy to take their four-legged friends out for a regular walk, amidst a burgeoning obesity epidemic.*

Agility, however, is a real answer to this problem. It can burn up to 270 human calories in a one-hour training session. This can amount to 1,000 calories over the course of a weekend competition. And this is also good news for Fido - as one third of our pets are estimated to be overweight as a result of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles.

Those who were not competing or trying out agility and showing for the first time were simply soaking up the atmosphere and the sunshine, whilst watching thousands of dogs of all shapes and sizes run, jump and bark their way around the courses.

Winners included a Manchester Terrier, a breed which is on the Kennel Club’s Vulnerable Breeds list, and who also won the KC Novice Cup for medium dogs. Sophie Balchin also picked up a prize at the tender age of 10 - one year younger than her winning Working Sheepdog, who was having her final competitive run before heading into retirement. Also, Dawn Weaver’s Papillon, who was part of the winning England team in the Nations Cup for small dogs, was the first within the breed to ever become an agility champion.

Competitors came from all over the world, including Australia, USA, South Africa, Russia and Malaysia. The festival attracted a wide variety of pedigree dogs, from Border Collies and Rhodesian Ridgebacks to Yorkshire Terriers and Pomeranians.

The special attraction of the annual festival is that it is open to any dog, as long as the dog is registered on one of the Kennel Club’s registers (Breed or Activity) - making it the only world-class agility competition to be open to pedigrees and crossbreeds alike. Everyone gets a chance to compete, as well as the opportunity of securing a place at Crufts, making it possible for overseas competitors to qualify for the ultimate dog show for the first time.

Winners at this year’s event were:

• KC Starters Cup - Small: Anna Rayne and her Border Terrier, Stenigot Bubble and Squeak.

• KC Starters Cup - Medium: Sarah Woodley and her Terrier Cross, Racing Rocky.

• KC Starters Cup - Large: Julie Morgan her Weimaraner, Brimstone Just Tasmin.

• KC Novice Cup - Small: Val Amps and her Cairn Terrier Cross, Arnold.

• KC Novice Cup - Medium: Chris Garrett and her Manchester Terrier, Calot Gozava.

• KC Novice Cup - Large: Angela Williams and her Border Collie, Nedlo Jitterbug.

• International Young Handler - Under 12: 10-year-old Sophie Balchin and her Working Sheepdog, Fantastic Elastic

• International Young Handler - 12 and over: 13-year-old Sam Chapman and his Working Sheepdog, Gemini Jigsaw.

• KC British Open - Small: Dawn Weaver and her Poodle, Piquant Painted Sunshine.

• KC British Open - Medium: Bernadette Bay and her Shetland Sheepdog, Obay Truly Balanced.

• KC British Open - Large: Linda Hutchinson and her Border Collie, Darleyfalls Dark Secret.

• KC Nations Cup - Large: Won by ‘Rest of the World’. Winning team: Anna Eifert (Hungary), Magdalena Ziolkowska (Poland), Naomi Kameda (Japan).

• KC Nations Cup - Medium: Won by England. Winning team: Alan Gardner, Bernadette Bay and Adam Wildman.

• KC Nations Cup - Small: England. Winning team: Dawn Weaver with her Miniature Poodle and Papillon (Piquant Painted Sunshine and Tomring Just a Puzzle) and David Alson with his Papillon.

*A survey of 2,000 carried out by not-for-profit healthcare organisation, Nuffield Health.

View pictures from the show by clicking here

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