1) A maximum of two tunnels may be used per course.
Tunnels are roughly 24" in diameter. As an example, Vegas is 32.5" at the withers. Getting into and going through a tunnel is a significant act of fitness for giant breed dogs. While AKC does not pose the rigors that other venues may with a limited number of runs per weekend (2-3 possible entries versus up to 5 a day in CPE), tunnels are still hard on the body. In talking with an AKC representative a while back, I did inquire into larger tunnels. She told me that the AKC had inquired; however, the cost of custom made larger tunnels was too prohibitive for clubs. Therefore, this rule change came about as a compromise.
|Photo Compliments of Nina's Photograpy|
For the most part this was not an issue for us - surprisingly. However, I know some dogs had to adjust their stride to the point of a change in gait or change in lead to make sure they touched the contact on the way up. Most competitors were pleased that up contacts are no longer required. Personally I believe the down contact is harder on a giant breed dog's body, and even some of the smaller but fast breeds. After all, with momentum behind them coming to a stop at that angle, there is potential for strain on the body. The down contact rule, of course, was put into place to prevent dogs from bailing off too soon and risking other injury such as broken bones.
3) There is no longer a down or sit criteria for the pause table.
This was one of the most exciting rule changes to me. The table is 36" square. The body of a giant dog (E.g. Vegas) is at least that long and then you add in a reasonably comfortable bend of the leg and it truly becomes a production to lay down on the pause table. My understanding of the pause table is that it serves to ensure control within the run. I am okay with that. But this change not only resulted in less frustration for us this weekend, it saved us an average of 5-10 seconds that it would take for me to get Vegas to sit or down. As an example, our standard run on Saturday was 11 seconds under course time. We've been under course time previously but never more than a couple two or three seconds. Eleven was an amazing number and I am so relieved for this change. Of course handlers can continue to request a specific position from the dog on the table, but it is no longer required. I had thought about requesting a sit but then Vegas has to take that extra second to get up. For now, we'll stick with a stand and that five-second countdown begins the "second" all four feet are on the table.
4) A 180 degree turn from the exit of a tunnel to the ascent of the a-frame is not allowed.
This is a really big deal, one I hadn't given a lot of thought until our last CPE trial and some of our recent practices where this situation was occuring regularly. It is extremely hard on any dog's body to take the a-frame from a stand still. Some simply can't do it and risk strains to their joints, tendons, and muscles as they try to leverl themselves up using only upper body strength. I am glad the AKC regonizes this and has disallowed this course sequence from this point forward.
5) 2.9 yards per second plus 5 seconds for the pause table (standard course) and 3.55 yards per second (jumpers course).
There's pretty much nothing to say about this one but "YAHOO!" Okay, so yes it means the super fast dogs that compete in our height category (Dobermans) still get the same advantage. However, it also means we have the potential to qualify more often and earn more MACH points on qualifying runs. According to an instructor of ours, this can result in a 2 to 5 second advantage depending upon the course. I know for a fact we saw a difference already. As I noted above, we finished our qualifying Excellent A standard run in 11 seconds under course time. We also earned 5 and 7 points for two separate JWW runs under the new rules whereas previously we had "maxed out" at 4. The YPS minimums were adjusted for Novice and Open level teams as well.
All in all, our first weekend under the new rules was a positive one. I am planning on writing a letter to the CPE organization in regard to their rules in hopes of getting them to look at some of these changes and consider some modification for the safety and well-being of giant breed competitors. In the meantime, I'm even more pleased to be competing in AKC agility as I feel they really are taking into consideration all competitors and the safety concerns and physical constraints herein. Thank you, AKC!