Land borrowed from the scouts

If you've been doing agility for a little while and all you've got is a small back garden you must be wondering where on earth you can find a bit of land to train.  I know some people have a field where six collies can run and they have a full set of agility equipment. The rest of us dream on. Land isn't cheap and it usually belongs to someone else.   Nevertheless you might be lucky and find a bit that you can use for nothing.   The land in the top photo belongs to the scouts and it's right next to a friend's garden.  The scouts meet once a week and the odd time they want to use the land it looks like a jungle. At least it did look like a jungle until we offered to cut the grass and keep it tidy in exchange for the use of the land the rest of the week.  It's easy to tidy the equipment away on scout days.

Adverse Possession

The Plot. Land that had been abandoned

My own little plot of land had been totally abandoned. No-one had used it for years except to dump their old rubbish.  It wasn't very big and no-one wanted to bother with it so I snapped it up.   I  made extensive enquiries before I fenced it in and used it.  I checked with the Land Registry to make sure it wasn't registered and I checked with the county council to see if it was common land.  I've used it since 1984.  Using land like this is called adverse possesion and you'd be surprised how many rights you actually have.  The government wisely takes the view that if the owners can't be bothered with it and it falls into neglect then the person who has fenced it and cared for it has the right to use it.  After twelve years the land can be claimed as your own.  You have to apply to the Land registry for the title. 

The Plot isn't very big but it's still useful for training.  The dogs have six jumps, a garden dog walk, a twelve pole weave, a full sized see-saw, a tyre, a pipe tunnel and a long jump.  I can't use all of the equipment at the same time as there wouldn't be enough room but it's still big enough to be useful.  We've even got a small shed on there which you can't see in the photo.  The equipment did cost us a bit of money but most of it we made ourselves including the see-saw. 

Buying cheap land

In the next village to ours someone has bought some wasteland from three different companies and turned it into fields for stabling and grazing horses.  The land was cheap but it must have cost a fortune to clear.   It's always possible that someone near you has a bit of overgrown land that they might be willing to sell.  If they're worried about development or think you're just out to make money discuss whether they would sell the land on condition that you don't develop it.  Another possibility is to agree that if development is allowed in the future you will give a part of the profit to the vendor.  In our village we've done this with the redundant chapel. The village has bought the chapel to use as a village hall but if we sell it we have to give some of the profit to the church.

Also keep an eye on land coming up for auction.  I've seen the odd bit of wasteland that's no good for building and too small for horses and it's gone quite cheaply.   

Sometimes landowners will split a field and sell it in plots of around 0.2 acres. A search of the internet might prove fruitful in finding something like this near you.  The plots can cost from around 3000 upwards and they're usually sold for investment along with the land owner's dreams of future devlopment and a fortune to be made.  I suspect that if this was true they wouldn't sell the land in the first place. 

I have seen a plot like this for sale on ebay.  In the photo there was a complete set of agility equipment.  The seller had bought the land but had to give up agility.   Needless to say the questions asked of the seller included "Are you selling the equipment?"

Renting Land

So what if you don't have three or four thousand stashed away?  Is there someone who might be willing to rent out a corner of a field or a bit of land that they don't use?   If you don't ask you don't get and you might be lucky.  Beware the person who says "You can use my land or garden for nothing if you clear it." I got caught twice like this.  Once I'd slogged over the clearance bit the owners wanted the land back again.  So much for kindly neighbours.  You may just find someone who is willing to let you share their land through a site like Landshare.  Although this is mainly for gardeners you might be lucky and find something near you.

The club training field

Our agility club shares a field with the person who rents it.  We both get a great deal out of it as the tenant gets the use of a full set of agility and hoopers equipment and we get the use of the field when it's not being used by anyone else.

Your own backyard

If you've searched high and low and still can't find anything how big is your back garden?

Chuck everything in a skip

I've been into a back garden that was completely devoid of anything except grass and was ready and waiting for the agility equipment. A back garden can really seem quite big once you've chucked out the flowers and the patio and the gardener.


When all else fails

If all else fails go to the park

If all else fails and you really haven't got anywhere to train you'll just have to make yourself some portable jumps.  Electric fence posts will do as weave poles and you can take the whole lot to the local park. Put some pipe over the fence poles and it will look like a weave.  It will be fun for you, fun for the dogs and it will entertain the local children.  Some local councils are actually providing agility equipment in the local park.  It's always worth asking if yours would be willing to consider this.  Good luck.

Finally, if you've decided to go for your own equipment, no matter how limited, it would be worth looking at the equipment section making your own agility equipment which is easier than you might think.