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Special classes at Kennel Club licensed shows are those
classes that don't count towards progression. For instance you may
have entered your dog in graded or combined classes in agility and
jumping and another class such as a helter skelter or pay on the day
jumping. These last two classes would be described as special classes
and they don't give you points towards your agility warrant or count towards
progression. However, the jumps would be at full height. If you
aren't quite ready for this yet or you have an older dog there are other
options available to you.
In UKA the steeplechase is a standard class and in counts towards progression in their Steeplechase programme. You might also find steeplechase classes at Kennel Club shows. They don't count towards progression but they are good fun. Usually the steeplechase consists of jumps and tunnels with no weaves or contacts. In the higher grade classes you may sometimes find a weave.
I find the steeplechase classes very good confidence builders, especially when the course is straightforward and there are no really awkward bits. At UKA shows the courses are generally big open courses with the jumps quite widely spaced apart. If you can send you dog on you should do well, especially at the beginners level.
Here's Sasha in the grade 1 and 2 steeplechase at a Kennel Club match. Our little stumble at the first "star" causes us to lose a couple of seconds. To give an idea of time Sasha got round in 20 seconds and the winner did it in 18 seconds. November 4th 2012.
Veterans classes are normally for dogs that are nine years old or older but check the schedule in case the club allows dogs a year or two younger to enter the class. The jumps are usually lower than you would expect in the standard classes and the courses are usually fairly straightforward. You won't often find a tyre or a weave and in veterans agility you may not see an A-frame. The prizes may be clear round rosettes or there may be trophies and places on offer. A dog that is entered in veterans won't be allowed to compete in other classes on the same day. Classes like this enable dogs to carry on enjoying agility well into old age.
The clip below shows a veteran's agility class.
Just to prove me wrong There is both an A-frame
and a weave. Jamie gets a lovely clear in 33.9 seconds and was only
just out of the places.
Veterans Agility - Cornwall Agility Show Sep 2007
Any size classes
Any size classes are for dogs that aren't competing in the main graded or combined classes. As a rule you can't enter other classes on the same day if your dog is entered for an any size class. The courses are normally fairly straightforward with jumps set at 35cm and you won't usually find a tyre or a weave.
If you're wondering why people enter a class like this it's generally because they have a dog that is unable to manage the standard classes. This is ideal for beginner dogs that haven't learned to pace themselves yet but need some experience of jumping at a show. It's also ideal for dogs coming back from an injury or for any dog that is unable to do full height jumps but still enjoys competing.
Here's Jamie in any size jumping at a club match. He was getting a bit bored not doing anything and I was able to enter him on the day as it was a match. The secretary kindly said he he could do the class and gave him a cuddle too. This is the last time he ever competed but from time to time he still enjoys a few very small jumps at a fun day or in a fun run. Dogs that have done agility for most of their lives miss it when they can't compete so even a few little jumps now and again helps to make them feel included. Jamie and another real oldie came joint last in this class but myself and the other handler were beaming like Cheshire cats because they'd loved it so much. It isn't always about winning.
Some of the other organisations have special classes for older dogs or dogs that need jumps to be set lower than normal. UKA has casual classes and nursery classes. Dogs of 16 months can enter the nursery classes and here you'll find both jumping and agility. The agility ring doesn't include a see-saw in the nursery class. You'll need to see their website for details of these classes.
Just for fun
Finally your club may have fun days or barbecues where the dogs have an informal competition just for a bit of fun. If you have an oldie or a youngster that hasn't yet competed these fun runs are an ideal introduction.
Here's Sue with her young dog Flick when we did a little fun run after setting up a show. The fun run gave the youngsters a bit of experience in a different environment and the oldies did a few little jumps as well if they wanted to. Flick is well grown but she's too young to compete. She'd only had three lessons when she did this run over small jumps. She's going to be a star!
...and here's Sasha being unusually well behaved over the same course but with full height jumps. Shame it didn't last!
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