February 23, 2017
Subject: A Case for Freestyle Agility
Dear Abolish the Crate Federation Members,
Today I am deviating from my “Trust Me Series” to present something that is very important to me and which I believe can change the agility world. Your attention to this is most appreciated.
I have participated in agility training since I was very young so I feel qualified to state that traditional agility could use some beefing up. Grady says my ideas are are far too radical and refuses to even have a conversation about changing agility. He considers himself an agility purist (I like to call him an agility holy roller) but I suspect Grady simply loves to run the course with Mom and only Mom. Any mention of changing that puts him in a tizzy (which is extremely out of character for Grady and a bit disturbing to watch).
I call my approach, “Freestyle Agility.” I wanted to call it, “Fly Through the Air Like You Just Don’t Care Agility (FTTALYJDCA)” but my marketing department vetoed that name, rather quickly I might add. Please note that your human plays a necessary part in running the course but the fundamental difference is that the dog gets to make most of the decisions as to course direction and obstacle performance.
What do I mean by freestyle agility? The dictionary defines freestyle as, “denoting a contest or version of a sport in which there are few restrictions on the moves or techniques that competitors employ.” Freestyle Agility utilizes the traditional agility course and obstacles but without the limitations inherent in the current system.
On a side note, close friends of mine know that I’m a big believer in creative self-expression and that I love to rattle the status quo. Freestyle Agility allows me to do that. Plus, I’m a big admirer of Evel Knievel and am inspired by his bravado and daredevil stunts. I believe that Freestyle Agility is a viable alternative to traditional agility and I’m here to lead the way.
Fundamentals of Freestyle Agility:
1. Always remember we are here to entertain. Sometimes that involves taking risks and “breaking the rules.” Freestyle Agility isn’t for everyone (certainly not the elderly), and that’s okay. Freedom to choose is what’s important. Go big or go home.
2. Numbered cones are unnecessary which means you don’t have to know how to count or how to run and count at the same time, which can be quite a challenge. Practically speaking, this means you never get a wrong course.
3. Making your contact is optional and entirely up to the dog. Personally, I like to mix it up and sometimes make my contacts and sometimes not. There are several reasons for this. One, it is a lot more fun. Two, it keeps my Mom guessing. Three, leaping from the A-frame seems to be a real crowd pleaser. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard approving gasps from the crowd. An added bonus is when Mom takes me off the course so I can leave on a high note.
4. When dealing with 12 or more weave poles, it is entirely acceptable to leave some out but you do get bonus points for making the entry. After all, that’s the important part.
5. There are times when passing an obvious jump is preferable. Avoid knocking down bars.
6. A sit-stay at the start line is always impressive and therefore desired. This is true no matter how far away your human goes or how long you have to wait to start running the course. I like to be as still as a statue but immediately leap into action when given the signal. Nine times out of ten, Mom looks both surprised and worried which makes me chuckle.
It goes without saying that Freestyle Agility is a controversial sport and will not appeal to everyone. Are you wondering if Freestyle Agility is a good fit for you? Personality types that seem to do best in Freestyle Agility are confident, reasonably athletic, indifferent to the opinions of others, creative risk takers and can think on the fly.
There you have it. Chapter and verse.
Dawson Earnest Huntley
President and CEO
Abolish the Crate Federation