Pro 4th Height Opinions

 

Leslie Osborne Tracy Flower Charlotte Harding
Bernadette Bay Lauren Langman Ann Harmes
Paul Oldfield Cathy McDonald Jan Windsor
Jackie Kenny Jane Ellen Christiansen  Tom Mitchell,
Lydia Critchlow- Megan Jessica Mead Dr Audra Hurst
Martin Reid Kirsty Moyes, Louise McCulloch
Tracy Hudson Val Clarke Chris Garrett
Mandy Dumont


 

Leslie1Leslie Osborne: Having competed internationally with Fizz at both large and standard heights, there is no doubt in my mind that she was more competitive at standard height as for a dog of her size it was a more level playing field. I would fully support the fourth height being introduced at KC shows as long as it were to be fully inclusive for Ticket, Olympia & Crufts.
Back to Top


 

tracey1Tracy Flower: I am in favour of there being a fourth height as at the moment there is a large discrepancy in the jump height spacing. Dogs that have just measured out of Medium can really struggle with jumping 650mm. I like fairness and I believe having a fourth height at 550mm would make things a lot fairer for our smallest ‘large’ dogs.
Back to Top


 

CharlotteCharlotte Harding: Originally I didn’t see the need for a fourth height, however over the last 12 months I have changed my mind. Watching dogs at UKA, plus WAO, and competing abroad where dogs compete very comfortably at ‘standard’ has made me realise how much better it would be to have a 550mm jump height slotted in to the current three KC heights.
Back to Top

 

 

BernadetteBernadette Bay: There are many breeds, that no matter how fit and agile, will struggle to jump full
large height. Breeds like springer spaniels, cocker spaniels, tollers and shelties can just go over into the large category but will obviously struggle with the full height. Having a more appropriate jump height will allow these dogs and handlers to continue to compete at the activity they enjoy. We should be encouraging handlers to keep doing agility with the dog they have rather than collecting dogs just to do agility.
Back to Top


 

LaurenLauren Langman: Having a fourth jump height within the KC gives choice and allows a more practical and inclusive jump option. I think rather than ask why we should have it, my question would be why on earth not? After watching the 22″ category closely and seeing them as the most competitive of all of the heights in many other countries, I now fully support the need for a fourth height in the UK. This will allow all breeds and types to stay in the game and I firmly believe it is not only attractive but vital for the broad and well rounded growth of agility.
Back to Top


 

Ann1Ann Harmes: “I truly believe that the addition of a 4th height for smaller Large agility dogs will make such a difference to so many dogs, at all levels, right up to Champ! At present we have overflowing Large Championship classes, thus adding another height would alleviate this very quickly, leaving four competitive height bands that make far more sense than the gap that exists and affects many dogs. It just makes sense, both for the development of the sport – and not just in the uk as there is a much support for the addition of this height category across Europe also – and for the future longevity of our dogs. Back to Top


 

PaulPaul Oldfield My views are based on two main themes.
1) It is safer for the smaller Large dog to jump lower. Virtually all top handlers don’t train 100% on Large height, they put the jumps down. Old dogs jump lower because it’s safer for them, as do young dogs.
2) The proposed new height is more equitable for those smaller Large dogs that are at a significant disadvantage versus their taller contemporaries over the current Large height, and would fit in better with the current Small and Medium heights.
Back to Top


 

Tom Mitchell:

As a canine health/welfare researcher and behaviorist, I strongly support the fourth height movement. Agility is a game that a huge number of dogs and owners enjoy annually and is growing. With this rise in popularity, comes increased responsibility both for trainers (like myself), competitors and the overseeing bodies to ensure that the sport is positive to the welfare of the dogs and humans that partake in it. The issue of the fourth height is, however, one responsibility that lies completely with the overseeing bodies and, as positive welfare organisations, should introduce it. This isn’t simply a discussion of competitiveness of individual dogs but is to ensure all participants have a healthy, long, injury-free, fun and positive sports career ahead of them. Further to this, the Kennel Club, as an organisation promoting the welfare of dogs first and foremost and breed health secondarily, should take it upon themselves to ensure inclusion of all breeds and conformation types in the sport, which the introduction of a fourth height would be a positive step towards.
Back to Top


 
Cathy McDonald, International Handler:

Since returning to the UK from Europe and having the choice to run my smaller large dog at UKA & the WAO, I am now convinced more than ever that it is a good step forward for the KC to consider implementing the 4th height.

I have seen many smaller large dogs struggle jumping the higher 650mm height and also seen the same dogs jumping so much more comfortably the lower 550mm height – IMO because of this they can enjoy the sport for longer.
Back to Top


 

Jackie Kenny, KC Measurer and Show Organiser:

As an official Kennel Club Measurer who measures dogs on a regular basis, I am often dismayed when I have to measure a dog that is clearly just a bit too large for the medium category but also way too small for the large height category. What is the option for these dogs, of which there are quite a few? Well if the dog can manage the full height jumps then that’s what height it competes at, if it cannot then the dog either does the allsorts classes when they are on offer at KC shows or the dog and handler leave KC shows and compete in other organisations where the dog may jump lower heights.
Back to Top


 

Jane Ellen Christiansen (Denmark), FCI World Team Member, international  competitor:

For me it seems we have a group of dogs that jumps considerably higher than most other dogs. For instance the medium dogs jump maximum 29% higher than their own size. Large dogs may jump up to 51% higher than themselves. A 4th height would make it possible to set more fair rules where we can find heights where there is a consistency in how much higher a dog has to jump compared to the height of the dog. In my opinion any person buying a healthy happy dog should be able to compete in agility. It seems that a group of people easily get left out as they might not want to jump their dogs on a height that is physically hard on the dog. Or, maybe even worse, they will keep competing and ignore the struggle of the dog. When it comes to the discussion about the jump heights related to different breeds of dogs, I think that we should keep our eyes on the goal. Better, more equal rules for all dogs regardless of breed. Some people are very focused on border collies and the fear that more small bc’s will be bred, but there are so many other breeds that would benefit from a 4th height – breeds like Mudi’s, Pyrenian Sheperds etc. Breeds that naturally have a height that are around the cut off between medium and large. Actually some of these breeds are being bred smaller than the standard as things are now. People also get worried how it will affect the competition aspect. Of course we should take that in to account as well, but I hope that we still can keep the eyes on the goal as I said – making better, more equal rules for all dogs. I own a dog that is not even a really small large dog and she has been successful on the big stage, but I really feel that jumping on the large dog height for her is on her maximum capacity. How I would love to jump her on a lower height, and see her move more fluently and happily.
Back to Top


 

Lydia Critchlow- Canine Mctimony Therapist and owner of Digit Dogs:

As show manager to our club UKA shows the fourth height opens up opportunity for more dogs and handlers to succeed in agility. As a McTimoney Therapist I agree with proposals for the 4th height. This would open up accessible competition for the smaller height large dogs. Training these dogs over a lower jump height would increase their competition career.
Back to Top


 

Megan Jessica Mead:

The introduction of a fourth height would bridge the gap between medium and large; currently there is a 200mm height difference between these two categories – in contrast to the 100mm height difference between medium and small height categories. Due to such a large increase in height, dogs who are borderline large will be more prone to wear-and-tear whilst navigating a course in comparison to other large dogs; the addition of a fourth height would help eliminate this risk. As new research comes to light about the jump height of dogs it has become increasingly aware that the fourth height is definitely worth supporting for the future health of our dogs; after all, our dogs only have a limited number of jumps during their life.
Back to Top


 

Dr Audra Hurst:

I have a dog that measures 46cm and a dog that measures 56cm. One has to jump around 10cm higher than his height, the other nearly 20cm. It isn’t surprising that I really don’t understand why a 4th height can’t be brought in without research that doesn’t seem to have to take place for other welfare proposals. How can it be unsafe for my 46cm dog to jump 55cm when it’s considered safe for my 56cm dog to jump 65cm? I will always support robust, peer-reviewed research, but it is beyond me why it is needed here.

My 46cm dog is athletic, light and agile. She is competitive at large height. I keep her fit and well conditioned. She cross trains- swims, road walks, goes on the water treadmill. She does physio exercises. She has core strength to die for. I have trained her to collect herself and jump safely on turns. The only other thing I think I can do in order to keep her injury free-repetitive or otherwise-during her agility career is to ensure she jumps a height that is fair for her size.

My 46cm dog competes successfully at large height. But I have also competed her at standard height at UKA. I see a difference. She no longer has to contort her spine when she takes the back of a jump too close and wants to avoid knocking the bar and she can bounce jumps that are set at bounce distance. She is more comfortable and happier. To me, watching the way she jumps at large and standard height made it clear what height she should be jumping. My dog is light and physically built to jump, yet still I see differences. Other dogs of her size are not so lucky.
Back to Top


 

Martin Reid:

This is my first comment regarding the 4th height, not because I didn’t agree with it before or didn’t have an opinion either way, quite the opposite. I haven’t given my opinion before, because I thought I didn’t need to! I thought the 4th height only made sense, therefore presumed it would be introduced at Kennel Club Shows pretty much straight after the campaign started.

My first point, which I’m sure will be the same as many others’, is safety and longevity. Having competed for many years in the UK at 650mm with a dog which would most likely have measured into this new 4th height category, then competed internationally at a height of 550mm the difference is phenomenal. Not only was my dog more happy, comfortable and confident, I was too. This was because I could see how much he was benefitting at jumping a more suitable height for his size and structure.

I have heard many arguments against the fourth height, with people saying that if the dogs are fit enough for the agility, they will cope fine. This I believe is complete nonsense. I have my dogs physically checked over by multiple Physiotherapists, Chiropractors and Vets not only to ensure they are free from injury, but also to improve fitness levels. Following the dogs fitness plans, it can work them through intense muscle building exercises 1-2 times a week, this doesn’t seem like much, but when you are competing twice a week, and training agility specific skills once or twice a week, this really doesn’t leave much time for rest. I only work my dogs to this intensity at certain times of the year, as if I did this all year round I expect they wouldn’t last very long without breaking. However, when competing at the top of any sport how can you prioritise when the top events are spread across the year? March (Crufts), All Summer (Championship classes, Crufts/Olympia Qualifiers etc)  October (FCI World Championships), December (Olympia). My point is, a dog isn’t always going to be at peak fitness, in fact a dog will probably be at peak fitness for a month or two in the whole year. This doesn’t mean that my dog isn’t fit enough to compete the rest of the time, it just means that for smaller dogs it can be a struggle when not at this peak level of fitness.

Agility is supposed to be a sport for all. All sizes, all breeds and all levels. However I know of many people who have either gave up agility entirely or do not compete at Kennel Club shows, and compete at different organisations in order to have a weekend away with their dog jumping at a height the handlers feel comfortable working there dogs at.

Another reason I have heard why people have been against a fourth height is due to splitting class numbers therefore creating more cost to shows supplying rosettes and trophies etc. Again, this doesn’t make sense.  All shows I know of give trophies and rosettes to a percentage of the class, they calculate this number by the amount of entries. For example they might only give a 1st place trophy if the class has 50 dogs in it.  However, they then might give a 1st place and 2nd place trophy if there were a 100 dogs entered. If you split a typical Large height category class at a KC show usually there are hundreds of entries, therefore out of a class of 200, they would be giving out 2 trophies in each height category. Or, depending on numbers of entries at each height categories, maybe they would be giving one height category 1 trophy, and the other height category 3 trophies. Either way, they have the same expenditure.

The above point I feel is valid, however personally I feel is irrelevant. You cant put a price on a dogs safety or longevity not just in competing at agility but for other various health reasons as the dogs age.

My final point I wish to make, is class numbers in the large height category, particularly in Championship classes. This year the amount of entries for one reason or another in Large Championship classes have soared. If a 4th height was introduced, this would greatly reduce the numbers in these classes to a more manageable and competitive number. Following my earlier points, I can’t see how this would be a bad thing?

I look forward to hearing the response from the ALC meeting.
Back to Top


 

Kirsty Moyes, Scottish handler:

In Scotland there is a fantastic level of support for the 4th jump height. I firmly believe that a 550mm jump height would not only be logical but that it would also serve to protect the welfare of smaller large dogs. The UK showcases some of the most talented intermediate height dogs in the world and there is absolutely no reason why we should not be leading the way on this pressing issue.
Back to Top


 

Louise McCulloch Grade 7 handler:

I support the 4th height exclusively for health reasons. For a number of years I have competed with both a 500mm dog and a 600mm dog, I therefore have a balanced view and I’m able to see both sides of the debate. I want to enjoy as many years as possible running my dog, I truly believe the 4th height would reduce the amount of stress and impact on her body and would allow her more opportunity to compete for longer. I have recently moved my dog to veteran classes, she maybe older but she is still extremely fit and capable of jumping large height but I refuse to put that extra stress on her body. I support her health by feeding good quality food, providing extra supplements, hydrotherapy, massage and appropriate exercise, if the 4th height was available now we would still be able to enjoy challenging course in a more competitive environment.
Back to Top



 
Tracy Hudson and Val Clark, KC measurers and organisers of the TraVal shows:

“Having run shows and measured for a few years now we fully support the growing ‘need’ for a 4th height.Many people attended our shows and showed great support in their numbers by entering those dogs that just don’t ‘fit’ the usual Small, Medium or Large category. This meant that those people whose dogs measured just out of Medium but into Large actually had a class where they fitted and competed with their peers and with no detriment to their dogs.During our roles as KC Measurers, many times we have measured people’s dogs who were just literally out of the Medium category by a hair’s breadth. Many of those owners chose to cease their dogs KC agility career before it began, for the long term safety of their dogs. But many people would prefer to compete at KC shows and, after all, the KC is meant to be all inclusive!”
Back to Top


 

Jan Windsor:

“If you chart all the breed standard heights at withers for the dogs typically found in the UK, you can plot a straight line progression from the smallest to the largest, there is no sudden step up. Why don’t the jump heights follow the same incremental path – why is there a step change at Springer Spaniel height?”
Back to Top


 

Chris Garrett:

“The Kennel Club runs the campaign “Fit For Function:Fit For Life”. I would like to see KC agility take the lead on adding a fourth height, to be the “Function that’s Fit for More Dogs”.”
Back to Top


 
Mandy Dumont

I do KC shows because I like them and because all my friends do. I am also very involved in running a large KC show and as a club we do ring party at a lot of others. My summer weekends are KC shows. I have a dog that measured just out of Medium. This made me realise the implications if she could not jump the extra 20 cms needed because she was 1 cm too big. Dogs that measure just out of Small only have to jump 10 cms higher.
Back to Top

Leave a Reply