WAO 2016

So today I sit here with a cup of tea, watching videos of WAO on youtube and thinking about what a fabulous day I had there on Friday.

World Agility Opens in England?! How could I miss on the opportunity to go.

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Held at Addington Manor Equestrian Centre in Buckinghamshire, the venue was stunning with a big indoor main arena, a big outside arena on soft sand and a smaller indoor arena. We pulled up and parked in an outdoor menège (not sure the horsey people would appreciate that) and had a mooch around to get our bearings.

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Inside the main arena the seating areas were separated by countries so you could sit together to cheer for your team. The atmosphere was pleasant, with the two usual suspects on the mic commentating and the teams cheering for their fellow competitors. It was great to hear different chants from different countries, some of the teams were quite large and there was fantastic support.

The courses were tricky and challenging but looked fun to handle and quite fast and flowing in parts. We had great fun discussing how we would handle Anthony Clarke’s Team Agility 1 course in the afternoon and saw some fantastic runs.

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As we watched them walking the course we liked how Anna Heinze was handling it. She ran it beautifully and took the fastest time in the 650 height.

I was surprised to learn that Australia hadn’t been able to bring any of their own dogs so a person in England (sorry I don’t know their name to give them credit) had organised for them to use English dogs for the competition. You could see from watching that some of the partnerships weren’t quite used to each other, but despite this they were still having a great experience, representing their country and competing at a major event. Plus some of the Australian competitors put down some fantastic clear runs with good times. How lovely! All day I was just thinking have absolutely fantastic that was. What a kind and wonderful arrangement.

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Around the outside ring was a handful of stalls that you’d see at normal agility shows. Big wigs such as CSJ (who had sponsored the whole event) and the company who had provided the agility equipment.

I’m not sure what I thought the day would be like exactly, but I think I was expecting it to be more of a spectators event than it was. There were a handful of cars parked in the visitor parking, although I appreciate it was a Friday, but there didn’t seem to be much there for spectators. Of course the chance to come and watch world class agility is a huge thing, but I feel that more could have been done to encourage people and provide services for people new to agility. But then is that the point of WAO… to advertise agility… or is it just a big agility show for agility people.

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WAO is just one of the world agility competitions and perhaps the Kennel Club international competitions such as the European Open and FCI Agility World Championships are larger. Are they more spectator friendly? Or maybe they are less spectator friendly?! Perhaps they will come to England one day and I’ll be able to find out.

As this is the first time an international agility competition has been hosted by England while I’ve been involved in agility I personally think it was a fantastic opportunity to go and watch and I really enjoyed my day there. I did some filming on my Nikon D7100 and while there were some exposure and focus issues, I’m still pleased with this fun music video that I made from the day. Let me know what you think of it and if you would attend an international agility competition if it was hosted in your country.

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