Grading review panel suggestions

By: Becca Middleton


Grading review panel suggestions

After much data gathering, the Kennel Club Grading Review Panel has agreed to put forward seven ideas for a revised grading system.

These ideas are being developed and refined and then will be put in front of the agility liaison council. 

The first idea is to reduce the number of dogs moving up the grades too quickly and also to reduce the number of dogs who have qualified for championship classes (grade 7) to form a pyramid with the majority of competitors at the bottom and only the best eligible to compete at the top. 

Second, the grading structure and progression approach should be the same for all heights of dog.

Jo Gleed and Lookylooky Ready or Not who won the CC at Hinkley.

Third, dogs should not be able to move down a level, progression to the next grade remains with the dog for life even if the dog is not performing consistently at the level it has achieved.   

Fourth, a separate grade could be retained solely for completely new handlers so that they would not compete against experienced handlers bringing out new dogs. So grades 1 and 2 would be merged and would relate to handler and dog experience, not the registered owner and clubs putting on competitions would be encouraged to offer  these classes exclusively wherever possible. 

Fifth, dogs will be required to achieve success in agility classes at each level in order to progress, not just jumping wins as is the case at the moment. 

Currently a dog can win up to grade 5 on jumping wins alone. 

The panel is considering three different options: that progression should not take jumping into account beyond the lower levels (ie grade 4), jumping wins could account for up to 50 per cent of progression awards throughout all levels and jumping wins could account for up to a third of progression awards throughout all levels.   

The sixth idea put forward is to do with eligibility for championship classes, where the dog will need to have shown recent success against its peers in the top grade. Challenge Certificates and reserve CCs awarded to a dog will ensure its eligibility at this level for life. 

Dogs in the top grade (grade 7) will have to prove their worth by being successful at this level before they can enter championship classes which will mean classes at the top level will be considered more meaningful. 

The initial proposal is that current grade 7 dogs can be awarded qualifying points in all standard classes at their grade whether graded or combined, points would be awarded to dogs placed in the top three in these classes, points attained in the 18 months prior to the closing date for a championship class would count towards qualification. The 18 month period is suggested to counter any seasonal variation in the number of shows held at any one time of the year. 

The final and seventh item is to do with progression at shows with small numbers of competitors and would place a lower value on wins with fewer dogs in the class and a higher value on wins where a larger number of dogs have participated. It has been highlighted that currently a win against one dog or 200 dogs is equal and will count towards progression if it is clear, which is deemed by the panel to be unfair.


Points system

By weighting the system according to how many dogs are in the competition would allow clubs to retain flexibility in standard classes as to whether they wish to offer graded or combined classes.

To be managed effectively a points system would require a central record of wins and points accrued. This needs further exploration, but is a more realistic proposal now that more shows are using a centralised system to record show results.

The grading review panel is now working on a proposal for a weighted points progression system which will be discussed further at the next Agility Liaison Council Meeting.

A paper summarising progress to date on this will be tabled at the meeting on July 17 for discussion.

There is still a long way to go with these proposals and if you would like to have your say or make any suggestions please make sure you attend one of the regional ALC meetings which will be chaired by each area’s ALC representative.

Nottingham championship and premier show championship results, the final judges were Charlie Wyatt (Small), Gary Murphy (Medium) and Dane Redford (Large).

Small CC Dawn Weaver and Galaxy’s Dream Summer; RCC Dawn Weaver and Dulcet Painted Cherokee.

Medium CC Sian Illingworth and Ag Ch Arnpriors Made of Honour; RCC Cameron Bunce and Zigazag Ha.

Large CC Lee Windeat and Ag Ch Darleyfalls Pipistrelle; RCC Chris Kawecki and Ozzy The Thunderpup From Khaoskye.

Hinckley championship and premier show championship results, Large was judged by Andrew Dicker and Small and Medium by Graham Partridge.

Large CC Jo Gleed and Lookylooky Ready or Not;

Res CC Steven Richardson and Morgansr Digital Demon.

Medium CC Cameron Bunce and Zigazag Ha AW(S);

RCC Steven Swankie and Crash and Burn Fern.

Small CC Lara Stapleford and Jet Black Jazz;

RCC Jo Turner and Twinyos Golden Eye.

“Just a reminder to everyone who competes with their dogs to be grateful for and relish every run we have with them and to treasure every moment.” This was written by Linda Mecklenburg who is a very well-known trainer from the USA and sums up perfectly how I believe we should be with our dogs.

“You cannot fret at how wide his turns are, how slow his times are, how so and so beat him etc.  You cannot be disappointed in him. You must instil confidence. You must build trust. You must come off the course making him feel like a champion no matter what happened.

“Your response at the end of the run should be so positive that your dog wants to make it happen again. 

“You must convince him he is a champion even when not doing agility (tell him, and believe, what a great dog he is).  You must believe in your dog so he can believe in himself.”