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The President's Message

USDAA president Kenneth Tatsch shares some end-of-the-year thoughts. 


Agility has come a long way from its beginnings in Great Britain, with a 45-degree ascent angle on the A-frame (90 degree angle at the apex or an approximately 6'3" high A-frame), a tire with an aperture of 15", weave poles with spacing of 18", and a 30" jump height for all dogs. Wanting to level the playing field for dogs, USDAA introduced a four-height system in 1989 to be more inclusive while retaining the sporting aspects of conditioning and performance. The evolution continued in that vein, with an adjustment to jump heights and the introduction of the Performance Program in 1999, offering an alternative program for handlers seeking a less strenuous avenue for enjoying competitive sport. In more recent years, the lowering of the A-frame to a 41-degree ascent angle (app. 5'11") for large dogs and a 38 degree ascent angle (app. 5'6 ½") for small dogs has taken the edge off of impact. This shows recognition that the popularity of the sport has seen events become more frequent, along with the increased physical demand that I'm sure the sport's creators never thought possible. Now, with another 15 years of growth, the introduction of two additional jump heights continues the evolution by further leveling the playing field while holding fast to what is now a proven sports framework.

Please take a moment, if you haven't already, and check out the summary of rule changes on obstacle and course performance standards recently posted on usdaa.com. For those in the Performance Program wishing to move laterally into either the 14" or 18" jump height classes in the Championship Program, please do not forget there is a deadline for filing the form necessary to exercise your option to move laterally between programs. That deadline has been deferred until January 31, 2014. After that date, a lateral move to Advanced or Masters will not be possible. To be clear, note that an election does not mean you must move, only that you are able to move laterally at a future date at the level you at which you are eligible on January 1, 2014. If you have any questions on this, please contact the USDAA office at rules@usdaa.com, or contact Heather Smith at (972) 487-2200, extension 102. Also, be sure and check out the 2014 tournament regulations recently posted. All of these amendments and documents can be found in the Rules & Regulations section at www.usdaa.com/rulesreg_eBook.cfm.

With every major change, there is a great deal of study that goes into the formulating and implementing a revised framework. Such changes are the result of a lot of hard work by office staff, board members, course reviewers, and others to help vet and/or implement the new framework and prepare for the coming year. For many, this will run on into the New Year. I extend a heartfelt thank you to all of those involved for the time and energy they have contributed to this project, and I ask competitors to join me in thanking all of the USDAA affiliated groups for their willingness to bring these changes about. For many, it is not without considerable expense to replace jumps or retool existing jumps. I'm sure they would appreciate a show of gratitude through greater volunteerism. Groups will need increased help in managing the added jump height changes during an event. No sport succeeds without the efforts of volunteers, so if you haven't pitched in to help for a while, please include among your New Year's resolutions to step forward and help those who bring agility to you in your community. The growth of the sport was only possible through the giving spirit of many volunteers. Just an hour a day can make a tremendous impact on the efficiency and enjoyment of an event for all.

With the New Year come new opportunities, and I wish everyone a very Happy New Year!

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