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Event Report: NOMAD's Stowe, Vermont Trial

Making memories in a mountain meadow! By John Marcus

"Not all who wander are lost," wrote J.R.R. Tolkien in The Fellowship of the Ring. This certainly applies to the members of NOMAD, Vermont's agility club. NOMAD (Northern Magic Agility Dogs) has a trailer full of agility equipment but does not own or lease any buildings or property.

Formed in 1995 to host agility seminars, NOMAD now has about 60 members and offers seminars, practice sessions, a three-day camp and agility trials each year. Four members were recently inducted into the USDAA Hall of Fame for their dedication to volunteering at the Cynosport World Games. NOMAD, according to its website, "is a club of dog agility enthusiasts who have come together to play and build lasting relationships with their dogs and other 'dog people.'"

The three-day June USDAA trial has become the club's signature event. Fitting for the club, until recently the trial has never had a truly permanent location. The first NOMAD USDAA trial was held on a town recreation field. Heavy rains turned the field to mud. Competitors helped each other get their cars and trial gear out and Steeplechase winnings were donated back to the club to help defray the cost of the damages that had to be paid to the town. 

After several moves, the trial has found a very special home at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont. It is the perfect setting for this relaxed one-ring trial, where everyone seems to be wearing a permanent smile. It doesn't hurt that von Trapp Brewing produces several outstanding lagers on the premises and delivers ringside.

Smiles all around! Photo courtesy of Betsy Nye.

The meadow is on top of a mountain surrounded by stunning views of the surrounding Green Mountains. 

Sunset on the eve of the trial. Photo courtesy of Kathy Clement.

 Course building in the clouds. Photo courtesy of Betsy Nye.

This year, Becky Dean judged all levels of titling and tournament classes, including a Dog Agility Masters Team/Performance Versatility Pairs tournament on Saturday and Sunday. She enjoyed the breathtaking vistas, comparing them to judging in Hawaii. Her favorite course of the weekend was Team/PVP Jumpers, which ran very fast with appropriate challenges, some white-knuckle handling and a few heart-breaking eliminations. "I could have stayed out here for another three hours!" said Dean about judging the class.

Judge Dean's Team Gamblers course was very interesting. It allowed for fast and flowing openings with lots of points available. The closing, a time gamble, required taking a "round" obstacle to start point accumulation and the potential to double jump point values up to a 16-point jump. Some handlers were able to amass points in the area near the finish jump and get out under time while others started the closing on the opposite side of the ring and got their points at speed on the way to the finish jump.

NOMAD has always been welcoming to newcomers. Gail Lawson came from New Hampshire with her two Malamutes. They have earned titles in another organization, but this was only her second USDAA trial and first outdoors. She was having some doubts about agility but found USDAA to be fun, economical and she said that the people were "awesome." She will be back!

Sammy and Cassie. Photo courtesy of Gail Lawson.

In addition to agility, the site offers meadows, ponds and hiking trails for the competitors to use before, during and after. The Lodge did not allow dogs until four years ago. After allowing NOMAD competitors' dogs and having the trial on the grounds as a spectator event for other guests, the Lodge now welcomes dogs year round. 

Plenty of room to play! Photo courtesy of Betsy Nye.

Kelly Wilson, an experienced USDAA competitor attended this trial for the first time. When asked what she liked best she couldn't choose between the people and the views. Will she be coming back next year? "110 percent, no doubt!"

John Marcus lives in Vermont. He and his wife, Lisa, raise and train Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and compete in agility throughout New England. They have started a new adventure together with their first Border Collie puppies. John loves to build agility courses and believes that fun and competition are not mutually exclusive. He is the recipient of the first annual Spirit of Agility Award. Learn more about his dogs, read his blog and follow Riverside Canine Center's USDAA trials on Facebook.


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