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First New Trial Hosted by Data Driven Agility

Data Driven Agility hosts their new USDAA trial in Springfield, Vermont with the help of NOMAD, PAWS and Riverside Canine.

When Amanda Shyne of Data Driven Agility decided to host a new USDAA trial at her home and training center in Springfield, Vermont she knew exactly where to get help. USDAA agility abounds in surrounding New England. A group of her agility students including members of NOMAD (the only other club currently hosting a USDAA trial in Vermont) and PAWS and Riverside Canine of New Hampshire jumped at the chance to help her. The group included experienced USDAA trial secretary Val Duff.

Data Driven Agility is located on a former horse property on a hilltop just off Interstate 91, a major north-south route between Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. "Data Driven" refers to her method of using the dog's performance to show what works best for each team. Amanda has a 130'x70' indoor arena with a sand-clay surface and a fully fenced 200'x100' flat outdoor field. The house was about to be condemned when Amanda bought the "perfect" agility property to set up her training center so she could live and work nearer to her sister.

Amanda teaches classes and presents and hosts seminars. She authored two agility books (contacts and weaves) but is now best known for her online training where she provides detailed feedback to her students through Facebook groups. A multiple Grand Prix and Steeplechase Finalist with her Border Collie Dilly, Amanda didn't think she was a competitive person when she first saw the sport and fell in love with agility fifteen years ago. She wanted to host a USDAA trial because she loves the courses and the attitudes of the competitors and wanted people to come share her beautiful location.

On Tuesday May 2, 2017, her students were making final preparations for the Wednesday trial. The contact equipment sported freshly glued new rubber skins. Amanda mowed the outdoor ring a final time and new fence panels were put in place to create the trial ring dimensions. Amanda wanted the ring fully fenced to keep dogs safe and help competitors feel at ease about trialing in a new setting. The rain showers took a break and mist gathered in the nearby hills as the students built the first course for the morning, Starters/PI Gamblers. As work wrapped up for the day and dinner cooked, a vivid rainbow appeared.

Wednesday morning judge Val Reiner arrived from neighboring Massachusetts with sixteen courses for the day. Amanda set out the box of tug toys she had made by hand for each competitor. As competitors arrived the soft ground from the cool rainy Vermont spring turned to deep ruts in the parking area. With a truckload of gravel on the way and a new traffic pattern, the dogs were off and running. The real glamorous work of hosting a trial had begun.

The weather continued to be the dominant factor during the outdoor trial, clouds and showers and cool temperatures were occasionally chased away by brilliant sun. Every so often a vicious gust of wind would knock over several of the wing jumps on course, and in one corner the ring became a little soupy. Competitors spent a lot of time adding and removing layers of clothing for briefings, walking, running and volunteering. Despite the uncertain weather there was a relaxed one-ring outdoor trial feeling, no conflicts and time to watch friends. Amanda and her sister hurriedly made batons for Pairs classes, secured windblown items, spread gravel and trimmed brush to accommodate the competitors.

Everyone enjoyed lunch in Amanda's "outdoor living room," a comfortably furnished three-sided barn facing the ring. In all there were 238 runs in the titling classes at all levels and the Miscellaneous class, lots of smiles and laughs, surprisingly few falls, and one ADCH earned by Eileen Wilentz and Celt. Judge Val Reiner was pleased with the running of both her Masters/PIII/Veterans Snooker and Jumpers courses. Both courses provided plenty of challenge and speed with multiple handling possibilities, and a few unplanned changes around the six and seven in the Snooker opening. The Jumpers course let the dogs unwind after a long day. Competitors left windburned, wet and tired but happy with the experience.

When the cleanup was done Amanda gathered with her family to relax in the outdoor living room, have supper and reflect upon the successes and lessons learned at her first trial.

Data Driven Agility will be hosting two more USDAA trials this year, July 29 and 30 and September 23 and 24. For more information about Amanda and her facility visit her website at

About the author: John Marcus can be found working behind the scenes at agility events around New England and at the Cynosport World Games. John and his wife Lisa have bred, trained and handled multiple USDAA LAA and Top Ten Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. John is currently training and playing with Jake, a two-and-a-half-year-old Border Collie.

Photos by John Marcus


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