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USDAA Starters Trial Hosted by Boise Agility Runners and Climbers Club

Boise Agility Runners and Climbers Club holds Starters Trial in August.

By Terry Lidral

  • Club: Boise Agility Runners & Climbers (BARC)
  • Location: Boise, Idaho
  • Dates: August 5-6, 2017
  • Chair: Ariel Agenbroad
  • Secretary: Donna Lee
  • Judge: JanSkurzynski

Boise Agility Runners and Climbers Club held a USDAA Starters Trial at Birt Arena in Nampa, Idaho on Saturday and Sunday, August 5th and 6th. The purpose of the trial was to encourage those who are new to the sport of agility and the USDAA to become active participants by holding a trial in a comfortable, relaxed setting geared towards beginning and less experienced dogs.

In talking to the participants over the two-day event, the comments were positive and enthusiastic.

"It's relaxed and I don't feel intimidated that I am just a beginner."
"We feel welcome and everyone has been so helpful in teaching us what to do."
"We were feeling nervous and apprehensive about our first trial. Now that we are here, we are glad we came."
"The judge doesn't rush me when my dog gets anxious or distracted and encourages me to take the time to make it a positive experience for the dog."
"Everyone here is cheering us on."
"It's a comfortable venue to run my dog where I can work on my handler mistakes. If I just trained at home, I might never trial because of my insecurities."
"It's a great learning experience for those who know nothing about competition."
"The intro courses are simple and I get a chance to work with my inexperienced dog on running a course in a trial setting."

One of the major reasons for the big success of the Starters Trial was the number of experienced handlers and trainers from the BARC group who showed up to provide support and guidance for the new participants. From volunteer jobs, to directing them on how to enter the ring properly, to explaining the faults on the results sheet, to just offering encouragement and praise - it all was a big part of attaining BARC's goal of creating a welcoming and learning atmosphere.

Dodger (Sheltie) and her first USDAA Q with her pair teammate Kurt (Doberman)

Another major part of the big success was engaging the right judge for the trial. Jan Skurzyski's patience, encouragement, teaching and willingness to answer questions gave the new handlers the opportunity to work in a stress-free environment. And for many of those in the Intro classes, it was an encouraging first step to becoming regular participants in the USDAA.

There were many stories from the weekend, but two stand out.

For Farley, the Golden Retriever who was attending his first trial ever, the weekend turned out to be a big success. But it didn't start out that way. "He was a little overwhelmed and anxious," Farley's handler Mary Hackel told us. "One of the reasons we came was to do some kennel training and help him relax in the kennel with strangers around. Since it was his first trial, we decided to only enter him in one class a day." On Saturday, Farley's Intro Jumpers run did not go well. Anxious and hot, he laid down in front of a jump and refused to move. But Mary was not discouraged. Instead of giving up, she encouraged Farley to later take a practice jump and returned on Sunday, determined to try it again. That determination resulted in a full course by a happy and willing Farley with only one fault.

In the case of the rescued American Aussie Bandit, the experience of attending a trial was another step in his socialization and refocusing training. "We got him off Craigslist," Robert Bowen, who was the handler for the weekend explained.  "He was overweight, shy and was people and dog reactive. We got Bandit for my son, Barrett, but they didn't bond at first, so we signed them up for agility classes. Through agility, Bandit and my son have formed a strong bond and it has helped with everything else." That was three months ago. Bandit has come so far in his training that he was able to manage his first trial with handler Robert who was filling in for Barrett who is recovering from an appendectomy. Bandit received a qualifying and first place ribbon in Intro Snooker, along with another ribbon for second place. Robert had so much fun, he wants to continue.  "I think we might just have to get another dog," he said.

The general consensus of the trial, by both participants and mentors, is that it was a big success with one new handler taking his leave with the statement, "Competition is fun!"

Titles earned:

  • Karalee Blau and Cruz - P1 Pairs; P1 Gamblers; P2 Snooker; P2 Jumpers
  • Donna Lee and Mattie - Starters Snooker
  • Cassie Crowell and Lily - P2 Jumpers; P2 Snooker
  • Kari Massoth and Kurt - P1 Pairs, P2 Snooker


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