This lively performance sport has great appeal for our fun-loving Irish Setters who are amazingly agile! Like rally and obedience, both the dog and handler must work as a team to be successful. You should take classes to learn fundamentals and techniques, and then enter practice runs before entering trials.
Agility is all about mastering body and voice communication with your dog as you run through judge-designed courses within specific timeframes. Handler body communication can range from subtle to bold, and with consistent training, you’ll function as a terrific team as you move through Novice, Open, and Excellent levels.
In the Standard (STD) course, there are several types of obstacles, all numbered in sequential course order: tire, A-frame, dog walk, teeter, weave poles, broad jump, tunnel, chute, and different types of jumps. The purpose of this course is to test control versus speed.
The Jumpers with Weaves (JWW) course only consists of jumps, weave poles, and tunnels The obstacles are all numbered by the course sequence. This course tests all-out speed as compared to Standard.
FAST is a “design it yourself” course using several the obstacles from the Standard course. There’s always a bonus section where your dog must take 2 obstacles that are several feet away (laterally) from the handler. The goal is to accumulate a minimum number of points (the bonus is required) within a certain timeframe. The point values are posted on all obstacles, but the handler determines the course sequence. The bonus part of FAST tests the distance work of dog and handler.
Placements and Qs (qualifying scores) are determined by your score (there are point deductions as well as disqualifications). Your goal is to have the fastest run time within your class and class height. Titles for each of the course classes are awarded after 3 Q’s per class, so you start off in Novice, progress to Open and finally Excellent.
Several Irish Setters have gone on to earn the Master Agility Championship title (MACH) after getting their Excellent titles. To earn a MACH (from EX B classes only) you must have 20 DQ”s (double qualifier is a Q in both Std and JWW on the same day)
and 750 speed points. One speed point is awarded for each second the dog runs under course time when it qualifies. There are multipliers for 1st and 2nd place, so if you get 1st place in your class and are 5 seconds under course time, you get 10 speed points. 1st place gets 2x seconds under course time, and 2nd place gets 1.5x seconds under course time.
The main reward in agility is having a blast with your red dog!