An Insight into the British Agility Association's Rules on Progression
We pride ourselves on the fact that The British Agility Association Rules, Policies & Progression system is unique.
Why do we have a system where dogs are promoted at the end of the year as opposed to a compulsory “win out with x amount of class wins” system?
When devising our rules and progression system, the following was taken into consideration:
- Our general principle is that the welfare of the dog is paramount. Therefore a system was devised that we believe would maximise ALL dog's active agility careers. We believe that if the demands on the dog's skills and experience are developed gradually it will have long-term benefits.
- Another consideration for encouraging dogs to remain in one level for the duration of the year is that our Judges are able to set the appropriate courses for the level, rather than having to cater for the lowest common denominator. With this system our Judges are able to graduate the difficulty in the courses throughout year, knowing that towards the end of the year the majority of dogs in all levels will have gained adequate experience and be better able to deal with more difficult courses, making the transition to the next level seamless. This system ensures that ALL dogs moving up to next level have had a good foundation at their lower level. Compulsory instant promotion tends to negate this, as judges would then have to make allowances for inexperienced dogs/handlers within that level.
So what about new handlers with new dogs entering for the first time later in the year?
New handlers with new dogs entering later in the year would have the choice of entering the Pawsability class (where available) or NFC, to enable them to gain “Show” experience before moving on to the levels proper.
Why do we provide a voluntary progression system based on two class wins in Agility or Jumping?
Although our system is designed to encourage dogs and handlers to remain at the same level throughout the year, therefore encouraging dogs and handlers to gain experience in a more gradual and structured way, we also believe in allowing handlers the freedom of choice, as every dog is different and some handlers, if they deem they are ready, may wish to move through levels more quickly. They still have to prove their merit with 2 class wins at each level. The same goes for our system of allowing dogs to progress through the levels in Agility and Jumping separately, handlers have the choice of remaining in the separate levels for each element or moving to the higher level in both.
Our system does reward wins, but we do not wish to portray that as the ultimate goal – our aim is to encourage consistency and accuracy.
The “Dog of the Year” award is designed to reward the consistency of dogs at each level, thereby encouraging a dog that starts the year at one particular level to remain in that level for the duration of the year allowing the dog and handler to ease into the new higher level.
What are our ideals regarding progression?
Progression should be through consistency of performance gained through experience, with the number of wins becoming less important. We feel too much emphasis is put on those 1st places. In reality there is little difference in experience and ability gained between 1st and 2nd place. Or to put it another way, if a dog/handler wins an Introductory class, are they that much more experienced a few weeks later to cope with the higher level at the next show? – NO! But by the end of the year they will have gained some considerable experience in which case the move to next level becomes a smoother progression for both dog and handler.
What happens if I win out under another organisations rules?
Although the initial entry level to BAA allows for experience gained under other organisations Agility shows,
our system is designed to be totally independent of other organisations. Once you enter a BAA show, progression within BAA rules is totally dependent on performance at BAA shows.