Thursday, May 2, 2013

Time to Raise the Titling Requirement for New AKC Judges

This post is a copy of my request is in reference to the 2013 AKC Judging Requirements and Approval Process.

Request: To raise the titling requirement from AX/AXJ to MACH/PACH for new judges.

Reason:  The current titling requirement has been in effect since the early days of AKC agility when the Agility Excellent title was the highest agility title and before there existed the Masters level class or an agility championship (MACH).

We did not have the training methods we have today and attaining an AX or AXJ was a significant achievement. 

By today's standards, it is possible to earn an Agility Excellent title without having an in depth understanding of agility training, handling strategies or course design to the extent that today's competitors expect. 

Even with the 5 -year experience requirement, to have only earned an AX/AXJ in that amount of time does not reflect well on the individual's ability and knowledge of agility training, or possibly, their commitment level to the sport. 

A basic level of individual training ability and commitment is important to uphold the stature, relevance and experience base of our judges.

A person acquiring only an AX/AXJ could potentially never have competed -- or to any great degree, or even successfully -- at the Masters Level. They could become a judge without having to have to run for points and double Q's. They might never hae worked to qualify for the Nationals or Invitational. All of these things definitely change the way a team trains and competes, as well as their expectation of courses and judging. 

Most of all, it is fair to expect that our AKC judges to have earned a MACH or PACH  title. With today's training, a MACH/PACH title is considered a high, but attainable goal. It should not be unreasonable to expect that our judges achieve what is generally considered to be the standard for a "made" trainer/competitor in this day and age.  


The only concern I can see with this change is that it could discourage or exclude trainers of certain breeds that do not generally achieve high titles in agility. This is a positive, since it is an advantage to all participants to have trainer/handlers of "non performance" breeds as judges in our sport.

To cover this, I would suggest an exception for any handler:

-  whose SOLE agility competition record has been with breeds that have never achieved a MACH/PACH title, 
-  have XX number of years of continuous agility competition (at least 6 trial days per year)
-  AND have earned an invitation to the AKC agility invitational.

For many non performance breed handlers, a spot at the Invitational is the "Gold Standard" goal and requires focus, training and intention to achieve. 

Limiting this exemption to breeds that have NEVER achieved a MACH/PACH title applies a specific filter for breeds that will or will not be considered (I.e., if someone, somewhere, sometime has earned a MACH/PACH on a certain breed it shows it is a possibility). 

Requiring at least a decade in the sport implies a long experience with training and competing, even if a MACH is not achieved. It also discourages giving exemption to new or uncommon AKC breeds that may be MACH/PACH-capable, but just haven't had enough time for a dog or interested handler to earn a MACH/PACH.  

Requiring that the breed be the SOLE breed that the person has shown rules out those who would "game the system" by running a certain breed for a short time just to qualify for judging when a person has not been able to achieve a MACH/PACH on a MACH/PACH-titled breed.

It might also be allowed that a person receive an exemption if he or she has competed with multiple breeds so long as all of the breeds have never achieved a MACH/PACH.

NOTE:  This should be a difficult exemption to qualify for since many breeds considered by some to be "non-performance" regularly can and do achieve MACHs/PACHS with knowledgeable training and management. (I just saw a Norwegian Elkhound earn a MACH2 at a trial this past weekend!)

Thanks for opening the door to change requests to AKC agility participants and thank you for considering this request. 

Barbara Scanlan
Taylor - 10 yo Papillon -- PNAC PACH2 U-CD (HIT) Wingssong Sweet Baby James CD RE AX AXJ MXP5 MJP7 OFP 
Samurai - 4 yo Papillon -- Wingssong The Seventh Samurai AX AXJ
Shaun - 16 yo Toy Fox Terrier Rescue -- White Pines Little Shaunee CD AX AXJ RE

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