British agility competitor and enthusiast Lee Gibson was one of the agility judges from last year’s Crufts competition. You can follow him at www.leegibsonagility.com
DogAgilityNOW: Last year, you were judging some of the finest dogs in the world on some very tough courses. This year, I hear that you’ve been sidelined and will be following Crufts from the comfort of your own home. What happened?
Lee Gibson: Yes, this year I am watching on the live stream. I had a hernia operation a few days ago and it is still extremely sore and takes me ages to walk anywhere, so i decided it was best to stay put. I need to be fit for the season and the GB Performance weekend in April—that has to be the focus!
DogAgilityNOW: An estimated 22,000 dogs will compete in various events ranging from conformation to agility this week. Which agility events are the “can’t miss” ones that everyone should watch on the livestream?
Lee Gibson: I would recommend the Championship finals, and the International Classes. The Crufts singles is also always a good competition. As a judge last year, I really enjoyed the international and the singles, where the different variety of handlers and styles was also interesting!
DogAgilityNOW: What are the key differences between Novice, Singles Heat, Team, ABC, British Open, Championship, and International Invitational?
Lee Gibson: They are all separate classes. Some are invitational (International for example) whilst the British Open and the Teams etc, you have to qualify for.
DogAgilityNOW: Who are some handler/dog teams that you are excited about watching this year?
Lee Gibson: I have many fellow England team WAO members and many fellow team GB Squad members also competing, so I’ll be watching them! And my friends as well, lots of them are there so I hope they do well!
DogAgilityNOW: What is the YKC Agility Dog of the Year about?
Lee Gibson: It’s for young handlers, aged up to 24 years old. A competition just for them. I won this many years ago and judged it last year. The kids are great and it is good to encourage the future generation by putting them into the main ring!
DogAgilityNOW: How do you think the local public views Crufts as an event, especially agility?
Lee Gibson: They love it. That’s what makes Crufts so special to judge at—everybody knows Crufts. My friends who I play football with don’t know about the FCI world champs or what the WAO is, but they all know Crufts. That is what makes it special!
DogAgilityNOW: What agility-related project(s) are you working on now that you’d like people to know about?
Lee Gibson: Yes, busy as always; I have been distributing the new Agility Performance Record books (available from leegibsonagility.com/shop) which are the most efficient place to keep a record of your competition runs, course plans, times and every vital detail that helps you analyze performance. They are available in Orange, Black,Green, Blue and Pink(!) and come complete with a stylish pen.
I am also working on a new pocket-sized exercise book, which will feature 100 small Skills-Drills, but the beauty of this is that each exercise layout has 4 separate drills nested into it, meaning it’s perfect for clubs, groups or individuals looking for some inspiration and training strategy.
On the judging front, I have worked with Greg Derrett to develop the Global Judging Program. This judging program is aimed at educating judges in the real-life skills needed to be a top judge—not just knowing a rule book!
DogAgilityNOW: Thank you for taking the time to talk Crufts with us!
Lee Gibson: My pleasure as always. Good luck everyone for the Agility season!