Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Centre, 20464 E. Riggs Road, is Queen Creek’s signature facility for all events horse-related. However, earlier this month, the venue hosted a national dog competition.
Top Notch Canines, a Phoenix-based dog-agility training center, presented the Wild West Regionals, a U.S. Dog Agility Association-licensed event, March 9-12 at the park.
The event was the result of the park’s effort to attract new events, according to General Manager Tim Lynch.
“The (Queen Creek) town council had tasked us the goal of finding some non-equestrian events the community could enjoy,” Mr. Lynch said during an interview. “I think the dog agility event was highly successful for its first time out. I believe it will grow immensely and has the potential to quadruple in size over the next few years.”
Mr. Lynch said the show organizers were concerned the park arenas did not have grass on which the dogs could perform. He said his maintenance crew prepared the ground so the mix of dirt and sand would not harm the dogs’ paws.
“Apparently we did a good job because they intend to return,” Mr. Lynch said. “They want to do a larger show next year. We might even have a covered arena for them.”
The dog trainers and owners put their animals through their paces for the competition.
“What you’re looking for is speed because it is a game of speed and it is a game of accuracy,” said Kodie Levine, who entered Cracker, a border collie. “So we’re running against the clock, but we need to have no faults. Our faults are knocking bars. If a bar comes down it’s a fault. There are 12 poles out there that they have to weave in and out of. They have to do that correctly. And the other thing is they have to stay on course.”
Sam Marquez also entered border collies.
“I’ve been doing this about 10 years. I have two (dogs competing) and my wife has two,” Mr. Marquez said.
Dan Brackney of Queen Creek said he loves regional events because it’s people from all over the region. We’ve got Utah, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, California. There are lots of people we don’t normally compete with. We love the sport of agility.”
Mr. Brackney said he has been training his animals for four years but competing for three.
“My favorite is the steeple chase because it’s just a go, go, go course, but technically we probably do better at grand prix where there is a lot more technical handling,” he said.
Editor’s note: Arianna Grainey contributed to this story.