I have continued to correspond sporadically with the US based board member regarding the WAO's proposed jump height change. She indicated that they already knew the US and Canada competitors would have a problem with the change. Supposedly europeans are being supportive of it. I find this difficult to believe - I know some europeans read this blog, so I've decided to post here again.
The conclusion I've come to is that they don't want to raise the cutoff for the 400mm height any more than they have, because they are trying to keep small border collies out of that height class. They don't want to become the same as Medium FCI, where, in their view, tiny border collies are supposedly becoming the rule (in truth, only 7 of the 79 Medium Individual dogs were BC's or Kelpies, that's only 8.9%). So rather than raise the cutoff for 400mm so that it's the same as Medium FCI, they raised it slightly, so that larger shelties and mudis and such can compete, but leaving that last cm or so in the next largest height (the new 525mm), because they believe that's where the smallest border collies are. However, in order to cater to these Medium border collies, they have to lower the upper end of the height division, because of course dogs who are Medium in europe are not used to competing against dogs who are usually classified as Large at FCI.
In my view this whole debacle boils down to our new height classes of Small, Medium, Medium-BorderCollies, and Large! That's just silly! I believe many european handlers are not speaking up because quite simply, they are so used to the 650mm height that they don't have strong feelings either way about it. And that's fine, but if they don't care, then why should we continue forcing all average height border collies to be considered Large? I know LOTS of 19-19.5" (485-500mm) border collies who are not very good at jumping the full 26"/650mm height. Or their owners don't want to choose that height. In the US, we have a choice. In europe, there is no choice. But just becuase there isn't currently any choice, doesn't mean a new organization with a stated goal of being "for all dogs", shouldn't create a new choice. I would bet money it woudl catch on. I've long thought it strange that FCI has 2 small divisions and only one large. There is a jump height missing in FCI, and it is 550mm, right in the middle between Medium and Large! I don't expect it to start anytime soon, but if WAO starts with a 3rd height that SPLITS the Large dog class in 2, I believe it will catch on. Because let's face it, the Large dog class is a large class! It needs to be split off!
And breed discrimination is just STUPID. Agility is a sport. It shouldn't matter what type of dog it is, if the handler is good, and they train well and run fast, they should welcome all competition. I do.
Consider AKC Nationals here in the US. There is a 16" height class where dogs all the way up to 18" tall can compete. This includes a lot of small border collies. Including my Kiba! But who has won the National at that height the last 3 years in a row? Non border collies who are, in fact, 400mm or less tall! Being a border collies does not guarantee anything.
ETA: if you're interested in sending the WAO an email regarding the proposed change, send your email to both Monica and Greg. If you live in Europe or have competed in FCI or the EO, I think it will be especially meaningful, as they seem to be under the impression that if you have competed at these events, you prefer these jump heights and don't care about having new ones.