The hoop obstacle was introduced as an agility obstacle by NADAC and can now be found across a number of NADAC classes. The NADAC Hoopers class uses hoops only. It can also be used in Regular agility, Touch N Go, Weavers, Chances and Barrelers classes. Indeed the only classes where they are not used are the Jumpers and Tunnelers classes.
It is a terrific obstacle and provides unique challenges due mainly to its small footprint and low profile. Unlike some of the larger agility equipment such as tunnels, contacts and weaves or obstacles it tends to focus more on the handlers “steering” ability. If the handlers steering isn’t up to par the dog can easily bypass the intended hoop. Getting a dog to drive out to a hoop can be more challenging than getting a dog to drive out to a tunnel.
Apart from the unique challenges mentioned it also has tremendous value as a ground speed obstacle and can be used in foundation training of younger dogs. It also has the most appealing benefit of being light weight and easily transported. There is much to like about agility obstacles that can be transported in the boot of a car for impromptu training sessions when out and about with your dog.
They are relatively easy to make. Here is a diagram of the popular arch design hoop. This design uses a 4-way tee which can be a little tricky to find. An online company Klever Cages does sell them though. All the other components are readily available in shops like Bunnings or Reece plumbing. You can adjust the design to utilise 2 x 3-way tees in place of the 4 way tee which will see the foot plug into the side of the hoop using a small length of PVC pipe.
My newer hoop design has a very nice screw on and off feet. By adding a few extra connectors I can make hoops with feet that don’t fall off. The added benefit being that the extra connectors provide a little more weight to make the hoops more stable in windy conditions. They also transport easier as the feet are basically shorter as they come off in two pieces. Full plans can be found by clicking on the link above “newer hoop design”