Maryland Border Collie mix ‘Nimble’ steals the show at Westminster’s dog agility competition

Maryland Border Collie mix 'Nimble' steals the show at Westminster's dog agility competition 2

A 6-year-old pup named Nimble from Ellicott City, Maryland, has moved into the history books, becoming the first mixed-breed dog to win the agility competition at the Westminster Dog Show.

“I am so thrilled that my dog was able to wow the crowd in New York, and I was able to bring home the big prize back to Maryland,” said dog mom and trainer, Cynthia Hornor.

Mixed-breed dogs were only recently allowed to compete in the agility competition. The contest previously exclusively featured purebred dogs, such as Hornor’s other dog Truant, a purebred Border Collie who won the competition last year. 

“The Border Collies really do have just a little bit more — they turn better, they’re a little bit faster, usually, than most dogs,” Hornor said.

This year, Nimble demonstrated that being mixed with a little bit of Papillon can go a long way. She bested 50 dogs with a 28.76-second run that was flawlessly executed.

Hornor said she was probably a little more nervous than Nimble going into the final event because it was held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York.

“I’m a tennis fan so I keep thinking, ‘This is where Roger Federer walked down to go play,’” she said. “When you’re coming down that long, narrow hall to come in [to the arena] and you see the ‘Pressure is a privilege’ sign, which lets you know that feeling, that pressure, is actually a really good thing, don’t be nervous.”

Hornor’s goal was keeping Nimble’s excitement in check ahead of her runs until it was time to walk out for the final event.

“Then, she very quickly realized where she was at and what she wanted to do, and then she was just really happy and excited,” Hornor said.

Preparing for this event has been years in the making, Hornor said, and around the age of six is when agility dogs are in their prime. Nimble has always been fast and “like to do everything at 150% speed” at competitions, Hornor joked.

It’s far from retirement for Nimble, who’s getting ready to represent the United States at the European Open Agility in England. She showed the world that any breed of dog can do agility, Hornor said.

“I think there’s a spot in agility for everybody and their dog and it just helps them bond with their dog and have even more fun with their dog,” Hornor said.

Hornor said she has trained Dachshunds, mixed dogs rescued from Kuwait and even Bull Mastiffs to master the course.

While she does look for dogs that will do well in agility competition, Hornor said the most important thing to her is that her dogs are treated like pets first.

“They’re pets first because the amount of time that we actually do agility is very small, versus the time we go hiking or swimming, or just lounge around our house,” Hornor said. “I always look for dogs that will excel, as much as I can, in agility and I’ve been very blessed and lucky to have several really nice dogs.”

How is Nimble celebrating her big win?

Hornor gave Nimble got some steak and then she went for a swim, one of her favorite activities. Now, she’s ready to get back to Maryland to begin training again.

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Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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