Friday, March 20, 2009


This course has FIVE reds. Choose three or four. What's there to complain about?

Aside from Amy threatening to go all Tonya Harding on my team, I just was not comprehending the complaints I (over)heard.

The other thing that just killed me is the quantity of people that enter an event without understanding the rules. A 16" PERFORMANCE dog is not the same as a 16" CHAMPIONSHIP dog. How hard is that to understand? I explained it to someone, and then had the judge do so. She was still in disbelief. What's the big deal? The amount of time! These people thought they had 50 seconds (a very long time on what is essentially a jumpers course) versus 46 seconds (still quite a bit of time).

However, my favorite complaint was this: "There just isn't enough time to do four reds."

Huh? Talk about selling yourself short. If you and your dog can complete a 20 obstacle jumpers course in 30 seconds or less, you can definitely do four reds on this course. I am just missing the logic here...

Anyhow, that #5 was most popular. It was surrounded by reds, and, if the last obstacle, led nicely into the closing. It was very easy to find flow in this snooker.

Popular Courses:

Monday, March 16, 2009

A March Weekend with Scott Chamberlain

Maybe I should preface this by saying that I am biased. I like Scott Chamberlain's courses. They are fair, have good challenges, and require handler thought.

Saturday Snooker

I got a little help from my friend, Maureen. This course was 3 or 4 reds, but a helluva lot of distance to cover. A nice flow is 1-3 (or 4), 1-5, 1-7, 1-7 to the closing. 7a and b were actually more awkward to handle in reality than on paper. Some people went for 4 sevens, but did not complete the closing. Fortunately the 7 combo did not have any special rules in the opening.

Maureen suggested 3 sevens for Scout, and that's what we did.

The time allowed was 52 seconds. That's about 26 magic points for Scout. The closing is worth about 13 for her (3 on the weaves, and extra for handling the seven). I can have at most 13 magic points in the opening.

I started with the #1 at the lower left of the page, ran by #2 and into 7b to 7a. This is about 5 magic points. I directed Scout to the #1 at the top right, and back through the 7 combo. About 4 magic points. The last red was the obvious - the bottom right. The last 7 went from A to B into the closing. This was about 4 magic points. All these values take into account some travel time without obstacles. Opening Magic Points: 13. Finish Time: 51.89 seconds. Worked. Could I have done all four reds? Maybe, but my initial calculation with four reds said no.

Sunday Gamblers
Sometimes you get a little help from your friends. Like when you know how to make your gamble opening, but just don't like it. Here's the course map:

To paraphrase Christopher Walken, what this course needs is more tunnel. I like tunnels because they are fast and cheap. The rules included no contact-to-contact and no contact-to-weaves, or weaves-to-contact, back-to-back okay.

Fortunately I have a friend in California that likes to discuss these strategic things with me. Yay! We discussed taking the tire twice, and that it was best NOT to teach the dog that it is okay to back jump. In the end, for my opening, she and I decided to take the tire forward and backward. (Tire is cheap! That's a quick 6 points!) I just made sure Scout could land safely and turn and do it again. If I ever do something that feels as demoralizing as that, I like it best at the beginning of the sequence, before the dog is running full steam. That's why I will not do that teeter back-to-back. Demoralizing.

Here's what I did:
I would expect about 15 magic points in a 30 second opening. The math, where "mp" is "magic point", and "gp" is "gamble point":
#1 - 1 mp - 3 gp
#2 - 1 mp - 3 gp
#3 - 1 mp - 1 gp
#4 - 2 mp - 5 gp
#5 - 1.5 mp (accounting for the sprint) - 1 gp
#6 - 1 mp - 3 gp
#7 - 2.5 mp (obstacle & sprint) - 7 gp
#8 - 1.5 mp (obstacle & sprint) - 1 gp
#9 - 2 mp - 5 gp
#10 - 1 mp - 1 gp
#11 - 1 mp - 1 gp
#12 - 1 mp (horn blew before Scout landed)

Total Magic Points:
15.5 completed

Total Opening Gamble Points:

You might wonder why I chose to end 35 feet from the gamble line. In one of the openings Maureen and I came up with, my last obstacle would be the A-Frame. The speed and angle to the #1 gamble jump would be lacking and awkward. I chose to have a very straight, all out run to the #1. It worked well. As Scout completed the teeter, I positioned myself parallel to the correct tunnel entrance. As she approached between the correct tunnel entrance and me, I gave her a "left tunnel" command. When she took the tunnel, I was running to the #4 jump. Got it, and took third. (Maureen and her dog took first!)

Sunday Snooker
Maureen and I co-conspired on this one, even though our dogs are in the same jump height. The special rule on this one (thanks for not disappointing me, Scott!) was that the #7 combo had to be taken in direction, but either jump could be first. In other words, from the inside out. A nice course was all 6's, with a potential off-course at the #3 jump. A few people with blazing dogs attempted three 7's. Maureen and I concluded that 6-7-7 was the way to go, and that there was enough time. I entered both Bug and Scout, and both had 48 seconds.

Bug is a young dog who already has his Snooker Master title. I wanted this to be fun for him. I did all 6's. Instead of front crossing the first #6 to get the red at the top of the page, I met him outside the tunnel and essentially blocked his view of the #3 jump. I wrapped him around the right of the next red, and all he saw was tunnel. I ran the outside of the tunnel to pick him up for the last red (bottom right). I just had to be careful of all those tempting tunnel entrances to get him to the #2, and then ping-ponged out to #3. #3 to #4 was a change in focus. If the handler was not paying attention, the dog leapt from #3 to the off-course #1 in the closing. Another popular off-course was taking #4b instead of #4a. Most handlers front crossed between #4b and #5 to the correct tunnel entrance. #5 to #6 was fast and fun. Then came the tricky part: pick up at that tunnel into #7a. I made a front cross at the tunnel exit, but pulled Bug too much. The whistle blew for a runout. Still a qualifying run. Good boy!

Scout is collecting Q's, but I was feeling rather feisty. I went for the course that Maureen and I planned. The closing, in magic points, is about 9.5, which includes 0.5 for #2-#3 and 0.5 for the handling/distance between #6 and #7a.

The opening:
Red 1: 1mp
Distance to #6: 0.5mp
#6: 1mp
Distance to Top Red 1: 1mp
Distance/Handling to #7a: 1mp
#7a & #7b: 2.5mp
Last Red: 1mp
Distance to #7a: 1mp
#7a & #7b: 2.5mp
Distance to #2: 0.5mp
TOTAL Opening: 12mp
TOTAL For Course: 21.5, which would be about 43 seconds.

What I failed to realize when I walked this was the harsh angle from #7b to the #2. Most refusals occurred at the #2. I really had to work that approach better. After that, it was smooth sailing, except Scout didn't miss #7a like Bug did. She completed the course in a little over 44 seconds, and took first place.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Where's Your Front Cross?

This jumpers from Dave Grubel at Contact Point 02/28/09 was fast and fun, utilizing a straight tunnel, also known as a puppy cannon.
I scribed Masters, so I got to watch where things went wrong.

A lead out between 2 & 3 was popular. However if the handler was not positioned well enough for the dog to think he could land safely, bar #2 dropped. In lieu of the lead out, some handled with a rear cross at #4.

A front-cross between #6 and #7 was popular if 3-4-5 was handled with the dog on the left.

#10 to #11 was a little tricky. I read it as a front cross or, presuming I was well ahead of my dog, a threadle arm. #11 was a popular dropped bar.

There was a lot of chatter about the desire to get a front cross in between #14 and #15. I can attest, it was difficult. I had to put on the afterburners and not admire my dog. The reason there was so much talk about this front cross was getting to #17 without taking the off-course #2 jump.

#18 was a triple. Some that handled that as a rear cross had dropped bars.

I don't do start lines with Scout. I did walk out to #2, called her, and then front crossed between #2 and #3. Here's what I did:

Friday, March 6, 2009

Another Well-Timed Gamble

This is from Good Dog Agility's 2009 February Trial. It was the first run of the morning. Mark Wirant judged.

A very popular opening ran the jump-time-jump-gamble jump-tunnel. My dog drops bars if I do something stupid. If my dog dropped bars on her own, I wouldn't even contemplate taking a gamble jump.
I went for 14 magic points. My course was 13.5. The buzzer did sound when I was across the field from the #1, but it was a straight run, so that's not a big deal for a dog that is reasonably fast. It would be a deal-breaker for a slow dog.

The key to this gamble was how to handle that #2 and the turn into the teeter, especially with a very tempting tunnel entrance. The dogs and handlers that succeeded either had good directionals (a left!), or added a front cross between the #1 and #2, which I did.