The Architect

I was looking through some old paper sequence sketches from past camps and classes and stumbled over a bit that I’d done awhile back which had crib notes scrawled on the side about “illusion of lines”… a thing I’ve been studying for awhile.


Yah, I remember this bit. It was designed mostly to work through interesting approaches to the weave poles. But what often happens the overt stuff can easily become overshadowed by the subtle stuff. How would you handle this simple sequence?

I should point out that this is a tougher sequence for people with fast dogs, than for people with slow dogs. I like saying that. But the complete truth of the matter is that everything is tougher for people with fast dogs… even though running a slow dog is considerably more work (slow dog = uphill; fast dog = downhill).


This opening bit if the equipment is honestly set is subtly more difficult than it looks. Most handlers will figure on a Front Cross on the landing side of jump #4. That much is relatively straightforward from a study of the map. What we’ll find however is that jump #4 is a bit tougher to get to than it looks.


There are several factors that influence the dog’s turning radius after jump #2. If he’s running at full speed the simple physics of the turn will draw him quite wide after the jump. Let’s add to that the notion that he’ll have a good fix on the teeter through the turn which could easily widen the turn.

Note that the handler, working the dog into the turn, is likely to be behind the dog after jump #3. A dog forward of the handler will tend to curl back to the handler’s position making the approach to jump #4 an increasingly difficult proposition. The jump was never perfectly lined up in the first place. That notion is a complete illusion.


I have a fast dog plan for this opening. I’ve tried to illustrate each element in the drawing above. You’ll note in the opening (illustrated by black lines and figures) that the handler takes the unusual lateral path lead-out. This is a simple acknowledgment that the challenge in the sequence is lateral (and to the right) and so there’s no good reason for the handler to crowd into the dog’s line on the landing side of jump #1.

The red lines and figures show first of all a Front Cross to draw the dog to jump #3. Continuing through the jump however, the handler draws the dog subtly in a Post Turn to the left. This is to open the approach to jump #4.

The blue lines and figures show the handler drawing the dog past his position (out of the Post) stepping behind into a Tandem Turn (Back Cross on the flat).

Of course the handler will still have to press forward for a position for the Front Cross to draw the dog into the weave poles. I expect in class we’ll work on a static Post here to pre-cue the change of directions. Then we’ll get to practice Back Crossing into the weave poles.

Other Sequences


A Mean Challenging Snooker Course



All obstacles are bi-directional in the opening. However, three of them are combination obstacles. While combination obstacles are also bi-directional, they must be taken in flow; that means if you reverse the order of the combination, you must also reverse the direction of each obstacle in the combination. In the closing only jump #2 is bi-directional. All other obstacles must be taken in the direction indicated by the numbers.

If you fault one of the obstacles in a combination in the opening, you will not get the points. However, you must still complete both obstacles before continuing; otherwise you will hear the judge’s whistle.

All dogs will have 60 seconds to complete. 37 points are required for a qualifying score.

Another Snooker Briefing

I’m fond of telling folks that the rules of snooker are so confusing that I judged it for two years before I completely understood how to play the game. That really isn’t much of an exaggeration. If your students are going to be humbled by this game, it is probably better that they are humbled by technical execution rather than failing to understand the rules of the game.

The following briefing is an analogy that I use to explain the rules of the game to my students. You’ll note that the story is intended for my Novice students, and conforms to the rules of the Novice game. It could certainly be adapted for your more advanced students if they are having a hard time understanding how the game is played.

The Story

You’ve been given three coupons for great doggie free gifts at a chain-store. Only one coupon can be redeemed at any store. That means you have to visit a different store to redeem each coupon. [Point out the red jumps on the course, and explain to the competitors that these are the three stores in the chain.]

If your dog jumps without dropping the bar, that means that the clerk accepted your coupon. That also means that you get to go into the store and redeem the coupon. There are six different gifts in the store, each having a different value, from 2 points to 7 points. You can get any one you want! In fact, you can redeem your coupons for the same free gift at each of the three different stores, if you want.

You have to be careful not to get into trouble. If your dog drops the bar on the red jump that means that the clerk tore up your coupon. If you go on and get a free gift anyway, they’ll call the police on you. Your game will be over.

If you drop the bar (if the clerk tears up your coupon), if you have any coupons left you need to go to a different store.

If you visit the same store more than once, they’ll call the police on you. Your game will be over.

If your dog jumps the jump without dropping the bar, you are entitled to one free gift only. If you get more than one free gift… that’s shoplifting! They’ll call the police on you. Your game will be over.

When you’ve redeemed a coupon and you are collecting your gift, if you fault the obstacle that means you’ve dropped and broken your gift. You need to go on to the next store if you’ve got any coupons left, or start the closing sequence if you don’t.

After you’ve redeemed all three of your coupons, it’s time to start the closing sequence. That means you get to collect all of the gifts in the store. You have to collect them in the order of their number value (#2 through #7). If you take any of them out of order, of if you fault one of them (break the gift)… they’ll call the police on you. Your game will be over.

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my new publication the Idea BookAgility Training for a Small Universe available at


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