Whimsy

I’m spending the day finishing up courses for a USDAA judging assignment I have next month down in Texas. I always get a real kick out of the Texas agility enthusiasts. They are an earnest and hard working bunch.

There’s a good deal of constraint in the design of an agility game or course. Aside from the obvious stuff, the size of the ring, the available equipment; I also must observe a list of required equipment and the total obstacle count for a give class; so moments of whimsy must be kludged into course design more often than not in a ham-handed manner that loses the original intent and flavor.

If you follow my writing at all you probably know that I am a huge fan of the option or misdirection whilst compelling the dog to work at top speed by giving him a path of open angled changes of direction whenever possible.

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Here’s a sequence I designed a couple-three years ago. I’m considering setting it up for a Thursday night fun run.

The first option is obviously the presence of the pipe tunnel in the turn from jump #5 to #6. The truly problematic jump is #8. But if you think about it, if the turn from #5 to #6 goes a bit wider it will create a consequential path that favors the approach to jump #8. Note that the natural turning direction at #8 is to the left… and the best consequential path will come from a left turn as well. The trick is… how does the handler create the left turn.

The pull-through from jump #12 to the A-frame is certainly a very technical handling moment. If anything, this is the feature challenge of this sequence.

Other Sequences

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Now we have the pull-through working from jump #4 back to the pipe tunnel at #5 in the face of the wrong-course jump #7.  This set of equipment seems to inspire constant presentation of options. I love it.

Note the tricky slice from the #10 pipe tunnel to the final jump.

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We’ve played with this layered approach to the opposite side of the pipe tunnel recently. It’ll do my students good to have a bit of reinforcement of their solution. The dummy jump presses in so hard that the real estate available to solve is minimal.

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Now we’ll see who is paying attention. While the natural turning direction at jump #7 is to the left… natural turning direction is only one of several elements to consider when the handler has an option for turning direction on a jump. The better consequential path is to the right. But then, the risk of wrong-course options is greater to the right. It will be interesting to see how my students solve the turn.

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: BudHouston@hughes.net. And Check out my new publication the Idea BookAgility Training for a Small Universe available at www.dogagility.org/store.

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