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.


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


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.


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.


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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