Under the Influence of Stuart Mah

I’m expecting some students tonight for a semi-private format. I’ve come up with an interesting set of the floor which I have to admit is from the immediate influence of courses and exercises designed by Stuart Mah. For the past several days I’ve been working on a compilation of his courses.

From time to time I say that “we train for ugly”. But to tell you the truth, compared to Stuart I’m a piker in the measure of tortuous sequence design. Frankly this set of the floor doesn’t really include a great representation of his challenging stuff. I’ve insinuated my own ideal of flow.


Mostly I built this to practice the distance send, with the handler staying behind the line shown on the course while the dog does the sequence #16 through #20. This is a gamble right out of one of Stuart’s course designs.


Stu does a lot of pull-through work (as in #2 to #3 in this drawing); and awkward transitions (#5 to #6) especially with weave poles. He tends not to be a stickler for the big transitions between obstacles (#7 through #8) that retards our sport today. Also, Stuart is constantly working options (like the #3 pipe tunnel presented to the dog in the transition from jump #10 to jump #11).

And now that I’ve drawn this, I’ll no doubt have to put up this numbering scheme on the floor this evening.


The weave pole sandwich that appears at the back of the field appears to be a recurring theme in Stuart’s course design. And there is some logic in this set of the floor to including it in the implicit serpentine. Note that this serpentine is squeezed between other obstacles on the floor in such a way that options are constantly presented to the dog (A‑frame and pipe tunnel on one side, pinwheel dummies on the other.) This gives me the opportunity to point out to people I’ve worked very hard to teach a Blind Cross when not to do a Blind Cross; (the Blind Cross is a weak signal and so should be avoided in the presence of an option).

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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