With apologies to Igor Stravenski

I’m Red Roof’n it tonight; preparing to judge for the USDAA over the next three days. I’ll be happy to share some course commentary with you. But I won’t be previewing anything, as that wouldn’t be kosher.

A thing that was nagging at me on the drive up here (mental fireworks) was the notion or question whether individual course designers have specific habits or propensities in their design. What do you think?

Awhile back I blogged on a topic I called “Angry Lines”: And yet I’m fairly certain I don’t always do an analysis of lines on my courses. So a deeper seated question is whether that’s my natural habit to quell the anger of the course lines. Or, a darker thought, am I just BSing myself.

I also recall writing, more than once, in the pages of the Just For Fun Agility Notebook ( that “we train for ugly”. If I practice a thing, and teach my students to solve it, does it become a part of my repertoire of course challenge when I’m judging? Just how did the 270° transition and the “threadle” become a part of our culture?

The other day I ran across a file box full of neatly ordered and labeled manila folders with the suites of courses that I designed and put up in the world like 15 and 18 years ago. I expect I’ve made a mental note that I’d like to go through those old courses and see if they reflect any sort of picture of evolution. Actually the old files are kind of funny. In those days judges drew their courses with pencil or pen using little plastic templates. Indeed, I remember a day when exhibitors didn’t get a course map at all. You’d take an extra copy and tack it up to a board or a pole somewhere… and the exhibitors would crowd around it trying to divine the challenge of the day [and of course there was always some inconsiderate soul who would plaster his tracing paper against the community course map and trace out his own copy.]

How many of you save old course maps? It would be fun to scan a history of courses by judge (better yet, photograph them. Scanning is too slow!!)

Okay, you can tell I’m getting sappy sitting here. I need to get on with sharing a small suite of nested training sequences.

And Here We Go!


The handling of this sequence is fairly straight-forward. There’s an awkward moment at the collapsed chute in which the handler should take responsibility for shaping the approach to jump #4. I’d be very interested in seeing if my students could layer to the opposite side of the pipe tunnel while the dog is out finishing up jumps #6 and #7.


It doesn’t make any sense to layer this pipe tunnel. The handler needs to step into the breach after jump #4 to draw the dog back to the left side of the pipe tunnel. Note that two wrong course possibilities exist. Because I’ve trapped the handler into the task of managing the approach to jump #6 many handlers will be behind after jump #7. This could be a test of “gearing down” to draw the dog away from the wrong course approach to jump #2.


I would love to see a layered Tandem at jump #3. That should create enough impulsion to get the dog out around jumps #4 through #6 while the handler layers back on the opposite side of the pipe tunnel. I’d challenge my students to do a layered Front Cross after jump #6 to help the dog make a square approach to that jump.


Just what is my fascination with layering today? This isn’t so obvious as it looks however. Consider committing to jump #3 with dog on right, using a Tandem Turn to accelerate the dog away to jumps #4 and #5… layer to the opposite side of the pipe tunnel only after jump #3.


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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