Gearing Up

By this time next week I’ll be settling in for a series of mini-clinics getting geared up for the Petit Prix. I’m somewhat confident of my topics; though I learn more about competing in this venue every year. I would be very gratified if out of the mini-clinics I lead come some of this years top placements and champions.

Aside from the usual handling topics (eg. Finding a way to move well on a TDAA course) I’ll also be dedicating quite a bit of time to a discussion of killer strategies for the games we’ll be playing. Of course I’ll be happy to provide these strategies on my blog post ipso facto.

I have a lady who has traveled all the way down from Wisconsin to take a series of private lessons with me this week. Since I saw her last she has done a lot of wonderful foundation practice with her dogs. You have to admire a student who attends to homework. That’s the name of the game.


We begin the day with this interesting sequence. Frankly the entire thing was designed around the three-quarter pinwheel at the back of the building. In the first turn into the pinwheel the handler does the #4 and #5 jumps, but turns the dog away to #6, rather than finishing the pinwheel. On the second approach the handler must skip the #5/#7 jump flattening the dog’s turning radius from #14 to #15. This is a challenge we see more and more in competition (and often with the #5/#7 dummy-jump rotated 90° to provide a more compelling target.

There is a variety handling options for the flattened turn in the erstwhile pinwheel. For example the handler might use a static Post at jump #14; or a precue to the intention to turn flat; or, the handler might even approach the jump with dog on left using a Rear Cross to effect a tightened turn.

As the exercise actually developed the turn from #5 to #6 became somewhat more excruciating than the flattened turn from jump #14 to #15. One student used a Front Cross which went wide and wobbly; while the other used a Rear Cross which slowed down the world quite a bit and got very wobbly. I switched them both to a Tandem Turn. And with a bit of practice, and before too long, we switched to a layered Tandem to show how strong the movement can be in this scenario.

We also had a long considered discussion about how to give speed cues to the dog. The diminutive real estate in the TDAA often overwhelms the handler with the illusion that they don’t really have to move well. The truth is contrary. The handler must find a way not only to stay in motion, but to race the dog. And without giving an elaborate blow-by-blow of solving this particular course sequence I’ll say… handler outside the curve is sometimes a brilliant notion.

Interesting Course Opening

On Lorrie’s agility blog is a USDAA jumpers course by Elizabeth Evans. Lorrie provides some pretty good analysis.

Of course I’m left wondering about how people handled the opening.



Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my latest publication the Just For Fun Agility Notebook #30 available at


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