Starters Jumpers Opening

I thought that I would share this interesting opening to a Starters Jumpers course. Just a little bit of course analysis would serve to enhance the chances for success.


In the illustration I drew a red line through the center of the first two jumps to demonstrate that they don’t precisely line up with jump #3. We had several dogs on that path that gave a refusal at jump #3. While refusals are not faulted at the Starters level it still takes time to correct a missed jump.


We also had an appreciable percentage of dogs going wrong-course into the wrong side of the pipe tunnel at #5. For your benefit I drew another line in the illustration to show you which end of the pipe tunnel is probably presented to the dog without the intervention or advice of the handler to give other information about the possible direction of the course.


What I’ve observed here in Nashville (after day 1 of 3) is a reliance on fast dog handling… that means that the handler takes a behind and pushing working relationship to his dog. Note here that the Post & Tandem approach solves the subtle turn to jump #3 quite neatly. The real problem with this handling is that the Tandem has an accelerating quality and frankly puts the handler behind the dog by the time the dog gets to the landing side of jump #4… making the turn to the left-side entry (and correct entry) to the pipe tunnel at #5 problematic.

So, the handler solves the first riddle, but fails the second for being OOP.

Keeping it Simple


Let me offer a possible handling solution to this opening. Note here that the handler is not going to attack the first two jumps in a straight line, but will instead seek a corner of approach in a turn between the first two hurdles that creates a straight line through jumps #2 and #3. You could call this a vee-set.

In the illustration the black lines and figures represent the opening line. The red figures and lines represent the approach to jump #2 out of the handler’s Front Cross (or you could say “Lead Out Pivot”).


An important attribute of our vee-set opening is that it gets the dog ahead of the handler in the pinwheel. And, as we all know, the faster the dog the dog is in a pinwheel, the farther ahead the handler gets.

So you see, the handler is easily forward of the dog for a easy peasy Front Cross on the landing side of jump #4 to direct the dog into the correct entry of the pipe tunnel at #5.



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


2 Responses to “Starters Jumpers Opening”

  1. Nora Says:

    You can do that without a lead out too–in fact, that was what I thought I would do when I first saw it. Run with your dog on the right, send out and support #3 and then front cross on the landing side of #4 to push in to the tunnel. You would be treating the first two obstacles as more or less a straight line in that case.

  2. Peggy Rodinak Says:

    Well I wasn’t thinking of a lead out pivot at first (I have a fast dog), but then I would have to get on the other side of #2 to get the curve into #3. If I want to save my travel distance then the lead out pivot does look like the best option. But I always have a harder time looking at stick figures, than the real obstacles. Many times I will change my mind when I am actually looking at real obstacles.

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