The Entertainment Round

The game for the week is a standard course. That means it is a numbered course in which the judge poses an essential riddle of connecting the dots. It is my habit when teaching to always run the “entertainment round” first. That means that everyone runs a course or sequence with the handling of their own choosing. I’m not really trying to be disparaging by calling it “entertainment”. I believe fundamentally that my students will show me what they’ve learned from my teaching in their strategic attack on the riddle. Oh, I could tell them how I would do it. Frankly showing someone how to do a thing, before they can think it through on their own, isn’t good teaching. They must learn to solve the riddle on their own.

And to tell you the truth if I allow everyone their own approach to solving the riddle, it give me the opportunity to learn a thing myself. A handler may do a thing that might not have occurred to me. I really won’t discard a thing that works. Instead I’ll make the appropriate mental note and then test it out. If a thing continues to work then it should become a matter of repertoire.

That’s right… you heard me say it. I’m not too old to learn a new thing.

So here’s the course. I’m going to set it up tomorrow in this seminar I’m leading in Springfield, IL. I’ll design a variation of it for play back home (while I’m gone, mind you).

The immediate challenge at the beginning of the course has to be how to sell the dog’s commitment to the pipe tunnel at #3 and still manage to have dog on right coming out of the tunnel in order to manage the pull-through from jump #4 back to the pipe tunnel at #5.

After I get the dog into the pipe tunnel at #5 it’s a nice smooth romp around two sides of the field. Mostly this is just going to be a matter of a proofing the dog’s understanding of a couple of technical obstacles… the A-frame and the weave poles when all we have to do is have at them in a fast, straightforward, and aggressive approach.

This bit is followed by a simple three jump serpentine. This serpentine is a flat arrangement of jumps all on a contiguous row; and an arrangement that has haunted the agility community for an entire decade. I try to teach my students to move in and out of the jumps in the serpentine in honest handler movement. But if you think there’s a better way… well, it’s your dollar.

I’ll have fun with the sequence here in Springfield. Of course I see the big obvious stuff from the onset, those things that were the intended challenges of the designer. But as often as not my teaching revolves around the unexpected and frankly basic kind of thing that rears up… the meat and potatoes of the handling game.

This is the redesign for the training center at home. The field is a bit shorter because we’ve allocated the back 30′ for Beginners training. To make things fit more neatly I’m using the shorter dogwalk trainer and putting the teeter in place of the longer weave poles. The contact equipment is nearly in place already. I’m trying not to leave too much heavy lifting or moving for Marsha.

She’ll of course teach classes from a breakdown format. Basically the way that works is that everyone runs the course, and then we break the course down into the challenging and interesting bits for practice and the discussion of various handling options. Given time, they’ll run the course again after the bits have been practiced. It somehow always goes smoother after practicing and smoothing through the chunks and elements. It’s a darned shame that they don’t allow us to break down courses out in the world… we’d likely be much more successful handling them. Eh?

Part  of the design is the desire for a bit of “feel good”. But that’s another story.

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

What was the working title of the book Bilbo Baggins wrote?

First correct answer, posted as a reply to this blog post, wins a free copy of the June Jokers Notebook.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: Check out my latest publication the Jokers Notebook ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Plan – June 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store: . Readers of my web log get a discount: Enter “special05” in the box for the discount code. And that will take $5.00 off the price of the order.


6 Responses to “The Entertainment Round”

  1. Kim Cullen Says:

    Is the working title “There and back again”?

    Looks like an interesting course to set up and try!


  2. Carole Says:

    There and Back Again.

  3. Adrienne Says:

    “There and Back Again”

    The full title being “There and Back Again, A Hobbit’s Tale”

  4. Courtenay Says:

    there’s no weaves in the first course map. I assume, given what you said, they should replace the teeter?

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