Ours is Not to Reason

This course was sent to me by Jean from sunny San Diego. It is a very interesting puzzle. I had to redraw this myself and was generally faithful to the presentation from the course map… however I’ve added the “ABC” labels to the three dummy jumps on course, as they deserve a bit of discussion.

The key feature in this course is the “managed approach” challenges… sometimes called a “blind approach”. The obvious bit is the transition from the pipe tunnel at #7 to the counter-side presentation of jump #8. Less obvious is the managed approach to jump #13, coming out of the weave poles.

The approach to jump #8 reminds me of the Jenny Damm pulling hand exercise in which the approach to the jump is completely managed. I actually use this exercise to work with my own students on the technical details of a good Front Cross. But you have to note that Jenny and all of us who study her cruel exercise will make use of a lead-out to be forward of the dog.

The real difficulty is how the handler gets in position with the fast dog. If you can outrun your dog you don’t even worry over the question of how and whether you can get into position. But with the fast dog… note that if the handler loses the foot race from the bottom of the ring (left) then the dog will be inclined to take the #8 jump in the wrong direction if the handler is even a step behind.

I’m not saying it can’t be done of course. The challenge of the course with the fast dog is whether the handler has put down a good distance training foundation for the dog so that he can be half a field away as the dog commits to jump #4. This leaves the handler comfortably forward of the dog; and no matter how fast is the dog the handler should be able to practice the Jenny Damm trick (though to tell you the truth, my own handling solution for the #8 jump would be to have the dog on my right on the approach rather than on my left).

OBTW! Did I mention that all of my Jokers Notebook training workbooks (eBooks) are available on my newly built webstore? I wrote 1200 some odd pages of documentation for distance training in 2010; all of this in the pages of the Jokers Notebook. Train, don’t complain eh?


About Dummy Jumps

I am no real fan of dummy jumps gratuitously placed in the dog’s path as a tricky option. My druthers have nothing really to do with the reality of our world. We are at risk of being over-technical in our approach to the game of agility. Wouldn’t it be cool just to release the dog to work without fretting over a continuous series of traps and  gotchas? Well sure, we could all just play NADAC I suppose.

When there are dummy jumps on a course each one deserves a bit of risk analysis.

A)    Dummy jump “A” presents itself twice. In the turn from #3 to #4 the dog must certainly have a look at it (and less so if he had an inefficient turning radius from #2 to #3); and this presentation certainly adds considerable risk to my strategy of being “half a field away” from the dog.

Dummy jump “A” gets another look when the dog comes off of jump #5. If the handler isn’t pushing the line out to jump #6 the dog might curl back to the right on a whim.

B)     Dummy jump “B” complicates the wrap to the “managed approach” jump as the handler may actually solve the approach, only to lose the dog to an immediate wrong course. The pull-through wrap is followed by a hard-aback wrap and lord save us from the dog wanting to run be free have fun.

This dummy too has a second opportunity to snatch your heart away. In the turn from #15 to #16 if the handler doesn’t sell the 90ish˚ turn, the dog might well galloomp to the dummy.

C)    Dummy jump “C” is the least intrusive of the three. It might seem at first look that it’s just out there being pretty, or adding balance to the presentation. But, in fact, after jump #11 if the handler is behind the dog (a condition worth considering after the technical micro-management getting through #7 thru #9)… then the dog might well curl back towards the handler which would invite the dummy rather than out to the weave poles.

The handlers preoccupation with creating the “managed approach” to jump #13 out of the dismount of the weave poles could put the handler OOP after jump #14 (introducing the approach to dummy “C”); and possibly lose the dog to dummy “B” after jump #15.

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

I’ve been watching a Sandra Bullock marathon on one of the movie channels (TNT?). It was one of her movies that inspired the title of this blog. Which movie might that be?


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: BudHouston@hughes.net. OMG! My web store is up and running. I still have a lot of work to do there. I’ll be closing down the eJunkie presentation; and we’ll be doing business again with the CFWebstore.


7 Responses to “Ours is Not to Reason”

  1. Kim Cullen Says:

    I’m going to guess Practical Magic – it is my favourite movie… I know most of the lines by heart and there is a point where Sally says to Gary (the officer)… “the reason you’re here and you don’t know why, is because I sent for you…” Is this what inspired you?

  2. mariann jackson Says:

    how about “in love and war”

  3. Rose Says:


    Thanks to you and Jean for sharing this course. I set it up this afternoon, and you were right about the distance needed in the opening. No way I could have managed #8 without it. Additionally, my DH would have been calling the rescue squad somewhere around the weaves if I hadn’t cut some serious yardage off my path.

    I lead out to about (0,50) and had no problems with Belle. The dummy jumps were a complete non-issue with her. Here’s a link to the video if you’re interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dgf7nbcOiXU

    My older dog was a different story. The first part of course was UGLY. Once we got to #9 it was clear sailing. I will be leaving this one up for a few days to see if I can teach an old dog some new tricks.


    • budhouston Says:

      Thanks for taking the time to set this up. You did a very nice job and fairly followed the handling plan that I described. Without the initial distance handling, it would have been very difficult to handle the blind approach in the back/left corner of the course.

      Your pup did this in about 30 seconds, btw. Nice job.

  4. Deb Auer Says:

    Okay – I think the whole “Sandra Bullock” thing is sort of a misdirection. In “The Blindside” one of the characters (Sean Tuohy, played by Tim McGraw) reads a portion of “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

    “Theirs not to make reply,
    theirs not to reason why,
    theirs but to do and die:
    Into the Valley of Death rode
    the six hundred.”

    • budhouston Says:

      Not a misdirection at all.

      The Blindside is correct. It is a Sandra Bullock movie, and the Charge of the Light Brigade played an important part in the plot.


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