Choices in Turning Direction ~ 1 of 2

When the handler has a choice of directions to turn the dog (typically at a jump) the moment deserves a bit of analysis to determine which direction is more ideal. These are the elements of that analysis:

  • Which is the natural turning direction?
  • Which offers less risk?
  • Which provides the better consequential path?
  • Which is accommodated by the skills of the dog and handler team?

In Boise this past weekend I put up two Masters Jumpers courses that each posed a choice of turning direction riddle.

On the Friday Jumpers course the sequence you should look at is #15 through #19. The jump that poses the turning direction riddle is #17.

To determine the natural turning direction all you have to do is plot the line of the dog’s approach. You can see that the line leans to the right at jump #17. So the right would be the natural turning direction.

Turning to the right also offers less risk. To the right there is nothing but blue skies. If we turn the dog to the left he will get a good look at no less than four wrong course options; the chances of dropping the bar are also greater. Note: if you saw only three wrong course options you failed to include back-jumping #17… and that is the wrong course most likely when fighting against the natural turning direction.

The better consequential path is also to the right. This gives the dog a straight line through the final two hurdles. A turn to the left is not terrible bad; but is is slightly longer and not a straight line at all.

In terms of skill turning to the left requires no more than a serpentine Front Cross. First the handler draws the dog to the left on Post and then turns back in a Front Cross to finish the course. Note: not recognizing the moment of the Post is what causes the dog to back-jump the #17 jump.

Turning the dog to the right is more problematic. If the handler can get forward of the dog this is a simple Post Turn. But if the handler is behind the dog the team is faced with a somewhat more treacherous Back Cross.

I’ll discuss the Sunday Masters Jumpers course tomorrow.

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

If 100 handlers and dogs ran the jumpers course above… which would be the more successful turning direction at jump #17?


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The Country Dream web store is up and running.


3 Responses to “Choices in Turning Direction ~ 1 of 2”

  1. Mary BonDurant Says:

    Turning the dog to the right towards the side of course where there would be no obsticles.

  2. Patti K Says:

    I will say to the left, as the tunnel would be more of a draw then the wing jump for an off course.

  3. Rose Says:

    My guess would be turning right. Turning the dog left with a post and then following up with a front cross just doesn’t seem very elegant or flowing. Also, like you pointed out, it also calls for good timing on the part of the handler to avoid the backjump.

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