Independent Performance

I do go on about “distance” training; we all know that’s true. At this moment, however, I’m convinced that the label is a distracting and misleading concept. What I’ve envisioned all along is nothing more than independent performance. I need to hoist this above independent performance of a single obstacle… to mean something more like an independent performance of agility.

What if we taught the dog his job so that every single moment and movement and obstacle did not have to be a relentless display of micromanagement?

What if?

It’s been over a year since I wrote the last Joker’s Notebook. It’s time for me to begin anew. I have a new message for an old lesson.

A year ago I sent a free copy of the Joker’s Notebook issue 0 to everyone who participated in the 2011 seminar in Pocatello. I was interested in following up on the success and foibles of those who’ve been doing their homework.

All I can say is “Oy vey!” The common response to my gentle inquiry was: “Oh that’s on my computer.” Or “I opened it once.” Or “I looked at an exercise but couldn’t see where I’d ever need that.”

That last response is especially intriguing to me. I look at foundation skills like an exercise in masonry. We lay the foundation like bricks, side-by-side and layer-by-layer and mortar them firmly with practice and patience. And upon this foundation rests the estate of our agility career.

Please do tell… what brick is not necessary in your foundation?

Course Design, Continued

Sometimes I’ll wrap my head around a course concept and hold it in reserve. I’m only actively judging (and consequently actively course designing) in the TDAA and the USDAA these days. Just those two venues allow an amazing diversity in terms of adapting a course concept.

For example…

Here’s a course I designed in anticipation of a USDAA trial (which was actually canceled, by the way. So I don’t feel shy about showing it). This Masters Jumpers course is a fine romp. The central challenge is basically the avoidance of inviting options with a dog working at full speed.

The design was borrowed from a course that I drew when I first learned of the USDAA’s Masters Challenges Jumpers program, which I’ve included below.

This really isn’t the same course at all. Note that it makes use of combination elements and includes the weave poles.  It is also more technical that the Masters Jumpers course, using more arduous turns and at least one blind/managed approach.

I should show you want this would look like when scaled to TDAA dimensions and philosophy. But I have to move on to other more compelling projects today.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

One Response to “Independent Performance”

  1. whitewaterwoman Says:

    I have always wondered why on international-style courses there are often (always?) combination obstacles like 13a and 138b above. I assume they always have to be taken in order, so why isn’t the convention to simply number them 13 and 14? In other words the final obstacle on the second course would be #24.

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