Call of the Wild

Clearly the USDAA Masters Challenge class is a beckoning call to a class of exhibitor owning canny skill at the sport and a playful competitive nature. I’m going to spend a bit of time working through the Course Design Requirements published by the USDAA. These requirements will drive the design of the courses and will suggest how enthusiasts of the class approach training and practice.

You can find a comprehensive discussion of course design requirements for the Masters Challenge classes on the USDAA website in the Forms & Documents Library; specifically refer the “Judges’ Briefing”  Volume 1; so far with three parts published including an amazing exploration of course design by Janet Gauntt.

There’s a bit of new terminology that we all need to wrap our minds around: closed approach, backside approach, push-pull through, n-patterns, extended spacing, double performance, combination obstacles, the five-sided crossing pattern, and compound challenges. There’s more. But this is a good place to begin.

And wrap your mind around this one, it’s now any anything goes approach to course design.

For the next several days I expect to explore some of the challenges which are defined in the course design requirements by the USDAA for the Masters Challenge classes. I claim no particular expertise. I’m approaching this as a student of the game, endeavoring to understand the craft of course design as applied to this special and interesting class of competition.

Presented in no particular order

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If you’ve followed my blog you know that I’m especially interested in a thing I’ve called the en passant, which is basically a push/pull-through on a curve. The transition from the collapsed tunnel at #9 to the weave poles satisfies this definition. In the performance of this movement the handler is faced with keeping the dog off of no fewer than three wrong course options.

This movement also features an extended spacing transition from #8 to the weave poles at #9. So I guess I should get over thinking that I invented it, since it’s in the list of challenges published by the USDAA.

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By moving the #7 to the backside of the jump this sequence now presents compound challenges. The blind/managed approach to jump #7 is defined by the USDAA as a backside approach. I expect I’ll just call it that, from now on. Because of the backside approach, the transition to jump #8 is now a threadle; which by definition is a pull/push-through. (Note: the threadle is by itself a compound challenge, as the pull/push-through is followed by a closed approach to an obstacle in close vicinity.)

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Had I really wanted to be wicked in this already evil design, I might have made the collapsed tunnel and weave poles a combination obstacle.

As a handler/competitor there is something you must really understand about the combination obstacle. If the dog earns a refusal on the second element of the combination, the handler is required to return the dog to the first element before continuing on. Oh I admit this is very evil and probably something I would not do in this particular sequence. I just wanted to give you a thrill.

I will resume the discussion tomorrow.

Top Dog Secretary’s Choice

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This is the game we’re playing in league this week. We’d be proud and pleased if you’d play with us. You can download a scoresheet here: Numbered Course.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

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