An Interesting Gamble

I return from Portland judging for the Columbia Agility Team in southern Washington, and have survived the red-eye. Though there was certainly a day of tired brain and discombobulation.

Below I’ll share with you one of two Masters Gamblers riddles I put up on the weekend. I was just a little bit disappointed in the qualifying rate; because, don’t you know tunnel-jump/tunnel-jump sounds a lot like a Starters gamble. To be sure the gamble featured an implicit change of directions and an obstacle discrimination. So for sure it is a test of Masters skills.

Coincidentally, just a few days ago in this blog space I published a discussion of teaching the Tandem Turn (http://wp.me/pmSZZ-1ji) which is a simple skill used to turn the dog away from the side the handler is working. This is to my thinking a very basic, necessary and fundamental movement in a handler’s repertoire. I’ve been teaching this skill for maybe 20 years. I reckon just about everyone who has ever trained with me has it mastered.

Course below.

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The biggest mistake handler’s made in this gamble was making the approach to the start of the gamble from the jump immediately to the right of the #1 pipe tunnel. As the handler really needs to be at “X” to sell the change of directions, the approach should have been made from the jump I’ve colored red in this drawing. This judicious use of real estate allows the handler to send the dog up to the tunnel and move to the control position.

In a Tandem (getting the dog to turn away) the handler should reserve enough room to take a strong step or two in the direction of the turn. And so it was a huge error for any handler to arrive at the jump all velcro’d against the dog’s path with no room to take a step. The lateral distance is especially important to handlers who use mostly relative directionals to direct their dogs.

Key to convincing the dog into the turn is to actually make it look like you’re turning a corner with a sense of purpose and even urgency. The most impressive attribute of the Tandem turn is that it creates acceleration and separation. Sell it to the dog.

And I thought this gamble was going to be about the “named obstacle recognition” in the discrimination.

The Other Gamble

I’d like to have a discussion about the other gamble as well. But we have the Petit Prix (the very most amazing small dog agility event) next week and a lot of chores and obligations I need to catch up with because I’ve been gallivanting around the country. I’ll get back to it when I can come up for air.

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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. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, an invaluable reference to clubs engaged in league play.

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