Yet Another Discussion of Kentucky Windage

Kentucky Windage is a very old term in the American lexicon, although too few remember the meaning. The Kentucky rifleman, a keen shooter responsible for getting the food that appeared on his family’s dinner table, understood that the bullet moving through space would be pushed away from the target by any wind. And so the shooter would lean his shot into the wind to compensate for the push of the wind so that the wind would carry the bullet to the target rather than away from it.

By analogy we can compare the bullet moving through space to the dog working forward of the handler. It is one of the Laws of a Dog in Motion: A dog forward of the handler tends to curl back to the handler’s position.

In this sequence the handler is attempting a modest send over two jumps to the pipe tunnel:


Though the handler has lined up the jumps nice ‘n neat, once the dog gets forward of the handler’s position he is liable to curl back towards the handler and consequently the wind has pushed the dog away from the target.


The savvy distance handler will adjust the line of the dog’s path to accommodate and anticipate the dog curling in; so that now that curl will bring the dog to target rather than off of it.

I will continue this discussion tomorrow. This is an important training exercise which some dogs and handlers (maybe in Oklahoma) are likely to practice in the near future.

The Tandem Turn ~ a Secret Weapon for Distance Work

A Tandem Turn is a form of the rear cross. We typically use the expression “Rear Cross” when the handler crosses behind the dog on the approach to an obstacle. The Tandem Turn is a cross behind the dog on the dismount of an obstacle, or on the flat.


Here’s a video of Brenda Gilday running her girl Leela on this sequence:

[I’m going to go out on a limb here. 90% of the time the Tandem is a better option than a raw rear cross. The other 10%… only a rear cross will do.]


The attributes of the Tandem are worth discussing. The Tandem creates separation and acceleration. Note that the handler’s cue isn’t much more than turning the corner in plain sight of the dog.

Changing the Sequence

The “bootlace” isn’t much more than a foil for testing distance skills. Two jumps down to the tunnel, and two jumps back illustrates a simple principle of “distance” work… the farther away goes the dog, the farther ahead is the handler.

We’re going to change the sequence just a bit, to illustrate an important attribute of the Back Pass.


In this exercise the sequence calls for a pull-through to a back-side jump at #5. Initially the handler uses her distance skills to gain a position forward of the dog for the Back Pass. A very important attribute of the Back Pass is that the dog drops completely out of obstacle focus and into handler focus. And so the handler doesn’t have to “handle” the tricky transition between the two wrong-course jump options. The handler need only take the post position.

Here’s a video of Brenda Gilday running her girl Leela on this sequence:

Notes Aside

We should get out of our heads the notion that “distance” work has anything to do with the handler standing still whilst giving verbal cues to the dog. Distance is a matter of allowing the dog to work at full speed as the handler moves from control position to control position, all the while contriving to support the dog with complimentary movement… at a distance; while managing to arrive where he needs to be at precisely the moment he needs to be there.

Teaching is a game of repetition. I think I first documented Kentucky Windage as an agility concept something like 20 years ago. But don’t you know… a new generation is upon us. Very little in the science of dog agility has really changed. It must always be learned anew.

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2 Responses to “Yet Another Discussion of Kentucky Windage”

  1. Brenda Gilday Says:

    Hi Bud,

    Nice blog. I was glad I could execute the handling moves you wanted to use in your blog.

    I know Leela is smart and catches on quick, but I truly do owe her success in agility to you. If you hadn’t taught me the moves, I would not have been able to teach them to Leela. You truly are the master of agility.

    Also, I need to get the flyer out about the distance seminar you’ll be conducting at Clermont in May. I know we talked about the format, but I forgot to ask about times. Do you plan to do a morning and afternoon session each day, or just one session a day? What times would you like each session to begin and end? I’m excited that you will be coming to Clermont and want to get as many people signed up as possible, so the club is “bugging” me to get the flyer out by the end of this week.

    Thanks again for the training session.



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