Snooklers :: Games of the 2019 Petit Prix

Designing a Snooklers course can be a challenge to the course designer. A Snooker course is bad enough. But in Snooklers rather than using red hurdles the designer will use distance challenge: [ergo Snooker/Gamblers, or Snooklers.]

These distance challenges should be modest in nature. A tough distance challenge might skunk half the class in USDAA’s Gamblers or in the AKC’s FAST class… and so we should NOT have three distance challenges, each of which invite the proverbial skunk.

I’ll share with you a sample design for this class. I’m assuming TDAA equipment and spacing, on a field that measures 60′ by 70′.


What strikes me immediately about this class is that the designer and judge must explain the distance challenges in the written briefing. Clarity should not be left to the verbal briefing. I will attempt to describe the three distance challenges in this sample course:

  • Red #1/2 ~ This gamble consists of two jumps only. From the front of the ring it can be taken as 1a to 1b or as 2a to 2b.

    While this distance challenge was originally designed to be taken from the front of the ring only, I decided that design would constrain the number of possible solutions to the game. So, I added a line at the back, making this distance challenge bi-directional. From the back, the distance challenge can be taken 1b to 1a or from 2b to 2a.

  • Red #3 ~ Send the dog into the pipe tunnel from behind one of the surrounding containment lines. #3 is bi-directional.

    While the handler must be behind the containment line, the dog is not required to originate from behind that line. For example, the dog might make the approach to the tunnel from the dogwalk.  If the handler can turn the dog from the dogwalk and into the tunnel—while the handler is on the other side of a containment line—then the dog can turn neat into the tunnel and satisfy the distance challenge.

  • Red #4 ~ Send the dog from jump to tire from behind the line. This distance challenge is also bi-directional; and from the opposite direction the challenge is from tire to jump while the handler remains behind the containment line.

Other performance issues should be addressed in the briefing. For example, on this course the judge might stipulate:

  • All obstacles are bi-directional in the opening excepting #6, a combination obstacle, which must be taken as numbered.
  • All obstacles must be taken as numbered in the closing excepting #2, which is bi-directional.

The Briefing

Modeled after Snooker the written briefing for Snooklers is likely to run a couple pages of dense prose. While there are a lot of Snooker players in the world that only need a couple lines of explanation, the novice Snooker/Snooklers player might very well need the dense text.

Rather than sharing with you the mind-numbing intro to the game, I will show my old “Candy Store” briefing (adapted for this variation of the game):

Candy Store Coupon (Snooklers) Briefing

You’ve been given three coupons for free candy at a chain-store. Only one coupon can be redeemed at any store. Being a clever devil, you decide to visit a different store to redeem each coupon. The three red distance challenges on the course allow you to present the coupons for candy.

If your dog cleanly performs the distance challenge, that means the cashier accepted your coupon. You get to redeem the coupon! There are six different candies in the store, each having a different value, from 2 points to 7 points. You can get any one you want (even the same candy for each different coupon!) You are entitled only to one box of candy only. If you get more than one, they’ll call the police on you. Your game will be over (and you head to the exit).

If your dog faults the distance challenge, that means the clerk tore up your coupon, and you need to go to a different store. If you go out and get a box of candy anyway, they’ll call the police on you. Your game will be over (and you head to the exit).

After redeeming, or attempting to redeem all three coupons, you decide you love the candies and so you will go into the store and buy them all! You’ll pick them up in order, starting with #2 and finishing with #7. If in your haste you break one of the candies (fault an obstacle) your game will be over at that point (and you head to the exit).


Setting the Qualifying Course Time

As a general rule of thumb a little extra time should be accorded for each technical obstacle. The same rule might be applied an any distance challenge. This Snookler’s course will require a longish QCT. The course designer/judge might measure a modest strategy and base course time on that estimation.

For this game, consider something like this:

  • GI small 75 sec ~ tall 70 sec
  • GII small 70 sec ~ tall 65 sec
  • GIII small 65 sec ~ tall 60 sec

At the Petit Prix we’ll use the GIII times only, as all games and courses are judged using Superior rules for performance and rates of travel.

Qualifying, however, might be more generous to the lower levels than the requirements typically used for Snooker, mostly because of the distance challenges. Consider a schedule like this:

  • GI 31 points
  • GII 34 points
  • GIII 37 points

Designing Snooklers ~ A Found Poem

One of the biggest errors course designers make with games like this is failing to nest the game with courses that run before or after. Un-nested courses tend to add 30 minutes to an hour to the length of the competition day.

A better approach: study the adjoining standard course or game and “find” the game, with minimal equipment movement. This requires some mental gymnastics. But it’s better for the course designer to sweat and fret for an hour than to demand that all the exhibitors endure the long wait between courses that aren’t adequately nested.

The sample Snooklers course I’ve used here is based very literally on this sample TDAA Standard course:


The course designer should resist the temptation to remove the contact obstacles to find the Snooklers or Snooker course. Hauling contact equipment in and out of the ring by definition is a time-consuming and tedious chore.

On this course we removed the weave poles, a couple jumps, and all the number cones… making the transition between classes something on the order of five minutes.



Questions comments & impassioned speesches to Bud Houston Visit our web store: You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, a comprehensive reference to all manner of agility games played for competition and fun around the world.

2 Responses to “Snooklers :: Games of the 2019 Petit Prix”

  1. Liz Says:

    Do the distance challenges have a value? If not not how do you accumulate enough points?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: