Before ever walking a course the handler can do a certain amount of visualization of the performance. Your brain needs to draw from the two-dimensional course map and from your imagination a plan that is a rational fit to the challenge. When you finally get to walk the course you have just a few minutes to add choreography to the music that you have composed.
Below is my own (untested and unproven) solution to the October NDAL competition. My plan may change after I’ve walked it.
The jump #1 to #3 opening to this course is a skill I routinely practice with my dogs, approaching jump #1 dog-on-right, using a Tandem cue to turn away to jump #2. This leaves me far enough ahead that I can make a good presentation of jump #3 and slide into a Blind Cross for the approach to jump #4. The only real question about this opening will be the A-frame option after jump #1, which could be compelling to the dog and disturb the pressure and clarity of the Tandem.
The approach to the weave poles is nearly perpendicular, raising the question of whether to shape the approach or to trust in the dog’s training. Know thy dog.
The approach to the pipe tunnel at #7 is a pull-through in a cluster. All that really means is that there’s so much that can go wrong in moment after the weave poles that the handler had better have both good plan and good execution. For my part, I’m going to call my dog into a Back Pass.
I have put a good training foundation on my boy for “named obstacle” discrimination. But don’t you know, in this crowded back corner (the cluster) the #7 pipe tunnel is a cannon pointed broadside at the A-frame. I believe I’m going to step in a take a blocking position. Of course this leaves me behind after the dismount of the pipe tunnel. A notable feature of this set of equipment is the unused expanse of real estate at the center of the field. Mostly I will just be driving from the back seat.
The handler should be aware of the wrong course option posed by the jump to the right of the A-frame after jump #10.
This is the relaxed part of the overall course. The A-frame puts the dog back into the “cluster”; the correct entry to the #12 pipe tunnel probably shouldn’t be taken for granted. And out of the weave poles the handler might want to open up the approach to the #14 jump, just a bit, so that it’s not completely depressed.
Otherwise, the handler should be working to be in position for whatever is the plan after jump #17.
#17 to #19 is a bit technical. The handler has to call the dog into a modest “pull-through” after jump #17 and somehow sell the turn out of the pipe tunnel to jump #19. Don’t be fooled by the line that turns neatly out of the tunnel in the drawing. Life doesn’t always go like the drawing.
Anyhow, I’ll endeavor to precue the change of directions by giving a little “backy-uppy” presentation of the tunnel.
Jumping in to the League
If you have interested in jumping into League Play, the October workbook for the final game of the summer series can be downloaded HERE.
Training Sequences (Courtesy of Steven Schwarz):
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.