Posts Tagged ‘Internationalization’

The Van Deusen Riddle

September 9, 2015

The National Dog Agility League September league course was designed by Wayne Van Deusen. This course features some interesting handling challenges, with a definite international flavor.

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In my own classes (which attend league play) we spend a bit of time walking through the league course to talk about handling strategies to solve the course we are running. My mission as instructor is ever to teach my students the basic skills to solve the riddles posed by the course designer.

The handler is the architect of the dog’s path. And so handling should always begin with a visualization of the dog’s path. Once we set that very basic goal, just about anyone can rummage through the inventory of skills they might have to conduct the dog upon that path. Whether the plan is right or wrong will sort itself out when we test the proposition with a dog in motion (with time-keeper, scribe and judge all playing their part in the drama).

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These days most of us own some rudimentary approach to a “back-side” jump. Clearly the approach to jump #2 is a managed approach. On this course, however, the back-side is the beginning of a more complicated riddle.

Jump #2 actually gives the handler a choice of turning directions. I’m inclined to begin with the natural turning direction as the natural choice unless other factors talk me out of that choice. What the drawing shows is that a right turn (which is the natural turning direction) at jump #2 will expose the wrong course tunnel option at #4.

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Turning the dog to the left at jump #2, as previously noted, fights against the natural turning direction. It also exposes a wrong course option (presenting jump #1 again to the dog). And it also calls for a considerably depressed angle approach to jump #3. But, the consequential path sets the dog up neatly for the correct entry to the pipe tunnel at #4.

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On the dismount of the #4 pipe tunnel the handler might simply attack jump #5 and work to pre-cue the turn to #6. This strategy probably raises the odds of the dog dropping the bar at jump #5, and clearly sets up jump #2 as a wrong course option.

The red line in the diagram shows the handler creating a corner of approach to jump #5 which lines the two jumps up neatly, with a consequential path that carries to the weave poles. This will probably result in a longer path than the “attack jump strategy”, but not much longer.

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After the excruciating grind of the opening this course opens up into a bit of a helter-skelter romp around and to the A-frame. The handler should be aware of the not terribly obvious challenges in this simple part of the course: a) The dog dismounting from the pipe tunnel at #9 needs to be turned to jump #10; b) the #3 jump is exposed as a wrong course option after jump #11; and c) the weave poles are set as a wrong-course option after jump #12. The handler might be advised not to take it all for granted.

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The interesting turn the course takes here is really a question of the handler’s downfield control position. While the dog is on the A-frame the handler must be calculating how to get in position to handle the closing bit, jump #17 to the pipe tunnel at #18. But the handler is obligated to turn the dog out of the #14 pipe tunnel to tag jump #15. And in that moment of prudence the handler might surely sacrifice the forward-of-the-dog control position after jump #17.

And the handler should be aware of the wrong course options presented to the dog. The A-frame is surely an option for the dog coming out of the pipe tunnel; jump #3 looms again after jump #16; and the weave poles are somewhat compelling after jump #17.

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I shouldn’t rule out the possibility of a left turn at jump #17, though to my own thinking it’s crazy and perilous. The right turn clearly opens up the wrong course side of the pipe tunnel.

It was clearly not my intention to open the discussion to the handling skills needed to solve Van Deusen’s riddle. Maybe I’ll return to this course after we’ve run it in league play so that I can inventory handling skills that proved to be successful, and some that weren’t particularly so.

Jumping in to the League

If you have interested in jumping into League Play, you still have time to play on the second course of the summer league. The workbook can be downloaded here: September League

If you have interested in jumping into League Play, you can still play on the first course of the summer league; but under our league rules results submitted after August 31 cannot be counted towards league standing. The workbook can be downloaded here: August League

The score-keeping workbook for the out-of-league course can be downloaded here: Pick-up Game

Earned LPP

The National Dog Agility League has published Top Dog standings based on the accumulation of Lifetime Performance Points: LPPMaster

The details of LPP earned can be found here: LPPDetail

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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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Pick-Up League Game

August 20, 2015

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As we are only doing one league game a month, I will occasionally introduce a pick-up game for our local league play. Of course this game is available to play by any club or franchise associated with the National Dog Agility League. Though results will not apply to the League underway, dogs still earn Lifetime Performance Points (LPP).

This is a numbered course that will be scored Time, Plus Faults.

The League has focused on and even specialized in International level skills and challenges. These days aside from the USDAA’s Masters Challenge class (and I suppose the new AKC class) we don’t really have the opportunity to hone skills that are common in Europe and are very likely to be featured when we send our World Team to Europe.

What might have been considered ugly or unsafe only a few years ago is fodder for the central challenge in the International-style course.

Can You Say “Granularity”

The problem with a score of “E” is that it cuts off any hope of measuring performance or, for that matter, comparing scores. As the National Dog Agility League (NDAL) is not primarily a titling agility registry we require a system that allows a comparison of scores. Purists in the sport will spit and sputter in objection to a dog earning only 5 faults for a wrong course. But if you think about it, those 5 faults will move the dog down in the standings without actually removing the performance score as though it never existed.

Jumping in to the League

The score-keeping workbook for this pickup course can be downloaded here: Pick-up Game

And… if you have interested in jumping into League Play, you still have time to play on the first course of the summer league. The workbook can be downloaded here: August League

Short Notice B&D Creekside Clinic

I know this is short notice. On Tuesday, August 25 I will be in Latrobe to do a distance clinic and introduce the National Dog Agility League to agility fans at B&D Creekside. You should contact Darlene (arcmasterdarlene@comcast.net) if you’d like to come out to play with us. It will run from 6:30 to about 9:00 and should be priced very inexpensively.

We have only a few league teams so far, around the U.S. and also with clubs in Canada and Mexico. League scores are derived from the top 5 performing dogs at each club or franchise. So clearly it gives an advantage to a club to run league with a large number of dogs.

I have an ulterior motive in helping to establish league play in Latrobe. I want to create a coalition of clubs in the Ohio valley that will get together for an annual championship tournament that owes no affiliation to any big agility organization. They have such a tournament in Florida. Every club sends teams of nine dogs & handlers broken up into 3‑Beginner; 3-Intermediate; and 3-Masters. The winning “team” is the aggregate score.

Here’s hoping you’ll join us on the 25th!

Blog1031 Home

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.

Internationalization pt 3 ~ Ketschker

March 7, 2013

Okay this movement is all the rage right now. It can be defined as a combination movement: Front Cross followed by a Blind Cross. I’ve been teaching it for about 15years. I originally called it the Mitchell Flip; because the first time I ever saw it was by a student of mine during an RFP[1] exercise. He did this thing that clearly was not an RFP. Though what he did worked in the exercise. Being one never to dismiss a thing that works, I began to study the movement, and then to teach it.

Mitchell went on to train with a smart aleck in the sport who forbade him from using this movement. And so I’ve pretty much trimmed the “Mitchell” from the description of the term and in my own writing now call it the Flip. With some irony I note that the “smart aleck” now, some 15 years later, has incorporate the Flip in her own handling repertoire because she has observed it winning in competition.

I looked back to find where the Flip might have first appeared in my own writing. On my web store, by the way, I have something like five years of unique weekly lesson plans; for three training levels and nested with a weekly league play game. These are documented in the pages of the JFF Agility Notebook; available at: Notebook. Anyhow, here’s a PDF sample page from the October 2000 Notebook: Sample.

About eight years or so ago I got a note from Pati Mah; after she read something I’d written on the Flip to tell me that she had been using the movement for a couple years. So, we really shouldn’t give everything over to the Europeans as the onliest innovators in agility. We’re just slow to adopt in this country.

In the same time period I got a note from somebody in Europe who told me this was a movement they were playing with in Europe, where they call it the Ketschker.

The set of equipment I typically use to teach the Ketschker comes from the opening sequence of a course once used at the AKC Nationals. Correct me if I’m wrong I think it was 1999 or 2000; and I’m pretty sure it was round 4.

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 Do you remember this sequence? Animal Planet covered the event. They showed this bit with Elicia Calhoun and her dog Soni… earning a refusal at the #2 tire. They played that bit over and over again; and she made the same mistake every time. To be fair, she was approaching the riddle as a Vee-Set. Soni went into the fourth round leading the pack. Had Elicia pulled this off, she very likely would have won that year.

The handler starts the Front Cross as the dog commits up through the tire. The handler must pull the dog in the perpendicular transitional line and then commit to the Blind Cross before the dog can actually catch him. The amazing thing about teaching this… most people are successful the first time they every try it. And yet, a big number of them fail when using their default handling plan. Of some 350 masters dogs and their handlers, about 25% of the field failed on this opening.

Only two dogs got to see a Flip to solve this opening at the AKC Nationals that year. And both of them were successful. I even remember the names of the two dogs[2] after all these years.

Video

This YouTube video demonstrates the Ketschker that is used simply to tighten the dog’s turning radius: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pPuL1agWz4. [Chip, handled by Rosie Ison.]. Note that the handler might simply have drawn the dog on Post. But she gambled, effectively, on the notion that the Post is a softer cue and the dog’s turn might have been much wider than necessary.

Here’s a video complete with schmaltzy music that gives the movement a real workout http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwNSUczy7yo&feature=player_embedded.

Dog Agility Bloggers Action Day

If I were pressed to define what it means I’m not too sure I could come to a definition agreeable to everyone. If you craft a good one, I’ll put it on the Glossary of Agility Terms.

I was going to do a full rant on Internationalization. Indeed, this is third is a series I’ve been working on in anticipation of the Dog Agility Bloggers Action Day Internationalization topic. The first two I wrote were: Part 1; and Part 2.

In a broad sense Internationalization is two-fold: Course challenges, and handling skills. If I sound like I object to the course challenge side of the coin; It is not the challenge itself that I object to. It is the course designer’s bloody-minded approach to placement. Many movements require control position by the handler. That means the handler needs to be right there with his dog to get it done. So imagine that the course designer puts a control position challenge in the upper-right corner of the course map; followed by a diagonal speed building run to the lower-left corner of the ring. Now we’ve created a scenario in which only fast long-legged kids can race from corner to corner keeping pace with their Border Collies. Us old folks are left pitifully out of position just wishing we were there.

Challenge Course

Here’s a very short and interesting course that several clubs are running (under the aegis of Top Dog Agility Players) over the next couple weeks. We’d be delighted if you would join us. Please note… all scores will be aggregated as a single competition. If you want to play drop me a line at Houston.Bud@gmail.com. I’ll send you a score-sheet and give you a heads-up to rules for performance and faults.

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A More Fulsome Grind

This is not a Top Dog course (but could be!) I included this just to make it a more full-length course.

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Course Design College ~ Understanding the Dog’s Path

I’ve been reviewing a lot of courses the past few days. I would very much like to address the course designer’s responsibility for engineering a square and safe approach to contact obstacles.

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This is the kind of thing I’ve been seeing (and way too much of it). Taking the picture at face value you must be thinking “What’s the big deal?” The dog’s path looks perfectly straight and safe for the approach to the dogwalk.

Here’s the problem… the line was drawn by the Clean Run Course Designer. And what you must know is that CRCD is an idiot robot. Note that the corner of approach is out modestly on the left of the jump labeled #2. In truth, there is no corner of approach at all to the jump… you should draw a straight line out of the pipe tunnel through the jump to truly understand the dog’s path.

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This is the dog’s path, more truly rendered. Most dogs will actually manage the up-ramp of the dogwalk just fine. But a dog working at any real speed will get on the ramp out of square and will dump off the ramp, losing footing, about half-way up.

This was not the dog’s fault nor truly the handler’s fault. It was the fault of the course designer.

Most challenges on course are essentially the course designer’s riddle. What is never an appropriate riddle to the competitor is… do you know how to do this without hurting your dog?

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  The problem of approach is really easy enough to fix. The course designer might move the jump more to the south (down); or could rotate the dogwalk in anticipation of the dog’s turning radius.

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All the foregoing being said, this is a perfectly acceptable on-course challenge. The placement of the pipe tunnel will surely protect the dog from too perpendicular an approach from the left side. And now the riddle is a valid one… do you know how to do this without earning the wrong course fault?

And you must know that the dog’s true path favors the wrong 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.


[1] The RFP, don’t you know, can be defined as a combination movement: Front Cross followed by a second Front Cross.

[2] Bogie and Birdie

Internationalization pt 2 ~ the Blind Approach

February 21, 2013

As I was going up the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today. I wish, I wish he’d stay away. –Hughes Mearns (from “The Psychoed”)

Box Threadles & 270s

The first hint of a blind approach in our agility culture came from the onset of the 270 turn. I recall at one time these weren’t legal in the AKC. But I believe they came to the realization that a challenge that is common in FCI play needs to be set up for practice in the U.S. if our players are going to compete in Europe… so the ban on the 270 was lifted.

I’ve addressed the 270 a number of times in my blog. I posted the following a couple years ago, as I was practicing some of the challenges in the Alphabet Drills authored by Nancy Gyes: http://wp.me/pmSZZ-Qf

Another common form of the blind approach is a thing we call the threadle (a blind approach requiring two changes of direction).

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These exercises are courtesy of the letter “A” (box threadles left; 270s right).

The blind approach always requires for the handler to shape the approach because it is not a natural or intuitive flow. In other words, the dog cannot be released to work. And more to the point, the course designer is demanding micro-management of the dog.

The most common error in the 270, to be sure, is a handling error. The handler fails to step outside the box to shape the turn, and so the dog cuts inside, earning a refusal on the second jump.

Have this at the back of your mind… the blind approach always demands micro-management.

The Blind or Managed Approach in Competition

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This AAC Jumpers course contains a transition between two jumps that is commonly known as a blind approach or a managed approach. The blind approach occurs in the transition between jumps #5 and #6.

What the handler has to do here is be in position in the gap between the #6 jump and the #15 jump to draw the dog around for an approach to jump #6. If the handler’s a long-legged kid, he can probably sprint down to be in position… forward of the dog. Getting behind the dog is a big problem because any dog with a lot of obstacle focus and a good work ethic will likely take the #6 jump in the wrong direction if the handler is out of position.

Later in the course, mind you, is a hard wrap at jump #15. Again, the course requires the handler’s presence to manage the wrap. Note that the judge has put a gratuitous dummy jump beyond jump #15. So, unless the handler can outrun the dog he had better have taught the dog some magnificent distance skills to give direction from #7 through #14.

Making a Case for Training

The real question that occurs to me … can the blind approach be taught to the dog as a performance option. Be very clear on what this means. I’d like to be able to point out a jump and tell my dog “go around that jump, and come back to me over the jump.” All good training begins with a solid statement of objective.

I’ve got a video to share. It’s not actually my video but something I stumbled upon in my odd quest for interesting studies. This is evidently from Portugal:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=V0rjkAE4qKo

This young man is running a course that features no fewer than four blind approaches (and a threadle to the weave poles thrown in for good measure). Please note that on one of the blind approach challenges he sent his dog forward to get it done (jump #13, following the U-shaped pipe tunnel). The dog, Jack, dropped the bar on this jump which we might blame on the dog not giving himself enough room on the un-managed approach; but then again, the handler stepped in to bend Jack away sharply after the jump which could have been the culprit in the fault.

Bookmark

http://aurea.userworld.com/ppal-en.php

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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.

Internationalization

February 20, 2013

This is first in a series. The up and coming topic for the Dog Agility Bloggers Action Day (DABAD) is Internationalization. This reminds me of a science fiction novel I read about 30 years ago, or so… What Entropy Means to Me, by George Alec Effinger, which had all to do with failing gravity.

In dog agility, as a vague notion Internationalization means whatever it is that the Europeans are doing. This might mean either course challenges or handling methods. Too often I think that we look at the Europeans through a narrow window mostly opened for about a week once a year when we field a “Word Cup” team.

In a more dramatic sense Internationalization is a complete myth and an excuse to engage in amazingly bloody-minded course design.

Let me share with you this:

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 Judge from the UK… competition in Budapest. Note that the challenges are subtle, and the flow encourages the dog to work in speed building intervals. The most acute turn in the entire course is probably from jump #16 to #17.

I’m not going out on that particular limb to say that this is a “representative” course. But in general the difference I find in American design and European is that the American course designer tends to unleash every fad demon that haunts him; and does so without the merit of experience or empathy for the demands on the handler.

This is the first in a series. Come back tomorrow for more.

Bookmark

http://aurea.userworld.com/ppal-en.php

Blog895

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.