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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Course Analysis - Exc Std Southern, CA

This weekend I've been judging down in Southern, CA at the Hollywood Dog Training Club.

The site is at a beautiful equestrian park so in the background were the mountains and western style horses & horsemen - the perfect site for an outdoor trial on grass.

This was a nice, small, intimate trial and we finished by 1:00 p.m. each day.  I have yet to do yesterdays Exc JWW Course Analysis (later today), but wanted to do today's Exc Std while it is fresh in my mind. First, I want to say Kudos to those who ran the course as they made it look like a ton of fun! I hope they enjoyed the course as much as I liked watching them.

OK, onto the course analysis. Today, I really wanted to focus on the handling lines that people did do that I really liked because when it works, it's so darned smooth and pretty to watch!

On the map, there is a Red line which correlates to the handler's path on the first part of the course and the second green line correlates to the handler's path on the last part of the course.

Focusing first on the Red path, what I really loved about this was that handlers supported jump #3 and then let the dog's natural path take them into the chute. By not going up to the chute entrance, handlers were able to get down to the chute exit and execute a front cross prior to jump #5. Those that didn't follow this path ran the risk of being late on their front cross which meant the dog had a longer yardage as it had to come back on their path to the handler. Some of the handlers that executed this sequence beautifully were Stephanie Spyr & Lorie Burbee (sp?). Others were just as graceful, unfortunately I don't know their names!

What I remember most was Stephanie Spyr's front cross out of the chute - specifically that her dog didn't have a wasted step or stride as it exited the chute, but rather came immediately in to her. Stephanie was also confident in where she needed to be and was stationary by the time her dog came out of the chute. Clearly this team has worked hard on this maneuver and it shows. I was so impressed, that I've decided to spend some time breaking this down just a bit more so that I too can have this responsiveness from the chute! Nice job Stephanie.

As for the second line, the highlighted handler's line in green for the closing was unconventional and gloriously beautiful!  It saved the handler from some extra maneuvering. For example, most handlers did a front cross between the tire (#16) and the teeter (#17) which sometimes resulted in a wider route for the dog if the handler was a tad bit late in their execution and still left the handler focusing on how to get their dog into the correct side of the #19 tunnel. 

By following the line in green, the handler was able to "pull" the dog down to the teeter and meet them at the bottom of this obstacle and already picking the dog up on their right-side.  Since the dog still had to finish the teeter and turn toward the #18 jump, handlers were a stride ahead as they began their last sequence on the course.  This stride was more than enough to prevent dogs from curling in after the #18 jump to take the wrong side of the #19 tunnel. Lori Burbee handled this portion quite nice.

There were so many dogs that I was enthralled with. I mean watching their speed, spirit and the teamwork was just so amazing that I was left staring in amazement. There was a beautiful athletic black lab who just took my breath away. Another was Amy Peikoff's Boo who's heart showed in every step on course. I had a chance to visit with Boo & Amy afterward and Boo was just as precious in a "pet" environment as she was doing agility. But the list doesn't stop there. Several incredible cattle dogs and some well-focused border collies are also among my "Wow" list. All in all, I really enjoyed my time in Southern, CA.

To continue on with the course analysis, I enjoyed watching the various handling styles and the additional skills that handlers executed effortlessly were:
  • Leadouts at the beginning of the course. Lots of solid stays and people worked them and meant it when they said "Stay!"
  • Some absolutely wonderful rear crosses at the #9 jump as folks sent their dogs to the #10 weave poles. This is a skill EVERY handler should have, but you have to work to get it!
  • Incredible contacts. Regardless if they were 2 on 2 off, running contacts or 4 on the floor, the contacts at this trial were amazing.
  • A salute to sit-stays - most folks were able to leave their dogs at the table and move out past the #13 jump.
  • It was so much fun to watch the triple, tire, teeter sequence - handlers gave their dogs a nice path and it really flowed quite well.
  • Hooray to EVERYONE who diligently connected with their dogs at the end of the run, put their leash on and left the ring together. I was very impressed by the conscious effort this group made to follow this newer rule.
Thanks Southern CA for your great hospitality and for sharing your talented dogs.

1 comment:

  1. Ahh, I remember Stephanie... She did the first slide-teeter I ever judged in Las Vegas a few years ago... What a thing of beauty that was, I still remember it. I really enjoyed watching the teamwork between her and her dogs... It is hard sometimes to remember to judge when there are things happening on the course that just take your breath away :)