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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Courses, Monroe, Louisiana June 25, 2009

This weekend Dan and I are judging in Monroe, the middle of a heatwave. Luckily, we're indoor in a horse arena that has very lovely air conditioning and are missing the repressive 101+ degree weather outside, plus the incredible humidity.

When asked what I thought of the weather, I said "Two words come to mind, Holy Hell!" The reply "Darlin' there ain't nothin' Holy about it!" Gotta love the south! : )

The exhibitors and people we've come across have been absolutely lovely down here. After judging, we took some time to go back to the hotel and jump in the swimming pool. It was quite warm, like a hot tub, but still fun.

OK, onto the courses from today.

Today I judged Jumpers and my Excellent JWW course is attached. It was pretty to watch the dogs run this course and so I have to first thank everyone for doing such a great job and for making the course look like fun.

I was especially impressed with the weave pole entries. It's clear that folks in this area train them very, very well. A few other things I noticed is that the rear-cross is king here (very few front crosses were done) and they love their distance work!

My favorite sequence was from jump #4 to #5. I just loved how these dogs sliced the #4 jump and landed in such a way that they were able to dig in and take off for the next jump. (Note to self, this was another item folks down here have done a spectacular job training.)

A few surprises on the Jumpers course. First, from jump #7-8, quite a few dogs either headed or took the #13 tunnel. When designing this course, this obstacle was NOT considered one of the off-course options since it's a good 28' away from #7. Handlers who were behind their dog and had not yet gotten around the weave poles (either due to timing or utilizing extreme distance handling) as their dogs were clearing #7 were more likely to head for the off-course option. Those that were ahead of their dogs or closer to their dogs for their rear cross before #8 were less likely to have the dog head toward the tunnel.

Again, very few folks did front crosses and just 4 people out of 200 did a front cross for this sequence. Those that did a front cross did so between #6 & #7 and had terrific results.
Second, the off course entrance for #13 also got quite a few dogs. Most handlers had their dogs on their left as they were doing the poles and opted to pull their dog toward the correct entrance with mixed results. About 7 people did a front cross after the poles to ensure their dog went to the correct entrance and all were successful.

In the closing sequence, only 2 dogs took the off-course dummy jump after #15. Continuing on, most handlers 'pulled' their dog over the #18 jump and several did a rear cross - both options generally worked very well. Those that rushed the #18 jump on their way to the triple risked having their dog completely bypass #18 and head directly to the last jump.

As for Excellent Standard, this was Dan's course and although it looks like a fun and fast course on paper, unfortunately I can't comment too much on it since I was in the other ring judging. One exhibitor said "That was a wicked a-frame to the dog walk, but it was fun!" I did see a few dogs running that sequence and I was very impressed with the rear handling from #9 and especially over #10. This seemed like a place where you had to be patient and maneuver the dog's path to set them up successfully. I think this is a skill that has long since been lost (or never had) in the Pacific Northwest - it's just different handling styles throughout the country.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's courses!

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