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Friday, September 18, 2009

Courses, Ashville, NC - 9/18/2009

So much to write about and so little time!

First, it's great to be back in this part of the country. The last time I was in NC was about 7 years ago and before that I was in Georgia about 5 years, so it's been way too long!

It's great to see old friends and to see how their dogs have progressed. There are several folks who when I last saw them, were in Novice. Now they're the experienced Excellent to beat. How time flies...

I also got to see a ton of the Dalmatian folks with their Dals, some of whom are relatives of my young spotted girl. Lots of good relations on this trip.

OK, on to the courses.

I started with Excellent Standard and from an observer's point of view, these guys did the course justice and I really liked how 'aggressive' several handlers went in the name of fast & efficient handling.

The strength out here is definitely pushing their dogs for speed and beautiful turns where the dog landed parallel to the jump, allowing for a solid acceleration.

The one place on course that got quite a few dogs was the triple jump. I noticed that the majority of handlers cued the triple and then immediately took-off for the teeter. This caused dogs to collect and/or check-in with their handler and earned knocked bars in this area.

Next came Excellent Jumpers.

First, I really liked this course. When laid out, it looked deceptively simple, and could easily be called a bunch of straight aways. However, that's exactly what proved to be the challenge on this course!

Overall, handlers managed all the way up through #13 without incident. However, #14 - #18 proved to be the difference between the 'big dogs' & the 'puppies'. In summary, if handlers weren't able to make it down to the landing side of #16, dogs were curling for the off course jump prior to #17.

Surprisingly, most handlers drove down to the end of the weave poles and after their dogs completed the weaves, did a front cross so they were on the left side of the row of jumps AND (this is the important part) right next to their dog. Handlers then found themselves in a foot race with their dog heading down the straight line of jumps and not surprising, the dog was passing their handler by jump #15 and was well ahead going over #16. This is where the off course jump presented itself as an option and many dogs took it.

The most successful approach to this sequence was executed by handlers whose dog had independent poles so that they could break away and do a front cross on the LANDING side of #14 so that they were well ahead of their dog in the straight line of jumps.

Last, but not least was Excellent FAST. I'm not sure what to say about this course. I like the send challenge, but am not sure they were ready for it here. This is a tougher challenge that I'd like to try somewhere in the heart of USDAA country and rather than with folks who are still getting used to the FAST game. However, I will say that handlers really tried to work this one out and gave it a ton of heart!

Well, I just got my phone call for dinner and I'm starving! I'm looking forward to 2 more days of agility play with everyone here.

Have a good night ya 'all.

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