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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Courses - Hounds for the Holidays

Today was the last day of the always wonderful Hounds for the Holidays Trial and I judged Excellent JWW. This was an incredibly fast course with an average time of around 27-29 seconds. To the best of my recollection (this means there's a ton of room for error), the winning time in the 20" class was a high 23.??

Here's the usual list of suspects that snatched dogs or handlers into NQ land:

* After the #5 jump, several handlers intentionally sent their dog over the #9/14 jump thinking it was a part of the first pin wheel. Ouch, I didn't see that one coming...

* Several handlers pulled their dog off of the #12 jump in their rush to get a front cross in after #13. After watching this sequence 340 times, it was clear that in general, those that drove deeper into #12 achieved a much more efficient line from their dog from #12-13 as the dog clearly saw the 'pull' toward 13. They were also able to avoid their dog taking a large loop in that turn (see the dog's path in red).

* By far, the jump that was missed the most was #14. Since I was standing straight down the course (on the dark vertical line in the picture) and could easily see the handler & dog's path from #12-14, I had a birds eye view as things were happening. The issue appeared to be that in their haste to get a front cross between #13 & 14, handlers kept moving across the course and didn't strategize the placement of their front cross.

To illustrate, I drew a series of lines for both the handler & dog. The red lines show the wider route while the green lines show the more efficient route.

As you can see by the red lines, in general, when the handlers continued to slide to the left side of the #13 jump their dogs went very wide after #12 (approx. 57.4') and the result was a late front cross that failed to setup the dog for the #14 jump.

In contrast, the path shown by the green lines created a more efficient dog path after #12 (approx. 40.8') and easily set the dog up for the #14 jump. By being cognisant of the optimal dog path AND planning which part of the #13 jump a dog should take (in this case by having the dog jump closer to the right stanchion) this sequence was smooth and dogs landed with #14 straight ahead.

* In the closing sequence, most handlers were able to leave their dogs at #15 or #16 and run down the right side of the jumps without a problem. I did see a few blind crosses between #16 & 17 by some long legged handlers that were beautiful. Unfortunately, there were a few dogs who incurred a refusal/runout at the #19 jump. Those were tough to watch as they had beautiful runs up until that point.

Thanks again to everyone at the trial for such a wonderful, wonderful time.

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