Contact Sports Agility Trial

11 Oct 2008Steve Schwarz

Meeker and I had a humbling experience at the Contact Sports Agility USDAA trial a few weeks ago in Bristol, WI. It was originally going to be held at the indoor soccer facility in Crystal Lake but, due to raised rental fees and a small number of entries, was moved to Loretta's facility. There was one outdoor ring on grass and one indoor ring on dirt. The action bounced back and forth between the two rings so it was faster than just a one ring trial. Meeker and I were indoors all day. Our courses were designed by Laura Miller and our judge was Les Sanders who filled in for Laura.

Before I get to the details here is what I recorded in Agility Record Book:

Contact Sports Agility - 2008-9-28 Judge: Les Sanders

AdvGamblersNQI opened with a Post Turn Learning the Post TurnPost Turn/Shoulder Pull/Pivot Turn over jump to tunnel, he went wide. I didn't give him direction after the A Frame. Missed weave entry on weave-to-weave. Mishandled the gamble - off course jump looked to him like a Serpentine Serpentine Handling TechniquesSerpentine Sequence so he took it - good dog.
AdvStandardEMissed weave entry on single jump to double jump to weaves all in a row. Got the tricky spot and the tunnel A Frame discrimination. He missed the downside A Frame contact. Put four feet on teeter and bailed. Got the closing with some hustle.
StartSnookerNQOn the opening he took a (colored) jump behind me! Should have kept my eyes on him... Avoided the A Frame due to earlier missed contact. Did some good hustling to get to second far red. Didn't get him back to me and his path took him over an extra red on the way to the closing sequence.

Advanced Standard

The Gamblers NQ was all my doing. Here’s part of the gamble (there was one more jump after the chute):

Handling the gamble

There were only a few dogs in this class and I think only one dog got the gamble. My plan was the one shown in red. I imagined that my forward motion down the line and my left arm indicating the wing jump would be enough to keep Meeker off of jump 1. Unfortunately Meeker’s line was such that he read it as if I was running a SingleSidedSerpentine. I’m pretty sure I reinforced that notion by looking back to see if I had him (which I didn’t).

The only successful run I saw had the handler stand as shown in the green path when their dog came out of the tunnel, effectively blocking the dog from taking the jump. They then redirected their dog toward the wing jump. But this would be a problem for the fast dog/slow handler since it put you behind your dog down a 60 foot straight run to the finish (which is why I choose to try to get ahead…).

Advanced Standard

This run served to point out some things we need to practice. The opening was a straight shot with single jump, double jump, straight on to the weaves. With Meeker in his amped up trial mode he blew past the weave entry. So I’ll be setting that up for practice.

There was an interesting Dog Walk through two jumps to a tunnel/A Frame discrimination. I handled it on one side (Single Side Serpentine-ish) to avoid the off course weaves and got Meeker into the tunnel. Then when we came around to take the A Frame Meeker added a stride on the down side and bailed above the contact area… bummer.

Then we went into a tunnel and cued the teeter and kept running. Meeker hit the teeter with four paws and bailed immediately. I guess I put too much pressure on him and he felt he needed to catch up to me. Dana reminded me that he is still a green dog. I tend to handle him as though he can do everything and I need to help him out more in trial situations.

Starters Snooker

This was the Q I really wanted to get as it would move us into Advanced across the board. Well this wasn’t our day to earn it. I led out to set Meeker’s line from the first red jump to the teeter. I was standing next to a colored jump with my back to it. I did that to give all my cues toward the teeter. Unfortunately, after review of the video, I released him, moved toward the teeter and took my eyes off him. He cut behind me and took the colored jump. Again Dana reminded me to keep eye contact in those situations to make certain he stays focused on me (see Stuart Mah’s handler focus.

We were still OK so I kept going over the red, combination jump sequence, a long run to the last red and back over the combination jump sequence. So now we were going to the start of the numbered closing. That took us back past the second red. In going around the teeter my forward motion was more of a cue toward the red than my lateral motion so Meeker took the red. Dana’s advice was to turn into him and switch him to focus on me in those situations.

So this was the first time we’ve been “skunked”. But just like every trial, there were things to learn. I’ve already designed a course that incorporates some of these challenges and I’ll post it in case you have some of the same issues.

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