Take Your Course Concerns to the Judge!

10 Feb 2024Steve Schwarz

Look at this crappy/dangerous course! Every trial weekend there are courses shared on FB with a similar sentiment. And sure many of them aren’t “good” by various measures.

Before you leave comments berating me: I’m all for discussing issues with courses!!

But, as usual?, I want to talk about something different… but related. I want to talk about taking your concerns about a course to the judge.

Did anyone building the course politely discuss the dog’s lines with the judge? Yes, yes, I know the course builder is to build the course accurately to the course map and not take liberties. But, at the same time, they are on the course and should be confirming the orientation/alignment of obstacles to that map. IMHO, they also have a duty to ask the judge about any concerns they see during the build.

At most trials I attend in the Midwest the course builders are a pretty experienced lot, often local judges/trainers. So I tend to see a friendly interaction with the judge.

I’ve found the vast majority of judges are at least open to listening to your concerns. In some venues I’ve also experienced judges acknowledging issues and radically changing a course (“course map is only an approximation”).

I really think people see the course map and/or how its set and feel they have to accept it. I want folks to know they have a right, even a duty, to talk to the judge if they see issues.

I bring this up because I’ve met folks at trials who may be afraid to talk to or are intimidated by “the judge”. Judges are just regular folks. If they are a jerk you’ll find out when you bring your concerns to them; then you’ll know what to do the next time you see their name on a trial premium.

TL;DR: It never hurts to politely ask a judge about your concerns on a course.

PS: I guess this whole thing could also have been summed up by other folks’s comments: When at a competition See Something Say Something - politely.

This image is on my favorite trialing t-shirt #wheatonslaw

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