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COURSE ANALYSIS: Grand Prix Quarterfinals/Performance Grand Prix Semifinals

By Clair Lofthouse


This course was full of complicated twists and turns to challenge handlers and their dogs and included a speedy ending sequence to add to the excitement.

The opening series of jumps led directly to the inviting dogwalk placed straight on from them. However, there was a catch: obstacle #3 was not the dogwalk, it was the weaves.  Most people used a lead-out front cross to try and block their dogs from going up the dogwalk. This worked pretty much without fail, and a sticky situation was avoided.

The next tricky line went from the #9 seesaw to the #10 jump. Those dogs that were trained to stop at the end of the seesaw had an advantage since their handlers could give them more instructions instead of sending them careening wildly into the jump. Most people did make it through this segment, but many were jerky and lost precious time.

The next section, a jump to the chute to another two jumps, all of which were set on a gentle curve, led to some problems with jump #14 to the dogwalk at #15. Some of the faster dogs got too far ahead of their handlers and kept arcing back towards them, therefore heading into the tunnel situated conveniently right beside the upside of the dogwalk.

The dogwalk led to a jump set right out in front of it, leading to a sharp turn back to more jumps. Some people anticipated this turn and ended up pulling their dogs off of the jump, earning a refusal. Following this section was a portion that allowed for alot of fancy moves from the handlers to send their dogs sailing to the end of the course with multiple changes of side.  The last two jumps allowed both dog and handler to have a great burst of speed towards the finish which caused some dogs to fail to make the turn, so we had some off-course faults at the last jump.

This course was quite popular with many of the handlers. Elizabeth Evans said that she liked it because of the variety and because there were "lots of different ways to do things" within the course. Her strategy for this one? Run clean.

Clair Lofthouse is currently enrolled as a junior at Westlake High School in California. She loves running her Shetland Sheepdog, Rugby in agility, plays guitar, and writes her own songs.  She also rides horses in dressage and jumping. Clair would like to someday write a book and become independently wealthy. Contact Clair at clairsmusic@live.com

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