Posted Date: November 14, 2009
By Carol Voelker
Thursday's Team Snooker course, with judge and designer Martin Gadsby, was made up of all jumps and one lonely tunnel. The times for the heights were Open (26" and 22") - 45 seconds, 16"(12" Performance) - 49 seconds, and 12"(8" Performance) - 54 seconds. Over all, this course had lots of options, making it a challenging course to run and a fun course to watch.
There were three combinations on this course: the #5 tunnel/wingless jump, the #6 winged jump/wingless jump, and the #7 jump/double/triple. It was very important for competitors to understand the rules for these combinations. The #5 and #6 combo could be taken any direction in the opening, but if the dog took one of the obstacles twice before finishing the combination, they would be whistled off the course (example: if the dog took #5a tunnel and then repeated the #5a tunnel, the run was done). The #7 combination had to be taken as numbered. So, if a dog took the double #7B backwards, he would have to be fixed and the double taken in the correct direction before finishing the combination #7C. You would get zero points for the color, but you would get to continue.
Judge Gadsby said that there was a lot of thought put into this course. "There were many versions before coming up with this final one," he said. Gadbsy was looking for a course that would be fun to run, challenging, and have great judgablity. The most common comment heard during walk throughs was, "I hope I remember where I'm going with all these jumps."
The biggest problem area was jump #6A to jump #6B, in either the opening or the closing. Many handlers pulled too much and the dogs took the red #1, or they didn't pull enough and the dogs took jump #7. There were also several handlers that got lost in this spot and sent their dogs over the wrong jump.
The other problem areas were dogs running by jump #3 and taking #4, and dogs sliding by #4 and focusing on the tunnel. Also, a lot of points were lost in the #7 combination, as the bars on the double and extended spread came down quite often. It was very impressive to see the amount of handlers that had their dogs do something unexpected, but the handlers changed plans and made it work.
A comment heard often as the handlers left the ring? "I'm so glad I'm done with that damn snooker course!"
Carol Voelker is a USDAA judge and has judged at this event in 2005, 2006, and 2008. She has a small training school in Central Minnesota called Tails In Motion. In her spare time she is a substitute teacher for kindergarten through 12th grade in the local school districts.