Posted Date: October 14, 2010
Julie Daniels tells you how some of the big dogs ran this course.
I spent a delightful hour watching and admiring the big dogs in the West Wing of the Kentucky Expo. There two rings in this building, and they were side by side on the dirt. The running surface was fast and well packed.
The course was full of tricky spots where the handler had to change the dog's path prior to his commitment to the jump or risk the dog launching toward an off-course. And there were plenty of those, especially in the seemingly obvious opening circle. If the handler didn't cue rotation prior to the dog jumping #4, some dogs continued out, off-course, in an imaginary serpentine over the #14 jump rather than coming around to #5.
Most handlers chose to run to front cross after the #6 jump, putting the dog on the right for the see-saw and into the chute. Handlers who stayed on the inside had to keep the dog off the A-frame. And handlers who were then late with the rear cross at the chute had failed to cue the upcoming change of path left and out to the #9 jump at the back. Many dogs turned the wrong way coming out of the chute, generally into safe space with only time wasted.
Lots of bars went down, especially #6 and #14, which were both hard turns. This was a team class after all, so many handlers erred on the side of protecting against the off-course elimination at the expense of a bar, or a refusal, or time wasted. That said, there were many lovely runs, with handlers working hard to get into position on time and dogs running smoothly and joyfully at top speed with no mistakes.
Most notable among the best-trained skills were the incredible weave entries by dogs jumping wide at #15, landing well beyond the plane of the poles, then self-correcting and diving in at speed. The approach to the dogwalk was also very challenging, especially if the handler was late grabbing the dog's attention at the tunnel exit. There were a few dogs who slipped off the dogwalk, but by and large this was another skill which has been well honed, and the dogs understood the physics of rebalancing at speed as they ran up without squaring up first.
All in all, the skill level of the dogs was top notch, and the number of quick and astute handlers was likewise befitting such an important event. It was a pleasure to watch the individual, regional, and national differences in handling and training choices which have all come together here.
What a fun start to the Cynosport World Games!