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Course Analysis: Performance Speed Jumping/Steeplechase Finals

Annie DeChance takes a close look at these finals courses from Cynosport.

Saturday night at the 2011 Cynosport World Games was filled with excitement and anticipation for both the Performance Speed Jumping and Steeplechase finals.  The course was designed to let the dogs really run, especially since the slowest winning time of both Performance and Championship was just slightly over 30 seconds!

For this course, there were two A-frames to be mastered, and many folks in the audience speculated that since handlers would be pushing their dogs for the entire course, the second A-frame would be much more difficult with the energy and loud, cheering crowd in Broadbent Arena.  

For both classes, the majority of handlers did a front cross between the #3 jump and #4 A-frame, and then front crossed again after the #4 A-frame to the #5 jump.  Just a few dogs took the off course #9/#16 jump instead of the #6 tunnel, regardless of whether the handler front or rear crossed after the A-frame.  A couple of dogs hesitated for a moment after the #6 tunnel looking for their handler to guide them over the #7 long jump.

 Handlers either front crossed or rear crossed between the #8 and #9 jumps to take them into the #10 through #13 sequence.  The location of the direction cue, whether a front or rear cross, between #8 and #9 determined how tight the dog turned after the #9 jump.  If handlers were able to cross as close to the middle section between the two jumps, the dogs read that clearly and were able to turn tightly into #10, saving the few fractions of a second needed to end up on the podium.  

Just a few dogs ran past the #11 jump depending on how tight their turn was between #9 and #10 jumps.  Some dogs popped out of the #13 weave poles early as handlers were pushing their dogs and also trying to beat them to make a front cross between the #14 jump and #15 A-frame.  If handlers did a front cross between #14 and #15, they either did another front cross between #15 and #16 or a blind cross while their dogs were descending the A-frame.  Handlers who stayed on the inside of #14 to #15 had a few bobbles or hesitations after #15 to send them to jump #16.

A few dogs ran past the #19 jump as they zoomed out of the #18 tunnel or missed the #20 jump if they were slowed to be directed to the #19 jump first.

There were just a few A-frame/tunnel discrimination mix-ups for both divisions and not too many down A-frame contact calls.  All jump heights in all classes had a couple of knocked bars or a displaced broad jump.

The difference in placements in all classes depended on how tight the lines were between the #5 jump and #6 tunnel and between jumps #9 and #10.

It was another exciting course to watch.  Congratulations to all the finalists and winners!

Annie DeChance lives in Phoenix, Arizona and has competed with mixed breed dogs adopted from local shelters for the last 15 years.


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