Posted Date: August 2, 2016
An analysis of two courses by USDAA judge Juanita Diaz - Masters Challenge Jumpers and Biathlon.
My primary goal for any course I design is to keep it fun and flowing, which does not mean it has to be simple and easy. I guess deceptively easy has been mentioned to me more than once from handlers. The other comments I get often from handlers is, "You gave me new things to work on, or that was a really tough course, but so much fun to run!"
The first course I've included is a Masters Challenge Jumpers course. When it comes to Challenge courses, I don't like to weigh them down with excessive backsides and threadles. I prefer to let the dogs run and challenge the handlers on collection points. One to six are straight forward and didn't cause many errors; six to nine require collection; the cleanest performances were the dogs that took seven angled towards eight instead of hitting it straight on. If the dogs hit seven straight, most handlers front crossed to send them to eight, but then were behind in giving the dog a cue to turn to the weaves. There are two off-course potentials also at eight, 13 and 16 jumps.
After the weaves it gets really fun. A fun straight line from 10-12; 13 wasn't an issue for an off-course. If handlers were too far behind, the opposite end of the tunnel invited a few dogs. 13-14 ran smooth - if the handler was still driving for too much speed after 14, they ended up getting the front side of 15. After 15, the course was straight forward to the end.
I like Jumpers courses that have plenty of opportunity for the dog to run in extension and at full speed. Even a Challengers course can offer that and I feel that this course has a good balance of speed and collection.
The next course is the Biathlon Standard that was used for the Perry Regional. The majority of errors happened between one to eight on this course, which proved to be very tough, even without any side changes. The discrimination between four and 10 proved a challenge. If the handler didn't get some collection at three for the turn and let the dog power too much over the double, no matter what they did, the dog bit on the A-frame.
After four proved to be a tough send for teams - a few dogs took five, then flipped themselves right into the weave poles, or they flipped. The handler tried getting them back and the dog jumped five again. Many teams Ed at five. From six to seven, the refusal potential at seven wasn't an issue, a few teams went off course heading towards eight. Eight to 12 ran smooth, and if the team made it to the weaves, the rest of the run ran smooth. I thought there may have been some refusals at 13 to 14, but everyone handled it well. A couple handlers anticipated the turn to 18 off the teeter and pulled the dogs off early.
Overall I was happy with the course balance, there was plenty of areas for the dogs to run, but yet provided the handlers with plenty of challenges.
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