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Dog Agility Masters Team Standard Course Analysis

The U-turn course!  By Leona Hellesvig

Team Standard could be nicknamed the "U-turn" course.  There are many 180 degree turns back on this course.

Interviewing competitors before their runs, there were many comments about jumps #16-#17-#18, and the hard weave pole entrance.  Shelly Bakalis from San Diego was anticipating a very fun run and worried about her dog being distracted by the audience on the bleachers.  Margal Myrick from Alabama was concerned about how a scary seesaw experience at a trial last week would affect his dog's performance today.  Margal added, "It is a course with good challenges,it and should be very fun."

Running the actual course, many handlers chose to lead out past jump #2 and awaited their dog near the entrance to the dog walk.  Most ran with the dog on their left through that section.  The section from jump #4 to jump #5 proved hazardous as many dogs incurred a wrong course at that place, with the dog running from #4 to #6/#10.  In most cases, this was a problem of the handler not being fast enough to get into position quickly enough, and it resulted in the dog curling into them.  One or two dogs had a problem with running into the collapsed tunnel instead of taking the 180 degree turn back around for jump #6. 

Following jump #7 was the dreaded weave entrance that many were concerned about before their runs.  Most handlers experienced success here.  A few dogs ran wide and took a wrong course onto the dogwalk, but this was rare.  There were some refusals there.

The section from jump #10 to #11 offered the challenge of the 180 degree turn with a wrong course option directly in front of the dog.  Most handlers dealt with this with a cross between jump #9 and #10.  The section from #12 through #15 was easily handled by the majority of handlers.

The anxiety-causing section from #16-#18 was handled well by most handlers.  Several bars fell on jump #17.  Handlers were successful handling from both sides of tunnel #15 as they approached jumps #16-#18.  Early in the day, handlers on the back side of the tunnel appeared to be more successful in negotiating this hazardous section.  As the day progressed, this handling advantage did not continue. Few dogs had an issue with the angle and closeness of the seesaw following jump #18, and finished the course in fine style.

The course was run in two different rings, and although the courses were nearly the same, one minor difference may have had major implications.  The end of the chute seemed to be closer to the tire in the 22" ring, causing many of those dogs to go wide and outside of the tire (incurring a run-out call), and in the worse cases then plant a paw on the A-frame before the handler could call them back to fix it (incurring an E).  This didn't happen as often in the other ring.

At the end of the run, Shelly Bakalis commented, "It was fun!"  Erika Maurer from California was surprised by her dog taking a wrong course: "I wasn't expecting that."  Margal Myrick said, "He did the teeter and was happy!"  That is what it is all about. 

Special thanks to Karey Krauter for her assistance with this article.


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