Posted Date: November 1, 2008
A summary of how the course ran by Julie Daniels and Brenna Fender
Many handlers started the course with a lead-out past the second jump. As they signalled their dog to begin, the handlers moved into position to push their dogs into the weave poles. The next several obstacles were a natural arc for nearly all competitors.
Most handlers crossed in front of their dogs (front crossed) between the #6 jump and the #7 A-frame. Unfortunately, many of them didn't complete the cross fully before the dog landed and the dog had to wrap around the handler. This added strides and obscured the dog's view of the A-frame. Well-timed front crosses set the dogs up for a better approach (tighter line).
Many dogs went wide after the #9 jump which caused some dogs to miss the up side of the dogwalk contact (dogs must hit the yellow or incur a fault).
A wide turn after #11 actually set the dog up for a better chance at getting the #13 tunnel rather than the tempting off-course A-frame. But handlers that let the dog loop too wide risked an off-course over the #5 jump.
Handlers that ran toward the end of the #13 tunnel and crossed in front of their dogs there were well positioned to direct their dogs to the #14 jump. Dogs that were farther away from their handlers in that area sometimes turned left out of the tunnel, running toward (and occasionally taking) the teeter. It's possible that some dogs, out of touch with their handlers, saw the judge before they saw their handlers and turned left toward him by mistake.
The very best and tightest line out of the #13 tunnel was claimed by the fast, active handlers who got the dog's attention before exiting the tunnel, thereby turning their dogs correctly to the right. We don't know how much the ambient noise of the fun-loving crowd may have played a part in whether the dog knew which way to turn, but many dogs were clearly unaware of the handler's whereabouts and it was a very large factor on this course. Handlers who were able to do turn the dogs correctly did not have to front cross before the #14 jump.
The option of sending the dog over #14 and back crossing (changing sides behind the dog) made it possible to set up a very tight line back to the teeter (see-saw) with dog on the right. It took a tight turn out of the chute to set a dog up for an almost straight line over jumps #16 and #17 onto the #18 teeter. Dogs that came out of the chute straight and had to turn back to take #16 sometimes missed #17 or took #17 at an angle that made it hard to get to #18. After the teeter it was a straight shot out of the ring over #19 and #20.