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St. Patrick's Day Drills

Deborah Davidson Harpur concocted this clever clover course that challenges handlers to find as many handling options as possible. She also shares ideas with instructors on using this in classes.


Since St. Patrick's Day is the big holiday in March, I designed these drills for my students. Both can be done in reverse so you get a total of four drills of the four leaf clover and the course can be renumbered as you please.

My goal with this four-leaf clover-inspired course was for my students to reach outside their usual comfort zone and handle the course in multiple ways with the same dog. We used it on two different class nights. On week one, we used the course above and we broke it down and did #1-#7 first. The challenge was to find as many ways to handle the course successfully as you could. Even if things got a little scary doing it, the students had a fun time expanding their minds to think up options the others hadn't thought of.

Handlers ran through the course the first time however they wanted. Then they were asked to find at least two different ways to handle the same sequence. The most common option for #1-#7 was changing from the lead-out that all of them had used to a running start. Another common option was to change the way the dog turned off #5 going to #6. We ended up doing four rounds of this (so they had to find two more different options) and then moved on to #7-#16.

The most common option change in the second sequence was which side the dog turned after #8 and which side the handler ran on #11-#13. We also did the entire course and then broke it down do to the sections in reverse.

The next week I renumbered the course as shown above and before I even said what we were doing, my students were coming up with lots of options for #1-#10, #10-#18, the whole thing, and then the sections and course in reverse. I also gave them a "loaner dog" and had them see which options worked best with a dog of a size they were not used to running with.

My classes are small (three-to-four students each), so they got lots of runs. If this were a larger class, you could break this down into more class sessions or send it as homework and have them bring back the different options they found. In my classes, the dogs were fast and happy on these drills. Good luck to you!

Deborah Davidson Harpur has been competing in agility since 1999 and is known as a handler of a wide variety of breeds of all shapes and sizes. She offers agility training classes in the Port of Los Angeles area for both recreational and competitive agility students. You can find her on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/deborah.davidsonharpur or read about her dogs at pm2dogagility.com

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