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Small Space Masters Handling Seminar Sequences

Small space masters handling courses from Steve Schwarz AKA AgilityNerd.

by Steve Schwarz

Reprinted with kind permission of Steve Schwarz. This blog was first published at

Here are my small space masters handling "Steeplechase-ish" courses from my fun weekend of seminars with Talcott Moutain Agility Club external link in Manchester, CT. The facility was 45' by 60' and I squeezed a lot of handling into this space! You could flip a couple numbers to the opposite side if you are looking for more "International" style challenges.

When I teach this seminar I focus on the team's execution; I want clean, clear execution, with the handler using their cues and moving on as their dog is committed to the obstacle. I also have teams work on multiple handling options, especially ones they normally wouldn't try, so you should do the same!

In the course setup below I used 4 foot bars and 1 foot jump wings. I definitely tweaked the obstacle locations to suit my needs and to keep dogs safe, don't be afraid to make changes:

Here's the first sequence:

Some handling thoughts:

  1. Start dog on left slice jump 1 toward 2
  2. Front Cross [LearningFrontCross, FrontCross] 2-3 drive down line to 5 dog on right. Blind Cross 4-5? OR send to 3 and drive with dog on left and Push to 5 (depends on how you have jumps set up).
  3. Support 6 and Front/Blind to 7. Ideally want to get to landing side of 8.
  4. Front/Blind 8 - stay tight to line.
  5. Easy-peasy through 11.
  6. How much collection does your dog need at 12? How will you cue it?
  7. Decide which side of 16 you want to be on. I prefer controlling the dog's line out of the tunnel, so take off side for me. But could stay landing and Blind Cross on approach to 17.
  8. Front/Blind 17-18 to set line to back side of 19? Or stay dog on left and treat like a Serpentine [SerpentineHandling, Serpentine]?
  9. Depending on your obstacle spacing you might want to skip 20.

Here's my second sequence:

  1. Start dog on left and, depending how much energy you need to put into your dog, you can Front/Blind cross on either side of 2 and drive to 3.
  2. Front/Blind 4-5.
  3. Pull dog in to get to take off side of 6(?)
  4. Front Cross on landing of 6 to keep dog's line tight to Push to back of 7.
  5. Keep connection with dog from exit of weaves to tunnel - we heavily reward dog's contact performances.
  6. Rear Cross take of side of 11. Blind/Front could be possible...
  7. Support A Frame but don't step in and then out...
  8. Support back side of 14 and Front Cross over jump to set line to 15.
  9. Forward send/spin? at 16 to get turn to 17.
  10. Which side of 18 do you want to be on? Depending on your layout getting to take off side might work nicely...
  11. Front Cross landing of 20 to set line to 21. Blind is possible too.

Here's a fun, fast final sequence:

  1. Same opening options as sequence 2. What if you move #3 to the other side?
  2. Get to exit of tunnel to set line to 6-7 with dog on right.
  3. Front Cross on landing of 8 to keep dog's line tight to 9. Could cue tight wrap on 8 and dog on right to 9 and Rear Cross into weaves.
  4. Draw dog from exit of weaves and push over 11.
  5. Landing or take off side of 13? Same handling options as sequence 1 through to 17.
  6. Front Cross into 18 and move!
  7. Front/Blind/Rear into 19/20.

I hope you set these up and have some fun and challenges running them!

Steve Schwarz has been training and competing in agility and flyball since 1997. He focuses on helping handlers improve their communication with their dogs on course in a positive and light hearted manner. Steve brings an analytical approach from his engineering background to the study and training of agility.

In order to stay knowledgeable about current agility training techniques, Steve trains regularly with top agility handlers and attends multiple dog and agility training seminars each year. Steve competes in AKC, USDAA, UKI, and CPE venues and has competed in NADAC and UKC.

Steve also writes the longest running dog agility blog: AgilityNerd with regular articles and videos on agility training, handling, and course analysis.


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