a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Fun With Course Maps

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Fun With Course Maps

SUMMARY: Detailed comments on some courses from this past weekend's USDAA trial.

For you course-a-holics, you'll be delighted to know that our tireless KK has put ALL the course maps from all 3 days up on the Bay Team site.

Masters Standard Sunday

I didn't run this course with Tika; did run it with Boost and our only notable flaw was on the turn from 9 to 10. I front crossed between the weaves and #9, sent her over #9, then--worried about the back side of #16--I did a silly thing: I gave a threadle cue. The result was, yup, she threadled right between 9 and 10 (which is what a threadle cue is SUPPOSED to do, but I didn't mean it this time!).
But, working the score table, I was able to watch parts or all of many dogs run this course. It ended up with a 25% Qualifying rate, but I've seldom seen a course that ends up taking people out in so many ways. Here are some observations:
  • 1-2-3: Didn't see any off courses 1-2-4. Some people led out next to the tunnel on the inside; some people did a lead-out pivot and had the dog on their right going into the tunnel and rear crossed the tunnel. Most people had the dog on their right all the way through the loop. I led out just beyond 1 so that I could take a couple of steps forward and then slow and start lateral motion as the dog approached 2 to pull her in towards me to the tunnel.
  • There were off courses from 4 to the back side of 1. I did basically the same thing as starting; waited for them to exit from the tunnel, took just a step towards 4, then slowed and moved laterally (also signalling verbally).
  • There were off courses from 8 to 10, from 9 to back side of 16, or 10 to 18.
  • Some folks front crossed between 10 and the Aframe, but I wanted to be on the side towards 12 rather being on the far side and having my motion towards 12--either a longer front cross or a push--propel the dog out to the back side of 4. There were several off courses 12 to 4. I either pulled to 12 and rear crossed it, or front crossed as the dog descended the Aframe, so that I had no motion towards the 12-4 line by the time they were off the frame.
  • The bar at #12 came down a LOT.
  • The surprising offcourses were some 13 to the right side of 19, or quite a few 13-14-19. Everyone that I remember had the dog on their left for 13-14-15, and if the handler wasn't careful about the line they were running, they were basically pushing the dog into the tunnel rather than pulling the dog towards the chute. Ideally, you'd be at least to the tire as your dog left the teeter. Don't recall seeing any 14-to-18 offcourses, but I think that most dogs' momentum did not bring them towards the 18, even if the handler fell behind.
  • 16 through 20 presented some huge challenges. There were some off courses 16-17-Aframe. With the dog on your right 14-15-16-17--which was really your only option--you had to hang back a bit to keep the dog from going up the Aframe after 17, but then the dog's path 17 to 18 took them to the wrong end of the tunnel. If you hung back to pull them into the correct end of the tunnel, the dog would most likely beat you out of the tunnel and could end up running past or refusing the last jump, which I saw with several dogs. Most people did pull the dog to the tunnel, and most dogs turned towards the handler coming out of the tunnel, wasting a couple of seconds.
  • Since we were already NQed, I decided to try what a very few people tried (some successfully)--sending the dog out to 16 and then racing for a front cross between 18 and 19. Boost almost ended up with a foot on the Aframe that way, and although she missed that, her momentum combined with my motion pulled her past 18 for a runout.

Masters Snooker Saturday

I misjudged this one while walking it. With 54 seconds in the opening, and with only 3 reds, there was no question about there being plenty of time to get three 7s in the opening, and the closing course struck me as being smooth and flowing, so I figured that it would be a speed course: Everyone doing three 7s in the opening and easily doing the closing and then it would just be all about the speed.

The only things that I didn't like about three 7s was that I'd have to run out around a couple of obstacles at one point, which Tika has never been thrilled about (that's about the only place on course where she's likely to go for my feet or jump on me), and with Tika's "modified running contacts", I had to get my hand in front of her face for 4 Aframes in one course. With Boost, the issue was a long lead-out and her propensity for knocking the first bar, which would have made the rest of the course a bit challenging.

However, with two dogs with known bar-knocking issues, I wanted to stay away from as many bars in the opening as possible--which mean I had to do Aframes. What can ya do?

My plan (using "E" for east/right of the center line, N for north of the bottom of the map): Set dog at the 25N-35E (near the (F) in the lower right). Lead out to about 10E40N and call the dog to my left side, moving about 3 steps towards the W as the dog approached, then swinging them around on my left side (slapping my leg with "Close!" command, which means come to my left side) and shooting them up the Aframe. Worked perfectly.

End up at about 10E 55N, calling the dog to my left side past the tunnel opening, then pulling the dog in close to me and running towards (my) right side of the middle #1 jump, front crossing between the 1 and the Aframe, and sending them back up the A. Worked perfectly.

End up at about 5 yards south of the lower end of #3 and pull the dog past the tunnel on my left, now, running at the (my) right side of the western red, shoot the dog over the red (so they're aimed southwest) and then pull the dog, still on my left, out around past 2 and 3. Pull the dog in CLOSE on my left side until I'm at about 5W70N, where I can then safely line up the dog for the Aframe. WOrked perfectly, in part because both dogs were uncertain where they were going as we raced past 2 and 3, so it was easy to keep them with me for the approach to the A.

Then push the dog over 2, break for a front cross between 3 and 4, holding back far enough so that as soon as the dog is committed to 4, haul butt to get myself far enough to keep the dog off 6A and going straight into the #5, but hold back enough to do an easy front cross between 5B and 6A, then hang back as the dog does 6B and do a little RFP (or threadle) to get the dog onto the Aframe instead of back into 4 and there you go. Worked perfectly. Both dogs took about 40 seconds to do it.

The problem was that Boost brushed 5B with a toenail and the bar came down. Sigh. Since we were already on our way over 6, I just completed the course as planned.

However, I was wrong in that not everyone tried the three 7s, although quite a few did. Three 5s proved to also be popular, or two 5s and a 6 or two 7s and either a 5 or a 6.

And I was wrong in it being just a speed course with 51 points: Out of 46 22" championship dogs (Boost's group), only six managed the full 51 points, and the 7th super-Q went to a 48 pointer. In Performance 22" (Tika's group) only 3 of 13 got the full 51 points, and for a change Tika was fastest of those. Out of 8 16", only one got 51 and no others were higher than 46.

There were a few others like us who blew it with knocked bars or popped contacts, but not many--there were lots and lots of wrong obstacle-whistle-goodbyes, which surprised me.

Masters Gamblers Sunday

This was a tough gamble; for example, only 6 of 43 22" dogs Qed.

As usual, the drawing doesn't entirely reflect reality; one could exit the tunnel near the upper right and be aimed comfortably at the dogwalk; in fact, that challenge was really to get them up the dogwalk and keep them out of the chute. So imagine that change in the layout. :-) And notice the special rules in the box at the top.

The most popular opening started with tunnel-teeter on the right. Several variations after that. I was one of a few who started jump-Aframe. We continued with jump, weave, weave, tire, left side of tunnel, right side of tunnel, dogwalk, and the whistle blew right on or after the end of the dogwalk for both dogs (Tika running through but not as fast; boost faster but held on both of her contacts briefly). This proved to be high opening points of all 37 Performance dogs, and 7th highest of 84 championship dogs. I don't know the paths for the higher-scoring dogs, but I believe they all had running contacts.

Ending on the left side of the dogwalk lined us up perfectly for the start of the gamble. Boost did 1-2-3 but knocked the #3 and then came in towards me; Tika I just ASSUMED would keep going out over the #2 and so I started running towards the end too soon and she pulled off the 2 just a stride early.

I don't know what the successful strategies were for getting dogs over #4. I tried "right" with Boost, which she sometimes gets and sometimes results in "let me come closer and look at you so I can see what you mean!"

Photos by Sarah Hitzeman from our June CPE trial.

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