Since I have no idea how familiar most of you are with the mechanics of dog agility, I will try to keep my explanations really simple. If it’s too simple, just yell at me. Furthermore, I only know the rules as far as the Canadian Agility Association of Nova Scotia (CAANS) is concerned. Different associations across the world may have much different standards.
This last weekend we participated in another fun match, which is held at one of our instructors’ country property. I don’t know if it was the colder weather but only a handful of people showed up this time – all people we know very well. In many ways it made it more fun. No one was judging, no one was impatient for their turn, and everyone was full of helpful advice. It ran more like an extended class than a mock trial.
That doesn’t mean it was easy! As the skill levels of everyone vary so greatly, the courses have all been at a Masters level. Which is the highest level one can achieve.
I’ll give you an example. Below is a Masters Jumpers course map (click to embiggen), very similar to one of the courses we ran this last weekend. Jumpers is one of the many classes, essentially it is a course made up only of jumps and tunnels with no contacts (ie. teeter) or weave poles (good news for my weave-destroying dog).
If you have never seen one of these before, the side the number is on is the side from which the dog is supposed to take the obstacle. The jumps require some pretty quick and precise handling to get around. With a crazy fast dog who likes to design her own courses, I have to get my cues out perfectly otherwise it’s all over.
To show you the difference, I will now share a Starters Jumpers course map. The level we will be starting at if we ever make it to a real live trial.
Hopefully you can see that the course moves in a much more logical manner. The dog and handler just have to follow a basic line. There is a fancy pin wheel between jumps 4, 5, and 6 but other than that it is fairly straightforward. Easy to memorize and easier to cue one’s maniac dog around.
Well, in theory anyway.
While a friend and I did a lot of griping this weekend about the extreme level of difficulty for us green handlers, it is probably a good thing we are learning on challenging courses. One, it makes me feel pretty good when I nail a tough handling move. And two, when we do start trialing, the starters courses should seem pathetically easy. We should breeze through our first year with no problem.
Due to the fact this weekend’s match was more instruction than trial, I don’t have a painstakingly edited video to share with you. Is that rejoicing I hear? Don’t celebrate too long. There is another fun match this weekend at a park Shiva has never been to before. You know I won’t be able to resist uploading the disaster that is bound to come from that deadly combination!
I couldn’t resist sharing a small snippet of the video my PH did manage to film. Mostly because I want to show off how I got Shiva to go around a jump before taking it and coming back to me. It’s not a move we have ever practiced before. I feel so good about it, I barely remember her blowing me off to eat leaves at the start of the course.