Before I begin, let me say this. I’m only using the name as a shorthand way of describing the challenge in two A3 courses the judge, Peter Holmberg, designed from a competition last weekend in Europe. It is in no way ascribing the challenge’s origination to him.
In the 2 course maps below, one for A3 small and one for A3 medium, there is a fairly unique challenge (obstacles #6 & #7) that I had never seen before in a trial or as a training exercise. I’m always up for a challenge in agility, especially one I had never seen before, with my trusty sidekick Luna. So last night we went out to Knoble Dog for some practice and Laura and I set the course up to run it. For reference, we set the jumps about 5-6 feet apart.
When I first saw the course maps on Facebook my initial thought was that the course with the jumps oriented perpendicular to the a-frame would be the easier challenge from a handling perspective. However, after watching video of both orientations being run at that trial I changed my mind and thought the parallel setup would be the easiest for handling. The video below shows some of my successful attempts at the challenge with both jump setups.
My thoughts after running this multiple times with different iterations of handling didn’t change much. I still think having the jumps in a parallel orientation provides for the easiest handling options. For Luna and I, the decision to have me in between the jumps to queue 6 was the worst handling choice. In the video above you can she doesn’t really know what is next after taking 6 even though that was our 3rd attempt at that option. The limited spacing between the jumps didn’t allow me to really give her much in the way of information. Out of all of the handling iterations I went through I think choosing this handling option gives the dog the least amount of information about what comes after 6. The option I liked the best in this setup was handling 6 as a serpentine into a blind cross and pushing to the back of 7. This allowed me to pretty much always have some type of motion which allowed me to give Luna all of the information she needed. Attempts 2, 3, and 6 in the video above were my attempts at that handling option with attempt 6 being the optimal way to handle the challenge in my opinion. If you don’t think you can make it up there to handle 6 as a serpentine, I think attempt 5 in the video is the optimal way to handle. It gives the dog all the information they need to run the challenge optimally while keeping the handler in motion the whole time.
As for the other jump orientation it was definitely easier than I initially thought, but still I think harder of the 2 setups. For me, the optimal handling choice is the last attempt in the video. Handle it with a forced front cross from the left at 6, push to backside of 7 on the right, and serp that jump. It keeps the dog mostly in extension navigating the jumps and doesn’t require any tight wrapping (slowing down) of the jumps as my other options required.
Overall, what I found out (which I already knew about myself) is that I hate standing still on an agility course. A lot of the options from above saw me doing that which is probably why I don’t like them. The options I preferred saw me in constant motion throughout. While this was a fun challenge for a practice environment, I think we’ll be safe from ever seeing this in a trial in the U.S.
For some additional training fun, see this blog post from Lori Michaels with a similar jump orientation as the above course. She has been using this training drill for a few years now.