Games of the 2017 Petit Prix ~ Puppy Cannon

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We continue with an advanced look at the Games of the Petit Prix in anticipation of the 2017 Petit Prix: June 23 –25 in Farmington, UT.

UT

Jun  23 – 24 – 25 , 2017  Western Petit Prix   Trial Number T17999 Hosted by Beehive Small Dog Agility Club Farmington, UT Judges:  Mike McCoy and Natalie Russell Contact:  Penny  Flake at <paflake50@gmail.com> Three standard classes and 7  games. Premium

Today we’ll take a quick look at the game Puppy Cannon.

Puppy Cannon

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Briefing

The objective of Puppy Cannon is for the dog to run the three numbered sequences shown on the course map. The sequences can be taken in any order. The dog starts on the table and must begin with the two pipe tunnels (the Puppy Cannon) before the performance of each of the three sequences. On this course all sequences are bi-directional

After the final sequence the dog can go directly to the table to stop time or transition through the pipe tunnels (without a wrong course penalty) to get to the table.

Time begins when the dog leaves the table and ends when the dog returns to the table after the performance of all three sequences. Should the dog go to the table before all three sequences are complete the performance shall incur a wrong course fault.

Scoring

Scoring for Puppy Cannon is Time, Plus Faults. The dog with the lowest score wins. Qualifying course time will be determined by wheeled measurement.

A Note about course design

The whole idea of the “puppy cannon” is that the dog is fired from the tunnel like a projectile. Consequently whatever is framed to the dog during the performance of the pipe tunnel becomes a logical target for the dog’s attention.

With that in mind the design of a Puppy Cannon course will frame either end of the tunnel (or tunnels) with a wrong course option. That means that the game is truly a test of redirecting the dog on the dismount of the tunnel (Cannon).

Strategy ~ A statement of the obvious?

In our sample course the judge has allowed that all sequences are bidirectional. The savvy handler will carefully choose the order of performance in a way that will allow the handler to be in position to redirect the dog on the dismount of the tunnel cannons.

Note that in the sample course the counter-side pipe tunnel at black-circled #2 will also have to be counter-side if the sequence is taken in reverse order.

In the two tunnel variation the handler may step between the two pipe tunnels to change sides to the dog. The handler should exercise caution when stepping in front of a loaded cannon.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, a comprehensive reference to all manner of agility games played for competition and fun around the world.

Spacing Between Obstacles in the TDAA

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This is an important notation for the Course Design College. In this series I share observations that I make on a routine basis to judges and course designers during the course review process. It is prudent to share these common observations with all of our judges to further their understanding of course design for the TDAA.

This is intended as a comprehensive discussion of the TDAA’s guidelines for spacing between obstacles in course design.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. This is the mission statement from the Rules and Regulations for the TDAA:

1.1 Mission

The purpose of the Teacup Dogs Agility Association is to provide a competitive venue for dogs of small stature without regard to breed or pedigree, and to encourage course challenges that are comparable to the course challenges which face large dog handlers in other popular venues.

The clear understanding of this mission statement: We intend to give the handler of the fast little Papillion the same thrilling roller coaster ride in the TDAA as the handler of the fast Border Collie in any of the big dog agility organization. We want that handler to be keen and timely. And when the spacing between obstacles is blown out of proper proportion, we fail that mission.

A Bit of Science

The rates of travel for the TDAA require modest yards per second (YPS) at any level. Built into this calculus is the degradation of a dog’s rate of travel caused by performance of the technical obstacles … namely the contacts and the weave poles.

This degradation of rates of travel occurs in all flavors of agility. However, the significant difference between the TDAA and any other, is that we don’t have large expanses of real estate between obstacles to recoup and elevate the YPS.

And so, when a course is presented for competition that gives too much space between obstacles the rate of travel required for qualification is an ineffective measurement.

A Course Review

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At first glance this makes a perfectly reasonable design for the Beginner level. I might tell the judge/course designer to rotate the #9 jump back to the dog’s approach (everything nice and square for the Beginner class). And I might remark that not enough room has been left for the approach to jump #1. A minimum of 10′ between the front of the ring and the first hurdle is our standard requirement.

What really jumps out at me about this course, however, is the overly generous spacing between obstacles. We’ll take a measurement.

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Using the “Path” tool in Clean Run Course Designer I measured this course at 258.5′. Subtract from that the length of dimensioned obstacles… 68′ to arrive at the calculated interval distance of 198.5′. Divide by the number of obstacles (-1) and the average interval spacing between obstacles is 14.65′.

The average interval spacing should come in not much over 10′ or 11′. It should be easy to tighten up this course without losing the nice flow originally envisioned by the course designer.

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It was fairly easy to tighten up this course. Now the dog has plenty of room to approach the first hurdle. Note too that a bit of extra room is given to the dog for the turn following jump #5, and the turn following jump #9.

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Using the same calculation… I measured this course at 214′; subtract 68′ to arrive at the calculated interval distance of 146′. Divide by the number of obstacles (-1) and the average interval spacing between obstacles is 11.23′.

Spacing for Technical Challenges and Turns

On the approach to a technical challenge (for example, a wrong course option or approaching an obstacle discrimination) the dog’s path should measure a minimum of 12′. The objective of this spacing is too give the handler an extra heartbeat to do his job.

We also provide a minimum of 12′ when requiring the dog to turn. This is an acknowledgement of basic physics. The inertia of a dog’s movement may require an additional stride or two. The faster the dog, the greater the inertia.

With this in mind, if the course designer incorporates a pinwheel, the spacing between jumps must be a minimum of 12′. It is the nature of a pinwheel that the dog is faced with a series of turns while (hopefully) at a full run.

A Note Aside

Every so often we’ll hear an exhibitor complain that his dog runs more slowly in the TDAA than when playing elsewhere. After all rate of travel is measurable. You take the length of the course (yards) and divide by time (seconds) to arrive at the dog’s YPS.

In true fact the dog works at the same pace in the TDAA (maybe even faster). But the degradation on the dog’s rate of travel due to performance of technical obstacles has a substantially greater impact when the overall length of the course is reduced.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, a comprehensive reference to all manner of agility games played for competition and fun around the world.

Welcoming New TDAA Judges

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Join me in congratulating to our recertifying judges and new judges after an intense TDAA Judges Clinic in Norman, Oklahoma, March 16-19, 2017.

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Cathy Jacobs ~ Floydada, TX (new)

Sara Brown ~ Norman, OK (new)

Lori Graham ~ Kerrville, TX (new)

Melissa Pugh ~ Chickasha, OK (new)

Carol Wyatt ~ McKinney, TX (new)

Deb Maicach ~ McKinney TX (new)

Debbie Vogel, Austin, TX (recert)

Emma Coombes ~ Georgetown, TX (new)

Regina Schmerfeld ~ Yukon, OK (recert)

Jeanette Bider ~ Norman, OK (new)

Kaye Kirk ~ Oklahoma City, OK (recert)

Lynn Foster ~ Temple, TX (recert)

William McGovern-Fagg ~ Norman, OK (new)

Lyn Johnson ~ Bartlesville, OK (recert)

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Carol Wyatt and her dog Deuce earned the TACh 2 at the trial in Norman. Presenting the TACh bar and ribbon for this accomplishment was newly certified (and barefoot) TDAA judge William McGovern-Fagg.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, a comprehensive reference to all manner of agility games played for competition and fun around the world.

Designing for the Long Side

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I’ve been preparing for a TDAA Judges’ Clinic on Norman, OH next week. As homework the judge candidates are required to design a suite of standard courses and all the games to be played on the weekend. All of the clinic participants were invited to send their courses and games for advanced review. Several of them have done so.

Course design by novice judges can be a predictable exercise. Some things we learn only by the pain and agony of experience. Though I suppose I’m obligated to share a canny bit or two and spare as much pain and agony as possible.

An important constraint in designing for Canine Sports Academy is that the “front” of the ring is on the long side of the field. The location of the entry and exit gates is a bit of a mystery (and probably should not be). The consequence of the location of the front and the ambiguity of dictated entry & exit has led to a variety of course designs in fulfillment of the home work that has the dog starting the course in one corner of the ring, and finishing somewhere at the back.

My purpose in this discussion is to design a Superior Standard course for this space, partly to get a feeling for how difficult it might be, and partly (certainly) as a tutorial for the approaching clinic.

A Blank Slate

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This is the scariest moment in the life of a course designer… tabula rasa. From this blank slate I’m charged with creating something that is appropriate, first of all; but ultimately I want it to be fun, maybe even exciting.

I’ll tell you before I begin that I have little interest in my own course designs to put in a bunch of those ugly little “international” twists that has the handler micro-managing every movement of the dog. Design something that flows and causes both the dog and the handler to run. And if you need some ugly little bit to test whether the handler is awake, you can tweak it in later.

Designing with Scribbles

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I scribbled a random line on the course. My only guideline is that I wanted start and finish along the front of the ring… the long side of the ring. The obvious advantage is that the time-keeper should be able to get a nice “down-the-line” view of both the start & finish lines.

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My first observation of this scribbled line is that it has no fewer than seven crossing patterns (when the dog’s path crosses itself). That’s quite a riddle. The easiest obstacle for a crossing pattern is a jump. Though, to be sure, the dog’s path should be able to cross itself on the flat. You’ll often see crossing on the flat with box work.

At any rate, I decided to hard-code the crosses by setting jumps on several of the crosses.

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Fairly early on the course designer should set contact equipment with a mind for the judge able to get position to see the contact performances for each.

Ordinarily on a floor of this shape you would probably want the dogwalk to be on the long wall at the back. Unfortunately my “scribbles” didn’t show the dogwalk on the back wall… so I’ll tentatively set the dogwalk on a short wall.

The down contacts for both the dogwalk and the A-frame face into the spectators. The judge gets the peanut gallery second-guessing every contact performance. My advice: Be in position, and get the call right.

The tunnel under the A-frame solves another of the crossing patterns.

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Something is starting to take shape here. But I’m back to the riddle of the dogwalk. The problem with putting the dogwalk on the short end of the floor is designing a sequence that serves up the dogwalk safe and square. Following the lines of the “scribble” I set a pipe tunnel up in the corner with an exit that serves up an approach to the dogwalk nicely.

On the other side of the ring I’ve added obstacles to shape the approach to the tunnel under the A-frame. A significant challenge is shaping up in this design. The handler must negotiate the length of the floor from the dismount of the weave poles to the approach to the dogwalk. Setting the teeter on the approach to the pipe tunnel helps slow the dog and softens the mad race to the opposite side of the floor.

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I’m left only with filling in the gaps in the sequence. Adding a jump or two does the trick. The jump after the A-frame is now a “soft” back-side approach, leaving the handler plenty of room to handle it big and wide, or tight and neat.

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Finally, the course must be numbered. If the numbering happens to come out with more than 20 or less than 17 (as required for the Superior class) I’d have to make adjustment to the course. With a bit of dumb luck, this course numbered out at 20.

The table is optional in the TDAA. If I were forced to add a table it should be swapped with the obstacle at #7 or #12 or #14. I like the idea of #14 because it gives the handler time to get nervous about the big looping flourish of a finish to this course.

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A final detail in design is adding the course information in the border of the map. I like making the name of the class big & bold so that it jumps out for the agility players picking up their courses in the morning of the trial.

I expect I would also number the grid. If at all possible the designing judge should try to find out how the floor is already numbered so that the numbering of the map matches it. And, if the club uses the baseline course building method, then baseline course maps should be prepared for the master course builder.

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After throwing away the original “scribble” I used the path feature of Clean Run Course Designer to redraw the path by following the numbers. This was the result.

Credit

The whimsical line approach to course design isn’t new at all. This methodology was clearly documented more than 20 years ago in Stuart Mah’s Fundamentals of Course Design. I couldn’t find the book on the Clean Run webstore… but I did find it here: http://www.agilityclick.com/prod96.htm

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, a comprehensive reference to all manner of agility games played for competition and fun around the world.

Teacup National Agility Champions 2016

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The winners of each jump height in Petit Prix competition are accorded the TNAC title. This is a unique title in dog agility as it demands true championship. Each dog earns a weighted score over ten separate events. The winner of each jump height is the dog with the highest aggregate score. So the TNAC is certainly a measurement of consist high placement in each class.

We are pleased to present to you the four TNAC winners at the TDAA 2016 Petit Prix East:

4″ Division

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Presenting the winner of the 4″ Division ~ McCorkle, a Scottish Terrier handled by Melinda Mull.

8″ Division

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Presenting the winner of the 8″ Division, and high in trial at the 2016 TDAA Petit Prix ~ Nikki, a Jack Russell Terrier handled by Cindy Ponyah.

12″ Division

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Presenting the winner of the 12″ Division ~ Karoo, a Cavalier King Charles handled by Stephanie Stempfer.

16″ Division

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The winner of the 16″ Division was Skye, an Australian Shepherd handled by Vic Belebczuk.

Final Results

You can view the final results of the 2016 TDAA Petit Prix HERE.

Event Winners

We are proud to acknowledge the winners of each of the ten individual events at this Petit Prix competition. Winning one or more events certainly contributes to overall success in the Petit Prix, but is no guarantee of final placement. We would be remiss in overlooking these individual class champions.

Standard 1 ~ The first standard course of the tournament weekend was won by Nikki [8″ division], a Jack Russell Terrier handled by Cindy Ponyah. Nicki finished this course with zero faults in an adjusted time of 30.21 seconds.

Full House ~ This popular point accumulation game was won by Cosmo [12″ division], a Papillon handled by Sue Belebczuk. Cosmo finished with game with 61 points, in a time of 38.89 seconds.

Weakest Link ~ This game of strategy and distance skill was won by UNeeQ [8″ division], a Papillon handled by Cookie Nee. UNeeQ won with a score of 186 points, in a time of 64.20 seconds.

Standard 2 ~ The second standard course of the weekend was won by UNeeQ [8″ division], a Papillon handled by Cookie Nee. UNeeQ finished this course with zero faults in an adjusted time of 18.37 seconds.

Beat the Clock ~ This game of sequencing skill was won by UNeeQ [8″ division], a Papillon handled by Cookie Nee. UNeeQ finished the game with the cuckoo bonus, earning 13 points in a time of 37.65 seconds.

Gamblers ~ The winner of this traditional game of distance handling skill was Nikki [8″ division], a Jack Russell Terrier handled by Cindy Ponyah. Nikki finished the game with 81, and a successful gamble, in a time of 44.70 seconds.

Rekoons ~ This game of strategy and skill was won by Jasper [8″ division], a Chinese Crested handled by Susan Eienson. Jasper finished the game with 56 points in a time of 49.12 seconds.

Standard 3 ~ The final standard course of the weekend was won by Annabelle [8″ division], a Cavalier King Charles handled by Stephanie Stempfer. Annabelle finished the course with zero faults with an adjusted time of 26.81 seconds.

In & Out ~ This game of sequencing skill and strategy was won by McCorkle [4″ division], a Scottish Terrier handled by Melinda Mull. McCorkle earned 63 points in a time of 31.04 seconds.

Black Hole ~ The final game of the Petit Prix was won by McCorkle [4″ division], a Scottish Terrier handled by Melinda Mull. McCorkle blistered this wicked Black Hole challenge with zero faults in an adjusted time of 21.20 seconds.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, an invaluable reference for learning the rules and strategies of the games played by agility dogs and their handlers.

TDAA 2016 Petit Prix East ~ Saturday Results

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Standard 2Standard 2

The second day of the Petit Prix featured four events: Three games and a single Standard run. Below you will find a link to the results for each of these events, followed by the combined results which show the total points accumulated by each dog.

Gamblers

The top scoring dog in the Gamblers class was Nikki, a Jack Russell Terrier handled by Cindy Ponyah. Nikki scored 81 points in a time of 44.70 seconds!

Beat the Clock

The top scoring dog in the Beat the Clock class was UNeeQ, a Papillon handled by Cookie Nee. UNeeQ scored 13 points (with the cuckoo!) in 37.65 seconds!

Rekoons

The top scoring dog in the Rekoons class was Jasper, a Chinese Crested handled by Susan Eisenson. Jasper scored 56 points in 49.12 seconds!

Standard 3

The top scoring dog in the final Standard class of the 2016 Petit Prix was Annabelle, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel handled by Stephanie Stempfer. Annabelle finished this course with zero faults with an adjusted time of 26.81 seconds!

 

Tournament Current Results

 

Friday Results

On the first day of the Petit Prix featured four events: Two standard rounds and two games. Below you will find a link to the results for each of these events.

Standard 1

The first Standard class of the 2016 Petit Prix was won by Nikki, a Jack Russell Terrier handled by Cindy Ponyah. Nikki finished this course with zero faults in an adjusted time of 30.21 seconds!

Full House

The top scoring dog in the Full House class was Cosmo, a Papillon handled by Sue Belebczuk. Cosmo scored 61 points in a time of 38.89 seconds!

Standard 2 ~ fixed link!

The top scoring dog in the second Standard class of the 2016 Petit Prix was won by UNeeQ, a Papillon handled by Cookie Nee. UNeeq finished this course with zero faults in an adjusted time of 18.37 seconds!

The Weakest Link

The top scoring dog in The Weakest Link class was UNeeQ, a Papillon handled by Cookie Nee. UNeeQ scored 186 points in 64.20 seconds!

 

Tournament Friday Results

 

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Joker’s Notebook, an invaluable reference for teaching an agility dog (and his handler) to work a distance apart.

TDAA 2016 Petit Prix East ~ Day 1 Results

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On the first day of the Petit Prix we have run four events: Two standard rounds and two games. Below you will find a link to the results for each of these events, followed by the combined results which show the total points accumulated by each dog.

Standard 1

Full House

Standard 2

The Weakest Link

Tournament Current Results

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Joker’s Notebook, an invaluable reference for teaching an agility dog (and his handler) to work a distance apart.

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