Games of the 2018 Petit Prix ~ Pole Jacks

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Pole Jacks is intended as a game of strategy, comparable to Snooker. Pole Jacks creates an atmosphere for intensive work on the weave poles. The game requires consistent performance and pits the dog against the poles with a variety of entries and velocity of approach. Use this game in training to sharpen everyone’s weave pole work. Pole Jacks has been called Weave Pole Snooker.

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Briefing

Pole Jacks is played like the children’s game of jacks. The performance of a short set of weave poles is the bounce of the ball. All other obstacles on the course are jacks and have specific point values.

After the “bounce” (doing the weave poles), the team must “pick up” the appropriate number of jacks by scoring an equivalent number of points. The handler and dog team will bounce “onesies,” bounce “twosies,” bounce “threesies,” and so forth until either they reach bounce and “sevensies” or time expires.

The dog’s time begins when he first makes a “legal” entry into the weave poles, entering between pole #1 and pole #2 from right to left. Small dogs will have 60 seconds to play; big dogs will have 55 seconds. The end-of-time whistle ends scoring only; the clock continues to run until the dog goes to the table. After the time whistle, there will be no fault and no points for the dog taking additional obstacles on the way to the table or finish line to stop time.

The dog must pick up points equaling the number for which the team is shooting after the bounce. If the dog is shooting for 6, he could do a jump and the A-frame, or he could do a tunnel and the tire.

No obstacle may be taken twice on the same pick up.

Scoring

Pole Jacks is scored Points, Then Time. The dog’s score will be the number of his last complete pick-up. The winner is the dog with the highest points and with least time in the case of a tie. The maximum points that can be earned are 7.

The following point values are assigned to obstacles:

  • Jumps, 1 point
  • Tunnels and tire, 3 points
  • Teeter, Dogwalk and A-frame, 5 points

If a dog faults during a pick-up, the dog must again bounce (perform the poles) and retry that same number. Faults include the following:

  • Any of the usual performance faults (missed contact, knocked pole and so on)
  • Picking up a number greater than the number for which the team is shooting
  • Crossing the line of weave poles with incomplete points in the pick up
  • Repeating an obstacle in the same pick up

 

Refinements on the Rules

If a dog drops a bar, that jump will be out of play for the balance of the game.

A pick-up is safe only after the dog makes a legal entry into the weave poles after scoring the points in the pick-up.

The weave poles cannot be faulted. If a dog pops out, the handler has the option to restart from the beginning, or just put the dog back in where he popped out.

If the dog has a pick-up of 7 points some caution should be taken while approaching the table to stop time. If the dog, for example, takes an extra jump on the way to the table then the 7-point pick-up is faulted for scoring a number too high.

Traditionally the table is treated as “part of the floor” before the dog is on the 7-point pick-up and has no point value. But, FAIR WARNING, attend the briefing and be sure this is clearly stated. The judge may establish rules that have no bearing on tradition.

 

Strategy

Understand your dog’s strengths and weaknesses. If a dog has a problematic relationship with an obstacle, exercise discretion in including that obstacle in the scoring strategy.

Find the shortest path. A dog can beat a faster dog if the path is smarter.

Consider bringing a trained dog. Here’s a YouTube recording of Marsha Houston doing daily meal-time training with her dog Pip (a terrorist mix). Marsha wants this dog to be ready for Pole Jacks at the Petit Prix!

 

Early Bird Reminder

Entries Postmarked by 7/13/18 get a nice discount. Refer to the Petit Prix premium for details:

Oct  5 – 6 – 7 , 2018   TDAA PETIT PRIX  Trial number T18999
at Four Seasons K9 Athlete Ctr
Washingtonville, OH
Judges:  Sheri Rockhill, Pittsburgh, PA,  and Christina Wakefield, Louisville, KY
Contact:  Marsha Houston at Houston.marsha@gmail.com
Indoors on padded turf, TDAA-sized equipment, 10 runs for all + final round.
Premium

 

BLOG1327 TDAA

 

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.

Games of the 2018 Petit Prix ~ Steeplechase

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The Steeplechase is an iconic game in dog agility. In the TDAA we recognize the course design guidelines and base performance rules as the game is played in the USDAA. The AKC’s Time to Beat is an imitation of the Steeplechase and bears some of the same characteristics.

In the USDAA the Steeplechase is run as two rounds and has the flavor of a tournament game. In the TDAA we content ourselves with a single round.

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In the Steeplechase there will be no refusals. Or, at any rate, they will not be faulted. The scoring basis shall be Time, Plus Faults rather than Faults, Then Time as in a Standard class.

Course design requires the A-frame and the weave poles, one of which must be performed twice.

A Steeplechase course should be designed to be fast, rather than technical. A well-designed course should be a complete “ripper” that allows both dog and handler to let it all out and run like the wind.

With the dog working at full extension even modest wrong course options will test the handler to keep the dog’s nose pointed to the course.

Tournament Note

The Steeplechase is the second game of the Petit Prix Tournament. The Tournament was started with Just in Time (https://wp.me/p18bml-13n). But after the Steeplechase every handler will see his or her dogs in the “accumulator” score-sheet in which the first two games are combined into a score based on Performance Points.

The third and fourth events of the Tournament will be Standard courses.

Everyone will begin calculating whether they will be defending a high score, or scratching and clawing to improve their standing.

Early Bird Reminder

Entries Postmarked by 7/13/18 get a nice discount. Refer to the Petit Prix premium for details:

Oct  5 – 6 – 7 , 2018   TDAA PETIT PRIX  Trial number T18999
at Four Seasons K9 Athlete Ctr
Washingtonville, OH
Judges:  Sheri Rockhill, Pittsburgh, PA,  and Christina Wakefield, Louisville, KY
Contact:  Marsha Houston at Houston.marsha@gmail.com
Indoors on padded turf, TDAA-sized equipment, 10 runs for all + final round.
Premium

 

BLOG1326 TDAA

 

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.

Games of the 2018 Petit Prix ~ Just in Time

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The objective of Just in Time is to score as many points as possible until time expires. Finishing within two seconds over time is rewarded with a fabulous bonus and heaps of glory. On the other hand, finishing under time earns the dog no bonus, and likely an ignominious placement.

Just in Time is a dog’s choice game in which the handler is challenged to make an estimate of how much work the dog can do in the allotted time.

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Obstacles can be performed only twice for points. Back-to-back performances are permitted.

Time ends on the table. The table becomes live after the dog has earned at least one point (the Mr. Banks rule).

Scoring

Just in Time is scored Points, Then Time.

The points system is 1-3-5.

  • Jumps are worth 1 point
  • Tunnels and the tire are worth 3 points
  • The A-frame and weave poles are worth 5 points.
  • 4″ and 8″ dogs will have 33 seconds; 12″ and 16″ will have 30 seconds.

The dog will earn a time bonus for getting to the table or finish line after the end of the point-accumulation period.

  • Less than 2 seconds earns 30 bonus points
  • Less than 4 seconds earns 20 bonus points
  • Less than 6 seconds earns 10 bonus points

Unproductive loitering near the table is not permitted and shall result in loss of time bonus points.

Strategy

  1. If you have work to do in the back of the ring, you should do that work early, saving the front of the ring for the closing so that your dog can be near to the table when time expires.
  2. Identify the high value obstacles on course and make a plan to do each of them twice. Back-to-back performance of obstacles is allowed and might be used with the high value obstacles.
  3. If there is an obstacle on the course that your dog is struggling with, maybe you would do well to avoid going anywhere near it.
  4. Find a smooth and flowing path for your dog so that you can work at your best speed. Avoid choppy and unnecessary turning and handling.
  5. Prepare for this game ahead of time. While you are at practice, pace off sequences to measure distance, and then time your dog on those sequences. Take note of how contact obstacles and the weave poles affect your dog’s rate of travel.

 

Early Bird Reminder

Entries Postmarked by 7/13/18 get a nice discount. Refer to the Petit Prix premium for details:

Oct  5 – 6 – 7 , 2018   TDAA PETIT PRIX  Trial number T18999
at Four Seasons K9 Athlete Ctr
Washingtonville, OH
Judges:  Sheri Rockhill, Pittsburgh, PA,  and Christina Wakefield, Louisville, KY
Contact:  Marsha Houston at Houston.marsha@gmail.com
Indoors on padded turf, TDAA-sized equipment, 10 runs for all + final round.
Premium

 

BLOG1324 TDAA

 

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.

Games of the 2018 Petit Prix

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By tradition, each year we publish a series of papers (blog posts) on the games of the Petit Prix. Today we’re pleased to present the first in a series that discuss the games of the 2018 Petit Prix.

Superior Standard Course

The Standard Course deserves a place in the discussion of games. “Follow the Numbers” is, after all, the most fundamental game in dog agility competition.

The standard course should, above all else, serve as a model for the course design guidelines to which we aspire in the TDAA.

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In the TDAA we play agility in small spaces. It’s can be difficult to design a course that doesn’t feel cluttered, cramped and over-filled. Equipment should be spread around the field in a balanced manner, in an artful presentation.

Reusing obstacles is the key to allowing the small space to feel like a bigger space.

Note that no table is allowed in a Petit Prix Standard course. This is true in the Petit Prix Qualifier Class as well.

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Petit Prix Standard courses should subscribe very closely to the spacing we like to see between obstacles in the TDAA. In the straight-away obstacles should be spaced roughly 8′ to 10′ apart. When requiring the dog to turn, or on the approach to a technical challenge the dog’s path should measure a minimum of 12′.

This sample course presents an almost constantly turning numbered sequence. And so, the distances between obstacles should average something over 12′.

Strategy

Every handler learns fairly early in his or her agility career strategies for solving numbered courses. These solutions can be quite different from handler to handler depending on the assessment of the challenges presented by the course, and the handler’s apprehension of the skills of the dog.

What does this course suggest to you?

Certainly, a course that is serpentine in nature the handler is presented with the Riddle of Sides. Can the handler get in position to changes sides forward of the dog in order to be on the side of a turn? Or, failing that, does the team have the skill to change direction when the handler is on the side away from the turn.

According to the designer, the most technical moment in this course is surely the approach to the weave poles. The longest and straightest line on this course begins on the dismount of the A-frame and continues through two jumps and into the weave poles.

In general, long straight lines should be avoided in course design. The so-called long-straight-line is a killer for the handler of a fast dog. A dog forward of the handler tends to curl back towards the handler, so spoiling the erstwhile straight line.

In this transition from A-frame to weave poles, the handler might use the dog’s tendency to curl back to advantage. Putting dog on left on the dismount of the A-frame, the dog might pull to the right a bit after jump #10 drawing the dog out for extra room for the weave pole approach.

This course also offers as many as six wrong course options. While these are subtle, presenting modest challenge; they are real, and demand that the handler be mindful of where the dog’s nose is pointed; [where the nose goes, the rest of the dog is apt to follow.]

The Petit Prix: An Evolving Format

In 2018 the Petit Prix format has been significantly transformed. The most obvious change is that dogs must earn a qualifying score in a Regional qualifying event held during the Qualifying Period.

Tournament placement is now based solely on the results of the Championship Round of the tournament. In the past, final placement was based entirely on Tournament Performance Points. While performance points are still important to qualify for the championship round, the slate will be completely wiped clean for that round.

Another important format change: Any dog that wins a tournament game will gain entry to the Championship round.

You can find a Regional qualifying event near you on the TDAA Events Calendar: https://tdaanews.wordpress.com/tdaa-events-calendar/

You can find a complete discussion of the Petit Prix tournament rules here: https://tdaanews.wordpress.com/tdaa-petit-prix-2012-tournament-rules/

Stay Tuned

We will continue the discussion of Games of the 2018 Petit Prix tomorrow.

Fair warning: There’s a very real chance that we could run this very course, and all of the games published in this series, at the Petit Prix Warm-up Workshop.

OH

Oct   3 – 4 , 2018 TDAA PETIT PRIX warm-up workshop  Trial number T18998
at Four Seasons K9 Athlete Ctr
Washingtonville, OH
Workshop presenter:  Bud Houston
Contact:  Marsha Houston at Houston.marsha@gmail.com
Working with the Petit Prix site and equipment; the workshop provides a comprehensive discussion of Petit Prix games and strategies. Each morning session includes two games and a standard course; each afternoon session one game and one standard.
Registration
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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.

Rocky Mountain Agility Judges’ Clinic

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Please join me in welcoming these new TDAA judges, who passed the grueling testing at Rocky Mountain Agility in Arvada, CO:

Ramona Bajorek, Evergreen, CO
Joanie Epstein Castle Rock, CO

And these judges at Rocky Mountain Agility survived the recertification testing:

Brenda Douglass, Arvada, CO
Donette Belknap, Colorado Springs, CO
Mike McCoy, Pueblo, CO
Sheri Rasmussen, Golden, CO

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2018 Petit Prix Tournament Rules Published

In case you’ve missed it, the tournament rules for the 2018 TDAA Petit Prix have been published!

You can view those tournament rules here: http://wp.me/P18bml-64

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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.

FourPaw Sports Center Judges’ Clinic

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Please join us in welcoming these new TDAA judges, who passed the grueling testing at Four Paw Sports Center in Lynnwood, WA:

Jill Reade, Lynnwood
Linda Larson, Poulsbo, WA
Susan Cole, Stanwood, WA

And these judges at Four Paw Sports Center survived the recertification testing:

Robin Carlstrom, Lynwood, WA
Alisa Sibley, Everett, WA
Kathy Swan, Tacoma, WA
Melissa Wallace, Grand Bay, AL

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The next scheduled TDAA Judges Clinic:

CO

Oct  12 – 13 , 2017  TDAA judges clinic
Rocky Mountain Agility Team
Arvada, CO
Presenter:  Bud Houston (judge of record)
Contact:  Brenda Douglass at brdouglass@comcast.net
Judge applicants may run dogs at the trial!
Clinic Application

Oct  14 – 15 , 2017  TDAA trial T17009
Rocky Mountain Agility Team
Arvada, CO Judge:  Bud Houston (judge of record)
Contact:  Brenda Douglass at brdouglass@comcast.net
Rubber mats over dirt. Four standard classes and 4 games + add-ons when possible. Premium

Regards,
Bud Houston

2018 Petit Prix Tournament Rules Published

The tournament rules for the 2018 TDAA Petit Prix have been published!

You can view those tournament rules here: http://wp.me/P18bml-64

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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.

Game Review for a Judging Candidate

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The following is the review of a game from course design homework for the up and coming judges’ clinic at Four Paw Sports Center in Lynnwood, Washington. It is useful to see what happens in the review process. And as this the review makes fairly typical kinds of observations, it is worth sharing to a broader audience (notably, TDAA judges!)

The judge candidates name has been removed to spare any possible embarrassment. Though there’s nothing terribly embarrassing in the game submitted for review. I’ve always believed that experience is earned the hard way… and there is no real crime in being novice. We all started there, after all.

Cha-Cha

This is a review of the game Cha Cha that was invented by TDAA judge Jeffrey Boyer.

While it is a “dog’s choice game”… the choice has provisions, as you’ll see from the briefing below.

The judge submitted this course for the review:

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Reviewer’s comments:

* What you did in this design is create a flow that in itself anticipates the requirements for the game. Consequently the path is a “no brainer” for the handler. I contend that the typical TDAA game player is quite clever and doesn’t have to be spoon fed.

* The course-map is missing both start and finish lines, and the briefing provides no advice as to how time starts and finishes. Indeed, the briefing should be quite specific about time, because the exhibitor sitting in his chair outside the ring will want to know how long they’ll have to solve the riddle of the course.

* You’ve left a jump at the bottom of the field, about 3’ off the front ring barrier. A jump approaching any side of the ring should have a minimum of 10’ for both the dismount and the approach. This jump provides neither (though it could be rotated 90° and so wouldn’t be an issue).

* The briefing does not stipulate whether the tire is a jump… or if it falls into the “anything but a jump” side of the ledger.

* The qualifying criteria stipulates how many points must be earned for each level… but fails to mention the point value of each obstacle. This deserves mention in the briefing. [Frankly, I prefer to write the briefing in Word, and then import the course map into the Word document. That gives me access to spell-checking and formatting.]

* The briefing should make an explicit statement of the Scoring Basis. For example:

In the Tillman variation the game is scored by obstacle point values. And so the scoring basis is Points-Then-Time, rather than “Bars”-Then-Time. In the first use of this variation TDAA judge Vickie Tillman set obstacle values as: “Contact obstacles-3 pts; Tunnel & tire)-2 pts; Jumps 1 pt.” Qualifying criteria was then established as:

  • Games 1 – 16
  • Games 2 – 24
  • Games 3 – 32

If you use the Tillman variation, you will have to call out point values, rather than “Slow” and “Cha”.

* Frankly, you missed an opportunity here to nearly perfect-nest this game with the Superior standard course that is played immediately after. Your Superior standard course:

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* I will take the liberty to show you what the game might look like using this Superior standard course as the basis for nesting:

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* The numbers on this course map are numbers that I provided. After I threw away the numbers from your Superior course, I sat down to strategize how I might direct my dog to fulfill the Cha-Cha rhythm of obstacle performance. While some of the approaches to contact obstacles are problematic, this numbered path pretty much solves the qualifying criteria for any level.

* I’ve expanded the briefing for Cha-Cha here:

Briefing [Tillman variation]

The objective is for the team to accumulate as many bars of Cha-Cha steps as they can in the time allotted. A Cha-Cha bar consists of any two obstacles other than jumps followed by three jumps. For example, a bar might be a contact obstacle, a tunnel (or the tire), and then three jumps. Or it might be two tunnel performances followed by three jumps. For each successful bar, the team will earn one point. The game is scored points, then time. Time is for tie-breaking only.

Bar jumps may be used as often as desired. Other obstacles may be used only twice for credit. Obstacles other than bar jumps may be taken back-to-back, as long as this is done safely. Bar jumps may not be taken back-to-back. The first obstacle to be taken at the start of any run may not be a contact obstacle.

The following faults will be in effect:

  • Dropped bars (dropped bars are not reset and the jump is out of play)
  • Missed contacts
  • Incomplete weave pole performance
  • Back-to-back performance of a bar jump
  • Taking an obstacle more than twice (except for bar jumps)
  • Taking a contact obstacle as the first obstacle in the run
  • Incorrect number of “slow” or “quick” steps since the last successful bar

The judge will call point values for each successful obstacle performance: Of the slow obstacles: 3 for contacts & weave poles; 2 for tunnels and tire. Of the fast obstacles: 1 point for jumps.

In the event of a fault, the judge will call “fault,” and the team must begin a new bar; any points earned for an incomplete bar are lost. Counting of a bar will begin only once the “slow” steps are started.

Time begins when the dog first crosses the Start line. The timer will blow the whistle at the end of point accumulation time, at which point the handler must direct the dog across the finish line or to the finish obstacle to stop the clock. In TDAA, small dogs (4/8) will have 60 seconds to accumulate points, and big dogs (12/16) will have 55 seconds.

***

To the prospective TDAA: I hope the review of this game was a good resource for learning. The most important lesson to be learned from this exercise, is how to nearly “perfect-nest” a game with a standard course.

The completeness of the briefing is important. When you submit games for review the briefing should be exactly what you intend to present to exhibitors. This allows your course reviewer to ascertain whether you understand completely how the game might be played.

May judges will include specific briefings to ring personnel like the time-keeper and scribe and, of course, the scorekeeping table. The Time-keeper, for example should have specific instructions to blow the whistle to indicate the end of time. And the scorekeeping table needs to know little details like…how points that begin a faulted bar are lost, and a new bar started.

I look forward to working with you at the Four Paw Judges’ clinic.

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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.

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