2016 Western Petit Prix Update ~ May 21

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On the second day of competition at the Western Petit Prix the competition heated right up. Several dogs have established themselves as contenders for a Teacup National Agility Champion (TNAC). This title is conferred upon the winner of each jump height[1].

Today we ran one standard course and played Wild West Pinball, the Box Game, and Weakest Link. Below we have the course maps and games briefings. Look for the individual results under each.

Download the overall tournament standings (as of this evening) here: Petit Prix Standings

Wild West Colorado Pinball

 

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Briefing

The objective of Wild West Pinball is to accumulate as many points in possible in the time allotted. This is a dog’s choice game. Obstacles may be taken in the order and direction of the handler’s choosing.

Time begins when the dog takes the Tire/Slingshot (0 points):

  • 45 seconds for 12″ &16″ dogs;
  • 50 seconds for 4″ & 8″ dogs.Point Values
  • A horn will blow when time expires. The clock continues to run until the dog puts at least one paw on the table. The table is always live (TILT!).
  • Gold Bone Tunnel (Chute) – 100 points
  • Silverton Mining Tunnels – 150 points. Must be taken in order and direction shown
  • Cowdog Cliff Hanger (Teeter) – 150 points. Must approach from between the 2 C-shaped tunnels (without taking either tunnel). The dog may not earn points on the Cowdog Cliff Hanger immediately after taking the Silverton Mining Tunnels.
  • Brekenridge Ski Slalom (Weave Poles) – 150 points. Can be taken in either direction.
  • Pikes Peak Trail – 100 points. Must be taken in order and direction shown.
  • Millenium Bridge – 200 points. Can be taken either 1a to 2b, or 2a to 2b.
  • Golden Nuggets (unnumbered jumps) – 10 points each, bi-directional
  • Slingshot (Tire) – 0 points

Obstacles and sequences may be taken only twice for points. Back-to-back performances are permitted. Bonus obstacles and sequences that are faulted will result in no points for that attempt. Weaves must be completed without fault. There will be no partial credit given for incomplete sequences. Unnumbered jumps (golden nuggets) may be taken as many times as desired.

Faults: 10 points for knocked bars, missed contacts. Doing sequences incorrectly is not faulted; it’s just wasting time. Knocked bars are not reset, and are out of play for the rest of the run. Popping out of the weaves is not faulted, but credit will only be given if they are restarted and completed.

Scoring and Qualification

Wild West Pinball is scored Points, Then Time. The most points wins. Time is tie breaker. To Qualify:

  • Games I – 400 points
  • Games II – 500 points

Download Results

The Box Game

 

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Briefing

The objective of the Box Game is to run a numbered sequence while earning bonuses for several distance challenges. The distance-challenge eligible for bonus is specifically when the dog must go out of the box… with the handler staying inside the box.

Central to the course is a large boxed area which the dog and handler will enter after completing jump #1. Outside of the box are five different distance challenges. Each time the handler sends the dog out of the box and completes the send, a bonus of 5 seconds will be deducted from the dog’s score.

No bonus will be earned for an individual challenge if the handler steps out of the box, or if the dog earns a fault during the send.

Scoring and Qualification

The Box Game is scored Time, Plus Faults, Less Bonus. To qualify, the team must be under the adjusted Qualifying Course Time for their level:

Games I 4″ & 8 ” dogs 54 Seconds
12′′ & 16′′ dogs 50 Seconds
Games II 4″ & 8 ” dogs 41 seconds
12′′ & 16′′ dogs 36 seconds
Games III 4″ & 8 ” dogs 23 seconds
12′′ & 16′′ dogs 21 seconds

 

Download Results

Standard 3

 

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Standard courses shall be judged under rules for performance for the Superior class. Qualifying scores shall be accorded to the titling level of the dog.

Scoring and Qualification

Standard courses shall be scored Faults, Then Time. To qualify the dog must run the course without fault, under the course time. The judge will measure the course to determine the Standard Course Time for each level.

 

Download Results

 

Weakest Link

 

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Briefing

The Weakest Link is a point accumulation game. The object of the game is to score as many points as possible in the allotted time. Only “banked” points will count toward the final score.

Each obstacle taken by the dog must be worth as much as or more than the previous obstacle taken. To keep points earned, they must be “banked” by the dog going through the tire. There are two tires on the field! After points have been banked a new sequence of points-gathering begins. Each sequence banked must be unique, which means there must be at least one difference from any sequence previously banked.

Back-to-back performance of obstacles is permitted, but only back-to-back. A third performance shall constitute a fault.

Unbanked points are considered “potential” points. If a dog commits a fault, all potential points are lost. Faults include dropped bars, missed contacts, taking an obstacle of lesser value than the previous one, failing to bank points before the final whistle. Weaves just must be completed for points, but once started, if not completed before going on it will be called a fault. When a dog faults the judge will call “fault”. The handler then must direct the dog to the first obstacle in a new sequence to earn potential points.

If a bar is dropped on a jump that jump is out of play for the remainder of the game.

This course features two gambles that earn the dog significant bonus points:

  1. 20 point gamble: (white circles) jump/tunnel/jump
  2. 25 point gamble: (white squares) A-frame/tunnelPoints values of obstacles:

The gambles must be taken in the order and direction shown, with the handler behind the gamble line. If the dog knocks a bar, misses a contact, or goes off course in the middle of the gamble – the judge will call “fault”. If the handler steps over the containment line the dog is faulted only if the order of performance breaks the weakest link point value rules.

  • jumps – 2 points
  • tire, tunnels – 4 points
  • contact obstacles – 6 points
  • weave poles – 8 points

12″ and 16″ dogs have 50 seconds; 4″ and 8″ dogs have 55 seconds to accumulate points. When time is up the horn will sound and the dog must cross the finish line to stop the clock.

Scoring and Qualification

The Weakest Link is scored Points, Then Time. Time is a tiebreaker only.

To qualify:

  • Games I – 30 points
  • Games II – 40 points
  • Games III – 50 points

Download Results

Blog1132 TDAA

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 part.

[1] The TNAC is conferred only if the top dog in a jump height places within the top 25 of the tournament.

Twister ~ Games of the Petit Prix

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This is a continuing series featuring the games of the TDAA’s Western Petit Prix in 2016. Today we’ll have a look at Twister, a mostly dog’s choice game that requires the handler to count, and make timely changes of direction.

Following is a sample course with the simple briefing. Following the briefing is a short discussion of strategy for this game.

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Twister is a game invented by Ilse Rukis. The game has a modest element of strategy but will be, once underway, a test of extension and collection. John Finley of Columbus, Ohio will judge Twister at the Petit Prix. This game is scheduled for the morning of May 22nd. The sample course shown here is not the course designed by Mr. Finley for play at the Petit Prix.

Briefing

Twister is a point accumulation game with multiple changes of direction on a circular course consisting of inner and outer tracks. The course is not numbered.

The game begins at the Start line and on the outer track. The handler may choose a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction or either side of the Start line to begin. After successfully completing five obstacles, the team must turn and take four obstacles going in the other direction on the inside track; then reverse back to the outside for five obstacles; and reverse back to the inside for four obstacles. This dizzy scamper continues until time ends.

A run with no dropped bars or wrong courses shall earn the dog a 50 point clean-run bonus.

4″ and 8″ dogs have 43 seconds; 12″ and 16″ dogs have 39 seconds. The judge shall count out loud the completed obstacles. Play continues until the horn sounds, whereupon the handler must direct the dog to the finish line.

Knocked bars are not reset and the jump is not counted as part of the outer or inner track required to be completed prior to a turn. Consequently the handler must continue in the correct direction until the required points are earned for that track.

A wrong course shall be defined as: a) taking an extra obstacle on the current track (going over the allowed count); b) taking any obstacle after a missed/skipped obstacle; or c) reversing direction to the alternate track before the scoring track is finished. On any wrong course the dog will lose the clean run bonus.

Refusals are not faulted on jumps or tunnels: The handler might skip the run-by obstacle; but the dog will lose the clean-run bonus.

On the time-keepers horn the handler must direct the dog to cross the Finish line.

Scoring and Qualification

Twister is scored points, then time. The team with the most points wins. Time is tie breaker. Points are earned in a doubling manner:

  • First 5-set of outer obstacles: 10 points
  • First 4-set of inner obstacles: 20 points (total 30 points)
  • Second 5-set of outer obstacles: 40 points (total 70 points)
  • Second 4-set of inner obstacles: 80 points (total 150 points)
  • and so for forth …To qualify a dog must earn a score respective to level:
  • Points are awarded for partial completion of a loop if the whistle blows before a loop is completed: 1 point for each obstacle in the partial loop.
  • Games III  150 points or better
  • Games II   120 points or better
  • Games I     70 points or better

Strategy

The first thing you must do in Twister is choose the direction you will start your dog. You can go clockwise or counter-clockwise… and you can take the Start line in either direction.

Aside from the obvious requirement that you count obstacles as your dog performs them, this is largely a game of extension and collection. When in extension you want the dog opening up and running; when in collection you want the dog to shorten his stride and prepare to turn neatly. A lot of study and training and science is given over to extension and collection these days.

In the ideal world you will neatly do the consecutive five-on-the-outside and consecutive four-on-the-inside strategy until the horn or whistle sounds to end scoring. A qualifying score for Games III requires only 5-4-5-4. That performance without a wrong course or dropped bar scores 200 points plus whatever more your dog picks up before time expires.

The world is not always ideal. Be very clear about what any error or fault means to you:

  • Rule #1: Any fault will negate the 50 point clean-run bonus.
  • Rule #2: The count on the current track is never lost or restarted.
  • Rule #3: Once the clean-run bonus has been lost, it cannot be lost again.

Let’s look at what these rules mean in several scenarios:

  • Dog drops a bar ~ The jump does not add to count of your current track. Continue on! The clean-run bonus has been lost.
  • Dog reverses from one track to the other before the count was finished ~ This is a wrong course, the judge will not resume the count until your dog has returned to the correct track [and it frankly does not matter what obstacle you go to on the correct track.] The clean-run bonus has been lost.
  • Dog takes an obstacle more than his count on the current track ~ This is a wrong course. The judge will wait for your dog to switch to the alternate track to begin counting for that one. The clean-run bonus has been lost.
  • Dog runs past an obstacle and continues on ~ This is technically a wrong course. The missed obstacle isn’t counted; but the count continues with the next obstacle taken. The clean-run bonus has been lost.
  • Dog runs past an obstacle ~ Refusals are not faulted on jumps and tunnels in the TDAA. The handler should bring the dog around and complete the obstacle. No harm, no fault! But note rule #3, above. If you’ve already lost the clean-run bonus it might be smarter and more timely just to go on without correcting missed obstacles.

Please note that the judge will have a constant cadence, actually counting your obstacles for you as you go. So if you lose track… you might listen to what the judge is saying. However, don’t count on the judge to immediately reflect faults liked dropped bars. It’s more than possible that the judge could blurt out a number for a jump the instant before he realizes that the dog has dropped the bar on that jump. So you should be aware of whether your dog keeps up the bars, or not.

Note that in any game with a finite number of possible scores, time to the finish line might very well determine placements. When that time whistle blows you should direct your dog to the finish line with a real sense of urgency.

Blog1127 TDAA

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 part.

The Box Game ~ Games of the Petit Prix

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The TDAA’s Western Petit Prix will soon commence in Castle Rock, Colorado. This is a beautiful part of the world at the very foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The Petit Prix will be held at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in the Indoor Arena: http://www.douglas.co.us/eventscenter/facility-descriptions/indoor-arena/

This is a continuing series featuring the games of the TDAA’s Western Petit Prix in 2016. Today we’ll have a look at the Box Game, a numbered course that features several opportunities to earn bonus points for modest distance challenges.

Below is a sample course with the simple briefing. Following the briefing is a short discussion of strategy.

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The Box Game is the invention of USDAA judge, Brian McGunigle. John Finley of Columbus, Ohio will judge the Box Game at the Petit Prix. This game is scheduled for the morning of May 21st at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Castle Rock, Colorado. The sample course shown here is not the course designed by Mr. Finley for play at the Petit Prix.

Briefing

The objective of the Box Game is to run a numbered sequence while earning bonuses for several distance challenges. The distance-challenge eligible for bonus is specifically when the dog must go out of the box… with the handler staying inside the box.

Central to the course is a large boxed area which the dog and handler will enter after completing jump #1. Outside of the box are five different distance challenges. Each time the handler sends the dog out of the box and completes the send, a bonus of 5 seconds will be deducted from the dog’s score.

No bonus will be earned for an individual challenge if the handler steps out of the box, or if the dog earns a fault during the send.

Scoring and Qualification

The Box Game is scored Time, Plus Faults, Less Bonus. To qualify, the team must be under the adjusted Qualifying Course Time for their level:

Games I              4″ & 8 ” dogs            63     Seconds

12′′ & 16′′ dogs          58     Seconds

Games II            4″ & 8 ” dogs            49     seconds

12′′ & 16′′ dogs          42     seconds

Games III           4″ & 8 ” dogs            27     seconds

12′′ & 16′′ dogs          25     seconds

Strategy

It’s a follow the numbers game, so any tips as to strategy clearly should be directed at how to effectively direct a dog to work at a distance.

Please note that on our web store is a series of books entitled The Joker’s Notebook which are full of step-by-step instructions for teaching a dog to work at a distance. So rule number one in your strategy should be train your dog! But don’t you know the Joker’s Notebook shows a couple years of distance training exercises and escalations. We only have two weeks until the TDAA’s Western Petit Prix. Maybe we should focus on a tip or two that will help you be successful in a simple game like this:

  1. Be the architect of the dog’s path ~ Mostly this is a matter of understanding where to place your corners. Setting a good corner of approach into a send will substantially improve your chance for success.
  2. Kentucky Windage ~ While we’re on the subject of corners and lines… you should know that a dog ahead of the handler tends to curl back to the handler’s position. So a good handler will bend the line of a send so that as the dog curls back towards the handler the curl brings the dog to the target obstacle, rather than off of it. [This is rather like the Kentucky rifleman adjusting his shot to incorporate the pressure of the wind.]
  3. Standing still is very seldom an effective distance strategy. You should find a way to move your feet. If you are sending out of the box… you should send to the obstacle on the edge of the box so that you’ll still have room to move in the direction of the send outside of the box.
  4. Give good information to your dog (don’t keep secrets). If you are sending the dog to a tunnel you should give a “Tunnel” command early… and feel free to repeat it. You should look at the tunnel, you should point at the tunnel, you should move toward the tunnel. This is how to give good information.Blog1126 TDAA

If your dog faults one of the distance challenges you might as well step outside of the box and pick up the pieces. You just waste time if you persist in trying to fix a problem at a distance after you’ve already lost the bonus.

Blog1126 TDAA

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 part.

Dare to Double ~ Games of the Petit Prix

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The TDAA’s Western Petit Prix in Castle Rock, Colorado is scarcely two weeks away. So, for the next several days I will explore the games we’ll be playing, with special attention to the rules established by our judges, John Finley and Trisha Stall.

Today the discussion is Dare to Double, a dog’s choice point accumulation game; and a game of strategy and daring. I’ll begin with the simple briefing. Follow that reading with the discussion of strategy. Real inspiration might be found in the fine print.

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John Finley of Columbus, Ohio will judge Dare to Double at the Petit Prix. Dare to Double is scheduled for the morning of May 20th at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Castle Rock, Colorado. The sample course shown here is not the course designed by Mr. Finley for play at the Petit Prix.

Briefing

Dare to Double is a dog’s choice game. 4″ and 8″ inch dogs will have 55 seconds, 12″ and 16″ dogs will have 50 seconds to accumulate as many points as possible. Time starts when the dog crosses the Start line, and ends at the table. The table is live after time has started. A horn will signal the end of point accumulation. If the team reaches the table before the horn, all points earned on course will be keep. If the team fails to get the table before the horn, half of their points will be lost. There will be no warning whistle.

The value of the obstacles is based on a 1-3-5-7-point system.

  • 1 point for jumps
  • 3 points for tunnels and tires
  • 5 points for dogwalk, teeter, and the weave poles
  • 7 points for the dog walk, the first time it is performed.

Scoring obstacles can be taken only twice for points. Back-to-back performances are allowed. Jumps that are knocked down will not be reset.

A successful performance of the A-frame doubles all points earned up to that time. If the dog faults the A-frame, half of the team’s points are lost.

The A-frame is not restricted to only two performances. The dog may double points at any time, and as many times as the handler (or dog) wishes. The important restriction: The dog must complete another obstacle — for points — before reattempting the A-frame.

Scoring and Qualification

Dare to Double is scored Points, Then Time. The dog with the most point’s wins. Time is the tie breaker.

Points needed to qualify:

  • Games III – needs a score of 160 or better
  • Games II – needs a score of 80 or better
  • Games I – needs a score of 40 or better

Strategy

Although the briefing above includes points required to qualify by level, the Petit Prix really isn’t about qualifying. Each dog is pitted against every other dog by jump height. The competitor should get out of his head the paltry 160 points required of the GIII dog. The strategy should be calculated to earn thousands of points.

You will note that obstacles can be performed only twice for points. This is true of all obstacles except for the A-frame, which can be performed as many times as the dog can manage in the time given to play.

The basic strategy for Dare to Double should be this: Accumulate a foundation of points, and then embark on a doubling strategy.

Foundation Points ~ The handler wants to gather up enough points to make the first double worth maybe twice the value of the any other obstacle on the field. The judge has stipulated in this variation that the first performance of the dogwalk is worth 7 points; and so the total of foundation points should be only about 7 points, or slightly higher.

The handler should be careful not to use up any of the obstacles near to the A-frame that should be used in the doubling strategy.

I will show possible strategies for foundation points based on the sample course:

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As back-to-back performances are allowed on all obstacles (excepting the A-frame) the collection of foundation points might feature a back-to-back on a high value obstacle. The black circled numbers represent a pretty good pick-up of points before heading to the A-frame. But this is a real “know thy dog” kind of gambit. The handler would make this opening only if: a) the dog has a fast performance of the dogwalk; and b) it’s extremely unlikely that the dog will miss the down contact. If you’re keeping track, the dog has earned 26 points upon the first dismount of the A-frame.

The white square numbered sequence represents a fast and flowing attack on the doubling obstacle. This opening garners only 18 points on the first performance of the A-frame, but might be fast enough that the dog squeezes in an extra Double by the expiration of time.

Of course there are other possible openings. Use your imagination, and know thy dog!

The Doubling Strategy ~ there’s no conceivable reason for the dog to be put upon the dogwalk, or the teeter, or the weave poles when a performance of the A-frame is worth 40 points, or more. So the doubling strategy must be focused on singleton obstacles that can be quickly snatched up by the dog before heading back to the A-frame.

One of the important rules of the game is that the A-frame may not be doubled back-to-back. The dog is required to do another obstacle “for points” between performances. And, since obstacles can only be performed twice for points, a third performance of an obstacle would not earn points and so would not make the A-frame live for another double. As the judge has a mind like a steel trap, you know that he will be keeping careful track of the number of performances for those obstacles that surround the A-frame.

In the doubling strategy the high value obstacle near the A-frame should be done early rather than late. I’ll illustrate below:

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The extra two points for a pipe tunnel (compared to a jump) should benefit as lavishly as possible from doubling. Let me express this as a mathematical compare and contrast:

Score Score
20 20 20 20
D 40 D 40
3 43 1 41
D 86 D 82
3 89 1 83
D 178 D 166
3 181 1 167
D 362 D 334
3 365 1 335
D 730 D 670

Assuming the dog made his first approach to the A-frame with 20 foundation points… you’ll note in the two left-most columns the dog begins the doubling strategy with the performance of pipe tunnels; the two right-most columns begins the doubling strategy with jumps! The left strategy has out-scored the right by 60 points.

Oh, and if the dog doubles three more times… that 60 point difference explodes to a 480 point difference.

The Ticking Clock ~ If the dog doesn’t get to the table before the expiration of time, half of his points will be lost, just like faulting the A-frame! Dare to Double is typically played with a warning whistle or buzzer announcing the impending expiration of time. Mr. John Finley, our wicked judge, has specified that there will be no 15 second warning whistle.

And so, it’s a real test of a handler’s sense of timing know precisely when it’s time to go to the table.

Well, there’s no sense in giving away every strategy. At the warm-up workshop I will share the sure-fire secret for getting the end of time performance perfect every time. Are you coming to the warm-up workshop? I think entries are closed already.

Please note that the table is live from the very beginning of the dog’s run. It’s a very good idea not to present the table to your dog in the midst of your doubling strategy.

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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 to clubs engaged in league play.