What goes up must go down...
At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that the author has lost the plot, but I urge you to read on. It might make you change the way you read an agility course even if it does not make your financial investment decisions any easier. Alan Waddington theorises...
Let us begin by thinking like a judge.
A judge is primarily interested in the dog, not the handler. The sport is still Dog Agility, not Handler Agility. In order to test the agility of the dog the course may include jumping round to the right and to the left, with or without tight turns, to check the flexibility of the dog on both sides. There may be opportunity for acceleration and deceleration. If you are lucky, the judge will have built in choices. There might be a safer route, involving an easier approach to and/or exit from an obstacle to make avoidance of traps easier. There may also be alternative routes, concerned primarily with saving time.
The route you get your dog to take round a course will depend on a number of factors. The first will usually relate to the ability and experience of you and your dog. You should have identified, in training, what you and your dog are capable of achieving. The decisions about the route and handling should be driven by your current skill level as a team. The time to push boundaries is in training. A competition is the time to test that training.
Deciding how to run a course can be seen as an investment decision. The theory argues that there is a link between the return which can be achieved and the amount of risk you are prepared to take. Some of us are more cautious and will make decisions which minimise the risk. Others are high risk takers of the get rich quick type. I guess that most of us fall somewhere in the middle. Perhaps we have a minimum amount we want to keep safe at all costs but are prepared to take more risk with anything over that amount. We can apply this idea of risk being linked to return, to the reading of an agility course. Which parts of the course are the ones where you decide to take a least risk approach? Where will you attempt to gain an advantage from a higher risk strategy. It is about managing the risk profile of the course, with your investment strategy of minimising faults but posting a competitive time.
This leads on nicely to Isaac Newton, possibly the greatest ever Englishman, who described the physical property which is arguably the greatest risk factor in dog agility. In looking at how to run a course we should be aware of the gravitational pull which is exerted on the dog and brings it back to the ground. Once a dog has reached the maximum height of its jump it will begin to be drawn back to earth.
what? I hear you ask.
So, next time you walk a course, remember to check what choices the kind judge has offered you, how they fit into your investment strategy. Oh, and donít forget Isaac Newton Ė you might stack the investment odds in your favour but you can never escape gravity!
He qualified as a judge a few years back and was busy on the Northern Circuit until health issues meant he could not do a full day. He has been known to judge in Spain, however, where there is only a quarter of the dogs we would judge in the UK.
In the UK he does sitting down jobs, usually scriming.
First published 13th April 2019