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Time and time again...

Electronic timing has already been used this year at quite a few shows around the UK. Altogether the Tarytimer system has been booked by more than 40 clubs for shows stretching from Longleat to Aberdeen and Pembroke. Developer Martin Pollard reports that the general handler reaction has been the best that can be hoped i.e. complete, seamless and immediate assimilation. It's as if it has always been there. Time and time again... and again... and again.

One attribute that Martin didn't predict is that throughput has gone up, some reckon by 20%. Manual timers often have to walk from start to far finish, then back again to tell the scribe the time. The time is presented to the scribe in easy to read digits, not a voice sometimes difficult to hear above the usual din. Shows are finishing earlier, again not presenting as an obvious virtue, but not lost on some club managers. With Taryntiming judges set finishes much farther away than with manual timing. This must predicate more varied and better (?) courses.

We are servicing well over 40 shows stretching from Longleat to Aberdeen to Pembroke and now have six regional reps.

How to use
For anyone who will be using electronic timing for the first time, here are some guidelines for judges, ring parties and clubs, written by Chris Smith and based on her experience as a judge. Martin Pollard has added a few extra points to her article, some of which have arisen from taking round timing to Shows in 2000.

The manual
Taryntimer timing is accurate, reliable, easy to set up, and extremely simple to use. However, there are some factors which should be taken into account when designing your course if you wish to avoid some of the pitfalls. The following guidelines may help you to achieve a class which runs smoothly and gives you a hassle free day!

1.   Factors affecting course design.

  • Electronic timing substantially decreases the time it takes to get through a class. In order to make use of it to the best advantage it is essential to have a separate start and finish.
  • Ideally the timing heads are best positioned at the wings of your first and last jumps. Other obstacles may be used, see below.
  • A good straight start and finish is preferable to avoid problems associated with dogs running outside the beam.
  • In particular avoid  inviting a ‘run by’ with your first obstacle, as you will not be able to fault this because the time will not have started. In certain classes it may be helpful to put an extra pole on the start jump.
  • Don’t use  the finish jump twice in the course as going over the finish jump will stop the clock. The start jump can be used more than once.
  • You can have the timing mounts standing alone as a start or finish line, but there is a maximum distance they can be separated, and this can lead to problems of dogs running outside the beam or handlers running through the beam before the dog.
  • Although jumps are the ideal start and finish obstacles, frame (open or close) tyres, and tunnels can be used.  Weaves can give handling problems; long jumps are fine for starts but some dogs jump over the beams when finishing; lollipop tyres cannot be used as the timing heads confuse the dogs.
  • Pairs and teams. At the moment* pairs can only be run if two ‘finish’ jumps are used; the first dog jumps over an untimed jump into the box, the second dog goes over a jump with timing heads recording the total time. Timing can be used for teams where individual dogs are timed. *(Mark 2 Taryntimers will cater for pairs and four dog aggregate time teams later in 2001).
  • 2. Starting competitors and recording the time.

    It is becoming common practice for the scribe to write down the time on the slip. When briefing your scribe, emphasise the importance of getting the time down quickly – if the next competitor’s dog takes off, the time will be erased.

    You will need to give quite a bit of thought to where to locate your scribe as it is almost certain that he/she will have to remain seated throughout in order to check the timing console. The scribe will therefore need to be in a position where he/she can see your signals, see the timing console, and be near enough to the start jump to start the competitors without getting in their way. 

    If the class is large, and there is time and space pressure on the ring, for example a large class at an indoor show, it is advisable to ask a ring party member to start the competitors thus taking pressure off the scribe. This person can then assist by taking leads to the finish area.

    3. Things you may consider mentioning in your briefing

  • That electronic timing is being used.
  • Competitors will be started by the scribe/starter/judge.
  • Ask, if a competitor retires halfway round the course, that when leaving the ring, they put their dog over the finish obstacle to re--set the timing. This avoids the scribe having to re-set it manually.
  • 4.  Course changes and problems

       Points at course changing time.

  • The timing heads may have to be adjusted to a different dog height. The settings are marked on the stands.
  • If the start and finish are reversed, the relevant cables will have to be reversed on the console.
  • The Taryntimer representative on site will assist the ring party in setting up the timing before the first class. He/she will keep an eye on progress during the day. Please ask the Show Manager to contact our representative so that they can help to reset the equipment for the next class. 
  • 5. Run-bys at the start and finish gates.

    If a dog runs by the start gate or goes through the first jump under the beam, there appear to be three ways  (at least) to apply the marking regulations.

    • The dog has not started the clock, therefore it has not started the course.
      Action: Start again, no penalty.
    • The dog has taken the wrong course.
      Action- Start again, five (5) faults penalty.
    • Actions in a. and b. are unfair to other dogs because the clock is not running when the dog is taken back.
      Action- Elimination.

    Similar situations can occur at the finish gate.

    If the timing stops working for any reason, please call for the Taryntimer representative immediately. The most likely causes have proved to be misalignment, or obstruction of the beams by part of an obstacle.

    However, if a fault has developed, we will not try to mend it but will substitute back up equipment. This should take only a few minutes. 

    If you require help or advice on site please contact the Taryntimer representative. If you have any worries or queries about timing with our electronic system, please ring, email or write and we’ll be happy to help.

    If you have any comments or suggestions after using the system, we should be very pleased to hear them.

    From Martin Pollard
    Grateful thanks to Chris Smith and to the clubs who gave us facilities last year as well as those intrepid people of East Anglia, Shelley Christmas and Sandy Bell with whom Chris discussed this guide. Perhaps at some time in the future the marking regulations will need to be modified to deal with electronically timed starts and finishes. What do you think?

    Test Your Reflexes

    If you are still in doubt about the advantages of electronic timers, try this simple - and addictive - test which was sent by someone on the AGILE list. Go to and have fun.

    From John Leslie...
    Great fun - hadn't tried the reflex test before.

    Given that in most agility situations where electronic timers are NOT in use, competitors are being timed by the same person with the same equipment, the crucial thing is not so much the speed of response (or even lack of it) as the consistency of response. I was alarmed to find that as hard as tried, my reaction time varied between .27 and .44 seconds - with total concentration. In real life that .17 seconds can be the difference between 1st place and 6th or lower... And when I relaxed my focus even a tiny bit the difference was well over 1.5 seconds.

    Thanks Taryntimers. May you go from strength to strength. (18/11/01)

    From Barbara Rogers
    I would have even more fun with this than I had, if it wasn't that I am totally shocked and alarmed at how slow I am! At least I think I'm slow. I played with it for a bit, and apparently which COLOR I choose is a huge factor - I could NOT get below .33 with the deep pink, no matter how hard I tried many times - most of them were right at .33. But as soon as I switched to medium slate blue, I got down to .27 seconds? This is entirely new to me, that color makes a difference on how fast I respond? Now I am wondering if some folks experienced the opposite, and were faster with hot pink?

    Well, I guess if we knew the test results on a whole bunch of us, then we could bring a variety of colored T-shirts to trials - you find out who is timing your most important runs, and if it's me, where that medium blue shirt!

    And the test is right - it is addicting!

    From Lisa Hesketh
    Very addictive! I also got the fastest time with the blue colours. Forget the blue T-shirt I'm off to get me a "blue" merle! (15/02/01)

    From Jean Owen...
    It is very scary to see how slow may responses were BUT it make total sense why you can never change timers during a class!

    From Mary Jo Sminkey
    My reaction time as well was pretty consistent (although still not to the 1/100th of a second). However, one thing to keep in mind with this test is that you have no idea at all when the color change will happen. In agility, you usually can see the dog coming, and I think that would result in at least a slightly better time. A better test would be one where there was some indication that the change was coming. But still is a pretty good illustration of how slow us humans really are.

    From Chris Schultz
    Another test to try. Get a stop watch. Start the timer and wait until it is at 10 seconds. Stop the watch. Makes you think about that 5-second table count...

    From Lynn Smitley...
    As a phys. ed. major in college many years ago, when stopwatches had sweep-hands and were spring-wound, we were taught that the 'trigger finger' of the dominant hand had the fastest reaction time and we were NEVER to use the thumb.

    It seems that these days most stop watches are designed for using the thumb. When I time, I find it difficult to get my trigger finger positioned on the stop/start button, and I never see any timer using anything but the thumb. (Not that I've done an exhaustive survey.) It could be that opinions about the reaction time of the thumb have changed more recently although, physiologically, it makes sense to me that the trigger-finger would beat out the thumb for most people on reaction-time tests.

    From Lyn Kalinoski
    There is no timing system that is 100% idiot proof or infallible for every single run.

    From Kent Mahan
    Electronic timing systems--more trouble and expense than they are worth in most cases.


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