Lucky circle or wheel of mis-fortune?
The hoop is the only jump without a detachable element. Martin Pollard thinks that means it cannot be as safe as other jumps. He believes that there are people out there who have some good ideas for improved equipment, especially perhaps, the hoop. He's ask if Agilitynet could use the power of the Internet to encourage people to share their ideas. It doesn't matter how daft they are, one or more might spark a new train of thought like what about water noodles?
The problem as I see it is the structure rather than materials used. The original diameter of the hoop was 15" and it was possible to use a car tyre, although, by the end of the eighties, when the size of the hoop was increased, these were becoming hard to obtain.
The 18" motorcycle tyre was only partially successful as the actual diameter was 17.75". To make a tyre comply with the regulations the inside rim had to be gouged out, and the gap sealed up by tape or, horror of horrors, radiused blocks of hardwood.
The 19" tyre was OK, but rather skimpy. In any case, tyres were difficult to obtain in quantity. I used to tour around the tyre depots picking up ones or twos. Then the law changed. Depots were not allowed to store tyres on their premises as if they got wet they produced a nasty toxic fluid. How much easier for the manufacturer to buy a nice new Perry buoy with nothing to do to it.
Many years ago I designed a soft hoop made from a ring of ply covered each side with 3" polyurethane foam. The whole was flock sprayed. Unfortunately the only waterproof flock I could get was black. This was not acceptable although I received much encouragement from handlers. It was also very expensive.
The accident mentioned by Jenny Sculley Willis in Speak Out started me thinking again. While I respectfully disagree with Jenny's suggestion to remove the hoop from competition, I am sure this obstacle which is attractive to the public can be made safe and enjoyable for all.
thoughts on a design brief to make a safer hoop.
To start the ball rolling I would suggest that the internal diameter of the hoop should be increased for standard dogs to 24". If the centre remains at the same height i.e. 3 feet the bottom centre of the hoop will be at 2ft. (This lines up with the FCI standard). The maximum width of 2 feet which the dogs will then negotiate will obviously be 2feet, the same as a flyball jump.
However, increasing the size will mean that the hoop will have to be specially made, (unless Evans sells lifebuoys?) which will increase the cost, probably doubling it. However if everyone joined together, a tool could be made, perhaps for rotational moulding (like road cones) or polyurethane foam casting (like dashboards) or any other method - suggestions?
A further possibility would be for the hoop to be split along its horizontal diameter. The bottom ‘U’ would have a short pole each side in line with the horizontal diameter of the hoop which would fit into jump cups. The top (inverted) ‘U’ would be suspended just above its highest point by another cross pole also fitted into jump cups but made so that it could not fall off. When a dog hits the hoop, the bottom part would fall away below the dog, and the upper part would pivot upwards and away. The disadvantages with this type of hoop might be
NB. If you are wondering about Kennel Club regulations, these state a minimum diameter of 18".
If anyone has ideas on how this can be achieved, however crazy, please e-mail Agilitynet and we can have a cyber brainstorming session.
About the author...
He is making a special offer to agility clubs within a 100 mile radius of his home in Essex - free hire for shows or training. For more information, contact him at 33a Beeleigh Road, Maldon, Essex CM9 5QH or telephone on 01621-852809.
The only problem I see is how to attach the tire without putting too much stress on the sleeve so it does not open up at the slightest touch. A longer sleeve? Maybe someone can come up with a solution. I have not been able to try this idea out yet. I am waiting until the pool supplies come out of Winter hibernation.
In case you don't know what Water Noodles are see http://www.pooltoy.com/noodchairand.html .(22/03/04)
comment from The States
I'm sending you a picture of what it looks like (right).
idea from Shari Santos
How about the interior of the tire (or hoop) be lined some how with soft nylon broom like bristles. This would make the opening appear a certain size to the dog, but it would give several inches on all sides for error and also create a little cushioning. The rest of the tire could be padded, and it could be mounted on two legs extending out in the five and seven o'clock positions with perpendicular crossbar (feet) long enough for stability, or also it could be staked down. As for adjusting the height, that's just another thing to figure out, but possible. And this would eliminate the big frame around the tire.
Response from Martin P.
More from Martin
* Rubber tyres are extremely solid, particularly when wrapped in tape (for safety).
* Injuries seem to have occurred when a dog hits a frame tyre rather than a lolly or aluminum frame tyre
* Lifebuoys are not 'solid plastic', but lightweight plastic & are full of air. They give considerable ground when hit.
* All obstacles have an element of 'danger.'
* We should train our dogs to jump the obstacles. Oddly this doesn't always happen. Would your dog continue to jump full height if there was no pole?)
* Tyres are normally pegged down (again for safety), perhaps it is safer not to peg them securely, but allow them to fall if a dog misjumps.
I for one, whilst full of sympathy for dogs who have been injured and their owners, would feel it was a retrograde step to remove the tyre.
As a judge I would like to continue to include tyres in my courses, but will endeavour to make my courses as safe as possible without removing the 'challenge' of agility. As a handler/trainer (with a new pup just learning), I will try and train my dogs to judge distances and jump safely.
An idea from Gary Spindler
Martin Pollard in reply to:
Still let's see what Gary can come up with. Good luck to him.
I am going to make a Spiro idea tyre - have ordered the brush.
The following points come mainly from highly competitive handlers:-
The British Flyball Association have lowered the maximum height of jumps to 14ins from 16ins for safety reasons. I don't know how well this was argued or if any research was carried out. A BFA flyball dog may have say 15 runs in a day's meeting, eight jumps each run = 120.
At the other end of the scale, couch potato dogs run the risk of damage however safe the equipment. The Americans seem to run more articles on physical fitness for dogs. Perhaps you can find a guru.