Thursday, November 13, 2008

USDAA Nationals Grand Prix Finals Course

The Grand Prix Finals from Nationals is set up out at my practice field so I decided to give it a go with the older dogs. I didn't think it was a super challenging course but I had the advantage of having watched the big guns run it on the live streaming so made a handling choice that I'm not sure I would have figured out on my own.

Unfortunately they've taken down the video from Nationals and I couldn't remember how they handled the opening. I was thinking most people had led out past Jump #2 but I couldn't get that strategy to work for either Cody or Lola. Maybe it'll work with Strummer, I'll try him out tomorrow if time/weather permit. Anybody remember how the opening was handled? I ended up leading out 3/4 of the way or so to Jump #2 then putting in a front cross between #2 and #3. Worked a treat for both my dogs but not sure that's the fastest way or if it would work for a super fast rocket dog in the finals at nationals. I kept the dog on my left through #7 then front crossed between #7 and #8. I think that was fairly straightforward and most people handled it that way in the finals.

I can see why a lot of dogs were missing that dogwalk contact, if you stayed back to work the contact you got behind at the chute and it was a push to the #10 double. Lola ran the course perfectly except for running past the #11 tire and I had to work to pull her in to the #12 jump before the A-frame but this is a Lola issue. Cody ran it no problem as did most of the dogs in the finals I think. The A-frame was where I cheated and stole a handling move from the video. I saw a few people putting in a blind cross after the A-frame, picking up the dog on the left hand and sending to the #14 jump. I don't think this would have occured to me and if it did I probably would have dismissed it and aimed for a front cross after the A-frame. But I gave the blind a shot with Lola and it worked great. I was able to get into position easily for a front cross between #16 and the #17 weaves and got a nice tight turn through the pinwheel and into the weaves. I put in another front cross between #19 and #20. Some people handled that section with the dog on their right coming off of the A-frame and rear crossed at #15. I didn't like this strategy but gave it a try with Cody to see what would happen. I ended up with wide turns through the pinwheel and couldn't get into position for the front before the weaves so I had to keep him on my left at the weaves. He missed the entry too. Then I had to rear cross the #18 jump and ended up with a wide loopy turn and almost an off course at the #2 jump. So I didn't like that strategy but there were people in the finals who pulled it off nicely. Could be that I had a bad feeling about it so wasn't as precise with my handling as I could have been.

A couple of other variations I remember-Stacy Peardot managed to get a front cross in between the #12 jump and the A-frame. I wish they still had the video up to see how she pulled that off because wow I don't think I could have done that especially without a good independent dogwalk contact. I also saw some people putting a front cross in between #18 and #19 and I liked that option but I think you needed to be able to leave the dog in the weaves and run way ahead to pull that off.

Was fun being able to try the course out after watching all the pro's run it. Of course I'm sure it wasn't set up exactly the same but, eh, close enough.


  1. Funny that I can't remember the opening handling, either. If one were to lead out past 2, I think you'd have to be basically at the right side of #3 to clearly signal which way you were going next and to avoid getting get caught behind #3.

    That sucks that they took the videos down and are now selling them; I could've sworn they said they'd be available as archives on the site.

  2. I took a bunch of photos of the GP finals and they're all turning between 2 and 3, but can't tell whether they led out to there and pivoted or ran a couple of steps to do a front cross.