Monday, August 24, 2009

USDAA Trial Stats/Jump Heights

Some interesting numbers from this past weekend's USDAA trial in Laramie, WY:

Grand Prix (Championship)

Class Height/# of dogs
26"/2 dogs
22"/43 dogs
16"/5 dogs
12" 1 dog

22" class was 84% of the total entry.

32 of the 43 dogs in the 22" class were Border Collies. That's a whopping 74%.

Master Jumpers was similar with 46 dogs in the 22" class of 55 total dogs (84% of total entries) and 33 BC's in the 22" class (72%).

Master Standard had 81% of the total entry in the 22" class and 72% of those were BC's.

This is typical of the trials around here. There are usually 2-3 dogs in 26", 2-3 dogs in 12", 4-6 dogs in 16" and the rest in the 22" class.

Maybe I'm grumpy because despite having 3 measurements under 21" by regular judges the CMJ measured Strummer at 21 1/4" this weekend, nudging him into the 26" class. My only recourse is to get 2 more CMJ's to measure him under. Problem is we don't have any CMJ's scheduled at local trials for the rest of the year, not even at Regionals. Will the January trial have one? How about April? Will I be having him measured on into next summer or fall? I could drive 8 hours to Nebraska in October for a CMJ. Yeah, suuuuure I could.

Life sucks for the 21" cusp dog because as a vet you still have to jump over your shoulder height. I can put Strum in 22" Performance for life but then there is no vet class for him. I can jump him at 26", at the trial there were people who saw him jumping who said he's a nice jumper and he'd be fine at 26". My feeling is that just because he can jump 26" doesn't mean he should. I find the idea of a 21" dog jumping 5" over their shoulder height to be ridiculous. And so do most other people around here with big dogs which is why the 26" class typically has 2-3 entries.

There's a lot I like about USDAA but I don't like that they don't put the dogs first. Or the competitors. The judge this weekend was grumping about the fuss over 24" weave poles. 'The dogs go faster through those poles so you will just bring on their injuries more quickly', was his reasoning. Huh? Wuh? It made no sense at all and when several people pointed out that it was the angle of bending that was causing the stress on the dog's joints/neck/back/etc. the judge responded that the difference in the angle of bending was so slight that you could barely see it. Uh, yeah, maybe he has not seen the zillions of videos floating around the internets. And he's an orthopedic vet maybe? Then he started grumping about other organizations caving in to pressures from their customers. Because who cares what those pesky customers want, especially the ones who fret so needlessly about the welfare of their dogs? It's about Competition and Tradition, people! Not the dogs or the customers.

I think this particular pesky customer sees a lot more DOCNA in her future.


  1. Unless, it's a very big dog ... 26 inches is simply too high to jump.

    This judge sounds like a mondo dud.

  2. I know. I could see having a separate 26" height for people gunning for the World Team but to have such aggressive height cut offs and high jump heights for the rest of us is silly. That's why there are so few wee dogs as well, the height cut offs for them are not fabulous either.

  3. Anonymous5:59 PM

    hm, I'm just a random reader of this blog (not from your area), but it was easy enough to look up who this judge was. hearing stories like this will make me think twice about showing under this judge if he ever comes through my area.
    any opinion on how his course design was?

    - handler of a P8" (on a good day!) dog

  4. I dont like the jump heights for USDAA either. I think 5 inches is huge. I like my dog more than just for trials. I would rather jump lower. Diana

  5. Interesting stats. I have always thought that if there are 4 jump heights available, that the spread of the dogs should be more even. Of course, with more than half the dogs running being of the same breed, we will see some grouping of heights, but I think AKC's height cutoffs are far more reasonable than USDAA. How about introducing the 24" jump height, and making the 26" height optional for those wanting to be on world team. Dunno.

  6. Wow, interesting. I completely agree. I just don't get their jump heights--totally understand your frustration. If Emma were just a little taller, she would have to jump 26". That is completely ridiculous for her.

    I don't see developments in the sport as "caving in to pressures from their customers." And even so, is that necessarily a bad thing? As we learn more about the impact of dog sports on our companions, things should change. What a jerk that judge was.

  7. Anon-

    The judge had really nice courses. If I get some time I'll try to scan some of the maps if it will help. He had especially nice Gamblers courses.

    I wouldn't think twice about showing under him just because of his opinions and otherwise he's a fair and reasonable judge. Personally I didn't agree at all with what he was saying but he's entitled to his viewpoint. He made the comments in between classes while chatting with people on the sidelines, it's not like he was on a tirade during a briefing or anything like that. I didn't mean to put people off of showing under him, lots of people really like him as a judge and I had no problem at all with his judging or his attitude or treatment of handlers. He was perfectly pleasant overall, I've shown under him several times before and I would show under him again myself. Now if you have a borderline dog I'd avoid getting him for a CMJ :-)

    The only thing I've disliked about this judge is that in the past he's imposed fault limits on the tournament classes so if you go off course you're immediately whistled off. However this time he never imposed fault limits on any of the classes so maybe he's changed his mind about it.

  8. Greg-
    Yeah, that's exactly what I'd like to see, AKC jump heights and a 26" class for those pursuing the World Team or for those who feel it's best for their dog. Or at least something a little more reasonable so that maybe some dogs that aren't Border Collies can get to play in Championship. And more little dogs! I love watching the little guys go and there are so few of them in USDAA but I totally understand why the little dog handlers stay away.

    Yeah, what is so bad about listening to the concerns of the customers? Um, hello, we are the ones who keep the lights on.

  9. Thanks for the NPR link - Michael Pollen's books were the ones I was following as far as guidelines of what to look for - it's been interesting! :)

  10. Responses to assorted posts:

    Hey, you guys--we were all SO grateful and thrilled when USDAA dropped the 30" jump height and allowed our big dogs to jump 26"! I guess people who have been in it for a while fear the gradual creep that leads us to where NADAC seems to be headed sometimes... all dogs jumping 8" because it's safer for them to do so (or not jumping at all). Mind you, I'm not defending any particular jump height, and I have moved my older dog down to 22" earlier than I'd have liked to because I think it's better for her.

    The change in angle for dogs doing the reduced-height Aframe was really minor, too, but I noticed a difference in how Tika did it. Maybe it's small mathematically, but the dogs really respond to those small changes.

    26" dogs jumping 26": OK, maybe greyhounds. But a lot of dogs who are 26" are also much heavier, and they should not be jumping 26". NADAC kind of had the right idea for making height exceptions for lower heights based on some ratio of height vs weight. But that can all get so complicated, too-- maybe a light athletic Rottie of the same height would be competing in a different group from a heavier rottie of the same height. Right or wrong? Dunno.

    Difficult questions to answer to satisfy everyone. :-)

  11. Love those statistics, Elayne. So funny to compare and contrast to what we see around here.

  12. But actually I think what we're seeing in USDAA these days is very similar to NADAC as far as the decision making process goes. One guy at the top (and maybe a very few people he can get to agree with him) making decisions based on his views and opinions and never mind the views of the competitors. It's his organization and he's got a vision and he'll do what he wants dammit and whoever wants to play along fine, whoever doesn't, fine. Just like NADAC.

    I think there's a happy medium between USDAA and NADAC and AKC and DOCNA have found it as far as jump heights go though I don't think DOCNA uses 24" poles at the moment.

    And yeah, I agree about the big heavy dogs jumping 26", that's my point exactly. Big dogs, even athletic ones, typically have worse weight to height ratios than the smaller dogs so it's even more harmful for them to be jumping so high. They don't age as well either. If anything the big dogs should be getting a height break. This is partly why I have reservations about Strummer jumping 26" despite his light build and good jumping form. I care more about my dog than some stubborn agility organization and their outdated views.

    The sport has changed so much since it started and there are plenty of ways to make it safer for the dogs without dumbing it down. The visionaries of the sport recognize this and are willing to move forward to find a happy medium while the dinosaurs dig their heels in and end up with a narrow range of competitors/dogs willing/able to compete in their venue.

  13. Dang, that sucks. Lucy is a cusp dog too. Walter "should" be jumping 26", but with his build he went into 22" specials right from the start. Would be sucky if there was no lower jump height to look forward to when he gets older -- I can't believe USDAA doesn't have a vets class! :-( At least there are options with some of the different venues.