Judging Agility

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Life’s  not fair – right??   Has there ever been a time at a trial when you felt that you were right, but the judge ruled otherwise and you end up without that needed Q?  Well – you’re not alone.  Talk to anyone that has been doing trials for awhile and they will all have a story to tell.  This is just part of the deal when you decide to take part in a sport that has a judge involved.  I have been in many judged sports, mostly gymnastics and diving and there are definitely times that leave you screaming “NO FAIR”!!!  So how do you handle it??

The good news for dog agility is that the judges really do seem to be on your side.  Most judges want to see you Q and will give you the benefit of the doubt.  If you feel that you were wronged, bring it to the judges’ attention as soon as the event is finished so they might remember your run.  If you are nice and approach the judge in a good manner, you will have a good chance of getting the mistake fixed, or perhaps finding out why they ruled that way and learning something from it.  Once you have discussed it with the judge, remember their decision is final.  Don’t keep going on about something once it is over.  The best you can do is let it go and focus in on the next run.

On the flip side – there will be times where you did make that mistake, but the judge either didn’t see it, or didn’t call you for it.  These are nice and make up for the times that things didn’t go your way.  Once you get going in agility and have done a few trials you will see that you will get some good calls and some not so good calls.  Remember -no one is out to get you and your dog.  Quite the contrary.  Everyone wants to see you get your Q’s and move up the agility ladder.

Once I felt that my time was wrong (manually timed) in a Jackpot closing.  The run was video taped and the counter on the video showed that I was under time (from when the whistle blew), but the timer, who was on the other side of the field showed just barely over.  Very frustrating!  But as a friend said – well if you had done better, it would not have been an issue – so the responsibility is ultimately mine to make sure we are under time to be sure to get that Q.

Before you start to blame the judge, put yourself in their position and realize that it’s not easy watching run after run and if you are in a place like Florida -where most trials are outdoors – the weather can really get to you.  All of the competitors go rest under their tents and the judge is still out there.  Most trials I have been to, the judge barely takes a break.

The next time you go to a trial give a little more thought to the judge.  Most of them have their own dogs that they run, so they  can see both sides.  If you see someone get a lucky break, be glad for them and know that yours is coming.  Most of all, don’t let one bad call ruin your day or your trial.  Remember – judges are human too!  Now let’s go get some Q’s!!!

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CR180x160_agilityThis past weekend was our first trial of the season – It rained most of Saturday which wasn’t as bad as you might think since it wasn’t as hot as it normally is for this time of year in Central Florida. On Sunday it was hot and muggy with a few showers at the end of the day. The last trial we were at was probably last April, so I was anxious to see how we would do.  My dog Sullivan is one of those dogs that slows down in the heat, making it hard  to qualify in the Florida heat.

Jackpot has always been a favorite of ours.  We always love a challenge and with Jackpot, you never know what your dog is going to do.  There are two types of Jackpot (some venues call it Gamblers or Fast) in CPE.  Traditional and non-traditional.  In traditional Jackpot, there is an opening where the object is to collect a certain amount of points (depending on your level) before the whistle blows, then send your dog through 4 obstacles (the table is the last one) in an order determined by the course and at a distance – which is marked by a tape.  The handler cannot cross this tape once the whistle blows.  The dog must complete the obstacles in order. The first obstacle is 2 points, then the next one is 4 points, then the next is 6 points and the table (paw must be on) is the 8 points and when the clock stops.  You can complete the “jackpot” and still not qualify if you did not get enough points in the opening or took too long in the closing.  Your dog can cross the tape and go in and out of the area, but you cannot.

Non-traditional Jackpot is created by the judge and each one is different than the other one!  They will involve getting points and some sort of distance handling, but that’s about all that can be said upfront.  It is very important that you attend the briefing at Jackpot since many of the “rules” are what the judge dreamed up for that trial!

At this particular trial last weekend, Saturday was a traditional Jackpot, and Sunday was non-traditional.  The non-traditional allowed you to do part of the jackpot during the opening and then when the whistle blew you had 18 seconds to finish the last two obstacles (a tunnel and table) behind a tape.  If you took any contacts or a combination jump that he had set up you got double points after the whistle – but then you could run the risk of not finishing in time – so it was really fun.  I started out with my “perfect” plan, but Sullivan had other ideas and ran her own course – had I been able to count the points in my head I would have realized that we were one point short and could have taken an extra jump (worth one point) after the whistle since we finished with 10 seconds to spare.

On our traditional Jackpot, we did really well – collected enough points and completed the jackpot with relative ease = only to find out we missed the time by less than a second! UGH!!! So we did not qualify on either run this past weekend.  It was disappointing, but on to the next one!!

This is a video of our traditional Jackpot – you can here the judge calling out the point values (there is a jump combination that was worth 5 points).  You can also hear the first whistle when we are in the weaves.  We would have not gotten any points for them even if we had finished them, so when the whistle blew, we went straight for the jackpot!

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Our next trial is Oct. 9 & 10 and we are hoping for a little cooler weather.  My Kala will be trialing for the first time so it will be very exciting!

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