CPE Wildcard

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Wildcard is a great game in CPE.  It is also one of the games that people tend to get confused on.  I think that a lot of the confusion stems from the way the obstacles are labeled.  The idea of the game is a short course where along the way you will have a choice of 2 obstacles.  One will be a little harder than the other.  This will happen 3 times on the course.  Depending on which level you are on, you will either need to take 2 easy and 1 hard (Levels 1 & 2) or take 2 hard and 1 easy (Levels 3,4,5,&C).  The course is numbered so you will have obstacles say 1,2, then 3a &3b.  The b will be the harder of the obstacles.  Sometimes they are different colors – yellow & blue – in which case the judge will let you know which color is considered the hard one.  This is one of those games where you will want to be at the briefing to make sure you know which obstacles are considered hard and which ones are easy.  Then know how many of which you need for your level.

As you walk the course make a plan according to the abilities of your dog.  What works for someone else, may not be the best for you.  There are no refusals, but once your dog starts an obstacle, you need to stick with that one.  This means that if your dogs takes the easy one first and you meant to do a hard one, you will have to make the adjustment on the next choice, so flexibility and thinking on your feet are important.  Play out of few scenes during your walk through.

As you go through the obstacles you will hear the judge call out points – 1 point (easy) and 2 point (hard).  For example if you are in Level 3 & above you will want the judge to have called out 2,2,1 (in any order) and if you are in Level 1 or 2 you will want to hear 1,1,2 (in any order).

In Levels 1 & 2 you are allowed an off course. In all Levels 1-4 you are allowed up to 10 faults (can not be the same faults) like a bar down(5 faults) or overtime (up to 5 faults – 5 seconds).  You cannot have an off course in Level 3 and higher.  Level C must run with no faults.

We have had good success with Wildcard.  Sullivan is about halfway through Level 5 (she missed a few Q’s with an off course, wrong end of a tunnel and a back jump on her last two runs) and my pup Kala has Q’ed on all of her   early runs and moved up to Level 3.  She has done one Level 3 run, but did not Q.  We have 2 more trials in January.

In order to avoid confusion, ask the judge which are labeled hard and then just approach the course thinking about how many hard and how many easy you need.  Don’t forget to make the correction if your dog takes the wrong obstacle. Good luck!

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This past week we had a class just on FullHouse lead by one of our agility members that has done extremely well in CPE so it was a good opportunity to come out and learn a few new strategies.  FullHouse is one of the CPE games that is fairly easy to qualify in because you get to make your own course and there are only a few rules that you have to remember.

The course is set in no particular order of obstacles.  All levels run the same course and time.  Large dogs, 16″ and over have 30 seconds to accumulate points and small dogs have 35 seconds.  At this time a whistle is blown and you have 5 seconds to get to the table (pause table) to stop the clock.  For every full second after the 5, a point is deducted from your score.  Depending on your level, you will need 19-25 points.  Specialist and Enthusiast are lower.   Jumps are worth 1 point , circles (tire, chute & tunnels) are 3 points and the joker is worth 5 points.  There are usually at least 2 jokers.  Jokers can be contact obstacle (A-frame, dog walk, teeter), weaves (usually 6 poles), double or triple jumps, or combinations.  Aside from having to accumulate a certain number of points depending on your level, you must do at least 3 jumps, 2 circles and 1 joker.  You can have 30 points, but if you only took 2 jumps, you will not qualify.  Also, the table is live at all time, so if your dog goes to the table at any time during your run, you are done.

I usually walk the course thinking of it as a regular course and try a look for a path that will flow and get points.  All obstacles can be taken twice for points and contacts can be back to back if they are performed in a safe manner, so if there is an A-frame, you can go up one way and turn around and go the other way and collect 10 points.  I usually caution beginners against doing a jump and then back jumping over the same jump, since this is not a behavior you want to encourage.  I find it is usually better to find a small circle to do 3 or 4 things for double points as this will flow better for your dog.  If you end up taking something a third time, don’t worry as this does not count against you.  If you tell your dog to take a tunnel and they pass it by, don’t try and go back and fix it, this only wastes time, go on to the next thing.  Just be sure you take another circle to make up for it.

Another nice thing about FullHouse is that you can go to the table at anytime.  Many times once I know we have the required amount of points, we just go to the table.  This will get us a qualifier, but probably won’t place very high.  It depends on what you are looking for.  The last thing you want is to have the points and end up on the other side of the field when the whistle blows and lose points for taking over 5 seconds to get to the table.  I have seen it happen many times!  Also, in CPE your dog only has to get up on the table.  They don’t have to sit or lie down or stay there for any amount of time.

FullHouse is loads of fun and once you learn the few basic rules, you will have no trouble getting lots of Qualifiers even if you did a completely different course than the one you intended!