Jamie's Comeback After Injury
and a couple of questions about elementary

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Three rosettes and a medalWhen your dog is injured there are times when you wonder if he will ever get back to normal.   At seven years old I was beginning to think that Jamie would never recover his full strength again.  He'd had a hind leg strain that put him out for agility for a couple of months and left him a lot less fit than normal.  We've had to work so hard to get there so it was with great delight that we finally gained our first clear rounds of the season.  The boy done good at the Cornwall Agility Show.  A nice clear in Starters Agility and only just out of the places.  Then 6th place in Elementary Agility and a medal for the best club member.  Finally we made twelfth place in Elementary Jumping.  All this on a boiling hot day too.  

Here's a couple of questions people have asked about elementary

How fast do you need to go?

I have been asked how fast you have to go to get a place in an elementary class.  This is impossible to say as courses vary so much and it depends on the size of the class.  Jamie took 36 seconds to get round the agility course and into 6th place.  We could have saved time at the dog walk but I slowed him down to get the contact.  We could also have done tighter turns at the risk of knocking a pole.   The weave could have been a lot faster but Jamie doesn't do fast weaves in hot weather so I didn't force it.  It all depends on whether you want to go fast and risky or slow and clear.  There were just over a hundred dogs in this class.
In the jumping class we took 26 seconds and only just got the 12th place out of over a hundred dogs.  The course was straightforward and was run a lot faster by those suffering less from age and the heat. I don't know the winning time but at least one dog had done 21 seconds.  I hope this gives you some idea of what you have to do.

Update: 8th July 2011 - Six years on and the courses are still just as variable.  In a jumping class you generally go faster than in an agility class.  If it's an easy up and down course in grade one some of the dogs are going to blast round in a silly time.  If you can do this go for it.  On the agility courses always make sure your dog is safe on the equipment.  Never race at the contacts at an angle and take particular care on the see-saw in wet weather.  Always straighten your approaches if you can.

How do you tackle the weave?

One thing I noticed as watched the elementary jumping class was how many handlers failed at the weaves.  I watched dog after dog run towards the weave ahead of the handler only to be surprised by a sharp voice yelling "HERE!"  Each dog ran past the weave entry before going back to the handler.  All forward momentum was lost and the dogs were left wondering what they had done wrong. 

The best thing I ever taught Jamie was to go into the weave on his own.  When he's going over a jump before the weave and he's ahead of me I tell him "Weave".   That way he knows what's coming next and what he has to do.  None of our momentum is lost and we gain valuable seconds.  He's not a fast weaver and on a hot day  he's not going to gallop through the poles but at least he keeps going.

Those still in elementary might like to see a movie clip of Jamie's elementary agility round.  I'm afraid the husband failed to notice me running in the elementary jumping so we don't have a video clip of that one.  In starters he couldn't get a proper view of the course so that's out as well.  Oh dear.  Such are the joys of trying to record at outdoor shows.

Update: 8th July 2011 - The clip shows jumps at the elementary height 24".  They are now 65cm for large dogs which is nearly two inches higher.  With hindsight, just look at those lovely running contacts off the see-saw and A-frame. I never fully appreciated how good Jamie was. I wish I'd clipped his coat in the summer!


Elementary Agility
Cornwall Agility Club Show
9th July 2005

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