Thursday, August 2, 2012

Connecting the Dots

Sabine Westhauser posted a video of a course she ran with her dog, Shorty, which you can see here.  She does a handling maneuver at :47 seconds that I thought was just so cool that I decided I have to set up the entire course as soon as it cools off enough that I'm willing to go outside.

I converted Sabine's course map from meters to feet.  (Here's a link to Sabine's original course map.)  

Sabine and Shorty make this look so easy in the video.  When I studied the course map, I thought OMG there's no way Belle and I can get through this course.  Then I decided I would break the course up into smaller sections and decide what my best handling options were.  By making wise choices about which way to turn your dog after 2, 4, 9, 10, and 17, you can instill a fair amount of flow into the course.

For those of you interested in an excruciatingly long description of how I decided to run this course, that information follows in the next few paragraphs.  (If your eyes start to glaze over, just scroll down to the video.)   The regular text indicates how I thought I might run the course from looking at the course map.  The italicized text indicates any changes I made based on actually walking the course.  The bold purple text indicates adjustments I made after working on the course with Belle.

I decided I would lead out to #2 and wrap Belle to the left while doing a front cross so that she is on my left going to #3.  Post turn at #4 and wrap Belle to the left and rear cross on landing side.  It should be easy to layer #4 while doing the rear cross.  This will put me in a good position to do a front cross on the landing side of #6.  Leading out from Belle's left side allowed me to give her a more vivid indication of her path to #2.  A blind cross between #6 and #7 is sufficient.  
Take Belle over #6 on my right and do a rear cross at #7 and a blind cross between #8 and #9.  Post turn at #10 followed by an immediate rear cross and a push so that Belle will wrap to the right.  Take Belle over #7 on my left, do a post turn to #8 and a rear cross between #8 and #9.  (A better way to handle the turn from #10 to the dog walk might be to blend the post turn into a blind cross so that I wrap around the right wing with Belle on my left side.  That would take the off-course #1 jump out of the picture.  No way that's going to work.  Being too close to the landing side lead to all sorts of problems at #10.)
From the dog walk to the A-frame is pretty straightforward.  (I failed to remember that Belle won't drive to the end of the dog walk unless I'm moving.  I also didn't appreciate how difficult the weave entry is.  We worked on it, but before running the course in its entirety, I moved the weaves about three feet to the right to make the entry less difficult.)  The only difficult part will be getting into position quickly enough to handle #15 to #16.   This is the turn that sparked my initial interest in this course.  Sabine positioned herself at the left wing of #15 facing toward #16.  She called Shorty over jump #15 and then wrapped him around both the wing and herself so he would approach #16 from the proper side.  I'm hoping I can do the same thing, but I'm not sure I can get there before Belle completes the A-frame.  (Getting there proved to be no problem.)

I have indicated the path I would like Belle to take from #15 to #20 in red.  It seems to me (at least on paper) that there are several different handling options I could use here, and I will have to walk the course to figure out which will be the smoothest for us.  For example, wrap around handler at the left wing of #15, post turn at #16, post turn into blind cross on landing side of #17, dog on left over #18, push to #19, rear cross, and dog on right to tunnel.  (That is how I finally chose to do it.)

Here's the video of our first two attempts to put the whole course together.


  1. It's an honour and I'm glad you are analyzing the course that carefully. It's great to see that more people are interested in how I manage the course. It's fun to create courses this way - It's almost like a workout together :-)

  2. What video editing software do you use, and what microphone? It looks/sounds very good. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I use PowerDirector for almost everything. I have found it to be the most intuitive and feature-packed video editing program available for a reasonable price. The two biggest drawbacks are program stability and loss of sync between the video and audio tracks of the video clips. Most video software for the home PC suffers from stability issues. I ran across a tip several years ago that greatly decreased program crashing. Namely, turn off the auto-save feature and remember to manually back-up or save your work every few minutes. When I'm doing intensive editing, I try to remember to save after every new cut or addition to my project.

      The loss of sync between video and audio is a little disconcerting, but it is only an artifact of viewing in editing mode. It is not truly lost, and the tracks sync up just fine in the produced video. It really is only a problem when trying to match clips note for note to music that I have dubbed in. For example, in this workshop video , matching the original sound track to the one I dubbed in was pretty important. There was a lot of repetition of the musical phrases so the job was even more difficult. Once the audio from the clips started drifting in PD, I started pulling out my hair and resorted to using Adobe Premiere Elements. There was no drifting of the audio track until I started adding text and transititions, which fortunately I didn't do until I had all 13 clips exactly where I wanted them. I was also surprised how stable Premier Elements was. Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing intuitive about this program from Adobe. It also doesn't include all the bells and whistles that you get with PD. Or maybe it does, and I just can't find them ;-)

      My mike is an inexpensive Sennheiser headphone mike, which is a noise-canceling mike. I adjust the input levels when I record since my voice is rather loud and cause clipping if I don't.

  3. Love your quilts. Could you send me some larger pictures. I'd love to make one of my Maxie's ribbons.

    1. I'm so happy you asked. I didn't realize the link to my quilt website was broken. Here is a link to my online quilt photos album:

      Here is a link to my Ribbons to Quilts website: