Author Topic: Jump Safety  (Read 3381 times)

Diane Whitney

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Jump Safety
« on: November 28, 2012, 02:43:06 PM »
This is a photo of my dog Byrdie at champs. It makes me cringe.



Ever since I got this photo, I've been meaning to post about the safety of these metal jumps. I know a number of people whose dogs have been injured on them, including my own. Fortunately, my procrastination has been rewarded, as just in the past few weeks, several prominent agility handlers/bloggers have posted on the same subject much more eloquently than I could have.

Steve Schwarz of Agility Nerd is trying to raise awareness of the dangers of this type of jump. His blog post discusses the dangers of this design and links to several sources of safer equipment.

Linda Mecklenburg also believes this type of metal jump is dangerous and discusses why on her blog.

Daisy Peel has posted a podcast on the subject of equipment safety focusing on metal jumps. It's a bit long, but has a lot of thoughtful observations about jump design that I haven't heard elsewhere. (She also enthuses about our wonderful conveyor belting contact matting, even if she doesn't mention NADAC by name  :) ).

I know that some will say they have never seen an injury caused by this type of jump. Here is a sampling of the kind of injuries that are occurring, from posts to another list (copied with permission). Steve Schwarz's post also contains several photos of dogs injured by these jumps.

My Josie has slit her eye open twice on metal jump cups.  Once was about 4
years ago in training, and she was only turning tightly as she's been
taught to do.  The second time was just this past September at one of the
only clubs I know of that still uses metal jumps (half are metal, half are
PVC).  I see dogs crashing jumps a lot, and it makes me cringe.  I have
been lucky that the cuts on Josie's eye haven't been a few cm one way or
the other, as the result could have been permanent damage.

At the Dallas USDAA Regional in 2008 or 2009, I met Liz McGuire from
Florida for the first time.  I have a red BC, she was running a shockingly
speedy red Aussie, and unfortunately our paths crossed when her smokin'
fast red Aussie crashed into one of the metal jump cups and he wound up
needing something like 18 stitches on the inside and 25 on the outside to
put him back together.  I'd say that's cause enough right there.

***

My dog caught his lip on a metal jump cup, it was not pretty. He came out of the ring, licking and rubbing the whole side of his muzzle, his gums were bleeding as the metal tore the inside of his mouth. They should be outlawed.

***

A little over a month ago, my 6 1/2 yo bc Bliss either slipped or miscalculated the takeoff or turn and hit a metal jump with her face.  At first it looked like she was simply lame on her left front but I noticed blood in the corner of her left eye.  A closer look revealed a laceration to the lateral corner of her eye with a puncture wound that opened up to the cavity behind the eyeball.

The vet who treated her immediately and the Ophthalmologist both claimed they could not measure how close Bliss had come to filleting her eye and the Ophthalmologist said he would not have been able to save it.  A fraction more force, a tiny shift in timing or take off would have been disastrous . . . .

There has been much speculation regarding the safety of plastic jump cups.  In the past few years alone I have personally witnessed an Aussie requiring multiple stitches in the knee from hitting metal cups, a bc with a hematoma on his chest the size of a nerf ball and multiple facial lacerations.  Since the plastic strips have come along I have yet to see injuries like this.  I remember in a seminar I was hosting a Malinois took off late for a double jump and landed straight down on it.  She sheared off four jump heights on both sides of the jump!  I had never seen anything like it and I shudder to think of the injury she would have sustained had the cups been metal.

***

Two years ago, my young BC crashed into a one piece metal jump in class and he came up very lame.  I usually don't worry about his face or eyes since he jumps 24/26 so his eyes are above the cups. . . .  Anyway, after looking him over, I found that he had a clean cut about 1/2 inch long completely through the skin on the back of his leg, right above his left rear foot.  I'm not sure how he managed to do that but it was a clean cut so I assumed he somehow caught it on a metal jump cup when the whole jump swung into him when he crashed.  There was nothing else for him to get cut on.  The cut ended up severing the distal flexor tendon of one of his toes so that toe is now permanently flat. How many more dogs need to be hurt before agility organizations mandate safer equipment? 

The jump should break before the dog does. In my view, the problems with metal jumps are twofold: 1) the unused metal jump cups pose an unreasonable risk of eye injury or puncture to the dog, and 2) the heavy steel construction, especially when combined with a fixed connecting bar at the bottom, makes the jump nearly immovable when a dog collides with it, and if the dog does succeed in taking it down, it poses a further risk when falling.

What are the solutions?

This is a simple, inexpensive jump available from Launch the Dog. This style of single-cup jump is nearly ubiquitous in Europe. I think it would be pretty easy for clubs to make a homemade version of it, too:



Even the simple PVC jumps with Clip and Go strips that most of us use in training would be much safer. The plastic is softer, the edges are rounded, and because it's on a PVC jump, if the dog hits it, it should fall away.

I don't believe this is a training issue, or an issue related to the tight turns seen in other venues. My dog shows only in NADAC, but took a metal jump cup to the ribs and came up lame. Dogs will look for the most efficient path, and sometimes they will misjudge. Handlers will mistime cues. Knowing that mistakes will be made, and knowing the dangers of this type of jump, is it fair of us to continue to use them?

To put this in a different context, imagine if this were a piece of playground equipment, meant to be used by a child in the same way that a dog uses it, and a child lost an eye, cut its face, or severed a tendon. What if that happened when several other kids had already been injured in the same fashion? Would we expect the equipment to be changed?

If you've read this far in my long post, I know you care about dog safety, too. I choose to show in NADAC largely because of this venue's willingness to put the dog's well-being above all other considerations. I realize that this isn't something that can happen overnight--there are economic realities--but I'm hopeful that we can discuss this issue and start to think about how we might make some changes. Of course, we should always not only point out problems but also be part of the solution, so I stand ready to help with fundraising for safer jumps at any of the clubs whose trials I attend. I even have a couple of ideas for fundraisers. :)

Thanks for your consideration of this issue.

Diane Whitney

Sharon Nelson

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Re: Jump Safety
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2012, 03:43:50 PM »
Yes, we have been discussing jump cup issues for many years.  Alex made an awesome single jump system.  Alex is from Phoenix, AZ.

Chris made several prototypes several years ago....... but no one seemed very interested in reducing the number of jump cups to ONE!!  Most clubs thought the couple seconds to change the height was not worth it for trial purposes....

We have been trying to get rid of the metal jump cups since 2004.... to no avail...

When we brought it up years ago, the reaction was that the clubs would stop offering NADAC if we banned the metal jumps..... maybe if AKC is behind it, then maybe clubs will listen to them.....

This is not a new topic.... just a new one to AKC... we got blasted worse than anything we have ever done when we "suggested" using jumps without the metal jump cups.... but, oh well...

Sharon
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Amanda Nelson

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Re: Jump Safety
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2012, 04:57:49 PM »
My boyfriend Josh has been working on a new jump design that would make it much safer for the dog and would also keep all the jump cups, instead of having to move one up and down with the bar. He is still tweaking the design, but I LOVE them.

As Sharon said, NADAC has  been dealing with the jump cup issue for years, but not a lot of impact has been made to push a new type of jump/jump cup through. Hopefully that will change soon!

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Diane Whitney

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Re: Jump Safety
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2012, 08:09:18 AM »
What would be the objection to using simple PVC jumps with Clip and Go strips? It would solve nearly every problem, it would be super cheap, and bar setting would take the same amount of time. I'm not even sure that course setting would take any longer--I'm a small person with a bad back and I can carry three sets of PVC jumps, but I sure can't carry three metal ones.

Diane Whitney

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Re: Jump Safety
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2012, 08:15:50 AM »
I'm sure most people have seen the Clip and Go strips, but just in case:



Sharon Nelson

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Re: Jump Safety
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2012, 09:49:31 AM »
I'm sure most people have seen the Clip and Go strips, but just in case:



I have seen dogs hurt on clip and go, just like the others..... the point should be to remove that "extra" jump cups... and get down to jumps that have one cup only....  the one that has a bar on it!

Sharon
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dogrsqr

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Re: Jump Safety
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2012, 10:12:59 AM »
PVC jumps don't work very well outside when the wind is blowing. 

Our club has 40 jumps that we store in a trailer.  I think we spent about $100/jump for the metal ones.  Back 5 years ago we probably could have afforded to buy new ones, but with trials getting smaller and smaller we're pretty much just treading water. 

We chose to buy the metal jumps because they are compact, store easily, and take up a fairly small amount of room in the trailer as the feet are removable or can turn to be flat with the jump.  PVC jumps and anything with fixed feet are a bear to store and pack.

I know our instructor has always preached watching the dogs line around jumps.  She really makes us think about how close the dog is to the jump support. 

Any sport we do with our dogs will have risk associated with it. Actually just living presents us with risks.  I knew a dog years ago that lost one eye due to and injury playing fetch with a stick.

Gina Pizzo 

Diane Whitney

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Re: Jump Safety
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2012, 10:20:53 AM »
I absolutely agree, and The Launch the Dog jumps meet that description at a reasonable cost and are readily available. But if, as you say, clubs object to the time spent setting bars (which doesn't seem to be a problem in all of Europe, with much more crowded trials than the average NADAC one), then the Clip and Go strip meets that objection. It's not perfect, but would eliminate the risk of the most severe injuries, be inexpensive, and bar setting would proceed exactly the same as always.

Sharon Nelson

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Re: Jump Safety
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2012, 10:35:32 AM »
The PVC jumps are great indoors and on perfectly level surfaces.... but there is a reason that we quit using them 20 years ago at outdoor trials.  Back in the 90's all clubs used PVC jumps or the giant wooden jumps.... the big wooden ones were a pain to move and the PVC ones fell over all the time in the wind.

I think they would be great if they could be used on less than "perfect" outdoor surfaces and in the wind.

Going to a "one cup" method solves the hitting against the jump cups issue.

We cut all of our 24" cups off our jumps and the highest one is 20"... (and I think those should be removed and only have 16" and lower at funraisers.... but that is a different topic)  It greatly reduced the risk of hitting the jump cups when the 24" was removed.

Norman and I worked out a magnetic bar and it was AWESOME!!  But no one wanted to use it because they would have to replace their uprights with ones that had no jump cups!

We have been fighting this battle for a long time.... and no one would ever listen because they felt it was a training issue... interesting that it is now an issue again...

Sharon
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dmadrid

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Re: Jump Safety
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2012, 10:46:41 AM »
Even shearing off the highest jump cups won't fix the issue completely, of course, since this is not just a 'big dog' hazard. 

I love the idea of magnets, though!  If the proper magnet strength was used, a magnetic jump cup would be relatively easy to adjust AND would be displace-able.  brilliant!
Danielle

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Re: Jump Safety
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2012, 10:50:11 AM »
With all due respect to everyone involved and their posts . . . in over 20+ years of agility, I have never personally witnessed an injury caused by a jump cup; but I am sure that they happen.  Over the years, handlers have gotten so obsessed over shaving 1/100ths of a second off off their dog's time, that they've taught the dogs to run increasingly tighter to the uprights and the cups . . . so does the fault rest with the design of the cups/bar supports or with handlers taking unnecessary chances with their dog's health???

The problem that I personally see is that most jump cup "strips" try to accomodate every height in every registry . . . I've seen some go from 4"-26" in 2" increments . . . and these strips slow down bar setting, too.

NADAC has 5 jump heights, 4, 8, 12, 16 & 20".  It simply is NOT that difficult to buy a jump cup strip and cut individual supports . . . and some places even sell individual cups/bar supports.  All that needs to be done is to drill a hole above the cup (identical distance on each and every cup) and attach a pin to each cup (flat head machine screws work well, especially if the hole on the cup is counter-sunk so the head doesn't protrude into the "bar's space".  Cover the threads with a piece of vinyl tubing of appropriate size to fit over the machine screw diameter.    Drill a series of holes in the uprights that match the outside diameter of the vinyl tubing so that the top of the bar mounted on the cup will be at 4, 8, 12, 16 & 20".  If drilling into round material, you'll need to make a simple V-shaped jig to hold the post "true" once it marked and while it is being drilled.

For competion use, mark the edge of the upright where the cup sits against it.  Cut a small piece of velcro (grippy side) to fit on the back of the cup (above or below the pin doesn't matter" . . . and then cut 5 matching pieces of fuzzy velcro and place them on the upright to match the grippy velcro on the cup.  This gives added stability to the cup . . . and I would recommend using the "Industrial Strength" velcro . . .

OK, someone is going to mention that they or their club do other venues with other jump heights . . . Sorry; but I just don't sympathize because someone wants a "universal" piece that is everything to everybody.  I've done a TON of home remodeling and ANYTIME something states "universal fit", I'm pretty dang sure that it ain't a gonna fit whatever it is that I got . . . 'cuz it rarely does.  Make interchangeable uprights to fit your bases that are specific to each venue . . .

Jumps are pathetically EASY to make . . . and just NOT that expensive to make, even for a club that needs 2 or more rings' worth!

I played around with the idea of single cup jumps some years ago when this topic came up because I built quite a bit of agility equipment over the years . . . and I was at my "peak" at that time . . . I've since retired . . . 

If you want to have a "protect the dog from a bone-headed handler" (IMHO) proof jump, it's simply NOT that hard to make one! . . . but realize that it's going to take time to be accepted and for folks to get speed at changing jump heights, so trials will run longer!  Horrors!!! <LOL>

Over my years in agility, I've seen many more equipment changes made as a result of needing to offer the dog some degree of safety because their handler was so focused on winning at any cost . . . and the dog always paid the price . . . than I have seen changes made because of inherently faulty "engineering" designs in the equipment.

Agility has an inherent amount of danger in it . . . that's a fact . . . accept it . . .

A chainsaw can kill . . . and often does . . . that doesn't mean that the chainsaw has a flawed design . . . it generally means that the operator wasn't correctly trained in it's use . . . or got careless . . . or ignored protective equipment . . .

In the case of jumps, "protective equipment" for the dog is learning to work within the center 2/3 between the uprights.  That still provides for a very reasonable path, efficiency-wise . . . and is handler pro-active in protecting their dog's health.

It's EASY to blame the equipment; but in and of itself, it is rarely the true root of the problem . . .

Al Ceranko in Ohio   
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Janice_Shavor

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Re: Jump Safety
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2012, 11:22:27 AM »
If we have a one cup jump standard, would that be legal for VT runs?  If so, what would you need to see to evaluate the height is correct on them?
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Sharon Nelson

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Re: Jump Safety
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2012, 01:41:57 PM »
If we have a one cup jump standard, would that be legal for VT runs?  If so, what would you need to see to evaluate the height is correct on them?

Yes, they are legal for VT runs.... they do need to be displaceable!!

Sharon
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Shirlene Clark

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Re: Jump Safety
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2012, 02:43:35 PM »

Norman and I worked out a magnetic bar and it was AWESOME!!  But no one wanted to use it because they would have to replace their uprights with ones that had no jump cups!

We have been fighting this battle for a long time.... and no one would ever listen because they felt it was a training issue... interesting that it is now an issue again...

Sharon

I would be more than happy to grind off the jump cups on all my metal uprights and use a magnetic jump bar ....i think that would be awesome !
Shirlene Clark
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Diane Whitney

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Re: Jump Safety
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2012, 03:34:15 PM »
Grinding off the metal cups and replacing with magnetic cups doesn't solve the problem of the heavy steel jump and bottom connecting bar making the jump nearly immovable when the dog collides with it. Here is a video of a dog hitting the upright, not just the bars, with his shoulder, and coming up lame. The jump hardly moves. If a dog hits a jump that hard, we WANT the jump to fall apart. The jump should break before the dog does.