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Distance Challenges

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I'd like to try and qualify my "young" dog for Starter Stakes at Champs this year so I'm wanting to try the Distance Challenge lines/boxes. The last two that I have encountered have both had parts of the course that would be a true challenge for a Silver or Super Stakes dog. The most recent course we had, "Latigo", was great for the "forward" version of the course (had a strip going horizontally across the middle of the course) but was (in my opinion) *much* too challenging on the "reverse" version where the line only allowed about 1/4 of the course on one side and the hardest portion had the A frame and a tunnel in between you and the dog's path about 30 feet away. This wouldn't be a "normal" challenge we'd see for Novice or Open Chances nor would it be a "normal" challenge we'd see for Starter Stakes.

I do remember when the Distance Challenges were first put into place, they were very fair for a Starter dog and handler. Where I live, we saw *lots* of people giving them a try. They loved the opportunity and (I think) were pleasantly surprised at how well they and their dogs could do! It was fun to have people get a nice first step into Bonus work - a step that was doable but still a challenge *for that level*. Since they've gotten much more difficult, people don't even consider trying them any more. This is a very sad thing for me to realize as I love the Bonus program and would like to see it grow rather than shrink.

So, at this point, I'm wondering what the criteria is for the design of a Distance Challenge so I might better prepare for it? I do realize that not all courses lend themselves to a Distance Challenge but I would think many more would than for a Bonus box - so please give us more!  ;D I don't know who is designing the courses and setting the lines/boxes, but my suggestion might be to keep the Distance Challenges towards the middle-ish of the course, either in a (larger size) box, strip or line and be cautious of what might have to be layered when handling.

Many thanks for listening and I'm looking forward to lots more Distance Challenges!


Cathie Cage:
I agree with you Kyle!! I have noticed that also, I always loved bonus lines but with the course sets that I have encountered lately with the new course designs have taken a back seat for me. I will still work my distance with Coleby but won't be doing bonuses anymore.

Linda W. Anderson:
I agree with Kyle and Cathie.  I am concerned that anyone who "might" want to get into Stakes will be discouraged by the new course designs.

Amanda Nelson:
So I am going to jump into this conversation.

Distance challenges and bonuses are determined by each course individually. Where the boxes or lines are placed depend on the courses design, handler position, distance challenge, and directional challenges, some courses meet this requirements and some do not. Some courses will have bonuses and no distance challenge, and some may only have a distance challenge.

I would like to talk about the course that Kyle is referencing. The distance challenge line on the Regular version of that course was a vertical line that ran through the entire course. The furthest obstacle away was 40 feet, with that in mind, most Elite Chances course range from 20-30 feet from the line to the furthest obstacle.  If you go back and look at last years Championship courses, the Starter stakes line was an average of 40 feet from the furthest obstacle, and sometimes that line was as much as 60 feet.  So I do not feel that the distance challenge on that course was unfair to starter stakes level dogs.

And I would also like to give my opinion on bonuses and distance challenges in general. Bonuses and Distance Challenges are something that is not going to be for every dog, and I like think of them as their own level and something I work towards once I have achieved my goals in Elite. (NATCHes, Speed Stars, whatever they may be)

So yes, they are going to be hard, and no, in my opinion they should not be something that every dog at the trial will earn. But I will say that I have changed the boxes and the lines A LOT from what they were in previous years, they are bigger, more lines, and less distance between handler and dog. Yes, each course will vary a little, But I have been working towards making sure boxes are bigger and give the handlers more “room”.

And with the larger lines/boxes and the “new” courses (And I will say that term bugs me a little bit) I have had more bonus submissions in the last couple of months, then almost all of last year.

Those are my .02 and some facts. I shall be ready with my flame suit.

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I’m a little discouraged to be honest by this whole thread.   The bonuses have come down in difficulty in a huge way.


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