Author Topic: Distance Challenges  (Read 4305 times)

Kyle

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Distance Challenges
« on: February 20, 2018, 09:41:05 AM »
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!

-Kyle
Kyle
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Cathie Cage

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Re: Distance Challenges
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2018, 02:45:55 PM »
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.
Cathie Cage

Linda W. Anderson

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Re: Distance Challenges
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2018, 03:05:34 PM »
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.
Linda
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Amanda Nelson

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Re: Distance Challenges
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2018, 03:47:58 PM »
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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support

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Distance Challenges
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2018, 03:48:10 PM »
I’m a little discouraged to be honest by this whole thread.   The bonuses have come down in difficulty in a huge way.

Chris


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Kyle

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Re: Distance Challenges
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2018, 04:48:06 PM »
I think some folks may have misunderstood what I was talking about and I am sorry about that! I am not talking about the 20-30 point Bonuses, I am *only* talking about the 15-20 point Distance Challenges. I have been really happy - SUPER DUPER HAPPY - about all the Bonuses I've been seeing and feel that their placement and size are just fine. I have no problem with them!  I'm just asking that perhaps some of the Distance Challenges need a second look. That's all.

The "Latigo" course on the reversal - yes, the line goes all the way up and down the ring but, no handler would *go* where I think you're talking about Amanda.  :) There were 3 of us (Bonus type people) who chatted about it and we all agreed that for a dog and handler team starting distance work, that line just didn't work for that course. (Just FYI - those two Bonus folks did try the Bonus box on that course.  ;D)

Honestly, I don't know about the whole "new" courses idea, I'm not seeing "new", so please don't think that's where I am coming from.  I certainly did not want this to be a beat down on the Bonus courses, it was absolutely not my intent. My Bonus dog is permanently retired from agility and I really want my young dog to hurry up and get ready to do them!  ;D One good way to do that is through Distance Challenges and I was kind of hoping that my input might help.

Thanks,
Kyle
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Amanda Nelson

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Re: Distance Challenges
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2018, 05:04:24 PM »
I am talking about the Distance Challenges as well and I don’t feel that they are beyond the scope of a Stater Stakes level dog. As I said above, the Championships lines for Starter Stakes averaged around 40-50 feet, which is what the Distance Challenge lines on weekends are now. (And yes, there will be some courses where they are further, depending on the course)  I would be very hard pressed to make the Distance Challenge lines easier. Again, I view the Stakes program (Bonus and Distance Challenge lines/boxes) as another level after Elite, and I think moving the distance challenge lines even closer than 40 feet is basically making them a glorified Chances line and I don’t feel that is a direction Chris and I want to go.
Amanda 


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Marj Vincent

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Re: Distance Challenges
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2018, 05:25:27 PM »
  I judged courses this past weekend that had many Distance Challenges and Bonus boxes on the course and the DC were about 45' from the farthest obstacle. I found the boxes to be more central on the courses, huge and very doable IF you had the right skills. And I am not talking about just lateral 45' distance skills. A bonus/DC dog has to have many more skills in their tool box then the average 20' distance handler. I had many people attempted the Bonus/DC boxes at the trial, not all were successful. But I saw way more people trying them then ever before. People that are not trying to get into the Stakes at Champs. They just wanted the challenge. 

I did observe that if a barrel was required at a distance, handlers will not even attempt the boxes.  I asked them why. And they said,  they haven't trained the skills required to perform a barrel at a distance or they didn't trust their dog to do them correctly (it's all about the Q sometimes). But it was never thought of undoable, just something that was not in their dog's skill set.

 

   
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Kyle

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Re: Distance Challenges
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2018, 05:35:30 PM »
The distance away from the dog wasn't my concern on this course. It was the dog not being able to see the handler on what we considered the hardest part of the course due to the layering of the A frame/tunnel, that was the issue. Once again - pure distance isn't my hang up for starter dogs, it's what they are required to do.  ;D

Thanks,
Kyle
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Amanda Nelson

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Re: Distance Challenges
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2018, 05:38:48 PM »
Sometimes that will be part of the test :-)  Some dogs excel on those types of courses (handler not being as visual) because they have stronger verbals, and other dogs will not. I have one of each, so i choose courses/lines that will work best for each one. 
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JimmyS.

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Re: Distance Challenges
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2018, 06:01:32 PM »
From the very beginning I was always taught that some courses just weren’t gonna be a course for you and/or your dog, ESPECIALLY when talking about Bonus’/ Distance Challenges. It kind of goes along with the old saying of “you win some you loose some”

I can completely see the layering of the A-frame/tunnel being difficult for a younger dog on Round 2 with the horizontal line, but I do not see the issue with Round 1 that has the vertical line. It gives you all the freedom to get up and help them on the other side of that A-Frame/Tunnel.


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LFuller

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Re: Distance Challenges
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2018, 07:22:29 PM »
I have been an active proponent of the bonus program for a decade.  It all started at my first Champs in 2008 when I saw all the amazing handlers and their dogs working from such incredible distances.  I remember thinking to myself . . . I REALLY, REALLY want to be able to do that.  I was hooked! Ten years later and three wonderful distance partners and that feeling hasn’t changed.  I still love it and I want the people that I work with to feel that same excitement that comes with giving a bonus attempt a try.

I have been in sports all my life and I love NADAC and the sport of agility and the bonus program.  I am concerned, however, with the lack of new, excited people stepping into our bonus/distance program. Where are these new people?  In my area alone, I would hope to see at least a half a dozen new Starterstakes teams each year. Unfortunately, that’s not at all what I am seeing.  Amanda, I know that you have looked at the bonus program and have tried to increase bonus area sizes, change locations, and add more distance lines in the hope of encouraging more participation at all levels. I certainly believe that this helps, but, my concern is that I think we are missing a “place” for the Starterstakes team.  There is an area between the Elite Chances line and the Distance Challenge line that would fit them. The area would be hard enough to present a challenge, yet a team could be successful if they had solid skills and proper timing.  A beginning team needs a chance to succeed. As it is set up right now, I don’t think there is that chance. I don’t believe that a beginning Starterstakes dog and a Silverstakes dog have the same skills to operate from the same location as is currently required. Like the Chances class, there is a progression of distance needed to move from Novice to Open to Elite.  Why not have a progression of distance and area size to move from Starterstakes to Silverstakes, to Superstakes?

I’d love to see trials that are crowded with people excited about taking a shot at a course from an area where they will definitely be challenged and will need to have it all together to succeed.  I think a scenario like this could happen.
Linda Fuller

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Re: Distance Challenges
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2018, 07:53:38 PM »
I have been an active proponent of the bonus program for a decade.  It all started at my first Champs in 2008 when I saw all the amazing handlers and their dogs working from such incredible distances.  I remember thinking to myself . . . I REALLY, REALLY want to be able to do that.  I was hooked! Ten years later and three wonderful distance partners and that feeling hasn’t changed.  I still love it and I want the people that I work with to feel that same excitement that comes with giving a bonus attempt a try.

I have been in sports all my life and I love NADAC and the sport of agility and the bonus program.  I am concerned, however, with the lack of new, excited people stepping into our bonus/distance program. Where are these new people?  In my area alone, I would hope to see at least a half a dozen new Starterstakes teams each year. Unfortunately, that’s not at all what I am seeing.  Amanda, I know that you have looked at the bonus program and have tried to increase bonus area sizes, change locations, and add more distance lines in the hope of encouraging more participation at all levels. I certainly believe that this helps, but, my concern is that I think we are missing a “place” for the Starterstakes team.  There is an area between the Elite Chances line and the Distance Challenge line that would fit them. The area would be hard enough to present a challenge, yet a team could be successful if they had solid skills and proper timing.  A beginning team needs a chance to succeed. As it is set up right now, I don’t think there is that chance. I don’t believe that a beginning Starterstakes dog and a Silverstakes dog have the same skills to operate from the same location as is currently required. Like the Chances class, there is a progression of distance needed to move from Novice to Open to Elite.  Why not have a progression of distance and area size to move from Starterstakes to Silverstakes, to Superstakes?

I’d love to see trials that are crowded with people excited about taking a shot at a course from an area where they will definitely be challenged and will need to have it all together to succeed.  I think a scenario like this could happen.
I love your thinking, Linda.  2009 was my first Champs and my first exposure to Stakes.  Zia was already great at Chances, so I tried my first bonus and was successful!  At that point I was hooked.  Had I failed, I might not have continued.  That's why I love your idea of progression.  While the Distance Challenge lines/boxes are easier than Bonus Boxes, they are still considerably harder than Elite Chances.  Perhaps there could be several "challenge" areas within the Regular course similar to the ones on the Champs courses rather than having most of the course "off limits".   We need to help anyone who shows interest Stakes be successful.
Linda
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Chris Nelson

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Re: Distance Challenges
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2018, 08:42:58 PM »
I guess I really only have one question.

Why do the boxes and lines need to be so much easier in 2018 then they were ten years ago?
We are supposed to be improving, or at the very least staying the same in our skill levels.

Why has the bonus program gotten to the point where in order for people to be successful it needs to be set at a distance comparable to a hard elite chances line?

I think the problem lies elsewhere personally.   I am not fully accepting that in order to get people into the program we have to make it easier then it's ever been.   

Bonuses are essentially a entire level above Elite.   I would absolutely love for there to be a rule that you cannot even attempt a 'bonus anything' until you have a superior title on your dog in that class.   Because doing bonuses is not a given right for every dog.    It's something exponentially harder than running a normal Elite level course and something that is earned.       It is not something you can just go out and do because you want some distance with your dog.

So why are we trying to make it like that.    If it's just going to be a glorified chances course, which is what everyone is proposing.   30 feet is just a hard chances line.  then just dump the bonus program and give them a chance at some extra points by running at a distance.  But remove the special awards, remove the special divisions at champs.      Remove everything that is making people do it for the wrong reasons.

Go back to the basics and stop giving out awards and titles for a skill that started out PURELY by elite level handlers who were bored running elite level courses and wanted an EXTRA challenge.    And were more than happy to fail 90% of the time because failing but being challenged was better than succeeding but being bored.

If everyone wants the lines to go back to where they were at the very inception of the bonus program, then great.   But so will the titling program for bonuses, which is to say there wasn't one.   


LFuller

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Re: Distance Challenges
« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2018, 09:23:17 PM »
Oh, Chris . . .
Linda Fuller