Tuesday, March 16, 2010

More on 24" weave spacing.

In January I posted this video comparing Teller's weave pole performance on both 20" and 24" weave pole spacing. Once I put together and really studied this video I was even more convinced that the right thing for our dogs is for governing bodies to mandate the larger spacing - and make that change now - not phased in over two years - NOW.

Two weeks ago at the trial in Greenwich, I asked Teller to do 20" poles - the first time I've worked him on 20" spacing in well over a month. Why would I do that? Well, that's the spacing provided by the facility and host club. Perfectly legal weave poles in AKC, CPE and USDAA - perfectly sound, quality equipment. We threw away our first run because of some floundering in the poles - thankfully Teller came back in subsequent runs having figured out the shorter spacing - gawd I love a thinking dog! So this week in preparation for another day-trip to Greenwich, I've worked Teller on the 20" weaves at Waggles. He's confident and happy going through either spacing but I'm neither confident nor happy about the shorter spacing.

I've left my weaves at Waggles for the winter - so all of the agility dogs that train there are seeing them from time to time. My observation is that once the dogs figure out what has changed, they all rapidly adapt and finish with a faster more confident weave performances. This is true for the 4" dogs and its true for the 26" dogs.

The case for the 24" spacing has been made - a quick search of youtube reveals several  videos comparing weave pole spacing - in every case dogs look more comfortable and safer in the larger spacing. Yes, there's a short learning curve on the 24" poles - the keyword being short. Without exception after a couple of reps,  dogs are weaving the new spacing comfortably.

The AKC board of directors has on their plate the recommendations from the 2009 agility advisory committee. In that report is a recommendation to mandate the 24" weave pole spacing, phasing in over time to allow clubs to update their equipment gradually. I think most clubs that rent equipment (in the Northeast that's primarily from Max 200) will ask for and use 24" spacing from this point forward. I'd also imagine that those clubs that don't ask for 24" spacing will have the larger spacing because that is what Max 200 will provide - just as they automatically provided 22" spacing as recently as last year. What is the incentive for existing facilities to upgrade their current weave poles to the 24" spacing?

As an exhibitor I have a couple of options: first I can "vote with my trial entries". I can and will choose my trials based on weave pole spacing - just as I'll choose entries based on facilities, proximity to my home or proximity to affordable and clean hotels. There are so many trial options in the Northeast now - no club or venue is the only game in town anymore - which is a good thing for all exhibitors.

I'll continue to lobby for the larger spacing, I'll continue to train primarily on the 24" spacing and I very much hope that AKC hears the fancy's pleas to make agility safer and healthier for our dogs. I urge members of the agility community to continue to make their opinion heard - write to AKC, write to hosting clubs and to the host clubs out there please specify 24" poles to your equipment provider and advertise your weave pole spacing on your premium lists...

My comparison study (from January) 
Teller's second session on 24" poles:

20" poles in competition for Teller
(SAAC - March 6-7, 2010):

24" poles in competition for Teller
(EESSC - February 20-21, 2010):

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