Wednesday, March 02, 2011

So you've finished your first novice title - Part Two

So now you're all set when it comes to the rules of move-ups. The particulars of Novice A and Novice B. But what else should you consider when you move up to Open?

Suddenly mistakes "count"
In novice you've got some leeway to make mistakes. One or two refusals, a wrong course, a table fault (or two) and a pretty generous time-fault 'allowance' too. Refusals on the weaves don't count (though you only have three bites at the apple under the September 2010 rule changes). In open weaves are judged and there are now 12 of them - every attempt at getting weave entries or pop-outs count as refusals. In the land of Open you can have one refusal on a qualifying run - so you must become more accurate in your navigation around course.

It gets harder
It used to be that the BIG difference between novice and open was the triple jump and possibly dealing with 12 weave poles (back when Murphy was in Open judges had the option to use 12 OR 6 weave poles). A lot of judges nest their courses - Open is usually the excellent course minus a couple of challenges, Novice is Open minus a couple of challenges...sometimes removing those challenges makes the course easier - sometimes if a judge is not careful, removing a jump and a challenge actually makes the open course harder than the excellent course.

There's a big jump in technicality of courses from novice to open and arguably less so from open to excellent. It's not entirely unusual for folks to finish up their novice titles fairly easily, move up to open and stay there for a while working through the increased challenge and fewer allowed mistakes (to qualify)...

Course time (SCT) goes down as the levels go up. I've transcribed the AKC rules and regulations into a handy-dandy table below - but I'll use a real life example to illustrate my point. This past weekend we were down in NH at the Middlesex County Kennel Club agility trial. The Excellent standard course on Saturday measured 173 yards for the 24" dogs. This translated to a Standard course time of 65 seconds. Here's the math behind that "65" seconds: 173 divided by 2.9 equals 59.655 - which rounds UP to 60 seconds, then add 5 seconds for the pause table. For an open standard 24" class  that 173 yard course translates to a 73 second SCT (173 divided by 2.55 equals 67.84 plus 5 for the table). In novice a 173 yard standard course would have a SCT of  84 seconds for the 24" dogs (173 divided by 2.2 equals 78.636 plus 5 seconds for the table)...Some of this is hypothetical because it's incredibly unlikely that you'd ever have a 173 yard novice standard course - though I suppose it's possible. For illustration purposes though (and all other things being equal) a dog having trouble making course time in novice is going to have a harder time making SCT in Open and Excellent - and time faults become more costly in Open and Excellent A (no time faults allowed in Excellent B).

AKC Yards Per Second8"12"16"20" and 26"24"
Novice Standard 1.85 yps2.0 yps2.15 yps2.25 yps2.20 yps
Novice JWW2.30 yps2.5 yps2.75 yps3.0 yps2.80 yps
Open Standard2.25 yps2.35 yps2.50 yps2.65 yps2.55 yps
Open JWW2.8 yps3.0 yps3.25 yps3.5 yps3.30 yps
Excellent Standard2.50 yps2.7 yps2.85 yps3.1 yps2.9 yps
Excellent JWW3.05 yps3.25 yps3.5 yps3.75 yps3.55 yps

Want to figure out you're own YPS? It's equally easy (though I'm pleased to have "an app for that"). Take total course time and divide it by your time: 173 (yards) divided by 42.51 (seconds) equals 4.07 yards per second - in Excellent standard that would translate to 22 MACH points.

What else you ask?
Stand by for part three when I'll discuss what I'd do - - and what I'd tell my agility kidz to do.


Kennedy said...

Great table you included! I love it.

"sometimes if a judge is not careful, removing a jump and a challenge actually makes the open course harder than the excellent course."

Oh wow, are you ever right! We experienced some of this the hard way when we were in open. Loved the time where we came off the a-frame and there was a jump before the tunnel and, in the open class, the jump was to be circumvented. For excellent they took it. Yikes! But, I was told time and time and time again, the difference between novice and open is more difficult than open and excellent. It's really true for the most part although excellent, as we know, means perfection (with the exception of excellent a and a slight over time allotment).

. said...

Its tough..after watching a friend go through the process to become a judge there's a lot more to course design than the average exhibitor thinks - what is and isn't a discrimination, what is and isn't a "challenge" or an off-course possibility. It's not really about a judge's course design skills - its about making sure all the required elements are on the course. I'm much happier designing sequences for classes my own training - much more free-form and a lot less restricting.

Presuming that excellent exhibitors pay the bulk of judges' salaries (and do vote with their entries) whether directly or indirectly there's some pressure to make the excellent courses flowy and fast with (relatively) high yardage and SCT. That same pressure isn't there for open and novice classes (which around here lately are 10-15 dogs total).

From a trial chair perspective (and exhibitor satisfaction) it's important that judges nest their courses as much as possible to allow for fast turn-over from class to class - minimizing course building labor - but also saving one wants to still be on-site at 7:30pm running novice jumpers.