With WT Tryouts coming up I'm really starting to obsess over it. I really have no expectations going there aside from doing our best, however I think I have a lot of practicing to do in order to do our best! My main goals at WT tryouts are to get through all 5 rounds without an off-course (clean would be ideal, obviously) and to keep within the top 10 of the large dogs. Last year there were 42 dogs entered. In general, 10 out of 42 dogs doesn't sound like it should be that hard to do but of course these are some of the best 42 dogs in the country who are not only fast but consistent and probably waaaay more experienced than Icon and me.
There are a lot of elements seen on european courses that are either seen here infrequently or never seen on our courses. For example the combination jumps. There are also a lot of serpentines and 270's (seen here as well, but not quite as much), threadles (not allowed in courses here) and more pulls. Way more pulls. Tight turns out of tunnels are frequent. Also some really ugly weave entries. These are all things I need to perfect by May. Or at least be able to look at a course with these elements and not freak out over how I will handle it.
One other thing I've noticed about looking at the courses from one of the 2008 WT judges is that she seems to like funky tunnel shapes. I'm not sure what Icon would do in a funky shaped tunnel, but I think I've got to try that out to see. I expect it will slow him down a bit and allow me to get into position, but it won't hurt to try it out.
As part of my obsessing I've been watching (ok, re-watching) a lot of videos from the 2007 Worlds. I've tried a couple of the courses when Sandy or I set them up, but I've never tried the Large Team Std course and there are some interesting elements in there that I would like to try. One is the weave entry that I think can be added to pretty much any course. When watching the videos I was surprised at how much people shaped that entry. I would definitely agree that it's nasty enough to warrant some shaping, but some people actually brought them around in an arc wide enough to give them about a body lengths worth of a head on approach.
The above portion of the Lrg Team Std course looks like a sequence where the men were separated from the boys, and I from the videos I watched, not many were even passed puberty! Not that I could have done it any better, to be honest. But I want to try! A lot of dogs managed to make it through this section, but not many made it through PRETTY. The hardest part seems to be the turn from the
tunnel and from what I see the main reason that the dogs are going wide is that after depositing the dog in the tunnel after the serpentine, the handlers rush in to pick up their dog at the tunnel exit to try to get a tight turn. However, that running towards them (even when the dogs are in the tunnel and they can only hear, not see) appears to make the dogs think that the will be going forward out of the tunnel, not turning. I haven't been able to find a run where the handler doesn't do the 'rush in' move and i haven't been able to find a run where the dog turns nicely out of that tunnel. Coincidence???? Perhaps... but perhaps NOT!
The full course is below: