It is quite hard, after training so nicely, and researching so much agility STUFF, to be presented with the unexpected.
And I don't mean "shitty courses". I am sure my sheltie and I can take anything a judge throws at us that is done according to the rules... it's the other "stuff" that comes along with the Agility & Jumping competitions...
As a judge myself, I believe in giving the competitor the best advantage to succeed with their dog, within the rules, and I try and make sure they have a good time, win or lose, clear, faulted or eliminated. But WHY oh WHY do some judges insist on making things difficult!?
We had the first show weekend of the year this weekend... 2 days, with Contact, Non-Contact & Dog Jumping on each day... There was 1 judge per day.
Saturday appeared to be going smoothly (well, as smoothly as it can go with a learner judge loose on the course). When the Agility was finished, the course was changed for the Dog Jumping. The second handler got to the line and was ready to begin, only to be yelled at across the arena by the judge to get rid of her toy... huh?? The toy had been dumped quite far behind the handler on the outside of the arena, not in the sight of the dog. The judge repeatedly insisted that it was to be picked up and moved 10cm (yes, 100mm) to where she wanted it... BIZARRE!
It was explained that the new rule that will be coming into our sport on 1 April would be applied NOW in her ring (with no mention of it in her briefing, I might add). The new rule will state something to the affect that rewards of any kind may not be within 10m of the arena.... ok..... so the date on Saturday was 01 Feb, and the toy was 3m outside of the arena............... what next!?
Actually yes, what happened next was that some handlers let their dogs tug with their leads into the arena... Holy crap what a terrible thing to do! Someone had a dog lying at the start, in the arena, ready to begin when the judge started waving her arms about and yelling for the lead to be removed.... It had been placed behind the dog on the boundary rope of the arena (no, we do not have lead stewards). The judge marched straight at the dog and reached behind the dog and picked up the lead and placed it elsewhere...... Yes, WTF!?
What advantage could there possibly be for any dog by having it's tug lead behind it, while running onto the course? What could the possible reasoning be, for such pedantic (imaginary) rules to be enforced? And why do people think it's ok to approach other people's dogs like that? If a dog HAD left the course, it would be eliminated.. so what's the problem!?
Another handler decided to play along and counted 10m from the boundary opposite the last jump, and placed her toy there (in the middle of nowhere). The dog actually took the last jump and was sent screaming straight out, across the grounds, for a further 10m to get his toy..... in my opinion "baiting" but it was apparently allowed...........
The mind boggles!
Incidentally...... Saturday's judge was a scribe on Sunday.. the scribe table was IN the ring, directly behind the start (and I mean 6m from jump no1).. She was sitting there, with her dog lying under the table........... How on earth does it compute that, that is alright?? Daar is geen woorde!
Then.. amidst the smokey haze of bush fires, the other handler issues, sideline squabbles... my dogs did really well. I stayed out of it all and actually had a super time with them!
And it happens all over again in 2 weeks' time....