Collecting Challenges

Posted on 01/03/10 28 Comments

Since last week, when I put out the idea that you all should run out and get five weave pole and contact challenges from three elite agility handlers, some of you have come to the conclusion that I should provide you with the actual challenges to try. You guys are cracking me up!  Okay lets recap, I outlined the program, I promised to help you to improve your weaknesses once we out line them and now you want me to give you the actual challenges as well?

Aaaaah no, nor will I come to your home, set up the obstacles or run your dogs for you either:). There is coaching that is provocative, inspiring and challenging and then there is spoon feeding. The later is not my style at all, but kudos to all of you that tried:).

If you want to take part in the $5 Challenge, you need to do the leg work yourself. Here is what I will do though. I will facilitate.

I am not suggesting you all email Greg Derrett for your challenges but he certainly is one of the many qualified elite handlers that could contact.
I am not suggesting you all email Greg Derrett for your challenges but he certainly is one of the many qualified elite handlers that you could contact.

I will encourage anyone that has a challenge to post it here. Those of you that go out and gets a challenge from others ask for permission to post them publicly. This will be our first Pay-It-Forward event of the year.  You will be not only helping yourself but helping all those that read this blog. Just post your findings in the comments section of this post under a title identifying it as either a “Weave Challenge” or “Contact Challenge” and share what you found Ideally it will be in the format of CRCD (Clean Run Course Design) or in a pdf, gif or jpg.

Who to contact?  I did suggest you contact seminar presenters (not including me:)) or other elite agility competitors. There must be at least 30 – 50 people out there doing agility seminars right now. You can also look at former world team members and don’t just think Large Dog Team members either. There are lots of talented handlers that have represented their counties in the small and medium dog classes (can you tell it annoys me that of all the 30 the seminar presenters out there that that you can name, likely no more than 3-4 are small dog handlers— and it has nothing to do with the talent level of the small dog handlers!).

If you can’t get any of these people to help  (we must be at well over 200-300 people now) go to your favorite venue’s homepage website, look up the list of judges and email one of those to get their toughest challenges they have ever put out. Now if within this pool of 1000 or more people you still can’t find someone other than me to turn to for help, go and look at your old course maps that you have saved and find the sequences that has stumped you over the last year.

What’s that? You don’t save those course maps? (my European friends, you are exempt from this exercises since I know you don’t get course maps)  Those old course maps are a great source of improvement –so a good New Years resolution would be to save them AND use them. Review/improve your challenges and weaknesses by going back over these course maps.  Okay what if you have never trialed in agility so don’t have any course maps. There are lots of judges (especially the European ones) that post their courses on their own website.  So start googling!

As a coach I like to see some initiative, an internal drive from my students (and I have adopted you all as my students– in one way or another), to get out there and show me some hustle while they are waiting to be hit by their next training epiphany. Now get out there,  find your challenges and then come back here and post your findings. Either post the individual “Contact” or “Weave” challenges or post the websites where others can find course maps.

Today I am grateful for everyone that is out there collecting challenges to help each other in the drive to save five bucks.


  1. Nelci O'Brien says:
    Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 9:24pm

    Weave Poles and A-Frame challenge

    Ok, better late than never 🙂

    I went to a Tracy Sklenar seminar this past Saturday and she had this awesome and challenging Weave Poles and A-Frame Challenge (including handling). We enjoyed a lot, and I hope you do to:

    Begin Course Designer
    Version 3
    For a free viewer, go to
    End Course Designer


  2. Patricia says:
    Sunday, January 10, 2010 at 11:55pm

    Weave Challange

    I enjoyed the way this course left you needing to trust your dogs ability to seek out the weaves.

    Begin Course Designer
    Version 3
    For a free viewer, go to
    End Course Designer


  3. Wendy Atkinson says:
    Friday, January 8, 2010 at 12:58pm

    Thanks everyone for the help….didn’t know to include the “Begin….
    all the way to the End Course Designer” and the problem was I was trying with Lynda O-H’s second map on her Jan 6th 10:05pm submission which only gave me a text box and Kim’s Jan 7 2:55pm submission, which just keeps giving me an error message in course designer. Just my newby bad luck. Tried it with other’s submissions with success. Went throught the help section of CD, but only found the bit about .agl files…..was starting to wonder if I had to save out the gobledy-gook as a text file and then change the extension to .agl……but didn’t think it should be that much work….
    Anyways, got it now and Ollie is a happy puppy, but maybe not later this afternoon….heh, heh, heh (evil laugh).


  4. Michael Gooch says:
    Friday, January 8, 2010 at 8:37am

    This is exactly why i endorse ALL forms of agility…every venue. Why? A jump is a jump is a jump. I challenge myself. Period. If i want to challenge myself with a simple jump or sequence…i give it distance ’til we push the edge.
    Never focused on beating anyone else…because i have one thing, and one focus. My dog, and my challenges.
    No judge can challenge us…because our challenges are just as unique as our own dog, and our own relationships. Their critique is pass or fail…and our criteria is FULL of variables.


  5. courtenay says:
    Friday, January 8, 2010 at 2:59am

    Wendy, just copy from “Begin…” to “End Course designer”, then open the software and press ctrl +V or go to “edit” “paste”


  6. jo says:
    Friday, January 8, 2010 at 1:52am

    this is for wendy. I think you have to highlight the post from where it says begin course design to where it says end course design. then copy in the usual way. Open course design programm then paste


  7. Kim says:
    Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 11:27pm

    Select the whole course description,(all the goobly goop) including the “Begin Course Designer” and “End Course Designer” lines. This is what you copy
    Open Course Designer 3.
    In Course Designer 3, click on the little clipboard icon (10th from the top left)
    I had to look it up by looking under the help tab and going into the table of contents, there is alot of info there.
    Hope that helps!


  8. Steve says:
    Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 11:21pm

    Susan – this is a great idea. There is nothing like a little (cash) incentive to increase the pressure on the handler to make the environment more like a trial situation for the handler…

    I’ve collected my favorite weave, contact and handling challenges in a post over on my blog:

    Some have multiple sequences and some have video with me and my dog Meeker trying different handling approaches.

    I hope they are useful to folks giving this challenge a try!


  9. Wendy Atkinson says:
    Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 10:05pm

    No, seriously, how do I look at the courses youz guyz have submitted? I have the free viewer… I cut and paste? if so, what do I cut and where do I paste? help!

    owned and trained by Ollie-man, who is getting frustrated with me for not having figured out this map thingy yet


  10. Kim says:
    Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 2:55pm

    What a cool idea!

    Here are a couple of my favourite weave drills…

    Begin Course Designer
    Version 3
    For a free viewer, go to
    End Course Designer


  11. laura, big dog of team small dog says:
    Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 3:18am

    Here are some challenges from one of my favorite agility pals, Nancy Gyes.

    Nancy sent me:

    A sporty little number that she uses to kick tushes of potential World Team members.

    A really, really hard European Standard course from one of the judges of World Championships this year.

    A little cutie pie she likes to call Nightmare Weaves


  12. laura, member of team small dog says:
    Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 2:23am

    All right. Here’s a little ditty we just ran tonite, so me and Gustavo can’t do it as a challenge, but it was a fun little sequence with a challenging pole sequence, made up on the fly by Rob Michalski. Maybe someone else would like to run it.


  13. Wendy Atkinson says:
    Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 1:09am

    Ok, maybe I had too much egg nog at Christmas, or too much pudding with brandy, or too much champagne at New Years, but can someone explain to this newby just what am I supposed to click on in order to look at the challenges? I did download Course Designer 3 and installed it. But now what? I’m feeling like a novice dog whose momma just did a landing side front cross with the opposite side airplane arm while running the wrong way calling out my sister’s name!

    lkjhsdoiuaweiuq3948e98q3487q34hdfjbvuckcoadpo89fvajfdlksdfglm to everyone out there! Just kidding, I have no idea what that would look like…

    owned and trained by the Ollie-man


  14. Lynda Orton-Hill says:
    Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 10:07pm

    Oops my CRCD weakness shows… Liked this because it tests lots of peices of contact performance! Running or Stopped…

    Begin Course Designer
    Version 3
    For a free viewer, go to
    End Course Designer


  15. Lynda Orton-Hill says:
    Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 10:05pm

    For Laura’s Training Endeavours!

    Can’t take credit – Im sure I learned it from Susan along the way… Weave Pole Entry Game.

    Begin Course Designer
    Version 3
    For a free viewer, go to
    End Course Designer

    This contact sequence from the full course from the 2010 Judge Bob Griffin’s course – available The whole course is Page 4 of this document

    Begin Course Designer
    Version 3
    For a free viewer, go to
    End Course Designer


    • Susan says:
      Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 10:23pm

      Nope Lynda, that one is all you . . . although I do like the innovation!


  16. Helen Verte says:
    Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 8:47pm

    OK…I got permission from Bud and not only is this one free, I got an extra freebie. A free course viewer and the experience of using it for the first time. Very interesting. (That should count extra.). After I got it downloaded and counted, I figure this course should count for all five weave challenges. 🙂 He said:

    “Here’s a devil of a weave pole exercise for you:

    Begin Course Designer
    Version 3
    For a free viewer, go to
    End Course Designer

    Good distance training begins with independent performance of an obstacle. And for speed and reliability the approach and entry are integral to the overall performance. Some will think that this is an “ugly” sequence. But it fact it is about the ultimate test in the dog’s understanding of weave pole performance.

    Bud Houston”


  17. Mary M says:
    Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 7:59pm

    So some of my reasoning for not positing is that my free trial of the clean run software ran out…..and as little as I need to “create” courses in such a designed fashion (I usually drawn them by hand) I could not see purchasing it at this time.

    With that said I will do my best to throw out some easy to write out (versus use diagrams) challenges. I see these challenges at a level of novice-intermediate dog……not necessarily a more advanced dog as these won’t have much to do with their understanding of more difficult sends and handling or object discrimination (BTW- I think that is was is difficult about this challenge, you have to know “what you have trained” to get a true assessment of if the pressure is the issue or if it truly boils down to lack of understanding on the dogs part… while I will put these ideas out, be fair to the dog you “have”).


    1) I like to try out my dog’s ability to be in extension and still hit his/her weave entry (especially pole two) before I decide to ask for weaves at a trial. So I set up 2-3 jumps in a straight line directly before the weave entry (I have the weaves closer then regulation between obstacles typically would be to push the envelope so to speak) and run with them in extension to the weaves and see how they do …..Note: this can be fairly physically demanding on the dog and unless your dog has a great understanding of their hind they may fail and that will speak to where you should focus your energy. So this exercise could be adjusted based on your dog’s skill level…..

    2) Go sit in a chair set up at the middle point of 12 poles and send your dog to the weaves…… (No other objects in the environment) and see what happens….

    3) Send your dog into the weaves and pretend to fall down (right next to your dog is best…..I learned my dog was not completely obstacle focused in his weave performance with this one so I went back to 2×2 stuff to get better “true” understanding of his job)

    4) Try a very far away send to the weaves…..does your dog accelerate with the release or look at you like “mom/dad aren’t you coming too?” if they look at you they may be relying on your forward momentum and not complexly independent)


    1) Try this only if your dog can be safe in this type of entry – set up any contact and try a send to the object with a pull (either side) from the middle of the object with you pulling the dog towards the entry and see if your dog will enter from a straight line on the bottom of the object or if they decide to take a “flying leap” onto the obstacle…..this would speak to working that entrance to the contact.

    2) Okay so I said no discrimination but this is a basic one….set up a tunnel under the dog walk or a-frame so that the opening of the tunnel actually blocks the entrance and is closest to you and the dog when approaching the entry…..send dog out to contact obstacle and see if that tunnel sucks them in or not 😉

    3) Assuming you have a two-on-two-off send your dog to a contact and just as they reach the bottom take off like a raging lunatic (in any direction) hooting and hollering (oh yeah and you can pretend to fall again if you like ;-)…..see if they stick to their criteria…..takes running past them to a whole new level.

    4) Send your dog onto any contact obstacle and just as they hit the entry take off backwards… they come off or complete the object?

    Anyway, I was not sure if this was the type of challenge we are looking for….but all of these experiments with the obstacles have proved very helpful for me in my assessment of where my dog is at and what I need to go back and clean up in their understanding.

    Hope others find this helpful….have fun and BE SAFE…..especially with the contacts, again I will re-iterate know the dog at your side and what you have trained them….and be fair!

    Happy New Year,



    • Susan says:
      Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 8:20pm

      Thanks for taking all that time to write those out Mary!


  18. Peg Hammond says:
    Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 3:44pm

    Susan, This blog is wonderful and the idea of collecting challenges great!
    Sometimes I feel as though everything is a challenge for me. Since I do read and very much enjoy your blog very much I will do my best to find a way to
    take part it in!

    Thank you!


  19. Helen Verte says:
    Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 8:15pm

    It’s not free, but it’s got a heck of a lot of sequences in it – Agility Training in a Small Universe, an e-book by Bud Houston. I bought it last year. It’s $18, but has 800+ sequences for small spaces, which is what I have to train in. A small space. He divides the book into chapters by small-space size. 🙂 It’s on this page It’s very nicely organized. I’m going to pull it out for help with Susan’s $5 challenge.


  20. Val says:
    Monday, January 4, 2010 at 12:53pm

    Here’s a link to some USDAA course maps


  21. Katarina says:
    Sunday, January 3, 2010 at 5:54pm


    A few challenges from courses by one of my favourite judges, Mia Laamanen from Finland (she judged World champioships in 2006).

    Two weave entries AND exits (and many more like this on most of her courses):

    Contact challenge:
    Dog walk/tunel discrimination and a nice turn after a-frame:

    And a twist after dog walk:



    • Susan says:
      Sunday, January 3, 2010 at 6:29pm

      Mia is awesome, these are bound to be doozies!


  22. Cat says:
    Sunday, January 3, 2010 at 4:57pm

    Susan, this is SUCH a great idea. I can’t wait to get started. 🙂


  23. marc from NL says:
    Sunday, January 3, 2010 at 3:09pm

    Here are some dutch courses, sorted by judge.

    some more I bookmarked: (<< nice one)

    just to get you started 🙂


  24. Course website cruiser says:
    Sunday, January 3, 2010 at 1:53pm

    For those of you that either don’t save maps or can’t save maps there is now a website posting maps for you to check out. Maybe some challenges, hint, hint!
    These maps are from all different venues and organizations, enjoy!


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  1. […] than 10,000 visits to my blog this week I have only gotten 5 of you that have contributed to the challenges I urged you all to submit.  Hmmm […]

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