Feature at the World Agility Open Championships

Posted on 05/24/11 32 Comments

Today I will go over some of my  rounds at the WAO. Sadly for Encore all of my clean runs were with Feature — that is no reflection on Encore whatsoever!

The first run for Feature was Individual agility — the first run in the pentathlon. I was conservative and got caught behind going to the close which caused a big spin. Feature and I ended up 5th in that round due to the bobbles.

The next leg in the pentathlon was a Mia Laamanen Jumpers round. Great course and Feature nailed the tricky ending which game many dog and handlers fits!


Next up in Pentathlon was another tough Mia Laamenen course — this time Standard. Feature did her thing and won that class as well (even though she did not stop on her A Frame like I asked her too:). A challenging course which I thoroughly enjoyed running!


When the dust had settled after the first 3 rounds we found ourselves in first place. The fourth round of the pentathlon we were well on our way to winning as well (that was a really tough Dave Grubel Jumpers course). I thought my biggest challenge would be getting my dog out to jump 6 — which was a major source of off courses for many. If the handler was behind with dog on right the dog cut across and took the off course at jump 8. If the handler was behind with dog on left the dog took the off course at 18. Some bit it between 6 & 7 but for most the handcuffing came trying to pull off of the tunnel (and if you did) get the dog to take the long jump straight (many went so deep towards the tunnel the cut across the long jump). Watch closely and you can see me hoof it to get where I needed to be at jump 6!

Featured sailed through all of those challenges like she read the course map in advance.

Sadly my brain and my mouth were not in sync at the end. My plan was to tell Feature to “Go!” as I rear crossed jump 18. Unfortunately my “go” cue came out as she was just clearing jump 17 which resulted in her bulleted towards the off course (and off course I don’t think any other dog took).

I felt terrible, she was cooking such a great run, flawless really. When I get a chance I will show you a compilation of a bunch of my errors at WAO, just to let you know all agility handlers are human at the end of the day.

If you are still reading (yes I know it is a long blog post) I will leave you with one of my favourite runs of the weekend. Feature had one little bobble coming off of the dog walk (a verbal cue “left” saved our butt) and I had a bobble at the end where I was planning to rear cross the seesaw  but getting out of position so I had to “wing it” with another verbal “right!” cue to save my butt! Gotta work those directional cues people!

The good ones feel great but I promise you the lessons of the bobbles are more powerful:).

Today I am grateful for Feature. Shining at the world championships with 3 first place finishes only 15 weeks after giving birth to Swagger.


  1. MRB says:
    Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 12:21pm

    Thanks for the videos. One day I might be good enough to spot the errors – urk.

    Did I hear some Ulalalas in that first pentathlon video – ie go round the backside of the jump and jump back this way?


  2. Linda says:
    Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 5:25pm

    Watching these just gives me chill bumps. You are so amazing as are all your dogs.


  3. Sue Hurley says:
    Friday, May 27, 2011 at 5:52am

    Congratulations to you and Feature. Awesome videos! You’re an amazing trainer, Susan, that’s for sure.


  4. Mary M says:
    Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 5:17pm

    Your very last statement (i.e. what you feel gratitude for) speaks to the BRILLIANCE of this dog…..truly amazing.


  5. Kas says:
    Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 8:53am

    You two are just amazing and truly inspiring to us.


  6. Trudie says:
    Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 5:39am

    I had printed out the course maps and to say they looked incredibly challenging is an understatement !
    Bravo to the cameraman, making us feel like being there and being able to hear you speak to your dog throughout the runs !!

    I see Susan Garrett’s affirmations (notably: “I am a fit athlete who works out daily” !!)
    and the Power Phrases I would say Susan shows are:
    – I have great timing
    – I love to run agility
    – Competing is fun
    – I love a challenge
    – We are one
    – We are prepared
    – I trust myself and my partner

    An outstanding dog and a great trainer.


    • shelley says:
      Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 6:38am

      Well said Trudie


      • Trudie says:
        Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 12:24pm

        Credit for power phrases goes to John Cullen from the many specific examples of positive actions given in just one of the awesome webinars in the e-course “Pre-competition Routines” ;>)

  7. Jess says:
    Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 5:26am

    Awesome – I get goosebumps watching such sensational runs. Love seeing your runs “as is” with your verbal commands included, it’s something I’ve wondered about.


  8. Karin says:
    Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 3:15am

    So fun to watch. Inspiring!!


  9. Billie says:
    Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 1:54am

    Thank you for sharing this. It is truly amazing to get this indepth look at agility at the highest level.


  10. Helen KIng says:
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 10:29pm

    Great runs on some VERY tricky courses! You both looked SUPER!


  11. Debra says:
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 7:59pm

    I don’t what to say, Susan…it’s all overwhelming to me as I’m just starting out with my BC. If I become 1/8 as good as you have done with your dogs, I will feel blessed. I can only say, you are one awesome teacher and one awesome mama to your dogs… you can tell they love you and put their whole heart in it for you. I look at those runs and don’t know how you differenciate where to go. I now I must sound dumb, but one day I’ll get there,..thanks to Recallers and Say Yes…. so loved the videos…


  12. Nikki Misak says:
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 7:28pm

    You, your dogs and all the Say Yes team are an inspiration. Was such fun following you the past two weeks. I know it is fun to strive for perfection and you set the standard very high. Congratulations


  13. Sarah Kevin says:
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 7:08pm

    I wasn’t able to figure out how to watch them live, so this is great! I was so happy last night to get through a u shaped course with only jumps, tunnels and a ring without missing. Then I see these just how far to go. I already realize I have to get them jumping at angles we have just jumped straight on. At least seeing you run them answered the questions about how to run the courses, I had downloaded that course maps.
    Great job, thanks for sharing, even the oops.


  14. Ali Barnett says:
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 7:04pm

    What stars you all are!!!

    Love the lalalalala move 🙂 How can you not enjoy running courses when you’re singing your way around them?!


  15. barrie says:
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 4:52pm


    Question: do you still play the up contact “push” game that you created for Buzz? I just reread that bit of Shaping Success the other day and those were some tough up dogwalk contacts that Feature completely NAILED!


    • Katarina says:
      Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 5:13pm

      Great question Barrie! Any hints on DW and teeter entries/up contacts? I think this is so important to train, not only because courses demand it more and more, but it’s a safety issue too, not to mention a confidence builder for the dog.
      There is a video of team Canada practice on YouTube, from FCI worlds in Helsinki or Dornbirn and Susan did DW and two jumps before it. They were set so oddly, but Encore did the jumps (with an admirable lead out) and approached the DW completely independently. It was there and then that I realised the training behind it is not only impeccable, it’s just genius!
      Contact e-course!
      Contact e-course!
      Contact e-course!


      • Shelley says:
        Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 7:05pm

        What was that Katarina……..did you mention the contacts e course?!?!?!! Come on Susan…….put us out of our misery and spill! xx

  16. Essie says:
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 12:20pm

    Still awesome in my book. Congrats to all of you!


  17. Karey Grisdale says:
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 12:10pm

    OMG amazing!!!!!!!!!


    • Michelle says:
      Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 10:27pm

      pretty much sums it up, those were phenomenal runs Susan. Your reaction time has to be so fast, Feature was flying. You both were terrific


  18. Freya says:
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:54am

    Great runs! Shame about the off-course but you can’t do everything;P!


  19. Freya says:
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:54am

    Great runs! Sham about the off-course but you can’t do everything;P!


  20. Connie Macchione says:
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:23am

    Susan, that was SO instructional–really appreciated the course maps and your comments. I also watched it live, so this is a real bonus. Thank you.
    Must tell you that I’ve been studying the One Jump video and it is fascinating to see Feature look at you, then the first jump and figure out her line. This is what I’m teaching my dog to do.
    Thank you so much for all you do!


  21. Katarina says:
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:08am

    This is a TREAT Susan! Love that you didn’t put music, so I can hear your cues/reactions, it’s really a great lesson. Now I’ll go watch some more… I saw only 2 runs, but wow, love the openings/startlines, great strategy!!! Those were tricky starts, with jumps right before DWs placed oddly.


  22. Lori Michewicz says:
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 10:06am

    You two are amazing!!!


  23. Sarah says:
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 10:06am

    thanks for posting!! really enjoyed watching all of it!


  24. Karla says:
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 9:47am

    Apparently, even watching online, my cheers and clapping response is on automatic pilot! Kudos, and thanks for video, play-by-play, and course maps…such a gift!


  25. Ninette says:
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 9:34am

    Well done! That is outstanding!!


  26. Gemma Osmond says:
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 9:02am

    She’s an astonishing dog, but then her handler isn’t too bad either 😉

    Was great to watch that last agility run live, fantastic to watch 🙂



  27. DANI says:
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 9:00am

    Absolute joy to watch 🙂 x Bobbles as well!!


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