Dog Agility Championships: Bring On Snooker & Gamblers

The Games Championship is comprised of two Games: Snooker and Gamblers. If you are really keen to learn more about each game, there is a briefing written up on the WAO home page.

Snooker is a game that most people who are new to agility absolutely hate. First of all, it is a game of strategy; do you want to go for all 51 points?  If yes, do you want to risk the shortest path to get the fastest time? So somewhere in between you have two decisions to make:  if you don’t want the fastest route, which route do you choose?  And if you don’t want the 51 points, how many are you willing to give up to have 1) A flowing course for yourself and your dog and 2) Stay competitive with the best teams that do try to get all 51 points?

At our local trials in Canada, there is sort of an “unwritten law” that we all must always try for the maximum number of points in Snooker . . . it is almost like you risk losing your citizenship if you don’t do it 🙂 . Not only that, but there may also be monetary side bets on any local Snooker run here in Southern Ontario. All of that is great prep for a “World Championship of Snooker.”

But the real reason most novices hate running Snooker is that you can take your time and plan the perfect strategy for you and your dog and if your dog drops a bar from a “red jump” in your opening you must think on your feet and re-route your path . . . the good ones can do it without a hiccup and the dog doesn’t even realize you aren’t running what you planned.

Personally as a competitor in Snooker, once I plan my route, walk it, and visualize it, I then visualize scenarios of “where will I go if the bar on the red falls or the second red and so on.” If that isn’t something you do yet as a competitor, you may want to add it to your prep for competition as it takes some of the guess work out when something doesn’t go as planned.

Another thing I like to do is plan, walk and memorize my strategy and then COMPLETELY change it once the walk through has ended and I leave the ring. I will do this if my jump height runs last or near the end of the class. This scenario has me running a course I have never physically walked, again good “thinking-on-your-feet” skills, the kind you need to be a success in Snooker.  Your first walk through gave you the spacial awareness of where all of the obstacles are on the field so changing your plan should not create any major hiccups when running. I actually did this at the IFCS World Championships twice and both times won the gold medal.

Susan Garrett winning the gold! Feature & I, receiving the Gold medal!

At this year’s WAO, our group ran very early in Snooker so a change of plan wasn’t an option for me. I walked and ran a conservative plan that gave me all 51 points but was slower than some of the faster dogs in the competition.

As for Gamblers, that is just plain fun. I rarely, if ever, practice Gamble classes at home because I really want my dogs to be brilliant at Jumpers and Standard (Agility) and I feel doing too much “distance work” can be detrimental to that. However, being a runner that isn’t as fast as my dogs, it is important that my dogs have great independent obstacle skills as well as a brilliant understanding of directionals. Both of those give your dog the ability to do well at Gamblers.

Susan Garrett, Canadian pride

Showing our Canadian pride!

Here is the video from Feature’s WAO Snooker (Bronze Medal) and Gamblers (Gold Medal) events. She listened well and performed her normal brilliant self resulting in being the overall Gold medalist in the 2013 WAO “Games” Championship.

Today I am grateful for Feature; words just don’t do her justice. Yes, she is a talented agility dog but she is an easy-going dog to travel with and is a constant source of entertainment. I hope your dog provides you with as much laughter as Feature does for all she meets.

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