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Dog Agility Championships: Bring On Snooker & Gamblers

Posted on 05/30/13 15 Comments

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.


  1. Laura Norie says:
    Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 12:06pm

    I’m waaaaaaayyyy behind here, but reading this post brings me to ask “why on earth isn’t Snooker” included in AAC Regionals and Nationals, if WAO can do it? Both games are part of the ATCH requirements, they should be part of the Reg/Nat requirements as well.


  2. Lori says:
    Thursday, June 6, 2013 at 10:15am

    Loved your runs and love your thoughts on Snooker. It’s by far my favorite game. I don’t know anyone that once they start playing Snooker and figure out how it works doesn’t love it.

    Great idea to switch up your plan after you walk it. Some of my very best runs have been plans that I never walked but ‘borrowed’ from someone I saw running something I liked better, with maybe a tweak to it. Two of the three SQ’s so far for my current dog came that way, including the one that completed her Master Snooker title.

    Wish AAC had the SQ concept, it really challenges you’re planning and execution.

    Lori & Ziva


  3. Marco says:
    Monday, June 3, 2013 at 3:50pm

    Impressive! Congratulations, it is well deserved. You two rock 🙂


  4. All about Dogs says:
    Friday, May 31, 2013 at 6:35am

    Well Done!! Just watching Feature on the video made me dizzy, she is fast.


  5. denise c says:
    Friday, May 31, 2013 at 4:33am

    being on the line when the buzzer goes is never about “luck” – awesome runs


  6. denise c says:
    Friday, May 31, 2013 at 4:32am

    awesome gamblers run – love the weaves. Totally love gamblers as it’s just fun and totally love snooker because it’s really about gambling and your skills as a team. Will I make the time if I opt for 51 points? if I don’t will someone else get it? In Australia there is no get out of jail card in snooker!!! That is if you make a mistake or drop a bar then it’s game over. So not only do you need to push for time for 51 pts you also have to totally trust your dog not to make a mistake – love it


  7. Louise S says:
    Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 10:48pm

    Holy moley! I’m still sitting here smiling and saying ‘wow’, goosebumps and all. That weave pole entry was A-MAZING! I love the look she gives you at the end ‘where next Mum, where next??’. Such a beautiful girl. You guys rock. Congratulations.


  8. Rebecca Jernigan says:
    Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 9:56pm

    TWO posts in the same month? I’m impressed!;)All jokes aside, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we’re grateful for another post by Mrs. Susan Garrett!!!
    I do have a question though (open to all, of course), being a bit of noob. I’m moving into the world of dog agility from English riding (eventing). When I was jumping my pony, my trainer would sometimes play a game where as I’m jumping a fence, she’s calling the next out in the sequence. In that, the main point is for the rider to watch your line and get to your fence. Is that the same thing (or very close too) how you need to approaching a Snookers course? How is it similar/different? Trying to make a connection here…sorry if it makes no sense:/


  9. Denise says:
    Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 5:15pm

    Love the gasp from the crowd on that first weaver entry. Your dogs always have the best independent weave entry skills out of all those dogs competing.


    • Shelley says:
      Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 5:08am

      lol me too, I replayed that weave entry more than once! Way to show the world how to weave!


  10. BJG says:
    Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 2:56pm

    I can’t thank you enough for the time and effort you put into the videos you create of your amazing runs. As a agility beginner with my first border collie, I love watching videos of high level competition runs. I really appreciate that you include all your course maps and planned strategy going into these runs as it is an invaluable learning tool for me.

    My young border collie and I just learned how to do 12 weaves with your 2×2 method. It worked amazingly well for us. Again, thank you for your posts and videos!


  11. Jessica says:
    Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 1:13pm

    Congratulations! She looks great!


  12. Renee King says:
    Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 11:42am

    CONGRATS!!!! And can I just say that seeing your uniforms, shirts, pants, and harnesses make me want to be Canadian! They all ROCKED!!!!

    Congrats on the Gold Medals and fantastic runs!!!!!

    You can add more amazing thing about Feature….she was a great Momma to Swagger. 🙂


  13. Anji says:
    Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 11:21am

    You and P had a great weekend! It was awesome watching your runs live!

    Loved the crowd cheers when she nailed that weave entrance in gamblers!!

    Did you know where you would be when the buzzer went in Gamblers or was that just lucky timing?!!


    • Susan says:
      Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 11:30am

      LOL I knew within 15′ where I would be. Her two wide turns (entirely my fault for not cuing them better) meant I wasn’t at the jump I thought I would be at (the next single one beside the double).


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