Jumping style

Laurelin

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#1
Is there a structural reason that makes certain breeds tend to jump differently? I notice BCs jump very flat and long often. Poodles tend to jump very high and short. A lot of Belgians I've seen seem to collect kind of unusually (they also seem to jump high and shorter).

Just wondering. I was watching a doodle practicing and it definitely had the 'poodle jump'.
 

Shai

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#2
Short answer: Yes. Definitely. Generally has to do with angles and balance.
 

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#3
Absolutely. The "poodle jump" is, from my understanding, the result of a short and relatively inflexible back. A lot of Aussies jump in a similar style from what I've seen.

Some of it is training with a lot of dogs - dogs who aren't trained to jump 'correctly' will jump however they do naturally. Some dogs are naturally good jumpers (Meg has pulled one bar ever in a trial, and jumps like show hunter), some are more interesting.

The border collies, I'm not sure if it is conformation or training. They are such fast, flat dogs running, that I think they need very specific work to learn to collect. Otherwise they turn into lawn darts and take down half the bars!
 

Laurelin

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#4
Short answer: Yes. Definitely. Generally has to do with angles and balance.
Care to post the long answer?

Absolutely. The "poodle jump" is, from my understanding, the result of a short and relatively inflexible back. A lot of Aussies jump in a similar style from what I've seen.

Some of it is training with a lot of dogs - dogs who aren't trained to jump 'correctly' will jump however they do naturally. Some dogs are naturally good jumpers (Meg has pulled one bar ever in a trial, and jumps like show hunter), some are more interesting.

The border collies, I'm not sure if it is conformation or training. They are such fast, flat dogs running, that I think they need very specific work to learn to collect. Otherwise they turn into lawn darts and take down half the bars!
I've noticed the high/shallow (is that the right term?) jumping in poodles, belgians, and then some aussies. Other Aussies and belgians seem to jump nicer though.

It doesn't seem like other breeds jump as flat as BCs, even very very fast dogs.

It's interesting.
 

Shai

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#5
Well I mean there's not really one answer lol. There's a reason there are whole seminars and books and DVDs on this stuff. What I've learned is based partially on that, and mostly on spending thousands of hours watching dogs run agility.

And to every rule there is just one exception after another.

There are a lot of poodles in agility but I've never personally seen a Standard who jumps well. Between the short back and the (usually) ramrod straight fronts they just sort of fling themselves over.

Belgians in general seem to jump big and have trouble turning over the bars. Probably the same reason they are so good at the big jumps required in some of the protection sports and dock diving. Many seem really straight and stiff...from pastern to back to front/rear angles.

Retrievers are often front-heavy and bigger boned. Angles vary hugely...from very well angled to imbalanced to straight as sticks. But even the lighter boned retrievers like FCRs tend to be front-heavy for agility, and some have so much front it impedes them. They are bullets in the water but we're talking jumping styles. Then there are very moderate retrievers who tear up a course and compete right up there with the BCs.

GSDs are the opposite extreme. Most are so overangulated for agility and with such soft pasterns and such that is undermines their stability and ability to get off the ground or land safely. Probably 90% of the GSDs I see run preferred (4" lower jump heights) for this reason, and they still struggle.

One of the only breeds I can think of that seems to be as flexible on an agility course as BCs are the Shelties. There are reasons these breeds are so common and it's not just the biddability and such. They have long (but not too long) flexible backs.

And like I said it varies a great deal. And you have to really watch the dog, watch the handler, watch the clock. See the course type. Big open flowy courses will favor open, extended jumping styles. Tight technical courses will favor a dog who really turn over the bar. The best dogs can do both. Which as BB said is a combination of both training and physical ability.

And honestly really good training is going to get you farther than incredible athletic ability, as long as the dog is sound and reasonably athletic. Because when the dog has the training to be very efficient on course, make every stride count, accel/decel appropriately...they have a huge advantage on course in terms of time, consistency, and longevity of career.

All this is just my opinion of course so take it as you will :) And as I said, for every "rule" especially in terms of generalizations of how breeds move on course, there are endless exceptions.
 

Laurelin

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#6
Very interesting! And it follows what I've seen myself very closely. I guess it all depends on how serious I want to get in agility with my next dog. There is so much more to think about in agility than I ever would have dreamed.

I was wondering if the minis jumped better than standard poodles. It seems that way from the ones I've seen.
 

Shai

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#7
I was wondering if the minis jumped better than standard poodles. It seems that way from the ones I've seen.
That could be true, I don't know. It does seem like more little poodles are bred *for* agility than Standards which are often show lines and bred for that show ring trot. Generalization, I know, but we're speaking generally here.

However, when you are looking at the littler dogs, it can be deceiving. At least in AKC, CPE, etc. where all the dogs run the same course regardless of height, for the little dogs there is really no such thing as a tight/technical course (at least to a certain degree). They can run all out all the time...almost the entire course is spend in full extension or maybe partial extension. Even in a jump wrap they don't have to go to full collection because they still need to run around the jump wing, so as long as they angle the jump and are efficient about stay near the inside upright they are good. So they can get away with big flat jumping arches...or rather they are rewarded for it...because even when they jump big they don't land *that* far beyond the jump and there are a lot of strides to work with between each obstacle.

Now to be the Best of course you are competing against dogs who also have the same advantage so I'm not saying efficiency isn't important, but you just don't see the extreme toggling between extension and collect nearly as much with the little dogs as with say the 20" class.
 

Laurelin

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#8
That makes sense and is something I never really have thought about. It seems in a lot of ways running a small dog is easier both in that aspect and then the fact that the dog walk/teeter are a lot wider comparatively for a little dog. I've only ever done any training with little dogs.

Shelties aren't that big though, either.
 

Shai

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#9
That makes sense and is something I never really have thought about. It seems in a lot of ways running a small dog is easier both in that aspect and then the fact that the dog walk/teeter are a lot wider comparatively for a little dog. I've only ever done any training with little dogs.
Well...okay I've run dogs at 8, 12, 16, 20, and 24". Vast majority at 16 and 24". I do think it's easier to consistently Q with a smaller dog. There is just more margin for error. You make a handling error with a little dog and you have a couple strides to fix it where as with a big dog you've just NQ'd with an OC or bar down or refusal or whatever. And by error I just mean a slight misbalance of cues or rotating your shoulders or taking an extra step...whatever. Something smaller. It's still going to cost you time but it's less likely to cost the Q.

And you're competing against folks who have, as a rule, the same advantages/disadvantages you do so if you are going for blue... :)
 

Laurelin

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#10
Is that part of why there is so much push to breed small BCs and small shelties? Or is that something else? Just wanting to stay out of the 'BC classes'?

If I do end up with a sheltie (which is looking very likely right now) I'd want a bigger one.
 

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#11
Is that part of why there is so much push to breed small BCs and small shelties? Or is that something else? Just wanting to stay out of the 'BC classes'?
I think a big part of it is trying to get out of that darn 22" height class. Interestingly enough, what I'm seeing in our area is suddenly the "big people" moving into the 26" class. We've got a top competitor in our region who has a BC that I swear is half horse. He's not competing yet, but she specifically went out looking for a big dog. And she's not the only person I know. It makes me wonder if, in the next few years, the 16" and 26" classes will be the huge crazy ones. They've certainly gotten more competitive in the years I've been competing (not many, compared to a lot of people here).

As for the small dog/large dog thing - I think it is a toss up. I have friends who breed and compete Cavaliers, and do exceptionally well with them. They get a lot of flack for running small dogs and not getting "real" agility dogs. They run twice as fast and far as most big dog handlers, because you don't get the momentum and distance on the little dogs as easily. They train their contacts as hard or harder as anyone I know, because even little dogs can jump the yellow in big extension. Some things are easier with big dogs, some are easier with little dogs.
 

Shai

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#12
As for the small dog/large dog thing - I think it is a toss up. I have friends who breed and compete Cavaliers, and do exceptionally well with them. They get a lot of flack for running small dogs and not getting "real" agility dogs. They run twice as fast and far as most big dog handlers, because you don't get the momentum and distance on the little dogs as easily. They train their contacts as hard or harder as anyone I know, because even little dogs can jump the yellow in big extension. Some things are easier with big dogs, some are easier with little dogs.
Yep walking off the course with Webster, I'm always breathing harder than I am with Kim, Mira, or the BCs I run sometimes. More running.
 

Laurelin

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#13
I think a big part of it is trying to get out of that darn 22" height class. Interestingly enough, what I'm seeing in our area is suddenly the "big people" moving into the 26" class. We've got a top competitor in our region who has a BC that I swear is half horse. He's not competing yet, but she specifically went out looking for a big dog. And she's not the only person I know. It makes me wonder if, in the next few years, the 16" and 26" classes will be the huge crazy ones. They've certainly gotten more competitive in the years I've been competing (not many, compared to a lot of people here).

As for the small dog/large dog thing - I think it is a toss up. I have friends who breed and compete Cavaliers, and do exceptionally well with them. They get a lot of flack for running small dogs and not getting "real" agility dogs. They run twice as fast and far as most big dog handlers, because you don't get the momentum and distance on the little dogs as easily. They train their contacts as hard or harder as anyone I know, because even little dogs can jump the yellow in big extension. Some things are easier with big dogs, some are easier with little dogs.
Do the shelties count as 'real' agility dogs? I've never heard that before. It's kind of funny to me.

What keeps the 22 inch class so competitive?

I guess most shelties run 12 or 16?
 

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#14
The border collies, I'm not sure if it is conformation or training. They are such fast, flat dogs running, that I think they need very specific work to learn to collect. Otherwise they turn into lawn darts and take down half the bars!
Story of my life... :wall:
 

Shai

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#15
'real' agility dogs? I've never heard that before. It's kind of funny to me.
Honestly the only people I've heard that sort of thing from are people I probably wouldn't want to hang around with anyway...no matter what breed I was running!

But yeah there are a few of those around. It's funny, when I "just" ran my dogs and we did well that was one thing...but when I started running a friend's BC for her for a bit, all of a sudden I was a Real Agility Handler. Cuz der was a BC. It was so utterly ridiculous.

And heaven forbid you have a Sheltie or BC who isn't fast...
 
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#16
Belgians in general seem to jump big and have trouble turning over the bars. Probably the same reason they are so good at the big jumps required in some of the protection sports and dock diving. Many seem really straight and stiff...from pastern to back to front/rear angles.
Yes! I am working to try to get Pan more flexible over jumps, but it's very slow going. She much prefers to jump then turn as opposed to turning while in the air. Pan also is not the greatest at judging distances at speed and has a weird jumping style where she tucks her rear legs under her instead of extending them.
 

Shai

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Yes! I am working to try to get Pan more flexible over jumps, but it's very slow going. She much prefers to jump then turn as opposed to turning while in the air. Pan also is not the greatest at judging distances at speed and has a weird jumping style where she tucks her rear legs under her instead of extending them.
Good luck! Pan is in good hands, for sure!

A friend of mine with a Mal just got so fed up...the dog just had a terrible time turning over bars...handle could angle the approach but other than that it was straight across every time. No wrapping the uprights, it was jump-land-turn. Just had no flexibility through his back. That she could manage from handling standpoint though it wasn't ideal...what was so frustrating was any time she would go to an agility seminar, the instructor(s) (usually BC folks) would hone in on this and all the advice she would get was about getting him to flex over the bar...and after a while she'd just be like...I KNOW and yes I am working the whole list of everything to get him flexing can we please move on and critique my handling or anything other than this??? After a few times of this happening other folks would start to chime in to back her up so she would get something out of the seminar other than yet another lecture about how her dog isn't flexing over bars...:rolleyes:
 

Laurelin

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#18
Good to know it's not too many people like that, Shai. It seems silly to me that people wouldn't consider shelties to be a 'real agility breed' since they're so well represented.

I've seen quite a few slow BCs and shelties though too. It's not like every dog in a breed will be fast.

Yes! I am working to try to get Pan more flexible over jumps, but it's very slow going. She much prefers to jump then turn as opposed to turning while in the air. Pan also is not the greatest at judging distances at speed and has a weird jumping style where she tucks her rear legs under her instead of extending them.
I've seen quite a bit of that in the belgians (though these were tervs)
 

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#19
Do the shelties count as 'real' agility dogs? I've never heard that before. It's kind of funny to me.
You've got me. I've actually never gotten it either, but these people seem to get comments like that all the time. It's turned into a joke, where someone is always saying to them "I'm going to get a little dog like you so I don't have to run" or "You should get a real agility dog and see what you can do!". Most of us are kidding. Some aren't.

What keeps the 22 inch class so competitive?
In USDAA, it is where 80% of the border collies wind up, along with most of the Aussies, a few bigger Shelties, and a lot of the sport mixes. Which means you not only have a lot of the super competitive, fast dogs, most of the super competitive fast handlers are in there as well, with one or two or five dogs. It's always the largest class by far, and generally the most competitive, although as I said, it is starting to spread into the other heights a bit.

I guess most shelties run 12 or 16?
Yes, in USDAA they do. There are a few that run in 16" performance with Meg, which means they officially measure into 22". But most are 16" dogs.
 

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#20
I wonder too if people haven't been encouraging agility dogs to jump flat, both without meaning to, and also on purpose. It's no secret that it is the fastest jump possible. Dogs who jump big and round waste a lot more time in the air. I haven't been around the sport long enough to know if that is an issue or not. You wind up gambling on keeping the bars up, but if you do, you are going to be fast.

I don't know, bar knocking is the one issue I haven't had to deal with, and I'm so glad. I can't imagine something more frustrating! I'll take my slow, careful jumpers any day.

Well, okay. Gusto maybe takes it to extremes. Like everything he does. I'm hoping he'll chill out a bit as he gets less green!
 

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