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Hi, group.

I will try to make a post without unintentionally hurting someone's

feelings or putting people on the defensive... here's to hoping!!

 

As I go through emails and posts and people's "emotions" about a

barrel or a hoop or whatever it might be..........

 

The biggest "issue" that I find is that NADAC is not "obstacle"

focused. We have always been about focusing on the teamwork between dog and

handler and not necessarily about the physical performances of "obstacles". A

barrel or a hoop just becomes "natural" to us because that type of

"obstacle" cannot just "be performed"... a dog is not going to just naturally "go"

to a hoop or barrel.... they will "need" information from the handler on

"how" to do those obstacles...... and that is "forever".... you can't just

"teach" it one week and then use unclear handling the next week and just

expect them to "do" them.... if the handling is weak, then the dog will not

just give you a "freebie"... if you stop giving clear body language, then the

dog doesn't even consider going to the hoop or around the barrel.

 

Jean posted a video showing my weave training methods and is doing

great after 6 lessons!! Then because of the discussions on the list, she

replaced her "C" shaped tunnel with a barrel just to see how her young dog

would react.......... a perfect video! Jean handles beautiful and he

"performs" it great......... then Jean kinda expects him to just go around it on his

own and he turns in front of it and follows her body language to

perfection......... Jean did not indicate a path around the barrel and he follows

the path that she does draw perfectly! Of course Jean laughs and goes on

with it, as she "feels" how well he follows her......

 

I am preparing some video of Busi........ and how interesting!!! I

placed her in front of a couple jumps with a "C" shaped tunnel at the end and

no issue.......... from the head cam, she stares at that tunnel and I can

make all kinds of "incorrect" body language and she flies to that tunnel

with ease............ but then I put a barrel at the end and she will still

go right to the barrel because of my body language and her "focus" has a

"side" look to it as she always has me and my body language in view..... with

the tunnel, as long as I verbally say "go tunnel" I could do hand stands

and she is going to that tunnel! But I can verbally say "go around" and she

commits to the barrel, but she also will turn off that barrel with the

smallest of "new" information from my body language.......... so with the

barrel she stays committed to the "path" being indicated and with the tunnel she

is committed to the "obstacle".

 

And that is what upsets so many people when they come to seminars and

such.... if they are going to be very successful with EGC or hoops or

barrels, they must handle with "perfection" or the courses are next to

impossible. EGC is all about "path" and the ability for a handler to clearly

communicate "where" they are to go and has nothing to do with "what obstacles"

are to be performed......... and people either hate it or love it........

 

NADAC and it's courses have always been about "path" and not about

"obstacles" but we have failed some of our "ideal" tests since it is so easy

to teach "obstacle focus" on a course of pure obstacles and the dog is

allowed to zig-zag between obstacles and still get to an obstacle and perform

it.... and then hoops added a much higher degree of "handler" into the

picture... because the dogs didn't just "go do them".... they were easy for a dog

to perform as long as the "handler" was giving clear information to "where"

they wanted their dog to go and not "point and shoot" towards an obstacle.

When people point and shoot at a barrel or hoop, then the dogs go on the

"path" of "where" the handler pointed........... and that doesn't always

include a pathway to a hoop or a pathway around a barrel.

 

I do understand how difficult it is for people to promote NADAC when

people do not understand the difference between "obstacle focused" courses

and "pathway focused" courses. For so many handlers, doing pathwork is just

"natural"..... they just naturally see "where" they want their dogs to go,

but for some it is more difficult... and they see "what obstacle" they

want their dog to do....

 

When we talk about a "C" shaped tunnel the "obstacle" forces a path

for the dog and with a barrel, the handler "creates" a pathway for the

dogs........ or not.... but the test for "teamwork" between the dog and handler

is highly tested. The dog will run on the pathway "created" by the handler

instead of having the tunnel forcing the pathway for the dog.

 

I have had emails saying that some people don't want to do NADAC

because it is "too different" from the other venues.......... and I do

agree..... if people want to do agility within NADAC that is the same as other

venues, then they are going to be very disappointed and will eventually leave.

But if they grasp the "flow between dog and handler" that is not created by

obstacles, but is created by the information from the handler and the

dog's ability to respond to that information to run the "pathway" that puts

obstacles in the dog's pathway for the dog to perform.... they will then enjoy

NADAC ...the pathway puts the obstacles in front of the dog.... and if a

dog is willing to follow a path put before them by a handler, then

performing the obstacle is the lessor of the challenge!

 

NADAC has always focused on the "20 feet between the obstacles" and

not the "one inch" over a jump or through a hoop, or the distance inside a

tunnel or over a contact. The dog must learn how to correctly perform each

obstacle and then it becomes all about making the pathway perfect between

those obstacles!

 

We could go back and put in "obstacles" to make NADAC more appealing

to those that want "obstacle based" agility.......... but we are very happy

with our current format and that we are a "pathway based" agility......

 

Watching the videos with Busi's headcam confirms that "she" gets it!

With the hoops and barrels she wants "pathway" information, but with the

tunnel, she doesn't need me nearly as much.... and she switches back and

forth with ease! When I first got her, she was totally "obstacle" focused....

to an extreme that I had not met in 20 years! Of course, being "obstacle"

focused did not include any yellow during contact performance or the

correct end of a tunnel, or a full set of weave poles!! I never fixed any of her

"obstacle" issues......... and they all left as she gained "pathway"

focus, which can't happen without a desire to accept information from the

handler!

 

I don't believe that any venue is perfect and all venues are

different........ but the biggest difference is that "obstacle based" training

doesn't work so well in a "pathway based" set of courses....... and that makes

many people very angry and emotional if they don't have the necessary

"pathway" skills.......

 

For those that do "pathway" based training, they do have a tendency to

feel "what is the big deal, just let them know where to go.......... a

hoop is easy .... a barrel is easy"... but they aren't easy if a dog is purely

obstacle focused...... they are next to impossible to "perform" because

there isn't any "obstacle performance"... there are "pathway" skills and if

the team hasn't worked on pathway skills then hoops and barrels are

incredibly difficult to "perform".

 

So we need to accept that NADAC is different. We aren't going to

change what we do and people will come (our new registrations are higher than

they have been in five years!) and people with leave. That is not unique to

NADAC, it happens in every venue, and always has and always will. People

want to have fun with their dogs and they will select what creates that fun!

 

If handlers are extremely obstacle focused, they will get frustrated

with NADAC and leave. If handlers are pathway focused, they will love NADAC

and stay with it. And many, many handlers can do both and excel at

multiple venues and love them all!

 

But it is tough to talk apples and oranges and that they MUST taste

the same. They don't... and people will always prefer one over the other,

and enjoy that they are very distinct and many people can enjoy both.......

but they must be willing to accept that they are different and that is

okay......

 

If you want to embrace NADAC, then work on those pathway skills!

 

It is like the recent topic of speeding up the slower dog... and how

to do the barrel faster......... and what I was trying to say in my response

is that it isn't about doing the "barrel" faster, but to build the

enthusiasm for the dog to hear and respond to the handler's voice and not just to

an obstacle or a toy. Build up that "response" between dog and it

dramatically lessens the time issues on course!

 

If a team is and only wants to be obstacle focused then they will be

or will become very frustrated with NADAC, because NADAC is not about

obstacle focus, it is about doing everything it can to test that teamwork between

dog and handler. I have always loved Amanda's signoff which says

"Teamwork............ without it, it is just obstacles" and that kinda says it

all!!!

 

I guess what I am trying to say is that I DO understand the

frustration that people express with the "changes" with NADAC and that a barrel is

"stupid" for many... and that others love the concept because it tests their

teamwork and pathways skills to an even higher degree...

 

Will NADAC return to being an "obstacle" focused venue, no. We will

do everything we can so that people can cross venue without total failure.

But there will be "some" issues with the pathway obstacles such as a hoop

or barrel on a team that is purely obstacle focused. But even those issues

are not impossible for those that want to compete within NADAC and just

work a little bit harder for those obstacles and love the rest of them! No

different than a NADAC team learning to perform a teeter, tire or other

"obstacles" if they want to multi-venue.... each venue has their own set of

skills needed and a team must be willing to teach themselves and their dogs

those skills to truly enjoy that venue!

 

Just play agility and HAVE FUN with your choices!!

 

Sharon

 

Again, I love the implication that if you don't like it, you must just suck!

 

I wrote a reply, we'll see if it goes through. :P

 

I hope you aren't implying that because I am against barrels being used in NADAC agility that I don't have "pathway skills." I am all about drawing the path for my dogs and all three have great distance skills.

 

I am not frustrated because I am "extremely obstacle focused," I'm frustrated because I don't feel challenged by the "path" presented to me on courses. And now I'm offended after a recent e-mail that proclaims that it's not the course's responsibility to challenge me. If that was truly the case, why do we have Novice, Open & Elite divisions? Shouldn't we all be overjoyed to run the same exact courses each weekend? My brain doesn't work that way. I like to be pushed out of my comfort zone and have my handling skills challenged. It's why I train at home, to go to trials and be tested.

 

I'm sure it feels a lot different to those running dogs at 8-9 yps and that you folks get quite the rush from it, but to those of us with dogs of average speed it's just... well, average. At least an "obstacle focused" course gives me something to do and feel like a real member of the team with my dog more so than running along on sweeping, bending lines.

 

My frustrations are based on the fact that NADAC is moving further and further away from "agility" every year and is now becoming more "flatwork" than anything. EGC is a wonderful option for people who want nothing but "pathway" work because that's all it is. I was very happy to keep the two separate -- NADAC agility was still there for those of us who appreciated fast flowing courses that still fit the definition of "agility." It's been discussed on various lists lately that NADAC will soon have to stop calling itself "agility" by the worldly definition and I can't say I disagree.

 

And that, in a nutshell, is what I'm so upset about. I have enjoyed NADAC agility a great deal over the years, as have my dogs. But over the last year or so everything has just felt so repetitive, and it's because there's only so much variety one can offer in a course designed for "path work" with limited obstacles within the confines of an arena. And I also can't help that feel that one day in the not so terribly distant future, NADAC will be synonymous with EGC and gone will be all jumps, weaves & contacts. If that's what makes people happy then that is great, but it's also very disappointing to those of us who have appreciated NADAC for what it was.

 

Karissa

V-NATCH2/NATCH3 Luke -- Superior Elite Versatility, O-HP-E, 2500+ Lifetime

Kaiser (UWP GRCH'PR' Alasco's Kvichak) -- Elite Vers., O-EAC, S-EJC, O-ECC, TN-E, TG-E, O-WV-E, HP-N, 1000+ Lifetime, TIAD, TG2, UKC Total Dog (3!)

Secret -- Elite Vers., O-EAC, O-EJC, ECC, TG-E, TN-E, WV-E, HP-N, 1000+ Lifetime

http://secretbc.blogspot.com/

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Nice response. Even if it doesn't go through, hopefully she'll read it.

 

I'd like to see her tell anyone who just ran IFCS World Champs that they're not creating a path. Ever try to get a dog to the backside of the jump withOUT creating the correct path? lol

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Yes -- An Elite Regular course can technically have one performance of 12 poles and one performance of six poles (you'll see that when weaves are used to replace the teeter on recycled courses). Then of course there is weavers, where in Elite you perform three sets of twelve poles.

 

The vast majority of NADAC clubs went to 24" weaves as soon as they were allowed. With all the talk of safety and avoiding injuries to dogs, though, I can just see those going away eventually as well! Like I said, eventually EGC will just replace NADAC.

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My response...

 

I don't think anyone will disagree that NADAC is different. UKC is different too and I believe still has a following.

 

An obstacle is a point of reference for the dog, whether they go over, under, through or around it, and yes barrels fall into this category. Once the dog understands what the handler wants in relation to the barrel, over time dogs will start treating it as an obstacle and focusing on it like they would a tunnel. I use trees and poles to teach my dogs to go out early in training and as a warm-up routine during trials. My dogs certainly understand this game and can focus on a tree from rather far away.

 

All agility is about creating a path for the dog, whether that path is a simple circle or a more complex manuever. I wouldn't tell anyone who just ran IFCS World Champs that they're not creating paths for their dogs. Ever try to get a dog to the backside of the jump or wrapping between two jumps without creating the correct path? ;-)

 

I find this discussion interesting because ever since I started playing in agility 16 years ago, NADAC was very attractive to dogs who were obstacle-focused. Other than discriminations, handler focus was not really needed. To read Sharon's philosophy is rather interesting because it hasn't been my take on the organization at all (and I don't mean that with any negativity). It almost sounds like NADAC is headed toward the flatwork training many of us do early on to teach the dogs to follow our movements, i.e. shadow handling w/o obstacles. Is that the ultimate goal here?

 

Laura (who finds teamwork, fun and safety in ALL agility org's)

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Great points! And I agree with your comment that NADAC has always leaned towards being beneficial for those who have obstacle focused dogs. Where else could you get away with pointing your dog down a line and expecting them to just keep going until you say otherwise? I call that obstacle focus more than following the path. It's one reason why Luke is so good at distance -- he just keeps going until I tell him otherwise. Kaiser to a lesser extent -- but Secret has always been more prone to look to me for direction, which is why she seems to enjoy more technical courses -- because mom is doing more than running a straight boring line.

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In defense of NADAC it is really not true that only those that can not do other venues do NADAC, I have watched people who have an ADCH and MACH struggle to get their NATCH, it is a different handling style due to the wide open nature of the courses, at the moment my partner and I struggle with them as we do not have distance skills, I have been spending my training time learning how to handle my fast dog for USDAA/AKC style courses as I love the physicality of that style of agility. Watching a great team run a NADAC type course is just as thrilling as any other venue.

 

I agree with you regarding only those who do NADAC do it because they can not do other venues, but not sure I think this in defense of NADAC, more to acknowledgement good team work and training in general. I agree that distance requirements for NADAC can be very challenging and it is awesome to watch good distance work, but for the majority of "standard runs" and such, I rarely find little challenge other than to run as fast as I can to keep up with my dogs :)

 

I have yet to figure out how to attach multiple quotes to my one post...

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NADAC was born from a lack of accepting the "norm" as being

"right".... and EGC and VT and BA.....

 

Just wondering what Sharon's idea of "the norm" is.

 

Your norm in North America isn't my norm in Europe, and AKC norm isn't the same norm as USDAA, I gather.

 

My norm isn't even the same norm I started with 14 years ago here in the UK -

 

Then there were only 2 jump heights at most shows (not sure when Midi dogs were first allowed) - 30in and 15in.

There were no Agility Championships to aim at.

Dogs had to spend 6 months in quarantine on return to the country so going abroad to compete was out of the question even if there had been competitions worth entering.

Contacts were very much fingers crossed affairs and noone ever needed to teach a right hand weave.

Handling and training skills needed were very rudimentary in comparison with today and a clear round in the lower classes at least would usually guarantee a place.

And the grading and progression system was much simpler.

 

Here's a guy who has seen a lot more changes than I have, having been in the sport since its birth -

 

http://www.agilitynet.co.uk/features/peterlewisinterview_lindymargach.html

 

Johnny come lately "innovators" have nothing to teach those who have been in the sport a few years about accepting change.

 

For myself I need to be convinced that a proposed change will be an improvement and that it has been thoroughly thought through and discussed with those it affects. Here sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. I'm not in favour of change for political reasons, for the benefit of a small minority, or just for change's sake.

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That article was very interesting, thanks for sharing! It's nice to hear from someone "sensible" who has been with the sport for so many years. ;)

 

I don't know what exactly made Sharon so jaded against traditional agility -- She was apparently one of the "names" back in the early days of USDAA but broke off to do her own thing. NADAC started out as "agility" with more wide open, flowing courses. Who knows why her view of what agility should be has changed so vastly over the years.

 

I do get annoyed by all of the people on the list that preach that they do NADAC for the good of their dog and so that they can continue to compete safely well into their prime.

 

Hmph. I give you as an example Jenny Damm's dog, Elvis, who just turned 11 and is still competing on European courses (which as we all know are far more technical than what we see in the US):

 

 

The messages that continue to come through the list frustrate me to no end. Going on and on about, "It's a barrel, what's the big deal, why can't you handle sending your dog around a barrel." These people completely miss the point. It's not about the barrel, it's what the barrel signifies -- All of the stupid changes that NADAC has incorporated over the years has made it something that moves further and further away from "agility." There is no challenge in NADAC anymore, save for the Chances class perhaps. Apparently to say such a thing is offensive to those who do struggle, though, so those posts don't make it onto the list.

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I went to visit the NADAC forum this morning and If you thought the yahoo group was full of people agreeing with Sharon, then for overload visit the forum :D .

One of things I am curious about is the regular reference by Sharon and others to Jumpers being one of the hardest classes in reference to drawing the path.... obviously from previous posts I do not do distance just run like hell and have a good start line yet with both my dogs jumpers is the class we are the best at, and have the most fun with... Is this strictly a reference to distance handling what am I missing?

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I do get annoyed by all of the people on the list that preach that they do NADAC for the good of their dog and so that they can continue to compete safely well into their prime.

 

Just brainwashing by the Sharons of this world. It's the one thing that is guaranteed to cause real anger between the two camps here since the vast majority of us have our dogs' welfare at heart. Most injuries to dogs I know seem to happen well away from Agility.

 

They clearly wear permanent blinkers and don't see the evidence around them that plenty of dogs have a very long career with probably fewer ill effects than the ordinary pet dog that has had limited physical challenges through its life.

 

In 14 years none of ours has ever been out of action from injury and the older ones are in darned good shape for their age. And bear in mind that our 16in mongrel started her competitive career 10 years ago over 30in jumps and is still going strong.

 

"It's a barrel, what's the big deal, why can't you handle sending your dog around a barrel."

 

I can pretty much guarantee that any of our dogs could go out round a barrel in either direction without any specific training. Except Ross, who is semi senile and stone deaf and might not understand what I want, but a few years ago he would have done it.

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Yes I've seen people playing nadac with dogs who shouldn't be out there, but instead should be resting on a cozy bed somewhere. I just can't watch people put their old dogs through that, when they can barely run. It's sad, very sad.

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Yes I've seen people playing nadac with dogs who shouldn't be out there, but instead should be resting on a cozy bed somewhere. I just can't watch people put their old dogs through that, when they can barely run. It's sad, very sad.

 

We see that in Veterans here. To me the classes are for otherwise fit dogs that can no longer get the extra lift for normal height jumps easily. They aren't for dogs that struggle to get over a pole a couple of inches off the ground.

 

I don't buy the "My dog lives for Agility" mantra. It's the owners who need to let go, not the dogs who would be happy doing anything as long as it engaged them.

 

Our Veteran classes are specials and rules and jump heights are at the host club's discretion. Heights are in the schedule so everyone should know what they are entering but it is common to get aggrieved handlers kicking up a fuss at the ring if they don't think their dogs can manage it. They never seem to think that there might be a reason why their dog can't.

 

My own view is that if a dog can't comfortably manage one height down from normal in Veterans then it's time to think about retirement. Do something else like Rally.

 

And it isn't just physical fitness either - senses fail too and to ask a dog that may not hear or see to well to compete is putting extra stress on it and can lead to confusion when it tries to comply with what it thinks the handler wants. Some handlers can get annoyed when a dog doesn't respond as it would have several years before and it just isn't fair.

 

Just as we are, dogs are living longer, but that doesn't mean they have to compete in strenuous sports until the day they drop. We can choose when we've had enough, they can't.

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For those of you that do, but are unhappy about this, you should let Sharon know, either direct email, forum or yahoo. you and your dog like and train for success there.

 

I started competing in NADAC from the time it was first created,many many moons ago, and I competed in it on a regular basis until about 5 - 6 years ago, along with AAC and USDAA. Over the last 5 years or so, it has gone down hill. All that is stressed is speed, speed and more speed.

 

With several of the changes, particularly getting rid of the teeter, I did contact Sharon directly via email and let her know my thoughts. Each time I got a scathing email from her, saying how I hated NADAC, how I was badmouthing NADAC and didn't care about the safety of my dogs, and how I obviously was making sure other people never competed in NADAC again. All of which was certainly not true. The people out here that just run NADAC are the ones that literally call AAC "evil". Yes, that is the word they use.

 

As I say, I quit competing in NADAC about 5 years ago, as there is absolutely no challenge in the courses any more. The Elite standard course would be the exact same as the Novice course, the only difference being the yards/sec. It has changed so dramatically over the last 5 years, it doesn't even look like agility anymore. As well, no one designs courses anymore. THere is Sharon's "Bible" that is used. One of my friends that still does quite a bit of NADAC ran the same exact courses three trials in a row, and each of those trials were only a short distance away from her. Those trials were all within a 8 week span. That isn't supposed to happen, but it does all the time.

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I do get annoyed by all of the people on the list that preach that they do NADAC for the good of their dog and so that they can continue to compete safely well into their prime.

 

Hmph. I give you as an example Jenny Damm's dog, Elvis, who just turned 11 and is still competing on European courses (which as we all know are far more technical than what we see in the US):

 

 

I am retiring my old boy Tucker at our AAC Trial the beginning of July. He will be 14 years old in August - pretty good for a dog that jumped 26" until he was 9 years old and then went to 22" for 1 year and then down to 16"vets after that. He has won his AAC Regionals every year, but one several years ago, and he competed at the AAC Nationals every year since he was 4 years old. This will be my first AAC Nationals without him. He is still in excellent shape, but has lost some muscle mass in his hindquarters so I don't want to take the chance of an injury so have decided that it is time for him to retire.

 

He can, however, still compete at 10" just for fun in jumpers so he will still be coming to the trials and "competing" at least for this summer.

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I sent Sharon an email in regards to the new Veterans rule to go into effect on 1/14. According to her reply the age is 8, not 7.

 

I wrote:

Hi,

I am sending this via email versus asking on the group. I was out of the loop regarding the decision to create a mandatory rule of at what age a dog becomes a veteran, though it unlikely my opinion would have mattered :). I do have a question. doesn't this take personal responsibility away from the dog's owner and isn't it ultimately our call on when we feel it is in our dog's best interest to go to a lower jump height? There are many, many dogs over the age of 7 still going strong and competing well, and yes, with responsible owners who put their dog's safety and well being first. Why does NADAC feel they have the right to dictate this?

 

Her reply:

 

Not everyone makes those decisions for the sake of the dog.

 

As of Jan. 1, 2014 after the age of 8 the dog MUST be entered as a Veteran and after the age of 11, the dog MUST be entered as a Skilled Veteran.

 

Since I stated age 7, which is what I read in the group, thought all of you should know the correct age :)....

 

And based on my own dogs, never an injury due to agility, but several little ones due to a dog's life in general!

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As I say, I quit competing in NADAC about 5 years ago, as there is absolutely no challenge in the courses any more. The Elite standard course would be the exact same as the Novice course, the only difference being the yards/sec. It has changed so dramatically over the last 5 years, it doesn't even look like agility anymore. As well, no one designs courses anymore. THere is Sharon's "Bible" that is used. One of my friends that still does quite a bit of NADAC ran the same exact courses three trials in a row, and each of those trials were only a short distance away from her. Those trials were all within a 8 week span. That isn't supposed to happen, but it does all the time.

 

That is my definition of boring.

 

Any suggestion of prescription as to how our UK courses should be is resisted. Even at the lower level some people like to be challenged by more technical courses, especially if they have a competent but not super fast dog. Most weekends any grade of dog will get a range of courses from different judges and there will be something to suit most teams. Sometimes judges get it wrong but most learn from their mistakes. Those who don't don't get asked to judge much.

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That is my definition of boring.

 

Any suggestion of prescription as to how our UK courses should be is resisted. Even at the lower level some people like to be challenged by more technical courses, especially if they have a competent but not super fast dog. Most weekends any grade of dog will get a range of courses from different judges and there will be something to suit most teams. Sometimes judges get it wrong but most learn from their mistakes. Those who don't don't get asked to judge much.

 

But NADAC judges don't get to create their courses, they are pulled from the NADAC course library (my terminology). If I were a judge, I would think one of the best parts would be creating the courses :).

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Just took a peek at the NADAC forum and didn't get far.

 

Apparently people are scared of using it rather than the Yahoo group because they fear anything new or different - according to Sharon that is. :rolleyes:

 

Two accusations along those lines in the first half dozen posts I read and I thought - nope, life's too short.

 

I'm a technophobe and I can deal with using a forum. What sort of people is she mixing with who are supposed to be so worried by such a minor change?

 

Or is she making out that her "innovations" include the invention of the internet forum and noone ever thought of it before?

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