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How exacting are you (agility competitors) about the footing at the agility venue at competitions?

 

Some comments by a couple of agility classmates about the uneven ground at a recent agility trial (I did not attend that trial due to a previous commitment) caused me to wonder about what I am missing. I mean, I know quite a few people will not even go to outdoor trials - not because they are outdoors, but because the footing is grass, and may be uneven (i.e. slight dips here and there). They will only trial indoors, preferably on dirt or screenings, but will occasionally make an exception for a venue (about 3.5 hours away. I have never been there.) that has laser-leveled fields.

 

I don't usually care whether or not my dog runs on grass (except if it is really wet) or dirt or screenings. [i do worry about some indoor turfs because of the potential for slipping, but in reality, have never had a problem.] I just figure that I and my dog should adjust, and if we don't, that is just part of the game. Everyone has to run on the same field.

 

I guess I understand that handlers of highly competitive and speedy dogs may want optimum conditions, but I have heard complaints about the footing from handlers of dogs that aren't that fast and don't seem to be affected one way or the other by the footing.

 

Am I missing something? What is the general consensus in your area? The complaining I hear may be just general griping, but maybe I should be paying more attention to the footing since I do have a speedy dog.

 

Jovi

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Coming from a background of speed events with horses, I have noticed a strong correlation in dog and horse sports at blaming footing. It seems to me that many people will blame outside factors for why their dog (or horse) did not perform well. Whether that outside factor is a barking dog, a mare in heat, windy conditions or what seems to be the most popular, footing. If their 4 legged friend didn't perform 'as well as they do at home' then footing often seems like a popular area to point a finger.

 

As far as the human factor goes with running on different footings, I have never seen an agility field that has horrible holes or dips, maybe slight changes in footing. But nothing in my mind that if a person does basic conditioning, strength training, and jogging that they shouldn't be able to condition their body into handling. I think a big issue for many people is they don't do any form of conditioning/stretching/training for their own muscles. So in that case, yes, footing is going to be a major issue.

 

If I believe that footing is dangerous for my dogs then I will absolutely scratch them. I did so once at a trial where tunnels hadn't been dried properly and had been left set up over night there there was frozen water along the bottoms of them, once I realized what was going on, I scratched one event, then enough people complained and the tunnels were changed out. But I don't really consider that a footing issue. I have run both inside and out, I live in the northwest, so often outdoors means running in the rain or damp grass. As far as slipping goes, my dogs both slip a lot more on dried out grass then they do in wet conditions, probably because we consistantly practice on a wet, uneven, sloping lawn.

 

My opinion with footing (even though it took me a while to get to the point) is that the more you work your dog (and yourself) on different footings and help to teach them to handle their bodies they will learn to adjust themselves.

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I think footing matters to people. I train on grass and most trials are dirt arenas. Two are indoor soccer facilities with artificial turf. The occasional irregularity I can usually handle and plan my path around it if I am concerned about it being a problem. With one site it starts out OK but as it is packed from use it gets ridges. I will pull Gil or get some one else to run him because my risk of falling and gait problems. Not all problems people have with moving on irregular surfaces can be dealt with by improving their conditioning.

People are talking with their pocket book and if the surface consistantly has problems they are not coming back.

 

Jenny

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i've got to beleive also that it is a people problem not a dog problem. unless your dog has never run outside, he can handle the small variations in grade that might occur on a grass or dirt venue, in normal conditions (no rain or snow). humans, on the other hand, do not have 4 paw drive and may be challenged. in fact, i've been known to be challenged on indoor soccor fields during a run!! dog just laughed.

 

we alo train out in my yard, completly unlevel and full of crawdad holes!

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I hear the grousing regularly, I also think it is mostly from a handlers point if view, but I do think that the very small dogs do have a legitimate problem, a slight change in height caused by a divit does not effect our dogs but it can be huge for a chihuahua.

 

I train in a horse arena with very soft footing, the facility is focused on dressage and is not used heavily, what I find is that it is hard for me to accelerate, as there is nothing to push against. We mostly trial in a soccer facility with field turf that I love running on, and I have never seen Rievs slip on, we have also been trialling on rubber mats which cause me no issues but I have seen R slip. Our one outside trial has ok footing but I do not think either one of us really noticed the slight uneven ground.

 

There has only been one facility that I would not go back to and that is a training facility owned by a very good trainer, it has clay floors, with rocks in it, horrible surface, and it is very loud as there is nothing to absorb the barking, seesaw etc.

 

Regarding the rain: with R I would scratch, he is very fast and turns on a dime with no self preservation instinct and the slippery grass and contacts would concern me. My older dog I have ran in the rain and was not concerned as he is not that fast.

 

Personally I have found that since I started running not only has my overall fitness improved but I am now able to run easily on most surfaces, and I find myself not thinking about my lower body just using it ....... R and I run outside and so we are always changing surfaces, our usual run includes, cobble stones, concrete sidewalks that are really uneven, Tarmac, grass. I did not realize how much strength I had gained from running until I went for a ride with my cousin when I was on holiday, it has been about 3 years since I rode and in the past I have always found that I was really hard to keep my lower leg still but this time I found my entire seat was really solid.

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I have become spoiled living in the midwest now, where the vast majority of trials are on indoor turf. I realized this when I went to train in a friend's grass field (that is far from perfect) and had issues with the footing. I was too busy navigating the uneven footing to pay attention to my dog and really get anything out of being there. Now her field isn't ideal, but when I think back I used to trial on grass all the time but now unless it's even/well-manicured I take notice. I don't complain about any of this, as I realize it's MY problem, but I do try to stick to the places with nicer footing now. Yep definitely spoiled. :-)

 

That said, I LOVE LOVE LOVE turf trials and wish every trial was on a nice turf surface. My speedy dogs haven't had slipping issues.

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In my area, almost all trialing is outdoors, either on grass or in arenas, with dirt/clay packed flooring. The few indoor trials are in horse arenas, also on clay. Once a year we have a statewide competition held indoors, with clay footing. That is the only place that I've complained about the footing, or heard of a lot of others complaining. Last year there were some pretty big ripples. I didn't see any dogs having problems, but I saw at least one spectacular face-plant by a human. Ouch!

 

We don't have any turf trials, so people either deal with the grass/dirt surfaces, or they don't trial. I went to my first grass trial in March and enjoyed it a lot. Maybe I don't talk to enough people, or we're all used to it, but I just don't hear any complaints about the footing at trials, other than the one I noted above.

 

Obviously, if I felt any surface wasn't safe for Alex, I would pull him.

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I've never really thought about footing or heard anyone complain about the footing. I do remember the surface at the trial that Paula mentioned being a bit more bumpy than I typically see at trials, but I don't remember it bothering me. Our agility club has a field that is on an old baseball diamond. It isn't the smoothest, flattest surface in the world (bald spots, dips, and just for fun, the occasional fire ant mound). So, I guess I've never been spoiled by beautiful, flat, perfectly manicured fields.

 

ETA: I don't need a bumpy surface to do a face-plant. I can pull out a face-plant on a flat surface just as easily. Nothing like losing your run to a face-plant. At least my dog was kind enough to come over and console me.

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I’ve run a couple outdoor agility trials on not so perfect fields. I liked them well enough and Texi did just fine. The only time we ever had trouble with a surface was at an indoor trial in January. The flooring was some sort of firm foam. That would have been fine, but the facility was so cold the flooring was very hard and slick, no traction. I saw several dogs wipe out in tight turns. I’m not sure why they didn’t turn on the heat. We were all running around in winter coats and thermal underwear. Brrr!!!

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I like trialing on varied footing. I think if you and your dog are used to running on different surfaces, it's not a problem. Of course, there may be times when situations are dangerous (too wet and slippery or muddy, or with deep divots but I've actually never encountered that) but generally I think it's fine to allow your dog to adjust to different footings.

 

There's a place where a lot of local trials are held that is a horse venue -- sand and dirt -- that I am not crazy about because it's SO hard. And ROCKS in it to boot.

 

But outdoors on grass, indoors on field turf or dirt, is all fine.

 

I've found that indoor places that have turf -- it really depends on how much rubber pellets they use that will determine if it will be slippery or not.

 

There is also a place nearby I have trialed at where they have turf with NO rubber pellets -- this is pretty slippery and if I trial here I use Firm Grip on Rip's feet.

 

Another thing I have noticed is that depending on the handler's style, there can be problems on certain footings. Handler/dog teams that tend to be jerky in style can slip a lot on certain surfaces, whereas handlers that can communicate where they are going significantly farther downstream... the dogs are able to adjust better to the surfaces.

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ETA: I don't need a bumpy surface to do a face-plant. I can pull out a face-plant on a flat surface just as easily. Nothing like losing your run to a face-plant. At least my dog was kind enough to come over and console me.

Me too! My bestest, most epic face-plant was indoors, on dirt. As it turns out, it was only a small amount of dirt on concrete, so I was able to bounce up very quickly. Broke my nose but Q'ed the run, so #winning.

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Me too! My bestest, most epic face-plant was indoors, on dirt. As it turns out, it was only a small amount of dirt on concrete, so I was able to bounce up very quickly. Broke my nose but Q'ed the run, so #winning.

 

Awesome, Kristi. I guess that just supports the belief that sport people are all about the Q! I had already lost my Q because my dog had to come back off the dog walk to check on me. I guess my dog walk criteria need some work.

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OMG! Ouch! Have you recovered from the trauma? :D

 

The replay and the reverse were priceless.

 

I have done something similar in front of a crowd of people - only I landed on my butt. I think the embarassment causes one to bounce up immediately instead of staying down.

 

Jovi

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Good thing you have a bouncy face.

LOL! My bouncy face has broken its nose 4 times now. Probably wouldn't happen if I had a squishy face. First broken nose was from pairs skating, second was cheerleading (I was a flyer), third was walking into a post (because I'm awesome) and this one was #4.

 

Oh. My nose hurts just watching.

Mine twitches a little when it watches the video too.

 

heehee awesome!! And good Wicky for keeping the bar up!! I think this needs to go viral on facebook.... :P:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Yes, Wick can keep the bars up even as her handler is face planting. This video is fairly well-known in BC. I don't think it needs to go viral, thank you very much!

 

 

I have done something similar in front of a crowd of people - only I landed on my butt. I think the embarassment causes one to bounce up immediately instead of staying down.

Actually, I think it was the concrete that bounced me up immediately. smile.gif

 

Most ePic video ever!! (glad you recOvered)

Thanks!

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Well my foot is in a boot right now with a torn tendon (posterior tibal tendon) and I am more than likely facing surgery. Then injury wasbecause of the uneven dirt floor of the last trial I went to. It is a place I trial at on a regular basis and I remember thinking the dirt was especially clumpy and loose on the first night (by the third day of a trial it is all nice and packed down normally).

 

I am youngish (mid thirties) and in pretty good shape (I jog, bike, play sand volleyball etc...). So I wouldn't say conditioning was a role, I think it was just one bad step the wrong way. A freak accident I guess.

 

I can say it really sucks..... :(

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Kristi

I found a shirt for you today; or anyone else who has face planted.

 

It is printed by a club called Scallywags from Vancouver Island.

 

The back of it said:

 

RUN FAST

 

HAVE FUN

 

(CARTOON DRAWING OF STICK PERSON FLYING THROUGH THE AIR AND A STICK DOG RUNNING NEXT TO THEM WITH A BIG CIRCLE W/ LINE THROUGH IT OVER THE TOP OF THE DRAWING)

 

DON'T TRIP

 

:)

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