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Every time this comes up, someone brings up the handlers who only run one dog and i feel that is a distraction to the argument. First, there are only a handful of single dog handlers at most trials. Second, you're choosing (strategizing, if you will) to only run one dog. No one forces you to.

I'm sorry, Robin, but I don't buy this argument. Some folks HAVE only one dog. It's not a matter of having three open dogs and running just one. Your argument only holds if a person has multiple competitive open dogs and chooses to run just one. It doesn't hold for people who have just one open dog.

 

When we talk about strategizing which dog to run when, then like Mark said, it's really about handlers winning and not about the dogs themselves.

 

FWIW, even if every person at a trial has only multiple dogs entered, I don't think it's any fairer for a person to be able to choose to run a particular dog in a particular slot. If we're talking about fairness, then you take the luck of the draw and do the best you can with it, the assumption being that at least one of a hander's multiple dogs will end up at a good time of day (or whatever other criteria one might have). But again, that philosophy makes it about the work the dogs do and not the odds of the handler winning by choosing when to run a particular dog.

 

J.

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When we talk about strategizing which dog to run when, then like Mark said, it's really about handlers winning and not about the dogs themselves.

 

That's what i'm talking about. I'm not sure where the "dogs themselves" part of this came in.I'm talking about the competition.

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You said trials should be about the dog not handler strategy since trials will be used for breeding selection.

 

Well, no I didn't. You added the part about "since trials will be used for breeding selection." Here's what I said:

 

You [Robin] and I are never going to agree on this. To me, your position is way too handler-centered, whereas I tend to be dog-centered. Dog trialing is not meant to be a test of whose strategy in slotting their dog is best, and to the extent it becomes that, it distorts the equal assessment of the dogs.

Trials should be about the dog because trials are meant to be a test by which the best dog (or dog-handler team, if you wish -- it amounts to the same thing when you're drawing running orders) is selected. Some amount of luck is unavoidable -- the best dog may end up with the worst sheep, or in the heat of the day. But you can't help that. By not drawing the dog (or dog-handler team), you allow the running order to be influenced by some handlers (those with multiple dogs) but not others, in favor of some dogs (those the multiple-dog handler thinks will run best in those conditions, or are better than his/her other dogs and so should get the most favorable conditions) but not others. That is tilting the playing field, not leveling it.

 

This is what Robin wrote:

 

IMO, choosing which dog to run when comes under strategy for a trial, and it can be pretty important. Say sheep are being rerun. If dog names are assigned, and you and i each have 2 dogs to run. Your better dog draws up second for you, and my better dog draws up first for me. All things being more or less equal (weather, etc.), you are gaining an advantage over me because your sheep are likely rerun for your better dog and you've had a "practice run" with your lesser dog, and i don't get either of those advantages, simply by luck of the draw.

 

To me, this is totally handler-centered. It pits handler against handler ("you are gaining an advantage over me"), not dog against dog. That's regardless of whether anyone is going to breed based on the outcome.

 

The kind of strategy that has a legitimate place in dog trialing is strategy about how to control and move the sheep and how to guide the dog. Not how to get your best dog into a better place in the running order.

 

The entire discussion about leveling the playing field at a trial is all about the handler and not about the dog. So let's be honest about why we want the playing field leveled; we want to have a fair shot at placing, winning prizes, ribbons, points to the finals, glory, ego boost etc.

 

I won't dispute that this may be true for a lot of people. It's not true for all people. If I wanted my ego boosted, I would have chosen to engage in something I was good at.

 

I have not ever complained about drawing by handler. I have stuck up for trial hosts' right to do that if they wish. It can be convenient for both host and handlers. But it is not fairer, and it does not level the playing field.

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Dear Sheepdoggers,

 

It's more complicated than that.

 

I don't know whether handlers get any real advantage choosing their slot. Of course we seek whatever advantage but, in my experience, the minute you run your first dog (sheep are usually better in the cool morning: therefore, run your best dog then for top score) or (sheep are usually better in the cool morning, run your weaker dog so you'll have a better chance with the tougher sheep later) - you're wrong. Those early morning sheep are wild as march hares or too tough or, or . . .

 

I don't doubt handlers scheme - I know I do. I just doubt it does much good. In my experience, sheep change slightly but importantly in segments of about half a dozen throughout the day. That's to say - roughly - #1-6 will run about the same #7-11, #12-18 .. . etc. and that those small differences are more important than the broader: "Do I run Spot in the #13 slot or #41?"

 

That's why you'll see those DQ and RET clusters on the scoreboard.

 

In short - I do think handlers scheme. I just don't think it matters much.Spotter, penworker and flock health and history make far more difference how your group of sheep behave than the slot does.

 

I also suspect trial hosts don't name dogs not from obeying abstruse theories but merely because it makes the drawing easier.

 

 

 

In the 23 years I've been hosting trials, first in the spring, then the early fall, I have never felt that the (sufficient numbers of them) sheep ran significantly differently or predictably during the day. Yes, they do vary, but - as per earlier - in smaller segments. I've hosted trials where -of 60 dogs - only two penned, and same sheep two years later, same course 5 scores broke 100.

 

The best laid plans . . .

 

On many courses sheep that have run once that day will know where the exhaust is and sheep which have never run may have spotted exhaust-ed sheep from the top (see Virginia Finals 2008 - or my trial this year). Hence: changed pressure. Sheep that have been held in the letout all day are likely to be crankier and hungrier than those who've been rotated. And everybody dreads the "left behinds" - the clever buggers who've avoided running until they're the last four sheep before a sheep change).Sometimes, dead spots develop or disappear. Sometimes (see Gettysburg Finals), nearby traffic picks up later in the day.

 

Like most handlers, I prefer to run my dogs early or late and dislike the middle of the day slot. But many times nooners can run up big scores while first runs get skunked. The more you run, the better your dogs, the more you train,the better you read stock and the more important winning is to you will likely determine the outcome.

Donald McCaig

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Trials should be about the dog because trials are meant to be a test by which the best dog (or dog-handler team, if you wish -- it amounts to the same thing when you're drawing running orders) is selected.

Here is the problem, selecting the best dog cannot happen by placement in trials because the dog is not out there running by itself. Handlers can and do cover-up "holes" in dogs by how they handle each dog (i.e. select outrun direction based upon dog's better side, taking control of the lift because the dog rushes in, etc). The same dog run by two different handlers, even after sufficient time to "get with each other", will not perform at the same level. If trials were really about selecting the best dog then it would make no difference who the handler is; a dog that consistently wins with one handler and is sold to another handler would continue to win.

 

Trials are about selecting the best team. From what I've seen the "best team" is typically selected, from among those that can win, by the individual personalities/attitudes and interactions of the sheep within each set (not by letting handlers choose which dog to run).

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Trials should be about the dog because trials are meant to be a test by which the best dog (or dog-handler team, if you wish -- it amounts to the same thing when you're drawing running orders) is selected.

 

Here is the problem, selecting the best dog cannot happen by placement in trials because the dog is not out there running by itself. Handlers can and do cover-up "holes" in dogs by how they handle each dog (i.e. select outrun direction based upon dog's better side, taking control of the lift because the dog rushes in, etc). The same dog run by two different handlers, even after sufficient time to "get with each other", will not perform at the same level. If trials were really about selecting the best dog then it would make no difference who the handler is; a dog that consistently wins with one handler and is sold to another handler would continue to win.

 

Trials should be about the dog because trials are meant to be a test by which the best dog (or dog-handler team, if you wish -- it amounts to the same thing when you're drawing running orders) is selected.

 

Let me try once more to make clear what I'm saying. This thread offshoot came up as a result of Robin's saying "I'm all for leveling the playing field as much as possible - which is why i argue against assigning dog names on the running order." The topic under discussion then became -- or I thought it did -- whether assigning only the handler's name to a running order slot, thereby permitting the handler who is running multiple dogs to decide which dog to run when, tends to level the playing field, as opposed to assigning the slot to a named dog "Jane Doe and Meg."

 

Certainly -- as I acknowledged earlier, and as everybody knows -- handlers affect the dog's performance in all the ways you are saying. But who will be handling the dog in the trial is a given, not a variable. If Handler A entered Roy and Meg, then Handler A will be running Roy and Meg. It makes no more sense to say "Oh, Roy is a better dog than he appears, as you would recognize if only Handler B were running him" than it does to say "Oh, Roy is a better dog than he appears, as you would recognize if you had seen him in his prime." The dog walks to the post with all his baggage -- age, health, experience, quality of training, quality of handler, etc. There's no way it can be otherwise. He must do the best he can with what he has. But from a dog-centered point of view, how does it "level the playing field" if some dogs' placement in the running order can be enhanced (because their handlers are running multiple dogs and think more highly of that particular dog), some dogs' placement in the running order can be disadvantaged (because their handlers are running multiple dogs and want to give another dog the best slot), and other dogs' placement in the running order is set in stone?

 

Picture yourself trying to explain this to a spectator and I think you'll see what I mean about the difference between dog-centered and handler-centered -- "We have a random draw to assign places in the running order, but we don't assign them by dog -- we assign them by handler, so that the handler can put each of his dogs in the slots that the handler thinks will increase the handler's overall chance of winning or placing high."

 

Sometimes placement in the running order matters a lot, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the most desirable placement is predictable, sometimes it isn't. But in a DOG trial, the fairest way to draw the running order is by dog. That's why the rules specify drawing by dog at the Finals, and why you don't see drawing by handler at major trials.

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What it comes down to is you think it makes a difference in "leveling the playing field" and I think it has very little to no impact.

 

So how many decades were trials run without running orders at all (show up, sign up, run) and were used to select the best dog?

I think we've put too much emphasis on placing and things that may impact placing and have lost sight of just running the dogs.

 

Explaining it to spectators is easy. Do it the same way we explain anything we do differently than dog sports (i.e. let bitches in season run, don't penalize for dog not taking commands); that's just the way we do it.

 

A dog trial can never be dog or handler centered in the same way team sports cannot be one position centered or eventing could be horse or rider centered.

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What it comes down to is you think it makes a difference in "leveling the playing field" and I think it has very little to no impact.

 

Actually, I expressed no opinion about how much impact it has -- just that, to whatever extent it affects the outcome, it distorts rather than levels the playing field. Robin was the one who said she thought it could make an important difference.

 

So how many decades were trials run without running orders at all (show up, sign up, run) and were used to select the best dog?

 

They still are. It's convenient. Again, the statement I took issue with was that drawing by handler serves to level the playing field.

 

I think we've put too much emphasis on placing and things that may impact placing and have lost sight of just running the dogs.

 

Well, yeah, sure, I think so too.

 

As for the rest, I have to conclude that we are just not understanding one another, and further efforts will not make it any better.

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Since I assume we are all running under USBCHA rules, why are we ignoring Rule 15 Running Order, part A that reads "A handler MAY NOT designate which dog is to run first."?

 

To me, there should not be any discussion about it, the rule is there and if you want the trial to be USBCHA sanctioned, then it should be followed.

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Nancy, which rules apply to all trials and which ones to only the finals? The rule book does not always tell us.

 

Should we apply rule 14 to all trials since nowhere does it say this only applies to the finals?

"Entry forms must be completed and logged at the Trial Secretary’s office by the entry deadline. Entry fees shall be $200 per dog in Open and $150 per dog in nursery, and must be paid on entry."

What about rule 22 which does not explicitly say it only applies to the finals, in fact there is suggestion it applies to all USBCHA sanction trials "(in judging the HA Sanctioned trials judges shall apply the following general rules)".

"The Course, Scale of Points and Time Limit now fixed by the Directors are set out below. The Trials shall be on 4-5 sheep so selected that each competitor shall receive the same class of sheep if possible."

 

The rulebook mixes what appear to be finals only rules and all trial rules without clear delineation. If you choose to apply one rule (not clearly set for all trials) then you cannot pick and choose to apply the other rules which are not clearly set for the finals or all trials.

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I don't think I have ever been to a trial out here where they didn't tell you you and the dog were running in which slot. It always says in the running orders your name and the dog. Is this where I am? the PNW?

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Nancy you are picking and choosing which rules to apply where there is no clear indication which rule or which parts of rules apply to all trials. There are several rules which have parts that appear to only apply to the finals while other parts appear to apply to all trials. Where does it explicitly say how to apply all rules and sections of rules? Sometimes it says and sometimes it does not.

 

 

By applying the running order rules to all trials no sanctioned trial can run without a drawn running order. No sanctioned "show up, sign-up, run" trials are allowed.

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What about section 30

"In the event a judge has cause to DQ a competitor he or she must do so by showing a flag to the coarse director."

 

How many trials apply this rule? It would appear that since there is no clear indication this only applies to the finals, all trials must use a flag and a course director watching for a flag from the judge.

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Mark, I'm applying a rule, that because of the context of the rule (1 dog, 2 dogs and 3 dogs per handler) and since 3 dogs per handler does not apply to the Finals, would make me believe that it is how running orders are to be drawn.

 

I've already agreed that the rules are confusing, as some obviously only apply to the finals but at times a distinction is not made.

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The problem is there are many other rules with sections that appear to only apply to the finals and sections at apply to all trials and sections without an indication. How are we to know with the running order rule how to apply the sections?

 

Now I come back to your first post in which you say

 

Since I assume we are all running under USBCHA rules, why are we ignoring Rule 15 Running Order, part A that reads "A handler MAY NOT designate which dog is to run first."?

 

To me, there should not be any discussion about it, the rule is there and if you want the trial to be USBCHA sanctioned, then it should be followed.

 

And I answer, the rule book is not clear enough for us to absolutely state this section of this rule applies to all trials.

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So if the rule book is unclear, why not ask the USBCHA to update it? It shouldn't take much effort to break out two sections, one of rules that apply only to the finals, and one that applies to all sanctioned trials.

 

Nancy makes a good point, and I suppose one could go through and look at each rule and see if it gives some clue as to whether it means finals (as in Mark's example of finals entries, which I don't think anyone would confuse with a rule for all trials) or sanctioned trials in general (as Nancy O's example would imply), or both.

 

Clearly these topics have come up in the past, which is why they appear in the rule book in the first place. As I always say, if we're going to have rules, let's make them clear and then follow them.

 

As for the topic that started this whole branch from the original discussion, I get the impression that there are just a few trials that allow the handler to pick when to run one of multiple dogs. If that's the case, then maybe it's not really an issue. I'm guessing it would become an issue if more trials operated that way and at that point the HA would need to address it.

 

FWIW, I imagine there are a number of rules that aren't followed exactly. There needs to be a balance between the traditional autonomy of trials and trial hosts and creating some sort of fairness/unity, which is what the rules attempt to do. That said, even if the rule Nancy quoted applies only to the finals, one would have to ask why it's considered an issue there (enough to have rule about it) but not at the trials that earn teams points toward that finals. JMO.

 

J.

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Since I assume we are all running under USBCHA rules, why are we ignoring Rule 15 Running Order, part A that reads "A handler MAY NOT designate which dog is to run first."?

 

To me, there should not be any discussion about it, the rule is there and if you want the trial to be USBCHA sanctioned, then it should be followed.

 

Rule 15 is compulsory for the Finals, but discretionary (that is, recommended but not required) for other trials. That's why it sets forth a (suggested) means of drawing when three dogs per handler are allowed by the trial host.

 

I agree that the rules are not well organized, and this sometimes makes it difficult to discern which ones apply to the Finals and which ones apply to all trials. But this particular question has come up before, and this is the policy. It's consistent with the general philosophy of the HA not to tightly regulate sanctioned trials.

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