A short post about Snooker Super Qs in USDAA

Yesterday I had the following random string of thoughts enter my mind: The reason USDAA added Super Qs to the criteria to earn an ADCH (Championship Title) is because people were just getting the necessary 37 points and leaving the ring with Snooker Qs, which indicates to me that USDAA Snooker courses tend to be too easy.  However, instead of making courses more challenging via course design or reducing SCT (Standard Course Times), which would make qualifying more difficult, USDAA opted to invent the Super Q.

This might have been a smart business decision since competitors need to enter a lot more Snooker classes to get their three required Super Qs which means that USDAA is potentially earning more money from each loyal competitor.  Or it could have been a stupid business decision if USDAA has been losing large numbers of potential competitors who run 22″ or 26″ non-BC breeds because most people are smart enough to realize their non-BC dogs are going to have to run A LOT of Snooker courses to get three Super Qs competing against a gazillion BCs.  I think most people also realize it is within the realm of possibility that they may never get two Super Qs, even with a nice running dog, and thus could spend years and thousands of dollars competing in USDAA and never earn a Championship title.

I recall a woman standing ringside after her Snooker run in tears, as she watched a BC team earn one more point than she had earned with her dog.  She was totally distraught that her great running (and fast) Golden was not going to earn an ADCH due to not being able to get her Super Qs in the highly competitive 22″ class.  She had spent two years trying to get those Super Qs to no avail and said had she been able to do it over again, she would have stopped competing in USDAA as soon as they implemented the Super Q rule and competed elsewhere.  I felt bad for her and said something lame like “You might still get a Super Q” to which she responded that it was unlikely to happen due to her dog’s age.

The same situation applies, but to a far lesser degree, with 8″ Performance dogs because the 8″ class is usually / always combined with the 12″ class due to there being so few 8″ dogs competing in USDAA.  Incidentally P12 dogs can be as tall as 15 15/16″ so there is quite a spread of heights between dogs who measure 9-10″ to dogs who measure nearly 16″ tall.  However, one advantage mini-P dogs have is since classes are so tiny to start, everyone tends to know everyone else and lets just say, people know who needs a Super Q and who does not.

In the video above, the second run is of my 3-year-old Australian Terrier, Lil running Snooker at our last USDAA Trial (a year ago).  I had already stopped running my dogs over USDAA’s higher A-Frame prior to this trial, and since the A-Frame was obstacle #4 in the closing we had only one way to earn 38 points by getting four 7s in the opener.   It was a  fun course to run and Lil did a great job bypassing all those obstacles to get all four 7s.  Of course we didn’t earn a Super Q with 38 points but I’m glad I stuck to my guns about not running my dog over that higher A-frame just to get a Super Q (not that a Super Q was guaranteed).

Follow up on my decision to stop running my dogs over USDAA’ higher A-Frame.  Since only running Lil over 5′ A-Frames for the past year, she has developed a nice, consistent striding pattern that looks comfortable and safe. I’m so glad I made that decision!

9 thoughts on “A short post about Snooker Super Qs in USDAA

  1. A little addendum to that post: I know BCs have trouble getting SQs too due to the huge class sizes. I hope my underlying message came across though.. that there were other ways to make Snooker Qs harder to get besides USDAA inventing the SQ. I just realized the reason I likely had these random thoughts come to mind was due to a recent thread on the Canine Jumping Forum in which a participant stated that she thought Championship Titles were much easier to get in some organizations which led me to think about my dog Lil’s journey in USDAA, which involved a rapid climb to Masters/ P3 and we were well on our way to a ADCH (or whatever they call the P version of an ADCH) when I decided to stop running my dogs over 5’6″ A-Frames and thus switched venues. In the short time Lil competed in USDAA, she earned all of her tournament Qs, had a bunch of Byes, and even earned Team/ PVP Silver when Lil was just starting to compete in USDAA and thus was still in Novice). My point in listing her accomplishments is to present the point of view that USDAA can be as easy as any other venue if a dog has the necessary skills, runs reasonably well and reasonably fast.. perhaps less the SQ requirement. I think I’m just getting tired of people putting down other venues and acting like USDAA is the most important and most difficult venue in the USA. Their argument is that not every dog can earn an ADCH because not every dog is a Champion. My point of view is SQs do not indicate anything other than perseverance re: handler’s willingness to trial A LOT in hopes of getting lucky with a 22″ dog who is not built like a BC. Excuse my venting!

  2. I personally love the Super Q system, even though my Toller will likely never get one.
    But I come from the world of obedience where getting an OTCH is a title that has zero equivalent in the agility world. Only around 100 dogs get an OTCH each year because it such a hard title to achieve. You need 3x1st places, and 100 points- points that are only earned from beating other dogs, dogs that likely already have an OTCH. In many areas, a 198 out of 200 isn’t going to get you in placements. Unfortunately the title of an OTCH does require a ton of money, but the campaigning required also tells the world how hard that team has worked at keeping the behaviors strong long after the dogs become “ring wise” and learn there is no external reinforcement in the ring. It takes not only a great handler but a truly remarkable dog.

    Different dogs have different strengths and for some getting enough double Q’s in AKC is a long journey. For some, getting enough elite Chances Q’s in NADAC would be even more difficult. What I like about the Super Q system is that just being consistent at something is not enough. It still boils down to being lucky and preserving, but there is at least a component of competition and having to prove oneself. At this point I rarely do snooker with Vito because motivating him through a snooker course is harder than others. Actually, for Vito getting a NATCH would be even harder because of the distance requirements. And maybe I’ll change my mind about the system later, but at this point I am OK with the fact that not every dog should get an agility championship title in every organization.

    • Thanks for sharing your point of view. On USDAA Sounding Board, loyal competitors (many of whom run BCs) felt that a SQ could be offered in Gamblers too and that dogs would have to get at least one SQ in Gamblers and one SQ in Snooker to earn an ADCH. The final SQ could be in either. I thought this was a fantastic idea! I doubt it will happen but it was great to know that people can be creative in their thinking of various solutions to random decisions made by an organization.

      I assume most competitors who stick with USDAA long enough eventually get their three SQs. It can take years but persistence and spare cash seems to be enough to make it happen.. for most. I still feel bad for that woman with the Golden though.

      • I would support a gambler SQ!
        I would be very interested in statistics of what percentage of dogs get their championships in CPE, NADAC, AKC, USDAA… and then what percentage go on to get #2,3,4…

      • It would be interesting to see those stats but maybe a bit difficult to figure out since many people are not focusing on getting for championship titles and rather just like to compete for the social aspect or because they love to train. I fit into the category of liking the social aspect and loving to train even though Lil will likely get a NATCH since I’ve only been competing in NADAC lately vs. spreading our Qs across multiple organizations and she has always been a consistent dog (regardless of venue). Wanting a championship title might also influence which organizations people gravitate towards.. like AKC or USDAA since both heavily promote their big events.

        One interesting note about NADAC’s upcoming Championships is there are 45 double digit dogs competing this year and a majority of all dogs competing are entered as Skilled vs. Proficient which is a big change from last year and likely due to NADAC only having one Championship title for skilled and proficient a NATCH. I think it says something about human nature.. that people want the “real” title vs. a “lesser” title, whatever venue they choose to compete in.

  3. I run an 8″ corgi, who earned his PDCH on a third super Q. You’re right, 8′ dogs are ALWAYS grouped with the 12″ P-dogs. But every once in a while (3 times, anyway) a Snooker course had the right combination for us. I don’t think anyone here would ever throw a SQ, nor would I expect them to! But I have a friend who said “once I’ve got my three, I am never trying for more than a Q” and that stuck with me as pretty considerate. And she’s a terrific competitor headed for international competition next month. Just a thought.

  4. Guess what Devora? You CAN earn a Super Q with just 38 points. Just ask Zip the Wonder Dog. He earned at least seven Super Qs of 41 points or less on his way to a USDAA Snooker Platinum. The few times I tried for 50 points early in Zip’s career, there always was a border collie and superior handler who could manage 51 or more points! Zip never earned an ADCH or a MAD, but I think he did pretty well for a 20 lb rat terrier who measured tall and was stuck in champion 22″ inch division jumping against the border collies. The key to the Super Q is to plot your strategy to your dog’s strengths just as you did in the above video. You may not have earned an SQ that afternoon, but if you played snooker long enough, eventually your day comes!

    • I’ve since moved on to another venue that i feel is more receptive to small dogs. Congrats on your success. Amazing! GO small dogs! 🙂

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