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!

A day of USDAA

Yesterday I went to a USDAA trial but only entered  Lil in 2 classes: Jumpers and Snooker because I have decided to stop running my dogs over different height A-Frames and the USDAA A-Frame is higher than the other venues we compete in.   I was taking a risk entering Snooker because the A-Frame can be included but I figured if I’m driving 1:30 hours anyway I might as well take my chances since the only real risk is losing my $13 entry fee for that class.

It turned out that the A-Frame was the #4 obstacle in the Snooker closing so my only option to earn enough points to qualify (and not run Lil over that higher A-Frame) was to go for four #7s in the opener and get through #3 in closing.  Lil aced it and we Q-ed.

Here is why I stopped running my dogs over the higher USDAA A-Frame:

Jake has a 2o2o and so running over different height A-Frames is not a huge issue with him, although he looks better running up and down a lower one.   Lil has a running A-Frame.  Once the A-frame got a few inches above 5′, her striding really started to change.  She has only been called twice on a 5’6″ A-Frame but the issue I have is that her descent looks off-balance to me on 5’6″ A-Frames.   I believe the structure of an Australian Terrier comes into play in a much greater way when the A-Frame is raised to 5’6″.  Lil’s striding starts to change a bit at  4′ 8″ but it still looks good and more importantly, it looks like she is in control during the descent on 5′ A-Frames.

Here is my analysis: 🙂   An AT’s short-ish legs make it difficult for them to shift their centers of gravity back far enough when running 3 strides down a steeper A-Frame to stay in control as momentum builds during the descent because their shorter legs don’t offer the same “breaking power” as longer legs (like Border Collies have) which extend further forward.  I liken a dog having longer legs when running down an A-Frame to a person having walking sticks when hiking quickly down a very steep hill.  So I now think that last leaping stride that ATs like to take off an A-Frame is not due to an eagerness to get off the A-Frame, but rather it’s a reaction to the powerful forces of gravity and momentum that have built up by the time an AT takes that third necessary stride down.

I think it takes an incredible amount of effort and strength for ATs to hold themselves back against forward momentum and gravity when they drive hard over an A-Frame (like Lil does).   I have compared photos of Border Collies and Lil descending an A-Frame and Lil’s overall body position, shoulder angle, forward reach, and tucking under of back legs looked similar.  The big difference is that Lil’s legs are significantly shorter so her nose extends beyond her front feet.   I can see why she looks off-balance when running fast down a steeper A-Frame.

Since I stopped training on both 5’6″ and 5′ A-Frames, Lil is striding comfortably up, over, and down the A-Frame and her 3rd stride lands well inside the contact zone of 5′ high A-Frame.  It looks easy and natural vs. WHOA!  This is what prompted me to stop training both heights and to stop running both heights in trials.