The Real Time Canine II

After spending 2 years writing the Real Time Canine, the adventure continues with The Real Time Canine II. Read along as I look for just the right puppy to continue the experience. After false starts with Tim and Jed, I am currently training young Tam, and Spot, which are both off to a strong start. Please visit the RTC II to read about training sessions as they occur.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Course Director

I just got home from a long-running, California trial where I had occasion to think about the responsibilities of the course director. At this particular trial, there was a team of 2 people performing the job. They seemed to take themselves and their job quite seriously and made the trial less than enjoyable for many of us. It started me thinking about my definition of the job. It's a good idea to have another set of eyes looking at things besides the handler and the judge, especially when there's a dispute. The course director is that man or woman. In team roping there's a flagger who determines when your run ends and drops a flag to signal the timer to stop the clock. But just as important as timing, the flagger is charged with making sure that every roper gets a fair start by watching each run from the beginning. To me, the dog trial course director has the same job, to make sure that every handler is treated fairly during their run from the moment their sheep come out. Coordinating between the judge, the set-out crew, exhaust and handler falls to the course director. I've been to trials where the trial host made rules that the course director communicated and helped enforce, but it's a dog trial, not a riot. When the course director treats the handlers like criminals it just takes all the fun out of it. I always wonder why a trial committee hires a good judge then doesn't use him or her to decide things like the time and the course and how to arrange the set out and exhaust. I've seen a world-class judge tearing his hair because the set out and the sheep were so poorly handled, the course was set badly and the exhaust was positioned to fail. But there was nothing he could do about it because the trial committee's attitude was "he's just getting paid to judge," and that's all they allowed him to do. Hire a good, experienced, qualified judge, then listen to him or her. Did they really think they knew better than Bobby Dalziel? I promise you, they didn't. This last weekend we had course directors with control issues. They controlled the parking and they controlled where we stood before our run. They controlled who we spoke to and even who got to eat the free food that the trial hosts graciously provided. They argued with the judge about an out of bounds area that just made no good sense and they justified poor decisions with bad reason. They didn't ask the judge's advice on anything and set a poor pro-novice/nursery course that reflected their lack of sheep sense. They were condescending and rude to handlers and when questioned about it, they held a grudge. This was no fun at all. I can vote with my feet and choose not to go back, but i'm hoping that the trial hosts will see things differently next time and give us a course director who enjoys trialing as much as I do.

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