Clean Run - November 2017 - 32

© NaNcY gYEs

Early Takeoffs: History, Research, and Testing
By Nancy Gyes

In 1991 when I first started agility, I was
aware of only a few dogs with a peculiar jump style that we eventually began
to call "stutter stepping" or "measuring."
The term measuring was used because
we noticed the dogs had a pronounced
dropping of the head, and sometimes
their entire front end, just prior to lifting
off for the jump. To our inexperienced
eyes these dogs seemed to be evaluating where the jump was by moving their
head up and down, as if trying to locate
the position or height of the bar and/or
the effort needed to jump. At times, after measuring, these dogs appeared to
throw themselves over the bar.
I had two students with Belgian Tervurens and both of the dogs displayed this
behavior before jumping. As I traveled
around the U.S. competing, I saw other
Belgian breeds, like the black Belgian
Sheepdog, with a similar jumping style.
Some of us referred to this phenomenon as "Belgian-style jumping" because
we really had not seen it in other breeds.
We did not yet have the huge number of
Border Collies participating in our sport
that we have today, and in the early
nineties there was only one Border Collie I had seen measuring jumps.
At this point it did not occur to those
of us discussing this jumping affecta32

tion that after the dog measured he was
also taking off too far from the jump to
reliably clear the bar. The Belgians and
the one Border Collie were so dramatic
in stuttering and head dropping prior
to the jump that those factors were all
we considered. In most cases we felt the
dog must have some kind of weakness
or injury, or was being asked to jump
too high. Many of these dogs were in the
30-inch division of USDAA. AKC was
not yet offering agility and there was
no Performance division in USDAA. We
watched as these big dogs struggled
with the jumps and started coming up
with theories for why it happened. We
researched "depth perception in dogs"
and found nothing at the time.
While this seemed to start as a big dog
problem within a few years I started to
meet Border Collies and smaller dogs
like Shelties with this same jumping
style. At times their behaviors were
slightly different, the stuttering or head
drop was minimal, but they would crash
bars or run around jumps. Some would
resolutely not take the first jump on
course or refuse to take a jump headed
toward the edge of the ring or a wall.
Some dogs would put in a much larger
jumping effort than was needed; for
example, a small Sheltie being asked to

jump 12 inches might jump high enough
to clear a 20-inch jump. We started referring to that as "overjumping." And
way too often the result of overjumping was that the dog crashed the bar,
even after he put in such a huge effort.
We also noticed these dogs did not
jump all of the jumps in the same way.
We asked ourselves what the difference
was between the arc of jumps that the
dog jumped nicely, to the straight line
of jumps with great distances between
them that the dog struggled with. We
started recognizing that jumps placed
farther apart than 15 to 18 feet caused
these dogs to overjump every time.
With analysis and the aid of video we realized that the dogs' jumping arcs were
not equal. The distance a dog takes off
from a jump should be reasonably equivalent to the distance between the jump
and the spot where he lands. Taking off
8 feet in front of a jump and landing
only 4 feet from the bar on the other
side is a big problem when most dogs
would choose to take off about 6 feet in
front of the jump and land 6 feet behind
the jump in a more balanced and equal
jumping effort.
It was quite a few years before I was able
to recognize the early stages of the probClean Run | November 17



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - November 2017

Contents
Clean Run - November 2017 - Cover1
Clean Run - November 2017 - Cover2
Clean Run - November 2017 - Contents
Clean Run - November 2017 - 4
Clean Run - November 2017 - 5
Clean Run - November 2017 - 6
Clean Run - November 2017 - 7
Clean Run - November 2017 - 8
Clean Run - November 2017 - 9
Clean Run - November 2017 - 10
Clean Run - November 2017 - 11
Clean Run - November 2017 - 12
Clean Run - November 2017 - 13
Clean Run - November 2017 - 14
Clean Run - November 2017 - 15
Clean Run - November 2017 - 16
Clean Run - November 2017 - 17
Clean Run - November 2017 - 18
Clean Run - November 2017 - 19
Clean Run - November 2017 - 20
Clean Run - November 2017 - 21
Clean Run - November 2017 - 22
Clean Run - November 2017 - 23
Clean Run - November 2017 - 24
Clean Run - November 2017 - 25
Clean Run - November 2017 - 26
Clean Run - November 2017 - 27
Clean Run - November 2017 - 28
Clean Run - November 2017 - 29
Clean Run - November 2017 - 30
Clean Run - November 2017 - 31
Clean Run - November 2017 - 32
Clean Run - November 2017 - 33
Clean Run - November 2017 - 34
Clean Run - November 2017 - 35
Clean Run - November 2017 - 36
Clean Run - November 2017 - 37
Clean Run - November 2017 - 38
Clean Run - November 2017 - 39
Clean Run - November 2017 - 40
Clean Run - November 2017 - 41
Clean Run - November 2017 - 42
Clean Run - November 2017 - 43
Clean Run - November 2017 - 44
Clean Run - November 2017 - 45
Clean Run - November 2017 - 46
Clean Run - November 2017 - 47
Clean Run - November 2017 - 48
Clean Run - November 2017 - 49
Clean Run - November 2017 - 50
Clean Run - November 2017 - 51
Clean Run - November 2017 - 52
Clean Run - November 2017 - 53
Clean Run - November 2017 - 54
Clean Run - November 2017 - 55
Clean Run - November 2017 - 56
Clean Run - November 2017 - 57
Clean Run - November 2017 - 58
Clean Run - November 2017 - 59
Clean Run - November 2017 - 60
Clean Run - November 2017 - 61
Clean Run - November 2017 - 62
Clean Run - November 2017 - 63
Clean Run - November 2017 - 64
Clean Run - November 2017 - 65
Clean Run - November 2017 - 66
Clean Run - November 2017 - Cover3
Clean Run - November 2017 - Cover4
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