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Measuring up...

Over the past year or so you may have noticed Gary Murphy and/or Lynne Shore walking around Agility courses with a strange unicycle type contraption.  These are known as measuring wheels and we have been using them to assist in information collection in order for us, as judges, to set realistic course times. 

I originally got started for my own interest and amusement  because I was fed up with course times being plucked out of the sky, judges having no idea how long their courses were and the original KC guideline having been devised when agility was in its infancy.  I have been surprised by some judges who say 'what does it matter, the fastest will win.

 Shortly after I started Gary joined me in this venture so we had to agree on consistency in measuring, what we were looking for and how to record and update the information gathered. Initially we purchased cheap and cheerful measuring wheels which would have been fine for the occasional judging appointment, however, the mileage we have been clocking up meant that we each needed to purchase something a bit more robust!

The combination of distance measured and the results for the corresponding classes give us the speed that dogs are covering the ground. This is measured in metres per second (MPS). The info we have used comes from a variety of KC shows and geographical areas covering all grades, size of dogs and type of course (ie) Jumping or Agility.  We have also been trying to establish how times can be affected by changes in dogs momentum (ie) if a dog is asked to immediately go back past the obstacle it has just cleared, pull-throughs, how many weaves etc.  There is a danger of just believing a dog does 4m per second [the winner might!] it does depend on the type of course set.

In addition to gathering this data, we are planning to prepare an info pack on how we measure a course, together with a table which can be used as a guide by Judges to set appropriate course times and we are willing to share our findings as we regard this as a helpful tool. The Kennel Club became aware of what we are doing and noted at their July meeting an interest in our results.

We have both started to use the data to establish course times for our own judging appointments and, although still in its infant stage - nearly 300 sets to date - it has shown to be accurate and we have been able to work out achievable course times. Distances measured to date have ranged from 87m to 171m surprising some judges!

Both Gary and I intend to continue collecting information for a further two/three years and thank those judges who have allowed us to measure their courses and those who will agree in the future.

About the author...
Lynne Shore
is a retired teacher (Maths and PE) who has been judging for eleven years. She is now a Champ judge and a KC Accredited Trainer of Judges. She has competed with all heights of dogs and with various breeds.

Lynne is currently hoping to win the lottery - or even euro millions would do nicely!

First published 08 September 2011


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