Yet another weekend in the races

Or at least in lure coursing events: that topic was a poor rip off from Queen (A Day At The Races). Poor attempt to be funny.

Anyhow, one day working, the other having fun with dogs and owners. Sadly there are no pictures from either, as I haven’t taken any, but it’s sufficient to say that the weather was excellent on both days: not too warm nor too cold. You could tell that by looking at the dogs who were more than lively throughout the both events.

There were few things that got ‘stickied’ in my mind from the both of the events. First one is something that really bothers me still, even though I know the battle against windmills is already lost.

The dog which comes to the lure doesn’t win the trial. It’s of no use to ask ‘how can I make my dog faster’ or ‘why did the slower dog get better points’. The explanation is here. The short version for the lazy readers is as follows: the dog’s performance is rated in five categories (speed, enthusiasm, agility, endurance and intelligence), and the points of the judges are added up. Speed itself is only one fifth of the points, so a dog with enough endurance or enthusiasm wins a dog which is fast but not agile, for example.

On the other hand, if the dog has good points but is slower than the other dogs of the breed, then there is something you might do. Pulls downhill, speed exercises, short extreme speed pulls and running in swamp or deep snow come to mind. First three develop the speed itself, while the last ones build up the muscles. But there is only so much you can do with the speed actually, especially with a mature dog. Also something to consider is to lose some weight from the dog.

The other one is the comparison of points from different events. This weekend proved the point especially,  as the event I was working on Saturday had tracks which were 450m and 650m (about) in length, while our dogs ran on Sunday on a track which was around 750-825 meters long. And quite surprisingly the dogs got lower points on the longer track.

It’s the same thing with all the evaluation in numbers: the numbers tell only the information which we want to tell. The same with ranking tables and ratings: when we want to condense information to simple numbers, something gets lost in the way.

How can you compare 530 points from 650m long track to 480 points from 800m track? Especially when there are different judges and different ground on both?

No way. No way are the results comparable, and most certainly they do not tell everything about the dogs who have competed. Not even with that kind of (huge) point difference the dogs cannot be compared equally.

The points -and all point based evaluation methods- are fault in one way or another. In ranking table, is the dog which competes seven times a year better or more valuable than the dog which wins three times? In trials, is the dog which competes on a long track with certificate points worse runner than a dog which wins on a short track?

After all, the main point is healthy and loved dog. Not the prizes and recognition of the owners.

Isn’t it?

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5 thoughts on “Yet another weekend in the races

    • It’s so true, but so difficult for people to understand. There is yet another heated discussion about the meaning of competition in lure-coursing events in a local sighthound forum and I seem to be in the losing side. The moment the dogs start to have parties over a victory is yet to come… 😛

      • i think, the dogs want care about, as long as they get their lure. 😉 much more important is, that the dogs are well prepared, and you can’t say, that a dog of an enthusiastic owner is worse trained or something like that.

        i think, ranking and training are two different pairs of shoes.

      • How true you are. The bad part is the fact that people doing the rankings usually do not see the performance, and thus are comparing apples with pears. Even if the judges might be the same, the points tell only part of the story. Sufficient to say that the dog’s passing the minimum for an approved points are qualified, that’s about it.

  1. Interesting for sure. I don’t have a sighthound but have a bird dog with crazy prey drive, so I shall watch your blog for fun. Sounds like the point thing is kind of like the breakdown for qualifying at a hunt test. There is drive, handling, point, and bird finding. you have to pass each to gain it. Not about just finding birds, but establishing a point. You could rank higher in drive/hunting than bird finding, and handling is always a touchy subject as many judges have a different opinion of what that means. They all have to come together to award the dog though, which I like. It’s a sort of checks and balance system. You should have a well rounded dog, not just a “fast” dog.

    I wish they had lure coursing more out this way (Virginia) as I would enjoy just letting her have that for of exercise as another outlet. The breeder (we have hungarian vizslas) was allowed to let two of her females run the course, and people loved it. Her two girls tore around like they had been doing lure coursing all along.

    Take care, I look forward to seeing more post.

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