Russell Race Day Crew Organization
article deals with Race Day Organization that will help provide smooth
racing completed by 12:00 noon.
Race Day Helpers: A total of 12 adults or older teenagers plus several
energetic kids are needed to successfully run JR Racing. These people
Judge: Responsible for determining finish order of races and for
observing the races and ruling on any equipment malfunctions, rules
infractions, or fouls that may occur. The racing judge should be experienced
and thoroughly familiar with JR Racing. I let my judges have someone
else race their dogs if desired because this often enables me to get
better qualified judges. Having judged many races myself, it is almost
impossible to determine the identity of individual racers should the
judge want to do so and the judges also backed up by the catchers to
prevent any indiscretions. If a judge is suspected of cheating, don't
ask him/her to judge again. Racing judge communicates each race's results
to the Results Recorder after each race using a walkie-talkie.
Puller: Responsible for operating the lure pulling machine. Should
have good eyesight since the lure is long way off and the Puller operator
must be able to see the full length of the race track. If the puller
is inexperienced have him/her practice a few times prior to start of
racing. Keep the lure at least 10 feet in front of the racers on the
flat races and at least one hurdle ahead on steeplechase races. This
reduces dogs fish tailing while following exact movement of the lure.
Recorder: This is a VERY IMPORTANT job. Person should be fully acquainted
with JR racing and must understand how the heat sheets work. A level
headed person who does not easily get rattled is required, because this
person usually gets the brunt of any handler dissatisfaction or complaint.
This person communicates constantly with the Racing Judge using walkie-talkies.
If three such walkie-talkies are available, the third one is kept by
the trial announcer to assist in calling late race participants. The
Results Recorder receives the results from the Racing Judge immediately
after each race and records these placements on the Results Board in
the appropriate location by each dog's name is immediately. Then the
first three placements are written for the appropriate next race. Always
put every other dog into separate semi-finals thus separating contestants
that have already raced against each other as much as possible.
Organizer: This is a job for a loud, forceful person. A LOUD Bull
Horn or access to the loud speaker used by the show announcer is helpful.
Race Organizer uses a second copy of the heat sheets and loudly calls
racers for each race so as to be heard over din of excited terriers.
Each handler is invited into first collection pen to wait until all
participants for that race are collected. Race Organizer then tells
group what color collars each dog wears and each handler, holding his
terrier, steps up to the table to get a colored collar and select a
racing box number and then stands beside appropriate box number. As
soon as handlers are all in 2nd collection pen, the Race Organizer steps
over to Results Board and writes in dog order for subsequent semi-finals/finals
on his copy of the heat sheets and uses this information to organize
subsequent races. Dogs late for races forfeit right to race with no
refund. Do not delay Racing to find absent handlers/dogs.
Organizer Helper: This person controls the colored collars and the
box numbers (dominoes or squares of cardboard with numbers 1-6 on one
side). He puts one complete set of colored collars on his arm and helps
handlers insert collars over terrier's head. Avoid having Dog Handlers
take their own colors because this causes duplicate colors and considerable
confusions for the judge. If Helper has all colors on his arm, this
greatly reduces chances for error by having duplicate colors. Helper
also makes certain all box numbers are turned down and as each number
is selected, it is left face up on the table. The Helper also instructs
any novice Dog Handlers as to what to do and where to go. All dogs should
be muzzled before the handler moves into the second collection pen.
Helper watches to ensure that all dogs are properly muzzled before entering
the 2nd collection pen.
Box Operator: This person needs to be an experienced dog handler.
When the starting box is closed and ready, the Box Operator instructs
the Dog Handlers to muzzle their dogs. When the lure is being brought
back toward the start, the Box Operator starts to load dogs one at a
time and he helps the Dog Handlers load their dogs - especially those
who are having problem as this greatly reduces the time required to
load. When dogs are loaded, he asks the child bringing the lure to tease
the dogs if deemed desirable. We always tease puppies, but we rarely
tease adult dogs since they know what to do and do not need to be teased.
Be certain the lure is placed 6-8 feet in front of the start box, in
center of the track so all dogs can easily see it. Using a prearranged
signal, the Box Operator signals Lure Puller to start and the lure.
Box Operator waits until the lure starts move and then he opens the
start box. Box Operator then watches the race carefully to note any
events that might necessitate a re-run so as to help the Racing Judge
with this responsibility.
The kid lure runners at 2002 JRTCA Nationals got tired so Genie took
Retrieval Kids: Several kids are needed for this job because they
tend to be enthusiastic in the beginning, but after 10 or so trips down
the race track, they have a way of disappearing. These kids should be
safely out of the way behind the Box Operator until their turn, I rotate
them as this seems to make them last longer. After a race starts, a
kid immediately enters the track and herds any confused dogs in front
of him/her toward the finish. When all dogs are through the hole or
are handed back to the Dog Handlers, the kids get the lure through the
hole from the Dog Catchers and puts the colored collars on one of his
arms. It is okay to be delayed one set of colored collars so as to enable
the Lure Retrieval process to get going as soon as possible without
having to wait for all collars from the just completed race. That is
why 3 complete sets of colored collars are needed. We find that Lure
Retrieval is the slowest part of this operation and if 30 seconds are
saved each race this amounts to 1/2 hour when 60 races are run. Box
Operator ram-rods the Lure Retrieval kids and tries to get them to run
back with the lure each time to keep things running quickly.
This very important job requires 6 active adults or older teenagers.
Children under 15 years old can have problems handling some bigger dogs.
Catching requires lots of stooping over and some people cannot do this
very long. Some Catchers prefer to wear gloves, but with muzzles on
dogs, this is not really necessary. The Racing Judge assigns each Catcher
to catch a certain place and the Catchers do so throughout the morning.
This way the Judge can use the catchers to help avoid placement errors.
The first and second place Catchers are at back of the catch area side
by side, 3rd and 4th are closer to the hay bales and 5th and 6th are
up front. Use the most experienced and best Catchers for 1st, 2nd, and
3rd since these places are always utilized. On catching a dog, the Catcher
removes the colored collar and holds it until Racing Judge confirms
that color's placement. Catchers may hand the dog over to Dog Handlers
at any time, but keep the colored collars until the Judge says "OK,
he is all set". Catchers should always inform Dog Handlers of their
dog placement in heats or semi-finals to help insure that 1st through
3rd know they qualified for further racing. Usually the 6th place catcher
retrieves the lure (since he often does not have a dog to catch) and
passes it through the hole so the lure can be returned to start. If
there are 6 dogs in the race, then the first available Catcher or the
Lure Puller retrieve the lure since it is this task that is usually
limiting factor in how fast races can be run. If extra personnel are
available, one can be assigned task of only retrieving the lure but
this can also cause congestion in the catching area so be careful. Catchers
should stand at least 5 feet behind hay bale finish so dogs cannot see
any hands through the hole. Catchers should never remove a muzzle from
a dog as this is a good way to get bitten!! Catchers should avoid holding
a dog by the nape of its neck because some dogs do not like to be handled
this way and many owners get upset if their dog is grabbed by the skin
on its neck.
Re-runs: There are many reasons races should be re-run. Basically,
anytime dog aggression or mechanical failure changes race results, that
race should be re-run. Some re-run reasons are:
dog aggressively attacks another dog on the race track. Attacking
dog is eliminated from further racing on that day.
dog catches the lure even if only briefly as this changes that dog's
forward momentum and allow other dogs to pass.
dog almost catches or passes the lure in such a way as to alter forward
flies out of track or snags on a jump.
causes a jump to become out of place before dogs get to that jump.
non-racing dog enters the race track during a race.
gets too far ahead of dogs and no dogs go through the hole. Often
happens with puppies.
comes apart during a race.
box does not open properly allowing only a few dogs to race initially.
dog gets caught in lure box somehow - teeth through screen or tail
caught in box door., etc.
dog runs race and changes results because of its presence.
reasons that a race should not be re-run
hit hurdles and get tangled up with jump or with each other. This
is a dog failure and not a mechanical failure.
bump each other going over hurdles unless one dog is actually attacking
get boxed in behind other dogs.
of Thumb on Re-Runs: If something happens out of the ordinary during
a race, I believe it is better to error by having too many re-runs.
Listen to complaints as well, but the Judge and the Box Operator should
always watch each race and call the re-runs.
- These racing re-run reasons are an expansion of JRTCA racing rules
by the author based on 20 years of racing experience and are not to
be construed as official JRTCA rules.
- If a dog's muzzle comes off during a race and a dog enters the catch
area with the muzzle off, that dog is eliminated in that race. HOWEVER,
sometimes catchers in the scramble of catching dogs will get their hand
caught in the dog's muzzle and it comes off. This is NOT AN ELIMINATION
for that dog since the catcher did it not the dog or the dog's handler.
Just warn the handler in this case and suggest that he tighten the muzzle
for future races. Note: I usually try to go over the rules and racing
procedures with all racing handlers in a 5 minute session just prior
to racing to review for experienced handlers and to help new people
understand the procedures. We find this short session helps speed racing
along. We should be able to run a race every 2-1/2 to 3 minutes meaning
that we can run 60 to 75 races in 3 hours depending on how efficient
we are. If racing is started promptly at 9:00AM, we usually finish racing
well before noon which makes trial organizers VERY HAPPY [not to mention
the agility competitors!].
Racing Ribbons: Unless trial organizers believe ample time exists,
it is best to award the racing ribbons AFTER Conformation classes have
already started since Conformation start may be delayed if time is taken
to award ribbons. Announce each dogs Kennel Prefix and the owner's name
along with the dog's name, the same way it is done in conformation classes.
Use the Master Heat Sheets off Racing Results Board for these announcements
since the dogs' full names should be recorded on these sheets in the
left hand column. Use these same Racing Results Sheets as your official
racing results for recording on the JRTCA trial results report. A really
good results recorder will even help the announcer by having Kennel
Prefixes already entered for all race final results.
these suggestions will help trial sponsors run racing successfully.
Racing is a big part of a trial but it requires good equipment and lots
of hard work. So, don't forget to thank all those people who helped
make your racing successful.
article was originally printed in True Grit in May, 1997.