The unique selling points that are important for the development of the THS are vividly emphasized in the latest tournament regulations (TO) of the VDH through the finely tuned range of offers. These unique selling points undoubtedly contribute to the fact that the THS, in conjunction with meaningful further developments, developed into a “surefire success that cannot be killed”. The following unique selling points characterize the THS: – Humans and dogs contribute equally to the competition result in all THS competition forms. The type of dog does not play the all-important role, as is the case with other dog sports, where only a few dog breeds are to be found at the top. – The picture in training and in competitions is mixed from the dog side, the number of mongrel dogs integrated into the THS is large. – In no other dog sport is the proportion of young people even remotely as large as in the THS. With the obstacle course tournaments and the “shorty”, children and young people have access to beginners’ competitions, which, due to their feasibility and sense of achievement, encourage beginners in particular for further activities in the more demanding THS disciplines. – The fact that all age groups find a platform tailored to their needs for sport with the dog and draw the picture of the THS is to be rated as a further plus point. – The THS shows itself uniquely colorful and from its best side at the German championships of the dhv. Hundreds of THS learners with all types of dogs give this largest German championship a special flair. Unfortunately, in 2005 the youth classes will be decoupled for the first time. The youth have their own championship. That of course changes the usual beautiful picture radically.
Tournament dog sport offers something for everyone
What are the attractive sports offers offered by the THS to dog owners? The following list gives an overview of how varied the forms of competition at the THS are.
OBSTACLE RUNNING TOURNAMENTS (first tournament in 1972): The competition for beginners par excellence, provides a quick sense of achievement. Tournament track 75 meters long, equipped with eight obstacles, two rounds per tournament. The measured runtime of the team partner who last crossed the finish line is included in the evaluation; Any obstacle errors (leaving out a device, e.g. four error seconds) are added to the running time.
VIERKAMPF 1 (first multi-part competition in 1974): The VK is the “supreme discipline” in the THS. This versatile type of competition places advanced training demands on the team in terms of communication skills, manageability and speed. In order to rise to level 2, high demands are made in obedience. The team will live to the full in both level 1 and level 2 in the “athletic” disciplines of hurdles, slalom and obstacle courses. As a relief for VK beginners, the three running disciplines can be shown in level 1 with the dog on a leash.
VIERKAMPF 2 (VK advancement level since 2002): The VK 2 is a further development of the VK 1 introduced in 1982. The VK 2 takes into account the performance concept in the THS and thus the wish of the top teams for higher athletic demands. All disciplines in the course of level 2 are to be carried out with the free-running dog. In addition, a standing exercise is built into obedience. In the “hurdles” discipline, the athlete and dog must jump over six 40 centimeter high hurdles together (in parallel).
CROSS-COUNTRY RUN WITH THE DOG (2,000 / 5,000 m, first in 1977): A THS discipline that is aimed at sporty, ambitious dog lovers who enjoy being outdoors with their four-legged friends. The dog must be kept on a leash on the cross-country trails, which should be structured in their profile.
GELÄNDELAUF PLUS (2,000 / 5,000 m, introduced in 2002): After controversial discussions “for and against belly buckles”, the new TO introduces the cross-country run plus.
After a break, more attractive THS forms The competition forms maintained from 1972 to 1987 required new, future-oriented additions for permanent acceptance of the tournament dog sport. The impetus for new forms of tournament dog sport did not come from the dog sport organizations themselves, but from outside, above all from the organizers of large international indoor riding tournaments. “CSC” and “QSC” (both premiered in Stuttgart’s Schleyerhalle) were launched for the supporting program. Hans Heidinger took on the development of the two competitions, which were very popular with the public. The “Shorty” was also designed at the request of a trade fair management. The team competition premiered at the “Animal” public exhibition in the Killesberghallen in Stuttgart. The author and his club, HSV Mühlacker, have each realized the three attractive forms of competition listed within a few weeks. It was only a few years after their introduction that these tournament dog sport quotas were included in the VDH tournament regulations.
“CSC” (Combinations Speed Cup, first in 1987): This attractive team competition is characterized by a high level of participation. Three team members run as a relay on the course, which is divided into three sections. The demands on the teams consist of combinations of running elements of the four-way fight. The “CSC” was originally designed as an indoor competition. The strength of the “CSC” is also due to the fact that it can also be held as an extremely demanding individual competition. There is also the possibility of running out of the “CSC” as a family competition.
“SHORTY” (first time in 1995): The “Shorty” is a short course “CSC” for teams of two (two equipment sections). Quick actions, very good entertainment value. Particularly suitable for beginners with obstacle course tournament experience; is a big hit, especially in the field of youth sports. The event is also possible on small areas. It was originally designed as an indoor competition.
“QSC” (Qualification Speed Cup, first time in 1992): A competition according to the knockout system on two identical courses. With the “QSC” the fight team against team ensures “pure action”. Very challenging.
The starting classes are graded according to age
The running elements in the THS soon demanded an age group classification (AK) in order to compensate for the differences in performance in the age structure. The makers of the THS saw it as unfair that an active person competes with the youngest or the elderly at the peak of his performance. The additional AK splitting into female and male participants was the logical consequence of this way of thinking.
The THS knows the following AK classifications
1st puppy class. From the day on which the young person can lead the dog to the start without outside help and the calendar year in which the 10th year of life is completed. For all other AK, the calendar year in which the relevant year of life is completed applies.
2nd youth class, 11 to 14 years.
3rd junior class, 15 to 18 years.
4. Active class A, 19 to 29 years.
5. Active class B, 30 to 40 years.
6. Age group A, 41 to 50 years.
7. Age group B, 51 to 60 years.
8th senior class, from 61 years of age
Design training with brains
A lot has changed in trainer training at the THS in recent years. Completely new starting points for a systematically structured training were developed. The seminars by Albrecht Heidinger (well-known nationwide successful trainer and author of the brochures “Training with a system” and “On the way to a team”) met with a huge response. His concept is based on a long-term training structure which he periodically divides into three phases: 1. Transitional phase: General basic training (October to December); 2. Preparation phase: Specific basic training (January to April); 3rd competition phase: near-competition training (May to September). The training year begins for him in autumn and ends in the following summer. Here, longer training phases leave plenty of time for the gentle build-up of the dog. According to Albrecht Heidinger, too many young dogs suffer permanent damage through excessive ambition and unsystematic training (the dog becomes a field of experimentation). With the presented training concept, there is the possibility that DBS beginners can be integrated into the existing training group. At the same time, the team partner “human” is introduced to the athletic running school, including a warm-up. A prerequisite for starting the THS training is a broad-based basic training (the team’s “specialization” for a sport must not take place too early), in which the young dog, based on positive motivation, step by step, playfully with the running disciplines of the THS is made familiar. On the way to the team, the training should be tailored to the respective potential of the human-dog team. The trained trainer has to recognize the existing possibilities in the group he is supervising.
Competition rules easy to understand
The competition rules in the THS have been simple and therefore easy to understand since 1974. This way of thinking is particularly important in the running disciplines. The running time (usually electronically) of the team partner (human or dog) who last crossed the finish line is measured. Any errors that have occurred are added to the runtime as error seconds; in total, this results in the total runtime. The team with the shortest total time is the winner. With the VK, the running times are added and converted into points. In addition, the points from the obedience discipline are used to calculate the total number of points. Due to this elegant evaluation criterion, disqualifications of participants in the THS are strictly limited. For example, only those who are carrying food or toys or who do not walk through the finish gate will be disqualified. A disqualification also occurs if the dog is not kept on a leash during the cross-country run. Only the “QSC” makes an exception: Anyone who misses a device on the course will be taken out of the ranking. It makes sense to stipulate that a dog is only allowed to compete at the age of 15 months. The competition rules that are valid today are anchored in the TO of the VDH (latest edition from 2002).
THS has to live with a handicap
The conception of the THS can score points in the concert of dog sports. But even the best friend of the THS cannot avoid a huge handicap: Despite its spread across Germany, the sport lacks international recognition. This is still pending after 33 years of success. Attempts by individuals to get the THS included in the range of dog sports offered around the world were there again and again. But the THS simply lacks the lobby to be able to enforce recognition in this matter, which is essential for its survival. Certainly one reason for the lack of interest in taking steps towards the recognition of the DBS is the high proportion of dogs with mixed status. But that is precisely one of the positive unique selling points of the THS, that it can be practiced with every four-legged friend – regardless of its type and origin – in a success-oriented manner. This has brought the German dog sport clubs – and, as a take-away effect, also the VDH – a large increase in membership in the last two decades. The fact is that the career of a THS team has its climax with the participation in a German championship. VDH and FCI are fixated on pedigree dogs in international sport. We urgently need to rethink this, because the problem of “dogs without an FCI pedigree” is not limited to tournament dog sports.
The author: HANS HEIDINGER (66) has been a dog lover out of conviction since 1956. For more than 30 years he was in charge of public relations in the Südwestdeutscher Hundesportverband (swhv). The statements made by him about contemporary dog sport and the dog sport logo designed by him are common property today. With the pro-dog campaigns he initiated, he drew a positive image of the species-appropriately raised dog and the environmentally trained dog owner. For his creative engagement in voluntary work, he received the state badge of Baden-Württemberg.
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