February 20, 2015

AKC Premier Class Challenge: The Inverted Pinwheel

The American Kennel Club (AKC) has been developing a new Premier Class that will emphasize international handling elements like threadles, 270s, forced layering, longer distances between obstacles, and bi-directional jumps/tunnels. Various clubs have offered the class as a demonstration, and one of them mentioned the use of inverted pinwheels. Many people, including us, had never heard of an inverted pinwheel, and here is what we’ve discovered:

Image Provided by Kathleen Rupprechtfrom Judges Re-Education
Image Provided by Kathleen Rupprecht
from Judges Re-Education
Inverted Pinwheel Using Tunnel
Inverted Pinwheel Using Tunnel

Handling Option #1

In the video below, we begin the sequence with a threadle maneuver at the first jump.

Handling Option #2

In the video below, we begin the sequence with a 270 at the first jump.

Addendum: Handling Option #3

Thank you to Steve Schwarz over at AgilityNerd for bringing up the option of going to the outside (far wing) on Jump #3. Momentum and a slightly better approach to #4 favor the far wing, while the shorter distance favors the near wing. In applying Greg Derrett’s guidelines for determining which path is faster, that’s a 2-1 score favoring the far wing. However, when Sarah took her large border collie Venture to the far wing, the time was slower. In a rare exception to Greg’s general guideline, the difference in yardage far outweighed the smaller difference of approach to #4 as well as momentum (because the dog must wrap the far wing almost as much as the near wing). As always, try both ways with your own dog.

Ultimate Challenge Option

If you aced the first two options, try moving the #3 and #4 jumps closer to #2 so that you create a very small pinwheel with about 5 feet between wings, and try the exercise again, as demonstrated below!

Ultimate Inverted Pinwheel
Ultimate Inverted Pinwheel


First and foremost, people will need to improve their threadle and 270 work to comfortably complete this sequence. However, there is a serious but subtle problem that many experienced dogs will run into at the end of this pinwheel sequence. Watch the video below.

Don't Miss This!
We have some additional details about the Premier class from the AKC Directory of Agility Carrie DeYoung. Don’t miss this podcast! Episode 93: The New AKC Premier Class is Coming

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  • Glad you talked about the infamous pinwheel sprinkler as I like to call it. And also bringing up the fact that regardless of whether or not u do blinds the dog will blind u to take what has been reinforced more and is also the easier path for the dog. Meaning not having to turn as tight and dig in. Also rewarding and placing value on the dog looking for the handler focus and that arm and shoulders back. Would also like to make litte harder and try a reverse spin and reward dog for not taking the jump and handler focus on the right side if I didn’t need to front. Great analysis as usual:-)

  • listed to it again thinking it might be the audio is running in slow mo when the video slows but doesn’t even sound like it would be that

  • Very helpful BUT when I playback in slow mo, I am getting this weird satanic (seriously) sounding chant and groan while the video runs. It started yesterday on a video I was watching in the handling class for akc championship. So is anyone else getting this or do I just need to get my computer exorcised? lol

  • I set this up for my students last night and it was fun. But looking at the original diagram I don’t think it is inverted enough! *If* inverting means: “always take the back side of the jump instead of the usual pin wheel side”, then I’d put 4 on the other side of the jump…

    Either way it is challenging and I like a good challenge!

    • It is scheduled to be released later in 2015. It’s exact rules and specifications are still being defined. It has been offered as a demonstration class during several trials across the country.

      • Thanks! Is there a way for our club offer it as demo? The process by which some clubs get to be “early adopters” is really unclear. Do you understand?

        • I have no info on the process, but Gail Storm and Carrie DeYoung are super accessible, so I would just drop them an email or a facebook message.

    • It may never make it into the final spec for Premier, but it was a fun little sequence. It popped up as a question on the “New AKC Agility” yahoo group. I also find the idea of longer patterns that pop up repeatedly, but with international flare, to be intriguing. I guess I hadn’t thought of that, but it makes sense. We see variations on the pinwheel all the time, it will be interesting to see what international patterns start popping up.

      Perhaps readers from overseas could comment if there are patterns – especially named patterns – that you see repeatedly.

  • Esteban and Sarah thanks for setting this up and video taping it. Well done as usual!

    I saw it on the email list and unfortunately I still have a foot of frozen snow-ice in my yard! I liked your description/plan for reinforcing handler focus in the last video too; we all need our dogs to switch focus to us when we cue it. I also find that handlers don’t use as much eye contact in that situation as they could…

    I was wondering if you played with turning the dog left at 3 (to the outside) instead of the inside? It makes the handling a little harder (if you have dog on left on the way to 3 it is a rear cross wrap on the take off of 3), but it could result in a faster sequence for the longer striding dogs. You add a little distance but you keep the dog in extension longer and then the turn from 3-4 and at 4 don’t require as much collection (and the dog can accelerate from 3-4). Maybe I’ll set this up in my classes this week and see how we do on it!

    Thanks again,

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