Lower is Not Always Safer

Vault Trajectory as Staircase

When it comes to vaulting, lower is not always safer. The standard trajectory in vaulting is like a staircase. The dog leaps up from the ground to the vaulting platform and up from the vaulting platform to catch the disc. While being lower to the ground limits the distance that a dog can fall and reduces the potential speed and impact of landing, it also changes the standard vaulting trajectory and decreases the amount of time available for the dog to plan and execute the landing.

Proper Throwing Height

Notice that Abby has placed the disc above Petey’s head. If a line is drawn from where Petey took off from the ground, to Abby’s Leg (the vaulting platform) and to the disc, it makes a nice straight line of about 45 degrees. This trajectory will drive Petey through the target, up and forward, creating a long, gradual landing trajectory that Petey will be able to walk right out of as he lands.

Image by Kat Fahle

Also note that this placement is about 6 feet off the ground. When thinking about vaulting, that seems pretty high. But looking at this picture of a disc placed at 6 feet high, we can see that it’s not very high at all. In fact, it’s quite proper. As Petey collects himself on the vaulting platform, preparing to leap for the target, he’s about 30 inches tall. Putting the target any lower than Abby has here would mean that Petey would be standing on the vaulting platform looking down on the target. This creates a situation where Petey has to dive down in order to make the catch. This reduces time and also shortens up his landing trajectory which will increase the stress of the impact as it reduces the forward momentum that can be leveraged to dissipate the shock of landing.

Proper Platform Height

Another mistake that handlers often make when trying to keep things low for safety purposes is putting the vaulting platform too low.

Again, go back to the vault trajectory as a staircase idea. Up and up. If the dog leaps too high on the way up to the platform he will drop down onto that platform and get stuck, breaking up the flow of the vault and causing undue stress on the dog and handler’s bodies.

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