Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Extreme Hoopers Practice

Last night, we went to the Quad Cities to play Extreme Hoopers.  Here's the first course we ran:

#7 to #8 is a very crucial section.  My plan was to go no further than 5 or 6 o'clock and send Belle and Dusty to #8.  It worked with Belle; it didn't work for Dusty--I just didn't show enough motion in the direction of #8 to let Dusty know he would be turning away from me upon exiting the circle.  David ran close to the circle to get Dusty to #8 and is able to sprint back to the other side of the circle and direct Dusty to #10 with an off-arm and a verbal.  Micky ran along the circle until she gets to about 5 o'clock.  At that point she moves laterally away from the circle and is able to signal the turn, send Dusty to #8 and run a relatively short line to be in place to handle #10.

Here's a rough course map of the second course we ran.

The hardest part of this course was getting the turn from #3 to #4.  The dog had to be in relative collection and prepared to turn as he entered the circle.

My first run with Belle demonstrates that it is possible to be too laid back in your handling.  The turn to #5 is not that difficult provided the dog sees the #5 hoop.  Since I didn't go beyond the circle on our first run, Belle doesn't even realize there is a hoop #5.  I stepped up my energy level for the second run and as a result, I went far enough beyond the circle for Belle to see #5 as an option.  David doesn't really go as far to the side as I do, but because he makes a bigger movement toward the left wall, Dusty easily picks up the cue to turn left toward #5. 

Lastly, David set up two tunnels and an outer arc of hoops, and we used the circle for handling practice.  With this variation, the handler stays in the circle and directs the dog in and out and to the two tunnels.  As an extra test of distance, there is the arc of hoops on the backside of the tunnel closest to the camera.  Notice how quietly and smoothly Dusty is moving during the final seconds of this exercise.

After watching the video of Micky and David running Dusty, I can see where there is plenty of room for me to put more energy into my handling.  Perhaps that's what's missing in my effort to achieve more speed with Belle.  We have a NADAC trial coming up this weekend, and I will do my best to break the DRI barrier of 1.00 with Belle.

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