Sunday, February 6, 2011

So Happy to Be Able Get Out and Practice

After being housebound by snow for several days, I was able to drive to the QCDC in Davenport for a little practice.  The course chosen was designed by Rob Kripaitis.  I really didn't think I'd enjoy running this course since it contains six turns where the dog has is forced to by-pass the plane of the obstacle he is to take next:  teeter to panel jump, triple to table, wingless jump to dogwalk, #12 jump to chute, #14 to tire, and tire to weaves.  However, I think that I managed to run this course pretty smoothly with Belle and not jerk her around.  The most obvious place where I could have improved my handling was from jump #10 to the dogwalk.  I failed to decelerate before #10 and the turn from #10 to the dogwalk was really wide.

When I walked this course, I realized that there was no way I was going to beat Belle to the #18 tunnel exit and avoid the off-course to the panel if I ran with the A-frame on my left.  I decided to use our distance skills and stay as far away as possible from the weave poles and do a front cross between #17 and #18.  Belle picked up a real head of steam once she exited the weaves, and despite the fact that I ran as fast as I could, I felt lucky to get in a blind cross at that point.  Even though I fell behind while she was running through the tunnel, Belle followed my verbal and kept running straight ahead to the finish.

On one of our other runs, I tried a rear cross, and although it worked, Belle hesitated upon exiting the tunnel and looked at me for direction.  One thing I forgot to try was blind crossing or front crossing the weave pole exit and running with #17 on my right.  Several people tried this and it worked out pretty well as long as their dogs would drive on without them for the final two jumps.  I didn't think I could run fast enough for this to be successful for us, but you never know if you don't try.

I also messed around handling the dogwalk on my right.  After the A-frame, I slowed down drastically while sending Belle over #10.  Then I pulled her back to the dogwalk.  Then I was able to rear cross #12 and #14.  However, I found that plan to be less than ideal since it cause Belle to turn too abruptly and she did some slipping.

On the first run, several dogs had way too much momentum going after the triple and were unable to stay on the table.  On subsequent runs, several handlers (including me) took the jump after the dogwalk for granted and failed to support their dog's path.


  1. We ran this exact course at our practice last week, and it was interesting to read how you handled the weave poles to the finish. I have a fast BC, and I ran just slightly ahead of her in the poles and then ran a diagonal line to the tunnel so that I was pushing on her path while telling her out tunnel. I continued to run diagonally, doing a rear cross, as she went in the tunnel so that she knew where I was coming out of the tunnel. I also called go on jump when she was about to come out of the tunnel to keep her in a straight line.

    On jump 6 to the table, she had a lot of momentum as well, but I called right table as she was taking the triple so that she really collected after taking the jump.

  2. I think my error when I tried the rear cross was paralleling Belle's path too closely so that my rear cross ended up being too abrupt for her to realize I had changed sides--she looked for me on the right side of the A-frame first. Running on a diagonal from the weaves to the tunnel would have given her more information re: my intended path.

    I always feel it's a rather cruel joke when handling a closing sequence calls for maximum speed from the handler--it's more of a challenge to the handler's conditioning than to the handler's ability to handle. The ending of this course left quite a few of us gasping for air. Luckily, I usually can find a way to use distance to solve the problem.

  3. Hey, I ran that course in person at the Parkersburg trial -

    My Sheltie is a lot slower than your Belle but it was a fun course. The video starts at the teeter. I was on the wrong side and caused Ricky to slice the triple and he knocked the top bar. Lots of people running fast dogs had trouble with the course in general.

  4. Thank you for sharing your video. It was interesting to see how the course was actually set by the judge. I think the distance between the panel and the triple on the trial course was at least a stride greater than it was set yesterday for our run-thru. I would think that made hanging on to the table even more difficult for the fast dogs.