Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Elite Regular 15-Point Bonus Attempt - First Challenge or I'm Late, I'm Late

At the trial last weekend, I tried to handle this course from the 15-point bonus line:

On the course map it looked very intimidating.  When I walked it, it looked possible. We pretty much made a total mess out of the attempt.

Analysis of Course Challenges:  For Belle and me there are three major challenges on this course.  First is the right turn from #4 to #5.  Momentum is carrying the dog left over #4, plus the #5 jump is not an obvious choice to the dog while she is jumping.  Second is the left turn over #11.  Unless you have a dog that really is willing to drive away from you through the weave polls, just getting to #11 can be a challenge.  Without a good response to a verbal command to turn left, achieving the left turn is problematic.  Lastly, getting from the #16 tunnel to the #17 jump was a problem.  Belle headed for the off-course #11 jump upon exiting the tunnel.  (However, I may need to tweak the tunnel exit a little to conform with how it appears on the course map.

Challenge One:  After I watched the video of Saturday's run, I thought perhaps if I had lead out further to the left (closer to the weave poles), I would have been able to do a more dramatic rear cross and Belle would have realized I wanted her to turn right after jumping #4.  For Belle and me, that turned out to be a less than perfect solution.  Mostly, I was too late with my rear cross.  Additionally, when I watched the first batch of video from this morning, I realized my lead out to the left was probably giving Belle the impression that she would be going in that direction.  

This afternoon, I changed my plan and lead out to closer to the dogwalk so that I would be able to move forward and to the left to support the drive to #4, but still have room to perform a rear cross.  As I discovered after watching everything over and over in slow motion, being timely with the rear cross cue was much more important than the position I chose to lead out to.  However, I think I would favor leading out closer to the dogwalk to hedge my bets.  No point in having Belle watch me walk out in a direction that I don't want her to go in.

Please don't be shy.  If you see something else in the videos that I can do to improve our chances of handling at a distance, please let me know.


  1. Oh, how important timing is. We are still struggling to get that down, even after YEARS of trying lines. Personally, I would have tried to front cross between 9 and 10 so that I would have not have to turn the dog away after the weaves. Since I would have wanted to do that, I probably would have started my self either in between or towards the weaves, so that I wouldn't have to race to that front cross. And now that I think about it, I've noticed with Blue sometimes dramatic movement helps her to turn, so I probably would have wanted to be over there. Timing is key though.

    Anyway, the second and third challenge seem to rely on the dog driving straight and definitely seem easier on a certain side of the obstacle. Like I said, the jump and turn after the weaves might not have been as difficult to cue if you had been on the left(?) side before she entered. I'm not quite sure about 16-17 though. On one hand, I'd want to be in that pocket (like you were) to call the dog into a turn, but on the other hand, if I stayed towards the weaves, my dog could see me out of the tunnel and I could drive forward. My dog has had issues with going straight out of a curved tunnel under a contact though (although she's actually been pretty good about that at trials recently). I just don't like having to get that turn from 17-18 from towards the right side. Too many interesting things over there. The dog just needs the info as they are going into the tunnel when you're more toward the last line of jumps.

  2. I had at least 15 unsuccessful attempts at challenge one before viewing the video. Once I slowed it to half speed, my lack of timeliness was apaling. So many of my turn cues and commands were given after Belle was already in the air over the jump. Good dog. Shame about the handler.

    I tried the front cross before the weaves but Belle still turned the wrong way. Probably another case of poor timing on my part. Another problem is loss of momentum while going thru the weaves. Belle's weaves aren't poky, but they're not blazingly fast either. The faster the dog goes through the weaves, the more momentum they have going toward the jump. Since the handler doesn't have to micromange the run to the jump, she can concentrate on timing her signals to turn left after the jump.

    I suspect the third challenge is more a matter of training and exposure for the dog as opposed to purely a matter of handling. Because the NADAC A-frame is so short, I think the send into the tunnel and on to jump #17 could be handled from either side of the A-frame. I'll find out today when we tackle challenges two and three.

  3. Hm. Blue has a pretty good go-on, so I don't usually have the weave issue. I can clearly remember one time where she did not go on, similar to this set up. I should have gotten on the side where there was no other jump to draw her to. (Maybe my command was late too, there's always that.) I have to agree that the faster the dog is, the less you have the 'drive out and away issues'.

    I really want to try to set this course up and video tape our attempts at it. Maybe next week. I might have already said this, but it's nice to actually see someone blogging about training for lines.