Those of you who live in the Midwest know how crummy the weather has been this month. Today it is cold and damp, but at least it isn't windy and rainy. Tomorrow, I think it will be warm enough to set up a full course, but for today I decided to set up the first of the Alphabet Drills designed by Nancy Gyes (Clean Run, 02/05).
For the first exercise, Nancy suggested using a rear cross between jumps 3 and 4. I decided to try with a rear cross and then a front cross. (With Belle, I also tried the exercise from an imaginary bonus line.) With both Belle and Dusty, I discovered the front cross produced a faster time on the exercise. For Dusty, the difference was approximately .8 of a second; for Belle the difference was only about .2 of a second. In Dusty's case, the rear cross produced a wider turn around the right standard of #4. For Belle, it didn't really seem to make that much difference in how tight her line was from #4 to #5. However, in both cases, I had to wait for the dog in order to do a rear cross.
That brings up a very important point regarding crosses. In order to do a rear cross, you must be behind your dog. If you have to wait for your dog, there's a good chance you could do a front cross instead. The more dynamic your handling, the faster your time will be. Moving more slowly or standing still cues a dog to slow down. Moving more slowly is preferable to standing still since once you stand still, you are no longer giving your dog any information about where the course is going.