Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Giving the Right Impression

Yesterday morning, I used the course I posted on Sunday to practice short sequences, trying to discover why Belle and I had so much trouble with the tunnel to tunnel sequence.  It finally occurred to me that this problem was very similar to the one I experienced with the turn from #4 to #5 in March on this course:

My first thought on handling the opening was to lead out to about (30,-5) so that I would have plenty of room to cue the turn by moving right as Belle took #4.  Great plan, but it just didn't work.  I decided to try more or less starting with Belle on my left and rear-crossing the #2 tunnel.  Even though I far less real estate to move in, that worked.  I decided leading out way left didn't work because it inadvertently gave Belle the impression we would be going LEFT!  By starting with her on my left, Belle didn't start with any preconceived idea about where the course was going.

On Sunday's course, the same issue of inadvertently giving the wrong impression arose with the send to the #20 tunnel.  When I walked this course, I thought the tunnel to tunnel sequence was a given.  After all, the dog comes out of #20 at a good clip and #21 is definitely the first thing they see.  The first time that we get that far (about 1:50 on the video), Belle responds to the "go tunnel" command, but I mess up by moving too soon and too quickly to the left and pull her to the #6 jump in front of the tunnel.

Since turning left was the wrong choice, Belle starts reacting to the last cues she receives before entering the #20 tunnel:
  • Handler is on her right
  • Handler is facing right
  • Handler is moving right
If we hadn't gotten off to such a rocky start with this course, Belle might have been willing to trust her ears a second time.  However, once things began going so badly, I think a better choice would have been to do a front cross at the #18 jump as shown below:

Red path - actual handler's path.  Black path - a better idea?

I would have to hustle to get the front cross in, and I would have to be sure to move laterally and support Belle's path to #17 while I'm moving to #18.  But hopefully, being on Belle's left as she enters the tunnel would make a right turn coming out of the tunnel less of option.

P.S.  I had a chance to try the front cross this evening.  It was not a viable option.  By the time I managed to move far enough to left of #18 (looking at the course map) to execute the front cross, I was up against the bonus line.


Getting the front cross in would call for some hustle on my part, and I blush to disclose that I've become complacent in my handling with Belle.  Yesterday evening, I ran the reverse of this course with all three dogs (no bonus line attempt), and even Libby did a better job of it than Belle.

I thought about that for a few moments, and realized there was an enormous difference in the way I handled Libby and Dusty as compared with how I handled Belle.  With Libby and Dusty, I know I have to really made an effort to ensure they stay on course. Therefore, I made sure to support Libby and Dusty at all these places:
  • The #4 jump between the A-frame and the #5 tunnel
  • The push to the #6 tunnel
  • Hustled to do a blind cross at exit of #6 so I'd be on the inside for 7-10
  • Made sure to support the #9 jump
  • Had to push out for the #12 jump, but be ready to grab the dog's attention in order to get to the weaves (the off-course tunnel was really, really tempting)
  • Support the pinwheel
  • Hustle down the dogwalk so I would be in position to push out to the #20 jump and #21 tunnel
  • At this point I was really far behind for the final two jumps, but I kept pressure on and both dogs completed the course.
I brought Belle out again, and handled her with the intensity that I used with Dusty and Libby, and what a difference it made.  This time, she nailed the course.

No comments:

Post a Comment