Saturday, August 13, 2011

Übung Monat August (Exercise for the Month of August)

I started corresponding with Tanja of Scotti's Seite from Germany in March when she contacted me for directions to construct some hoops. Unfortunately, Tanja only speaks German and the only other language I have some fluency in is Spanish, so we must depend upon Google Translator to communicate.  German has a very flexible grammatical structure and the translations from German to English are often obscure.  I can only imagine how mangled the English to German translations are.

Tanja and Claudia have been involved in agility for more more than 14 years and are agility seminar presenters who seem to be in great demand in Germany.  Tanja combines distance with the technical skills needed on a German course.  The send distance of her dogs is very impressive.

Anyway, Tanja asked me if I would like to join her group and share my running of the monthly exercises they do (Übungen des Monats). There is a new base course each month that features three different sequences.  Each sequence is to be handled in two different ways.  Everyone films from the same spot on the course so that we can compare ways of handling.

That much I understood.  However, I thought Tanja or her friend Claudia did all the course designing.  Imagine my surprise when I was asked to design this month's exercises.  I've designed practice courses before, but German practice courses involve threadles and lot's of really "weird stuff" that I only do occasionally, so I'm really working at a disadvantage in trying to design a course of sufficient complexity.  I decided to keep my course layout simple and used a three-jump serpentine, a pinwheel, two tunnels and a set of weave poles.  Here's the base course:

Now comes the hard part, dreaming up three sequences that defy the concept of "flow."  In addition to having to think out of the box to set up the sequences, I was faced with the additional problem of memorizing the courses so that I could run them and see if they were hard enough.  For me, flow equals a logical way to move through a course that doesn't require the full attention of all my little gray cells just to memorize the order of the obstacles.  "Non-flow" means I have to really memorize the sequence so I know where we're going and can let Belle know in time for her to do something about it.  (Sort of like going for all 7's in Snooker.)

I  worked on the hardest exercise first, which was Exercise 3.
The first way I chose to handle went pretty well, as you can see here.  (I decided to change #11 to the backside after filming.)

But then I had to come up with something different for my second run.  I decided to run with Belle for 1-3 and rear cross the weaves.  I quickly found that if I didn't run far enough beyond the first pole (to the left) with Belle before turning and sending her into the weaves, my motion to complete the turn and head in the right direction would either cause Belle to stop weaving or pop out.

Handler's path for a successful rear cross on the weaves.
Next I worked on the second exercise.  That one wasn't too bad.

Lastly, I tackled the first exercise.  Ugh!  This one was supposed to be the simplest of the bunch.  I tried filming it during three different sessions without getting it right.  (A lot of our aborted efforts were at the weave pole exit when I goofed and thought that Belle had popped out on the wrong side as I tried to execute a front cross.  Duh, dumb handler.)  Another spot where we had a problem was getting from 8 to 9.  My initial efforts to keep Belle away from the off-course 2/10 jump resulted in her taking #9 from the wrong side.
Actually, now that I posted the course map, I see that I forgot about the wrap to the #11 tunnel on our "successful" runs during our fourth session with this sequence.  Oh, well.  Such is life.  I've already taken down the course and mowed, so what you see is what you get.  On a much more positive note, at least this month I was able to do all three exercises.  In July, I never came close to getting the third one--largely because I just couldn't remember the sequence while running in the heat and humidity.

Here's the video of our most successful efforts on these three courses.  (I will add the videos of other people running these exercises as they become available.)

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