I’m waiting for the grass to dry a little more before running, so I decided to commit my handling plan to paper before I run. Here goes:
LO to left standard of #2; call Belle and send her to #3 and the A-frame while I run down the 20 foot line to get into position to handle the right turn over #6 to the tunnel. I view this as the first major handling challenge. The second major challenge follows right on its heels. Coming out of the chute, a dog will have a tendency to curl into her handler and see off-course #18 upon exiting. What I want to remember to do is to keep running toward (90,-13) until Belle is committed to the #10 jump. I will probably end up on the landing side of #18, but since Belle will be heading back in my direction upon exiting the tunnel, I don’t have to worry about falling behind.
I’ll send Belle over #12 off my right and rear cross her path between that jump and the weaves. I plan to move laterally away from the weave poles so I can do a front cross between the teeter and the tunnel. I’ll finish up the course with Belle on my right, and I hope to be running toward the dogwalk exit before Belle even starts the dogwalk in order to encourage her to run it as fast as possible.
I’ve run both Dusty and Belle, and much to my surprise, I handled the course pretty much the way I planned to. Dusty threw me a curve by going directly to the #7 tunnel from the A-frame—it never even occurred to me that could be an issue. Dusty had a small problem with the way I wanted to send him to the weaves, but he did do them. Yesterday when Dusty did the teeter the first time, he was running so fast that the board fell out from under him. Today, I reminded him with a soft “easy.”
Belle’s run was perfect until we got to the dogwalk exit. She missed the yellow completely. I did a few short runs to the dogwalk and we had the same problem until I told her “bottom.” I tried not to react to the missed contact because I have worked a long time to get Belle to do the dogwalk at a run.
I looked at the videos of our previous efforts on this course, and I was really struck at how much harder I worked the course and how crummy the runs were. On all of those previous runs, I placed a front cross at the take-off side of the jump before the weaves. Unfortunately, because I had a lot of ground to cover in order to get into position for the cross, I turned my shoulders too soon and ended up pulling Belle to the dogwalk on my first attempts on both dates. When I set this course up in July, 2010, I also put in a front cross between 5 and 6. It left no doubt in the dogs’ minds where they were going, but it called for a burst of speed on my part, and I really hate using up precious energy (mine) in the early part of a run. When I ran this course in April, I opted for a rear cross at this point, and it worked then just as it did today.