Sunday, September 4, 2011

Trying Different Options

Belle and I haven't run in an AKC trial since the end of January.  Since we have one coming up at the end of September, I decided it was time to start practicing some AKC skills.  I found a course on the Agility Nerd's blog and set it up Wednesday.  I ran it a couple of times and then reviewed the video and Steve's comments on handling the course.  It was hot and humid Wednesday evening when we ran, and my handling was sluggish.  Thursday morning, I went out while it was still relatively cool and re-ran the last half of the course using Steve's suggestion for handling the jump after the weaves.  Talk about mindset, it was an option that never even occurred to me.  Yet given the distance skills we have as a team, it was a very easy option to implement, and I felt it resulted in a faster and less stressful line for Belle.

When I ran the course on Wednesday, I had to send Belle to the jump after the A-frame and do a rear cross to turn her 180 degrees into the tunnel afterward.  I messed up the timing of my cross more often than not.   This morning (Sunday), it is a blessedly cool, so I was able to try several different ways of handling the first half of the course.  First, I tried running on the inside of the teeter and doing a blind cross between the tunnel and A-frame.  Not too bad, but the blind cross could be iffy in a trial setting.  Also, I used a post turn to direct Belle over the jump following the A-frame and then a rear cross to turn her to the tunnel.  (Actually, I could have done a front cross at the bottom of the A-frame, but I just didn't think of it.)

Next, I layered the teeter and did a front cross between the tunnel and the A-frame.  This worked, but was rather cumbersome.  Lastly, I took a minimal lead out and ran with Belle, keeping quite a bit of room between me and the teeter so I could step in for a push to the following jump.  Once Belle was committed to the tunnel, I ran to the bottom of the A-frame and did a blind cross which enabled me to pull Belle over the jump and do a post turn to the tunnel.  This was by far my favorite way to handle the opening.

The details that made the difference:
  • Taking only a modest lead out so I could run which encouraged Belle to run faster.
  • Staying way lateral to the teeter so I could step in and indicate the turn to the correct jump.
  • Being on the inside of the turn from the A-frame to the jump and jump to the tunnel.

Here's the video of our work with this course:

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