The snow has been keeping us out of the agility field. Sunday, Belle and I went to a practice afternoon hosted by an instructor from Moline at the QCDC. She set up a jumpers course and managed to give us five different courses without having to move a single obstacle. This gave me a chance to try some of Linda Mecklenburg's handling techniques, and it was pretty cool. By handling smart, I was able to get down field of Belle and use motion to cue her as to what was coming up next. I wish Ed had come along to video. The run and decelerate that I was using Sunday was just so different from what I normally do, yet Belle understood what I wanted. It's a different style than I would use on a NADAC course, but I'm hoping to do as many USDAA trials as I can this year, and these skills should come in handy.
The contact equipment was set up off to the side for people to practice with their dogs while waiting to run. Belle did fine on the A-frame which was set at about 5'. Monday, I stopped by a friend's agility facility to do a few A-frames and dogwalks. Her A-frame is slatted and was set at 5'6". It turned out to be the worst A-frame session Belle and I have had. (It was so bad, I couldn't bear to edit the clips into a video.) She kept putting down one or more feet above the stride regulator. I even tried moving the SR closer to the apex and removing the PVC box so we could concentrate on the stride after the apex and not worry about the contact zone, with no luck. I don't know if she was tired from Sunday or if it was the height of the A-frame, but it was disheartening.
This morning, I took a broom and cleared off the A-frame as best I could. First, we did two passes with just the stride regulator. Belle floated over the apex like a butterfly and landed below the SR. Since her rear foot/feet were hitting above the yellow, we then did two passes with the SR and PVC box in place, and they were perfect. As soon as the snow melts, I'll try raising the A-frame to 5'3" and find out if Belle can still nail it.