Saturday, I went through a couple of long threads on Linda Mecklenburg's forum site regarding training a running A-frame. On Sunday, Belle and I went to a CPE trial. My primary concern was how the running contacts would go. Well, they didn't go all that well. Belle missed the yellow five out of six times, although we only got called for one missed contact. On the bright side, she did come over the apex of the A-frame without tentatively putting down one front foot at a time. She just didn't come over the apex with enough conviction to carry her far enough down so that her next stride would be in the yellow. I gave her a big "Yes!" on each of her A-frame attempts so that she would realize I do indeed want her to just keep moving on the A-frame.
From the information I was able to gather on Saturday, the time has come to discard the props and see if the A-frame behavior will hold up without them in training. It is also time to start running sequences that mimic an actual course leading into the A-frame. I was quite shocked yesterday when I ventured out toward the field. Despite the snow, the A-frame was clear and the snow was only 3-4 inches deep around it. I gave Belle one pass at the A-frame with the stride regulator and no PVC box. Then I removed the SR, and we tried again. Imagine my joy when she nailed the contact! We tried a couple more times, and she nailed it each time. I finally had to get my camera and record the moment.
Upon until now, we've been practicing with a straight approach to the A-frame. I can't run in the snow, so there's no point in trying to set up a partial course. So I did the next best thing and set up four hoops as shown in red. The footing was a little deep for Belle, but on her second try on each side of me, she managed a two-stride descent.
Since it is not safe to work on the dogwalk outside, I'm planning to use a TOTO for the dogwalk at our up-coming trials. Once spring arrives, we'll work on it some more.