Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Three Sequences Without an A-Frame ;-)

Bud Houston posted three new sequences this morning, so I thought I'd haul out the jumps and weave poles and give them a whirl.  In the first exercise, the main issue is how to handle the turn from jump #7 to the weaves.  I tried using a blind cross, a front cross, and finally a rear cross to achieve the turn with Belle.  The blind cross felt most comfortable, the rear cross the least.  When I did the front cross I felt it was clumsy because I had to stop moving to do it.  However, looking at the video I see it wasn’t as bad as I thought.  It would be nice to be able to do a moving front cross, but it just isn’t going to happen on grass.  However, when I timed the sequences, I was amazed to find that the sequence was nearly .7 seconds faster using the front cross.  (The time for the sequences was almost the same using the blind cross and the rear cross.)

I could understand why the rear cross was slower, I had to allow Belle to pass me before I could complete the rear cross.  Additionally, if you watch the comparison clips closely, you will see another consequence of the rear cross.  Because I indicate a rear cross by fading in the opposite direction first, Belle jumps over the middle of the bar.  She doesn’t land particularly long, but she isn’t in a position to do a clean wrap to the weaves.  Using the front cross and the blind cross results in her jumping close to the right standard and being able to execute a nice, tight wrap.

As an aside, if you follow Linda Mecklenburg’s handling system, you will realize that my cue for a rear cross is incorrect.  Her cue is to move laterally (shoulders facing forward) toward the side you want your dog to turn to.  It is a skill I’ll have to work on, but it will take conscious effort on my part to not revert to old habits.

I didn’t expect the rear cross to work all that well since I knew up front that I’d have to pace myself in order to use it.  But I really was really stymied as to why the blind cross wasn’t at least as fast as the front cross.  I had to compare the clips in slow motion to find out where we lost time.  I turns out it was at jump #5, the jump in the bottom right corner of the video.  I think I gave Belle more timely information about her direction after #5 when I was concerned with getting to the landing side of #6 in order to execute a front cross.  When I used the blind cross, I didn’t have any doubt that I could get into position so I waited a beat longer before moving laterally.

Also, notice that I still haven’t managed to break myself of the habit of using “go” without an obstacle name.  In this instance, just the obstacle name might have been a better choice, since I don’t really want Belle to go on ahead of me.  What I want is for her to remain committed to the jump in front of her while I move laterally to the next obstacle.

I went out and tried the blind cross one more time, remembering to move laterally sooner and use “over” instead of “go.”  However, this time, I found myself late decelerating for the jump before the weaves and this produced a wide turn.  Our time was about the same as the time for this morning’s blind cross run.  I didn’t think to try the sequence using the front cross—I’ll try that tomorrow if the weather permits and see if it was just a fluke that it was faster today.

As far as time is concerned, whichever way I chose to handle the other two exercises, the time was amazingly consistent.  The third exercise, however, did test my handling skills as you will see in the video.

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