Thursday, April 12, 2012

Old Age and Trickery

I think what I enjoy most about the international courses that I have been setting up lately is figuring out how I to handle them without keeling over.  Yesterday, Bud Houston's blog post included this South African Qualifier.  (For Bud's analysis click here.)

The first thing I noticed on the course map was the long sprint from the #7 tunnel to the #9 jump and then the long return trip to that tunnel from the teeter. 

After I set up the course, I was struck by the close spacing of #5 and #6 and #6 and the wrong end of the tunnel.  Then there was the enormous distance from #2 to the dog walk.  If I had to play catch-up here, no way I'd be able to finish the course. Lastly, the spacing between the jumps above the 60 foot line is generous even by NADAC standards.  (The course wheeled out at about 210 yards!)

Running a conservative handling path as shown on the left, I would have to cover about 375 feet.  Using a little more distance, I can cut that by about 40 feet. 

Although the difference in the two lead out positions translates into only a 10-12 foot difference, the lead out position on the right means I won't have to try to catch up with my dog right of the bat.  It also does away with the necessity of having to do a side change between #3 and the dog walk.

However, the dog has to thoroughly understand the handler's cues to take the back side of #2 in order for that option to succeed.  I tested Belle's ability to respond to those cues and discovered it was something we have to work on some more, so I set up this two-jump exercise. 

Start as close to #2 as necessary to push your dog to the back side of #2.  As your dog catches on, you can increase your distance from the jumps.

Just to keep your dog on his toes, vary the exercise by wrapping right or left around #2.

Here's the video of my two runs with Belle.  It was a fun course to tackle.

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