Wednesday, June 27, 2012

From Choas to Order

I set up this Elite Jumpers course on Monday:

First I tried it from behind the 20-pt line, but this proved to be too difficult for Belle and me.  The basic problem for us is that it is just too far back, especially if I want to remain far enough back from the line that moving forward is an option.  I analyzed our efforts in the video, so I won't repeat the analysis here.

One thing that I completely missed was the difficulty of managing the dog's path from the tunnel to #8.  It wasn't until I tried running the course with Dusty this morning that it was driven home to me how difficult the line is.  1-8 allow the dog to move in full extension.  However, when the dog hits #7 at full speed, his line is not going to take him to #8, especially if the handler is left of 5/7.

With Dusty, it would have been a better handling choice to move toward the tunnel entrance with him so I could pick him up on my left and then rear cross #8.  However, I persevered and he eventually managed to come out of the tunnel and check his speed in response to my static position.

This course ran much better in reverse.  Belle and I nailed it from the 15-pt line after just one false start, and Dusty had no problems with it either.


Friday, June 22, 2012

The Importance of Video

I know I've talked about it in the past, but I wanted to once again stress how valuable it is to video tape and analyze your runs.  Even if your fortunate enough to train with others, you need to hone your observational skills to improve as a handler.  To obtain the maximum benefit from videoing, it is imperative that both you and your dog are in frame so that you can see the effects of your handling on your dog's path.

Nowadays, I shoot from a tripod whenever possible.  It eliminates the shakiness and/or erratic motion that sometimes occurs when the camera is handheld, especially when the videographer doesn't really know where the course is going.  Another advantage of shooting from a tripod is that I can overlay clips and directly compare two sequences.

I can also compare course times (without having to use a stopwatch) and determine if one way of handling is clearly more effective than another.  In order to compare times, it is best to either use a tripod or make sure your videographer shoots the sequences to be compared from the same spot.

I always try to preserve the audio when I edit my videos.  Obviously, I want to know if my verbals are timely, but I also want to know if I am running mostly silent or issuing excess verbals when I analyze sequences that we've run.  Wind noise used to be a big problem in my field until I picked up a handy tip several months ago to help with that.  I covered the mike on my camera with a piece of cotton batting held in place with painters tape.  I was afraid that the mike would no longer pick up my voice out in the field, but it does just fine.  It doesn't cut out all wind noise, but it's a heck of lot better than it was.

Today Belle and I worked on a jumpers course (set with hoops) from the 20-pt bonus line.  If it weren't for the video, I would have thought our main problem was Belle's less than perfect grasp of "left."  However, when I analyzed the video, I found out that I was quite wrong.  Here's the video:


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Parcours des Monats - Juni

Sabine Westhaeusser posted the June Parcours des Monats (designed by Diana Domokos) on her website last week.  The course maps can be found here.

The first exercise went pretty smoothly for Belle and me.  The second, however, was another story.  We had various and sundry off-courses and refusals, but our number one problem was hitting the weave pole entrance.  After working on this course over a period of several days, it is obvious to me that if I want Belle to have weave pole entries that are completely independent of me no matter what the angle, we are going to have to devote a training session or two a month to increasing and maintaining her skills.

The major problem we encountered on this course was getting into the #14 tunnel and going directly from that tunnel to the #15 jump.  After taking a break of a couple of days due to hot weather, I had to refresh my memory by looking at the course map.  I discovered that in our prior attempts, I was mistakenly directing Belle to the back side of #13.  Taking #13 in the correct direction seemed to make getting Belle into the tunnel easier, but it didn't solve the problem of getting from the tunnel to #15.  Successfully doing that seemed to be dependent upon getting out ahead before Belle exited the tunnel.

Here's my video with commentary about some of the problems we encountered.  You can view video of other people running these courses by clicking here.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More Bonus Line Practice

This morning, I set up this jumpers course using hoops:

Looking at the course map, I thought problem areas of this course would be:
  • Getting Belle to turn from 9 to 10. However, once I had the course set up, I realized that even from the 20-pt line, #10 wasn't all that far away.
  •  Getting past the three off-course possibilities on the way from 10 to 11.
  •  Turning Belle from 13 to 14 and getting her to continue on to 16.
When we actually ran the course, I found that most of my handling mistakes occurred when Belle was running along the outer edges of the course (1-9) and I failed to keep pressure on her path.