We received some much needed rain last night, and I was able to get out early this morning and set up a basic little exercise to test the effect of pre-curving a dog's line on a post turn.
In our area, giving your dog a signal that there is a relatively sharp turn or wrap after a jump is known as a "pre-cue." Most commonly, pre-cues are associated with front crosses. In her book, Knowledge Equals Speed, Dawn Weaver outlines how to pre-cue a turn when you are using a post turn. She calls it "pre-curving" the dog's path, and in her illustrations, she shows the effect it has on shortening up the dog's path, which is a major consideration for those who want to be competitive. However, pre-curving the dog's path is about more than just speed--it is also helps reduce wear and tear on our dogs' joints.
When you use a pre-cue to start your dog turning before take-off, the stress upon landing is minimized because your dog doesn't have to jam on his brakes in order to achieve a tight turn. I was very pleased with how well Belle and Dusty responded to an off-arm cue to pre-curve their paths before taking a jump. (Olga Chaiko uses a similar method which her students call "the claw.") In fact, it felt so natural that I had to look at some older video to see if it wasn't something I was already doing without realizing it. It wasn't, and it wasn't too very hard to find a couple of clips that showed the consequences of not pre-curving a turn.
Note: In narrating the video, I used "pre-cuing" instead of "pre-curving" since "pre-cuing" is the term I'm more familiar with. Actually, I think I like Olga Chaiko's term the best since it denotes a specific handling option. "Pre-cuing" in general is just letting your dog know as soon as possible what's coming up. "Pre-curving" or starting the dog's turn on the take-off side of the jump is really something we want to do no matter how we choose to handle a specific jump (front cross, rear cross, post turn, etc.)