June 20, 2012. This morning was absolutely beautiful. I set up a four jump opening sequence so I could try out a handling maneuver that Dawn Weaver refers to as the scoop. She uses the scoop as an alternative to a lead out pivot with her bigger and faster dogs. After reading about the scoop, I had my doubts as to whether or not it was something we could use, but I decided to give it a try before dismissing it. After all, the more tricks you have in your handling bag, the better prepared you are for new challenges.
I was working without benefit of seeing the move done--I had only Dawn's description and a few photos. As I suspected neither Belle nor Dusty got it. However, after I reviewed our video I discovered they didn't get it because my feet were pointed at an off-course jump instead of the jump I wanted them to take. Once I corrected the position of my feet, the dogs didn't seem to have any trouble understanding which jump I wanted them to take.
Because the handler's lower body must be committed to the jump she wants her dog to take, she has to turn at the waist to communicate with her dog at the start line. I found this to be a little awkward and would have probably decided the scoop wasn't really a move I ever needed to use. However, for the opening we were working on, there are only two other options: a post turn (with pre-curving) or a lead out pivot. My choice would be a post turn since I don't do lead out pivots unless it is the only way I can communicate what I want and still get downstream to handle an upcoming tricky sequence.
However, as you will see in the video, the post turn option really didn't work all that well with Dusty. Dusty is not fully committed to a jump until he is in the air, and I forgot to take that into account several times when using the post turn opening. With a scoop, I was 45° closer to the direction I needed to be facing in order to finish the sequence before I released Dusty from the start line. This meant I could concentrate on supporting his path in the 180 and not have to fret about getting myself turned in the direction of the final jump.
With Belle, I felt the scoop was a little demotivating, but when I timed the sequence, there really wasn't any difference time wise. All I really have to do is to learn to set up the lower part of my body faster. As long as I run from the start line to my set up point, Belle will get fired up. Remembering to lead out on the appropriate side helps too ;-)