Monday, January 28, 2013

Bonus Line Practice

It is very hard to believe that yesterday there was a quarter inch of ice on the ground.  The patio was so slick, we took the dogs out through the garage for their outing of the evening--didn't need anyone slipping and getting hurt.  (Since the coyotes were out in force, we went with them to be on the safe side.)

Today the ice is melted and the sun was in and out.  I took advantage of the nice weather and worked all three Aussies outdoors this morning, concentrating on their heeling and stepping off with me on my first step.  Then I picked up the yard.

This afternoon, I decided either we should go tracking or I should set up a course to practice distance.  Since I didn't feel like leaving home, I decided to set up a Jumpers course with hoops and work on distance.

This one of the current VT courses on the NADAC forum cite.  (I added my own bonus line.)  I thought the hardest part of the course would be the turn from 6 to 7, and by and large it was.  However, it also took us a few tries to get the sequence from 3-6.  With Belle, the key to getting the turn from 6 to 7 is that I must use her name.  See "What's in a Name?"

I was surprised how quickly we pulled it all together.  Notice how much calmer my voice is by the last run.  ;-)  Oh to be able to handle it like that the first time.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Our First AKC Trial in Preferred

I thought Belle's days in AKC were over since I no longer want to jump her at 20", and I was unwilling to start over in Novice Preferred.  However, beginning January 1, 2013, AKC will allow you to move to Preferred at any level less than or equal to your current Regular level.  We had our first Preferred runs yesterday at Scott County Kennel Club's trial.

Like last Friday's CPE Jumpers course, this one was cluttered.  However, I feel it was our best run of the day.  Belle responded beautifully to my two blind crosses, and it was a clean run at 5.2 yps. 

The Standard course had a very low Q rate.  Lot's of the usual faults, refusals, missed contacts, bars, and quite a few table faults.  However, the most difficult section of the course was from the table to the #17 jump.

The course map shows a wingless triple, but the actual triple had wings.  Most of the small dog handlers tried to put a front cross in on the take off side of the triple and it wasn't pretty.  If you are running close to your dog there is a basic problem with placing the front cross here.  Namely, your dog will be strongly influenced on its approach to the triple by the red section of the handler's line.  As you can see, from the dog's point of view, the next logical obstacle will be the tunnel under the A-frame.  If you manage to redirect your dog upon landing, you are unintentionally doing a V-set and the next logical obstacle after 16 will be the 4/11 jump.

I thought placing the front cross between 15 and 16 would work well enough for those handlers fast enough to get there, but to my surprise, it was no guarantee of sucess.  Many of the dogs still wanted the tunnel and/or went off course to 4/11.  Also, several of the large dogs handlers who executed timely front crosses between 15/16, got to 17 too early or too late and their dog took it in the wrong direction.

Something that worked for several teams was for the handler to keep their dog on their left and do a rear cross turn at 17.  A handfull of the handlers who ran it this way, did it really, really well and it was an awsome display of teamwork.  I don't know if Belle could do it or not, but it is something I want to try when spring comes.

When I walked this course, I planned to rear cross 5 and send Belle to the tunnel and then layer 17.  However, after watching several teams run, I decided it was a risky choice since standing to the outside of 17 would probably draw Belle to the off-course jump.  Unfortunately, I never walked into the gap between the weaves and the jump on my walkthrough, and I didn't realize just how tight it was.  I basically came to a complete stop and let Belle pass me by before following after her.  (Almost every other handler picked their dog up within five feet of the tunnel exit.  I don't think I would have opted for doing that even if it had occurred to me, but I would have worked on timing my arrival at inside standard of 17 a little better.)

One other thing I observed on this course was the large percentage of handlers who chose push their dog into the #6 tunnel.  I was very surprised that it worked for most who tried it.  To me it seems almost rude to do such an abrupt push.  Especially when either a FC after 4 or a RC on the take off side of 5 is such a viable option.  I must admit though, many of the handlers who tried the rear cross ended up pulling their dogs off of 5, and I don't recall anyone who did the push after the jump having a knocked bar or an off-course.

One last word about T2B.  Although I certainly would have prefered for the judge to not have been where she was, she was not the reason for Belle's failure to take the A-frame.  I meant to lead out to the winged jump and then release Belle.  I made the mistake of releasing her before I stopped and she took her cue from my direction of motion.  A wonderful Snooker skill, but not of much help here.   I realized after the run it would have been much better to lead out only as far the "X" in the video, so that I could support Belle's path to the A-frame.  Once Belle got on the A-frame, I thought the rest of the run rocked.  

Our A-frame contacts look a little sketchy on the video, but Sue seems to have a pretty good eye, so I guess Belle put a rear toe or two into the yellow.  I was very, very happy with her dog walk contact in Standard.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January Thaw or Should I Say Guffaw

Thursday night it rained and melted what snow that was left, so  I decided to set the December, 2012 Exercise of the month from the Clean Run website on Friday.

The first two exercises were pretty straightforward.  However, the third exercise had me really exercised. For some reason, I was absolutely unable to remember the correct way to take #5. On Saturday, we got out early because winter is supposed to return.  Unfortunately, other problems popped up in the third exercise, and we never did get it correctly all the way through.  Here's the video of some of our efforts--it should be good for a laugh if nothing else.

Ignorance is bliss, so we tackled #4.  Despite some mistakes, we were able to get this one done three different ways.  Here's the video of our work on Exercises 1, 2, and 4.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Fine Tuning - NYE Trial

Belle and I went to our first trial since early November.  Since it was NYE, I only entered four classes so we would be sure to be back home before it was dark.  We haven't done any contacts since our last trial, so I was a little concerned about whether or not Belle would hit them.  Chances was our first run and the dog walk was the contact.  I made the mistake of saying easy just as she started the down ramp.  Belle collected and put in a long stride (almost a jump) at the yellow, but I was pretty sure her nails of her rear feet were in the yellow.  Apparently, the judge agreed with me.  In Regular, I said nothing except "easy" before the first A-frame, and I didn't look to see if Belle hit the yellow, I just trusted her to do it.  Belle's first Regular run was her fastest time ever in Regular!

I didn't plan to blog about this trial, so I didn't ask anyone to film our runs until jumpers.  These days, I'm really trying to improve my timing so that Belle has the information she needs before she takes off.  When you watch video of a jumpers run, you can tell if your timing is right when the dog's path is straight and true with no bobbles in her line.

We were 3 for 3 going into Jumpers.  Unfortunately, I totally missed the challenge presented at the #12 jump on the walk-thru.  I think we might have stayed on course despite my oversight if I hadn't gotten way too far ahead of Belle at #10.  Belle landed on her left lead at #12, but then I looked back at her to be sure she was there, which caused her to change leads on her next stride and take the off-course jump.  In hindsight, I could have probably avoided the off-course in several different ways.

1 I could have used Belle's name and my off-side arm to grab her attention when I checked back to see where she was.  (This should have occurred to me while we running.)
2. I could have kept moving (instead of slowing down as I did) while Belle was taking 11 and 12, and done a blind or front cross on the landing side of 12.  (I would have had to thought of this idea on the walk-thru, but alas I didn't.)

3.  If I wanted to rear cross the take-off side of 13 (not really a very good choice in this situation with this dog), I could have paced myself better by moving to (30,40) while sending Belle to 7-9 and then executing my front cross on the take-off side of #10.
4.  Actually, moving to (30,40) is probably a better path choice for me even if I want to rear cross Belle on the landing side of #13 since it would allow me to remain a little further from the 70' line and thus avoid pressuring Belle's line from 12 to 13.

Incidentally, if you watch Belle closely, you will see that I was late indicating the turn after #3 and the switch between 6 and 7.  Also, my front cross rotation at #10 was a smidge late.


I was a bar setter for Open Jumpers, and I was really surprised how nasty the line from 8 to 9 was.  For anyone who could outpace their dog it wasn't that much of a problem, but still, I'd prefer not to step into my dog as she lands to accomplish a switch.  For those handlers with fast dogs, getting to #9 was tough without strong verbal skills.  As I sat watching the dogs run, I thought this was one I might not get with Belle.

However, looking at the course map, I guess I would make sure Belle was far enough ahead of me at 7 so that I could rear cross the take-off side of 8.  Then I would do a switch into the pinwheel.