Saturday, August 28, 2010

More Jumping, Weaving and Ground Work

I'm a little late posting this, but the other day I did front crosses!  I set up a super simple exercise:


And I would just practice crossing after the first jump.  It was successful, but I found that I was thinking about my footwork and the result was that I was losing enthusiasm.  Jonah responded with a similar lack of enthusiasm.  Honestly, though, it would be difficult for me to do a cross with him running full speed.  Anyway, by the time I was really getting it, Jonah was getting bored, but I was satisfied with the fact that I can, in fact, do a cross.


In the last few days, we've been doing a lot of weave practice.  First off, I figured out a pretty good temporary solution to the physical pole problem.  Last I posted, I was looking to buy a set.  Well, after looking around I'm not sure I'm ready to make a purchase.  I'm just not impressed with the PVCs--they seem too flimsy.  The metal ones are pricey.  I found fiber glass sets which were moderately priced, but since I've been doing the channel method I just wasn't sure I wanted to buy straight sets.  Any metal channel sets are really expensive. 

Anyway, I realized that I can just double up my flower pots and they are sufficiently sturdy.  This sort of offers a good solution because A) they're cheap.  I haven't spent a penny on them--I'm just using things I found in the garage.  B) I can use them for channel method, because they stand separately.  C)  I can use them indoors.  No stakes in the ground.  D)  They're easy to move.  I can pick them up in a minute and when I want to make the channel smaller it only takes a few seconds.  E)  I can also tip the poles weave-o-matic style.  I've been having a slight tip to help Jonah even with a little channel.

So, the downside is that I can't figure out a way to do guide wires.  I'm sure there's some product I could buy, but I don't know what it is and, well, I'm too lazy to figure it out at the moment.  Since my poles are stakes, not PVC poles, the typical guide wires won't clip on.  I had some wire in the tool box, but it wasn't sturdy enough to hold its shape and it looked like a torture device.  I quickly abandoned that idea.  Between channel and weave-o-matic, I think we will make do without guide wires at least for now.

Each day we've been running through our poles a few times a day, 5-10 repetitions each session.  I've brought out the big guns of treats a few times, and now he seems excited to be doing the weaves.  We started with the poles offset about a foot and have now successfully brought them all the way straight (no channel).  I still have the poles tipped weave-o-matic style. 

I am thrilled with how he's coming.  Today for the first time he actually hopped side to side like a real agility dog.  Well, like a real small dog agility dog, anyway.  The border collie one leg-each-side move is still on the horizon.  He doesn't attack the poles like your typical border collie, but he's definitely running through them the whole way.  I started him by asking him to stay and then recalling him through the poles, but now I just help him find the entry and then jog next to him.  He's good about focusing on the poles, not me.  Once he's found the entry, he rarely pops out.  Of course, we're only doing 6 poles right now, but I'm totally satisfied.  We have a full set of 6 inside and outside, so when he's ready to do more we can combine them.  Before we do that, though, I'll work on keeping his confidence high, pushing the pace a little, and straightening the poles so they're fully upright.


We've been doing a fair amount of ground work and I'm pleased with the results.  Jonah had gotten a little forgetful of his healing, so we went back to that (off leash), and were working on our sits when I stop, turns, changes of pace, and him switching sides in front of me while I walk.  He's really quite attentive and I think it's good practice.  In the horse world, doing agility without the ground work would be like jumping without dressage.  Funny that, in the horse world, I often enjoy the dressage more than the jumping.  I hope I can get there with the dog stuff, too!

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