Today Jonah and I ventured up to Riverside for open practice. We're supposed to get yet another foot of snow tonight, so no one else showed up, and we had the whole ring to ourselves!
When we first went in Jonah was nervous and wanted to leave. As soon as I got him away from the gate, though, he picked up. I did a bunch of stuff on leash first: a few basic lines of jumps and the dogwalk. These were just to get him motivated and his blood flowing. He was cruising across the dogwalk and taking the jumps at good speed, too. I think, as much as the leash is a hassle for me over any turns, he responds quite well to it, and I need to make more of an effort of staying with him when he's off-leash.
We worked a bunch of serpentines, which I handled on either side, with front crosses and with rear crosses. Overall, his rear crosses today were great. He was happy driving out in front of me for the jumps. His front crosses were a little weaker. They always 'worked,' but he wasn't very responsive off the cues and was making wide, sweeping turns instead of quick, sharp ones. I'm not going to worry too much about this, but it's something I'll keep my eye out for in the future and maybe ask Joan about in a lesson.
Jonah's weaves were good tonight. He popped out twice at about the 10th pole, but he was really pushing the pace and I think he just lost his footwork when he popped out. Again, something to keep an eye out for, but I'm not too worried for the meantime. We'll only see 6 poles this weekend, and I have confidence that someday we will get our new, beautifully painted poles outside and he'll be a pro through the poles. We didn't have the chance to practice too many tough entries tonight, but again, that's just something we'll have to look for in the future.
I need to support the chute more than I think. Jonah was great with distance work tonight, taking jumps at lateral distance and sending out in front of me. With the chute, though, I thought he would drive ahead to the next jump, but I do really think he gets a little disoriented in there, and he missed the 'out' to the jump. My fault, and I just need to remember that in the future: when he comes out of the chute, I need to be there to help him find the next obstacle.
His contacts on the dogwalk and teeter were super, but he ran down the A-frame a few times without stopping in his 2o2o. The A-frame used to be his favorite obstacle, but now that it's full height he looks a little worried coming down the steep ramp. I'm curious about teaching him a running A-frame contact because he needs a little encouragement to come down confidently, and I think the stopped contact is unmotivating. Anyway, it's probably safest to have a stopped contact first, but I might do some reading about a running contact.
One funny thing about the teeter: Jonah performs the teeter great. He looks happy, goes right up, tips it, and goes into a beautiful 2o2o. Great. But, then he was stressed about the noise of the teeter returning back to its normal position. He doesn't blink when he tips it and he's on it, but the noise of it resetting is somehow troubling. I guess maybe he knows when to anticipate the first bang, but the second he's often not watching the teeter and it comes as a surprise. Anyway, we did a little bit of noise-sensitivity stuff with me just manually banging the teeter and feeding him each time it made a noise.
Overall, I'm feeling good about this weekend. We're going to go on Friday to get measured and then we won't have to be there as early on Saturday. I'm still feeling less than 100% confident about Snooker, but I think the rest of things should go pretty smoothly. Hopefully I'll be relaxed enough between rounds that I can get homework done...