We did an opening course twice: once handling with all rear crosses and once with all front crosses. I get excited about doing rear crosses since it's still a relatively new thing that he'll do them consistently well. That said, Joan and I both thought the course went better with the front crosses. I enjoy it because I really have to push myself to get places in time, and I like running.
One thing that came up was just about handling philosophy of when to do a cross. I've been in the frame of mind where I do a cross in a turn, but Joan wanted me to cross right before the turn. That way the cross cues the turn. We did one segment where Jonah was on my right, 90 degree left turn to two straight jumps, 180 degree right turn to weave poles (starting lower right corner, ending top right):
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If I had been doing this on my own, I would have front crossed between the first and second jump, during that 90 degree left turn. Instead, Joan had me do the cross between the two straight jumps, numbers 2 and 3. It wasn't something I was used to, but it worked well.
We did a tunnel/A frame discrimination. The tunnel was right at the wall, so I had no option but to push out past the A frame to the tunnel. I thought Jonah would bid on the frame, but he was super and got the tunnel every time. Then in a later sequence he had become patterned to the tunnel, though, and when I wanted him to take the A-frame he took the tunnel a few times. I'm really excited to work on discriminations outside this spring. It's something we've never really 'worked on,' they've just come up from time to time in our courses. I think he could benefit from having some repetitions and getting familiar with cues.
I did my first blind cross today. Jonah was in a tunnel on my right, and then out of the tunnel was a clockwise pinwheel. The first time I landing side rear crossed the first jump. Second time I rear-crossed on the takeoff side of the first jump. Third time I blind crossed the tunnel and picked him up on my left out of the tunnel. It worked great! Of course, I could have front crossed there, too, but the blind cross was faster. I know some people are against blind crosses, and I'm holding out judgment for now, but I have to say this one worked really well.
We worked on some de-motivating sequences: a pinwheel and a threadle. Jonah slows down quite a lot, but Joan doesn't seem worried. She suggested that I try to keep my feet moving quickly and just take small steps so that I'm not stopping while wanting him to keep running. He would slow down, but he was accelerating well out of these questions, which was an improvement. This is another thing I want to work on this spring: sprint, technical question, sprint. Hopefully this will improve on our issue of starting fast at trials and continuously slowing down as the run goes on. If the course opens up, Jonah should, too.
Another thing that came up that we can work on is the dogwalk contact again. He's really solid if I stop with him, but we realized that his contact is very dependent on my stopped movement. Back to work on this one!
So, overall it was a great lesson and we have real things to work on. Some of them have to wait for the weather, but we can work on the contacts now. It's nice to have real 'assignments.'
Other things of note:
-Jonah's weave poles were fabulous. Fast, and he nailed all his entries, some of which were tricky.
-While we were warming up I reved him up for some tunnels and he was doing them faster.
-Jonah was super happy the whole time he was there, and he would let me rough him up before his runs.
-He was really fast!
We now have a regular slot for a private lesson. It's nice to know we're going to be getting consistent instruction. As I said, I'm really happy with Joan and I think it's a great situation. It's a decent drive, but it's worth it, at least for now.