Thursday, August 25, 2011

Class Session 2

I don't think I could have a more fun dog.  He's the best!

When we got to class Jonah walked in happily and didn't bark at the dogs leaving from the previous class or entering for our class.  Good boy!  He did bark some while I walked the first course, but after that he settled really well and didn't seem to even really notice the other dogs around him.  It gave me hope that there could really be improvement.

The first course started with a fairly un-motivating jump sequence which required a lead out and send.  It's not the sort of thing that Jonah especially likes because he cues a lot of his enthusiasm off my running and I basically didn't do any for the first four obstacles.  Nonetheless, his lead-out was solid and he drove out nicely in the send.  Then we were off to the races.  His table was not immediate, but his weaves were speedy and independent enough that I could move laterally and not go to the end so I could get a FC in over the next jump.  Later in the course there was another send where I told him to go jump and then I was able to take off in the other direction to get to the bottom of the A-frame in time for another FC.  Jonah was eager, took the cues perfectly, and we executed a moment of brilliance!

It's funny to me that we so often have clean, qualifying runs at trials but in class we seem to make an error here or there on most courses the first time we run them.  This first course, though, ran clean the first time.  Some reasons I can think of as to why we do 'better' at trials than at class:
  • Courses at class are harder.  I think the courses are typically supposed to be more towards Masters level courses, and we're not there yet at trials.
  • The arena is smaller at class, so all the obstacles are closer together.
  • Jonah runs faster at class, so there's less room for error.
  • I'm not in competitive mode, so I'm more willing to try things.
  • I don't walk the courses as thoroughly at class, since I like to get to the running!
  • I don't get to watch as many dogs run before me, so I can't learn what spots are sticky.
Anyway, we ran the first course again and this time it was even smoother and still lovely and clean.  His A-frame contact was close, but he was super fast and I'm not going to worry about the A-frame right now since I know we'll have plenty of time to school it soon!

The second course gave us a few more challenges, but Jonah was still fantastic.  This time the opening involved lots of running from me (although it still needed a lead-out), which we both really enjoyed.  After the opening, there was a jump after the A-frame positioned so he was looking at the side of the stanchion as he was coming down the ramp.  He was supposed to take the near side but I crowded it and he went to the back-side.  There was a tricky line from the teeter to a jump and into a 180 degree turn to a weave entry.  I was worried about it but he nailed it and flew through his weaves.  Then the closing sequence involved a push to the backside of a jump and then a pinwheel.  He pushed nicely but then I tried to get a FC in on the landing side and Jonah went behind my back.  Somehow after going behind my back he proceeded to finish the pinwheel correctly without being cued.  Apparently I am a completely superfluous handler :).  

One of the dogs wasn't there tonight so we got to run the second course again.  The second time through I was able to clean up my handling and the course ran beautifully.  As he came down the A-frame, I moved laterally, dropped my close shoulder and made eye contact to draw Jonah into me and he nailed the correct side of the jump with a tight wrap.  For the backside jump into the pinwheel I pushed to the backside and then stepped back out of Jonah's path and did a RC into the rest of the pinwheel.  It was much tidier and Jonah seemed to be able to flow rather than being jammed with his mother's poorly placed FC.

Another exciting thing about class was that one of the other people brought a camera and had me film her.  Next week I'm definitely going to try to remember to bring mine, and then we can switch!  I'd love to be able to watch more footage of my handling and Jonah's running.  I'm so excited with this evening class.  I'm making friends and learning a lot AND Jonah's doing great with the other dogs.  So great!

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