Friday, September 23, 2011

Late Update

Sorry I've been so quiet of late.  Things with school have been super busy, and it's been raining a lot so our agility practice time has been minimal.  Sorry, Jonah.

I think last class was the first week I have skipped a post about our lesson in the whole time this blog has been up--yikes!  Anyway, it was a good lesson but Jonah was super wild and didn't settle for quite a while.  Once he did finally catch a breath he was good, and his courses only had minor mistakes due to my bad handling.  Grace made us try blind crosses with jumps and it was scary, but potentially a good tool to have.  Jonah dealt very well with it.  In general, though, I'm not a fan of blinds except in tunnels and sometimes weaves.

Yesterday we went back to class.  It's hard to believe that it was the 6th of our 6 week session.  I think everyone's going to continue into the next session, though, so next week won't really feel any different except I'll hand over a check.

I have managed to get the reputation as the 'crazy gutsy one' in our class.  I guess I see class as a place to take risks that I wouldn't take in the ring at a trial.  I also think it's a sign of my growing trust for Jonah, so I'm happy cueing something and getting out of the way where other people like to stay closer to their dogs.  It's a bit of a high-risk strategy for me, in that we have some more mistakes than other people in class at various points, but when we get things right they're really right.  I enjoy seeing different handler philosophies in action.  I also look at courses and sometimes I just think they're daring me to try something.  I know there's an easy way to 'get it done,' but I want to strive for the cleanest path for the dog where we can be moving as much as possible.  Sometimes my attempts create crash-and-burn effects that are worse than the 'easy' option, but sometimes it's really great.

Anyway, our first course I tried to layer the dogwalk with a jump.  The jump was about 4 feet away from the down ramp of the DW, and he was supposed to come down the DW and do a 180 back to the jump.  My layering worked, and he got his contact, but then I didn't pull him out enough to get the jump and he ran right by it.  Oops.  After that, though, was one of my fun moments.  I had to send him out to a jump (2), then turn to a straight tunnel straight to another jump followed by a 90 degree right turn with a wrap in the other direction:

So, one way to do it would be to wrap right after 5, but that wasn't the best line.  A RC at 5 worked and that was probably the most successful strategy that other handlers did.  I thought this was one of those questions, though, that was daring me.  I had to try a FC between 4 and 5.  Well, I booked it and I got there in time to cue the turn.  It was really fun and really fast, and Jonah ran well.  The only issue was that I had to be moving so fast to get there that I couldn't slow down as fast as would be ideal, so I put some pressure on him and his turn from 5 to 6 was not as tight as it could have been.  The next time through Grace had me try a blind and it got the job done but was still a little messy.

The rest of the course had some other challenges, including a back side of a jump to the straight tunnel to another back side of a jump.  We got it done, but it's just a tough challenge, as our backsides are not super independent.  I'm curious about putting "back" on cue so I could have a little more distance.

Our second course was a fun course but we only got one go at it and Jonah was just a little bit wild.  There was a serp-like question that he just totally blew, and I still have no idea why.  It wasn't an especially difficult question, but he just blew right past me, went behind my back and jumped the wrong side of the jump.  Oops.  Then there was a hard DW/tunnel discrimination that we missed.  Finally there was a long line of jumps that Grace dared us to do a blind on.  It was one of our nicer blinds and it worked, but once again I'm not sure how much I like it.  I'm glad to be practicing them, but I don't think they're a tool I'll use too often in the long run.  Yet, if Grace keeps challenging us, who knows what will happen!

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