Friday, November 4, 2011

Class Fun

Last night we headed to Dogstar for another great class.  Before class started, though, we really got to count our blessings on how we'd fared the storm.  Grace still had no power, and others had just gotten it back today.  Yikes!  They'd gotten more snow, too.  It made our A-frame near miss seem like nothing.

Anyway, once class started well.  We had two bobbles in our first course:  the first was the teeter to a backside jump to a tight weave entry.  I tried to get the front cross on the front side of the backside jump, but I worry too much about babysitting the backside that I was late on the front, and then I gave Jonah a pretty impossible line to the weaves.  Oops.  Our second attempt was far improved.  Our second mistake was me not pushing hard enough for the A-frame on a discrimination, which resulted in Jonah charging through the tunnel.  Grace said it was entirely my fault (as usual), and it was easily fixed.

The second time through Grace made us handle the course differently and it provided some challenges, but Jonah responded well.  One thing she had us do was push hard (about a 170 degree turn) out of the weaves.  I would have rather rear crossed the entry or front/blind crossed at the end, but the push is potentially a good tool for us to have.  I'm pleased with how independent Jonah's weaves have become, and he responded well to the push.

One of the other handling changes was on the same teeter-backside-weave section that we screwed up earlier.  This time we had to rear on the flat.  I initially signaled the cross too late which set a wide line, but the second time I tried it it worked quite nicely.  I pushed to the backside of the jump, pretty much stopped my own motion and just verbally cued "weave."  He picked his own, appropriate line and charged into the poles nicely.

The final handling chance was a RC to blind combination.  The sequence was the A-frame to a jump wrap back to the tunnel that was a discrimination under the A-frame.  The rear cued Jonah to be on my right which allowed me to sort of block the A-frame and push out to the tunnel, which I then had to rear. Instead, by following the rear with a blind, I picked him up on my left to avoid the rear at the tunnel.  This meant the A-frame was an open option.  I was skeptical, but in fact the rear/blind combination worked pretty well because we both had our backs to each other at the same time.  by the time he had wrapped and turned back around, I was making eye contact and picking him up on my left hand.  It worked quite nicely.

Our second course was short but fun.  I did a backside push/blind cross which worked nicely and allowed my motion to continue in a more fluid direction than a FC would have.  The last line of this course was super fun.  It was three straight jumps aiming right at a tunnel, but we were supposed to do the other end of the tunnel.  There was pretty much no way to get far enough ahead to do a FC, so we had to use lateral distance and a verbal cue to alter the path.  One point Grace made that I thought was really smart was that simple lateral distance isn't enough, because we train them to go straight while gamble lines peel off.  This situation needed a sharper cue, like a handler really turning or suddenly moving to the side, instead of just a drift.  Anyway, Jonah had a beautiful run through this line that caused the other dogs some trouble.  It was fast and exhilarating. 

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