It's technically my spring break now, which means I have to do all sorts of longer term projects instead of the daily assignments. It's really not any less work, but at least it's a change of pace. Anyway, being spring break I felt like I needed to reward myself and have some more fun. Thus, we went to another lesson with Laura at Gemini.
I was very excited when we walked in and Laura told us that the name of the game today was gambles! I've always thought of gambles as a weakness of ours, but I'm starting to change my mind :). One neat thing to hear was that Laura really doesn't do that much work on gambles regularly. She says that it's such a small part of all agility that she doesn't want to untrain any other, more important cues (like the connection to movement, etc). That said, her dogs are typically very good at working away from her.
The first gamble we did was an A-frame/tunnel discrimination where the dog had to take the tunnel (which was the far obstacle) at distance. Then there was an 'out' to a jump and then the weaves. We started with the discrimination, coming from the DW. We actually didn't get it the first time. This would not have been the approach I would have chosen, but it was good to practice. The line was at the end of the DW. Jonah's not great at driving out to his contact in front of me, so I had to escort him down basically to the line just to get the contact. Then I didn't have anywhere to go forward to support my send to the tunnel. When I gave the cue, he drove out towards the tunnel, but he second guessed himself and then took the A-frame. The second time I handled the DW with more lateral distance, so I could converge towards him even if I didn't have much space to go directly towards the tunnel. This worked really well and he cruised through the rest of the gamble.
The second challenge was the same gamble but approaching from two jumps. This was much better for us because we could build up some steam, unlike the stopped contact. Jonah didn't blink an eye. He was excellent with the rest of the gamble again, too.
Laura did point out in some of my opening that I am sometimes slow getting out of FCs. She's right, and I'm glad she highlighted that for me.
For the last run of the day, we got a compliment. The other dogs got to do either of the previous approaches to the gamble, but Laura said that was too easy for us, so she had us do the gamble backwards. It ended up being very similar to our Advanced USDAA gamble, as I sent out to a jump, layered another jump while he weaved, and then sent to another jump and the tunnel. He was great through the weaves, but then I screwed him up for the last jump. I had gotten ahead of him while he was weaving, so once again I ran out of room to move forward. Just like before, he was good hearted and headed off towards the jump, but then got worried when I didn't follow and he turned away. You'd think I'd learn, huh? Anyway, when we tried it again I stayed more parallel to him in the weaves, or even a step behind, so I could have a couple strong forward steps as I cued the jump. It worked beautifully and he was excellent. I'm so proud of the guy. He's come so far. Best of all, though, he's having such a fantastic time every time we play agility. That's what matters most! (And I have a blast, too!)