For some Friday fun, Jonah and Nika and I went up to Laura's to run an international course. I'd looked at the map ahead of time and it certainly had challenges, but I thought we could do it.
It didn't take long to burst my bubble! The opening line was like this:
So, I decided to lead out. I got him really reved and then just had him stay in a stand, and tried to get to my spot ASAP to release. It actually worked really well, and he started good and fast. I decided to handle 1-3 as a serp with him on my right. That would have worked, but the gap between 2 and 4 was really not big, and I had to look where I was going and took my eyes off him. My discombobulation meant I didn't give him a good line to 3 and he gallantly jumped straight through the stanchion :(. Bad handler. 4-5 went really nicely, though (I put a landing side front after 4 and was able to get sufficient distance such that I didn't crowd the weave entry).
Ok, time to try 1-3 again. This time he took the off course at 4.
And again. Now I tried staying on the take off side at 2 and doing a backy-upy (still keeping him on my right, but just turning my shoulders back to cue collection over 2). This actually worked really well and we got through it clean. Laura suggested this from the beginning, but I always feel like it's good for me to try things the way my gut tells me, so I actually see when they don't work. After all, I won't have Laura at most trials telling me what to do, so I need to learn from my own course-reading mistakes.
The rest of the course actually ran well, except for a few silly flaws. The ring is kind of mixed footing, and as he was finishing the weaves I tripped in a sand patch and he popped out and went flying into a tunnel. Oops. I'll take full credit for that, though.
There was a cool section where you had to be way ahead to get some front crosses in, and Jonah did that really well. He's so awesome.
Then there was a tricky jump sequence: back side to 180 to 180 to threadle. It was demotivating and tight, but he did well. He did pull a bar on a double where I gave him a big slice line. Laura said that she would kick dogs a little wider unless they were really extra athletic jumpers. I think he's pretty athletic, but in deep sand I think she was right--I didn't give him a good enough line.
So all the other dogs in our class ended after two thirds of the course. I did our second sequence (the second third), and he did it clean except for that bar, so Laura said, "Ok, do it again and then go through the end." Well, I had looked at the map but I hadn't walked it. I sent him to one off course obstacle, but then we flew through an awesome running ending sequence and he was fantastic. That was cool. It was a thinking-on-my-feet-running-really-fast moment. What a cool dog.
So: I have to work on jumping into heel position in tight sections, and I need to make sure I give a good line for spread obstacles on tight turns. Otherwise, though. He's awesome and I just need to keep up!