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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Class Course - March 4, 2009

For class course challenges, I often take the course from a previous week, make some interesting changes by adding in what I feel is a great skill to be practicing and keep a few things the same. Of course my students don't realize there is a plan to my madness and they come in thinking "Oh, this is just like last week..." WRONG!

Each week I want to challenge my students to think and not become complacent.  However, at the same time, I want them to recognize patterns and to tackle them with confidence. That's why along with the new challenges, I will often keep similar sequences from prior weeks so they have an opportunity to run them again and solidify their skill.  This helps the skill become ingrained & become a natural part of their skill set.

Check out last week's course as compared to this week's course to see the differences.

On this week's course, I made a few subtle changes such as a  chute, a serpentine (which happens to be taken twice from two different angles) and I adjusted the #9 jump and the #11 & #12 jumps so that the angles were more exaggerated.

After running the course, here are the skills I had each team work on:
  1. Leading out to the end of the chute, making eye contact with the dog and using their lead hand, to "draw" the path from the jump to the chute entrance.
  2. Picking up the dog on the right side after the chute and sending them to the #3 jump.  Most handlers wanted to immediately start turning toward the #4 jump prior to the dog's commitmet and needed to be reminded to have their shoulders facing #3, to have their weight on their right leg and to be supporting the jump with their right arm.
  3. In the #3 to #4 serpentine, handlers need to be sure to call the dog over #4 by dropping their right hand to their BACK (in this case, right) leg.  Be sure not to lean forward, which encourages the dog to by-pass #4 (not what you want).
  4. Send the dog up to the #7 jump and do a Front Cross closer to the a-frame vs. a F/C closer to the #7 jump which results in a bad angle to the a-frame for the dog (although an experienced dog should be able to compensate).
  5. Be sure to push up to and support the #9 jump.  Check out the handler path I've posted in green - it's different from the real world where most handlers chose to follow their dog down to the end of the teeter.  This is where independent contacts come in handy and I highly recommend you teach them to your dog (this also means you need a clear criteria of what the contact performance should be) so that you can stay out of the pocket after the teeter and put yourself in a better place to manage jump #11 & 12.  By staying out of the pocket, handlers are able to get themselves to the landing side of the #11 jump, which provides a clear and smooth path for the sequences' to come.
  6. The next challenge was #18-20.  There are several ways to work this sequence.  Wed's classes worked it with front crosses & Thurs' classes worked it by using a post turn and then a f/c so they picked the dog up on their right and pulled them between the serpentine jumps.

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