Dearlove Advanced Mini-Course - Serpentine Handling

13 Aug 2004Steve Schwarz

This course uses the same equipment layout as the intermediate course but the intent was for handlers to find the fastest way around the course.

Course With Obstacle Numbers

Again, the arrangement of the first four obstacles is based on part of a course from a Stacy Peardot-Goudy seminar I audited at Stone City Kennel Club. I liked the challenge she presented with this part of the course; handlers using a single side of the jumps approach would have to contend with the off-course tunnel.

My plan for running this course with Milo was as follows:

  • leave Milo in a sit-stay steeply angled toward jump 1
  • lead out to the take off side of jump 2
  • call him to my extended left hand
  • pivot toward jump 2 as he landed
  • slide along to the landing side of jump 3 keeping Milo on the far side of the jump with an extended left arm
  • front cross while he was still on the take off side of jump 3
  • drive toward jump 4
  • short stride toward jump 5 with an out right arm
  • fade towards the teeter as soon as he commits to 5
  • post turn him into the tunnel
  • get into position on the handler line from 8-9, closer to jump 9
  • call Milo to my extended right reaching back toward jump 8 arm while my body is facing jump 9
  • do "classic" drop shoulder serpentine handling
These paths are shown in the following two diagrams.
Course With Dog and Handler Paths for Opening
Course With Dog and Handler Paths for Closing

I had two problems on the first attempt of this course.

The spacing between jumps 1-3 was such that I had to release Milo and immediately start moving along the jumps. But I had to be certain he got the cue and was committed to take jump 2. I also had to cue the front cross over jump 3 very early and be in place to be out of his way to give him a good path to jump 4. Turned out I had to lead out almost to the furthest jump upright of jump 2 to make this work.

Pam pointed out that handlers that were too far behind their dogs on the way to jump 4 were having their dogs look back or even curl back to them. Some even would take the far tunnel entrance. In addition to being in the right place, a clear arm and body signal from 4 to 5 was required.

My second problem area was the closing serpentine. The tunnel gave me plenty of time to be in position on the handler’s line between jumps 8 and 9. Milo took jump 8 and read the turn to 9 without problem. But it was hard for me to get moving at the moment he committed to 9. That meant I didn’t get ahead of him enough to drop my shoulder to get him back over jump 10. So on subsequent runs I ultimately ended up waiting and pulling him back over jump 10 and rear crossing jump 11.

After a couple runs Pam suggested we change the ending sequence to be 6-3-2-1. This course allowed me to front cross the teeter contact and start running. That gave me enough speed to stay ahead of Milo and use the faster drop shoulder style of handling with the jumps (and Milo) on my left throughout.

Not a “tricky” course, but the closer spacing of the obstacles made it fun to run. I just can’t work enough on the fundamentals.

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