Running Dearlove Intermediate Course of 20 Sep 2004

24 Sep 2004Steve Schwarz

This post updates my original thoughts about this course:

Course With Obstacle Numbers

Some of our intermediate handlers were a little daunted by the number of cones on the course, but I think they gained confidence as we broke it down into smaller sections.

I ran into an interesting pacing problem with some dogs and handlers. There were handlers that were both too far ahead and too far behind their dogs after the tunnel. The too fast handlers would get all the way to jump 3 before their dogs would exit the tunnel; they’d end up stopping at the jump waiting for their dogs. Being intermediate dogs they wouldn’t always take the jump with their handler standing still (and to make matters worse the handlers would end up turned towards their dogs; effectively giving the dogs a slow/stop physical cue). So that was a good opportunity for these handlers to learn more about their dog’s pace and to pick the dogs up as they appeared in the tunnel exit instead of racing to the next jump.

The “too slow” handlers are the category to which I can easily relate; I am used to trying to find places on courses to get ahead of my dogs. For these handlers the tunnel was a prime location to get ahead of their dogs. There were two common problems: handlers that escorted their dogs all the way to the tunnel entrance (and watched them disappear) or waited for their dogs to rocket past them at the exit. These problems are easily solved by “cutting and running”; as soon as the dog commits to the tunnel get the handlers to run for their point between the tunnel exit and jump 3 where they can pickup their dog.

I did ask the handlers to get into the pocket for both directions of the top Pin Wheel. But my drilling on making clear physical turns at the Pin Wheel “corners” caused some of the handlers to turn their dogs too far after jump 4 causing an off course after jump 5 and into the tunnel:

Off Course to Tunnel

After the tunnel some handlers ended up picking up their dogs on their right, unfortunately this wasn’t too successful. Either the dogs went off course to 3 or a rear cross on the take off side of jump 7 turned the dogs too tightly and they ran by jump 8. But after working on getting to the tunnel exit the first time through most handlers were in position to pickup the dogs on their left hand side.

The two handling approaches after the Pin Wheel were to either use a Rear Cross Rear CrossLearning the Rear Cross after jump 10 or to Front Cross Front CrossLearning the Front Cross before jump 10. The later was a little more likely to cause an off course to the tunnel but almost no handlers had a problem. Both approaches are shown below:

Rear Cross to TableFront Course to Table

After the table, there were three main problems:

  • Handlers trying to take long lead outs for which their dogs weren't prepared
  • Slow turns after jump 13 so dogs went off course to jump 8 or made jump 14 but went off course to the tunnel.
  • Slow turns after jump 14 so dogs went off course to the tunnel

I think by working this last sequence first the handler’s timing was better for the tighter portions of the course.

For another course using the same setup please see this article

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