Backyard Mastery - Move It!

25 Oct 2020Steve Schwarz

I’ve got another simple change you can make to any training course to improve your agility skills. My previous Backyard Mastery articles in Clean Run showed how changing the direction your dog turns on a jump, changing the side of a jump, and skipping obstacles could dramatically increase the handling and training challenges. In this article, I’ll show how moving a jump can really challenge your team.

You might say: "Oh, that's obvious!", or "what's the big deal?" But, have you ever taken the time to do it in practice?

You could move or rotate any jump anywhere on course by any amount, but here are my suggestions:

  • Pick a jump at a turn in the dog’s path. Move it by the distance of one of your large strides. Moving it further away from other obstacles challenges you to send your dog or makes you hustle more getting to and from that jump. Moving it closer lets you work on collection and chaining handling moves together.
  • Rotate a jump by 45 degrees. For jumps that the dog approached straight on that makes the approach more of a slice.

Safety first! Always think of your dog’s path when you move obstacles.

Run the modified sequence and then repeat the suggestions above again! Now the jump you moved will be about 6 feet further away than the original sequence and the rotated jump will now be turned 90 degrees.

OK, leave those jumps where they are and repeat the above for another pair of jumps. You’ve just turned your original course into five different courses, each with different challenges!

I’ll show this in action starting with the equipment setups below.

Setup

Here’s the starting obstacle set up for a minimum of a 40 ft x 50 ft (12 m x 15 m) space. If you have more space spread out the obstacles to increase your speed and the challenges.

Setup in feet
Setup in feet
Setup in meters
Setup in meters

Discussion

Let’s see this approach in action. Our obstacles are set up in a 40 ft x 50 ft space as shown in our first sequence in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Starting Setup
Figure 1. Starting Setup

Run this basic sequence with a few different handling approaches.

I’ve chosen to move the top left jump (#3) because there is room to move it and it is on a turn. I’ve decided to rotate the top right obstacle (#2) because I thought it would make the 2-3-4 pinwheel more interesting. You should always use your judgment to choose the jumps. You can see the effect on the dog’s path in Figure 2 below. With the extra distance you might need to support jump 3 more and move faster to turn the dog from 4-5. Run it and see how you have to change your handling.

Figure 2. One Move and One Rotation
Figure 2. One Move and One Rotation

Figure 3 shows the same two jumps moved/rotated again. Now the distance to/from jump 3 is pretty far and 8-9 is a Threadle Threadle SequenceMary Ellen Barry on Threadle HandlingSingle Sided Threadle HandlingTraditional Threadle HandlingThe Connection Between Threadles and Back Sides. Give it a run!

Figure 3. Another Move and Rotations
Figure 3. Another Move and Rotations

We could stop there. But, let’s “Move It” again. This time lets move jump 2 and rotate jump 1. I noticed moving jump 2 side to side lets me handle 1-2-3 like a Serpentine Serpentine SequenceSerpentine Handling Techniques and that would be good to practice. I’d also like to change up the weave entry so that’s why I’m rotating jump 1. When you move and rotate jumps always see how it changes the challenges and GO FOR IT!

Figure 4 shows the change. Run it!

Figure 4. And Again!
Figure 4. And Again!

When we move jump 2 further and rotate jump 1 again, as shown in Figure 5, the sequence is even more interesting and will take more skills to be successful. As I mentioned in previous Backyard Mastery articles, are there advantages to turning your dog left at jump 1 instead of right like you probably did in the previous sequence? Try it both ways!

Figure 5. More Moves!
Figure 5. More Moves!

In the PDF below I’ll show you how to “Move It!” on another sequence. I love when moving jumps changes up the skills needed and makes alternate dog paths another option to consider.

The Sequences

Let’s get to work! Download a PDF of all the sequences on two pages.

You can use this technique on every sequence you set up in your backyard. Wring every challenge you can out of your small space!

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