One thing you quickly learn when running a fast dog is that you are often behind them and in the wrong place! (Well, I am anyway!) Being able to rear cross or ‘scoop’ them over a jump or obstacle is essential. But it is something I have been struggling to train Sparrow. Part of the problem is my body language – Sparrow works off my body movements, particularly my shoulders, far more than she does verbals. Therefore learning to adjust my body to give her the correct information for a rear cross is vital.
Merlin always seemed to have natural rear crosses, he can work on verbal directions alone. But Sparrow has been a whole new ball game!
This afternoon we had a training session with the fab Naomi Read who is helping us master those tricky rear crosses. We haven’t trained in a while, largely due to the constraints of the British weather, so it was interesting to see how Sparrow did after a break.
Our first course had me working on sharp right turns, before throwing Sparrow into a left scoop while I rear crossed her line. Making sure she connects with me is the trickiest part and also she can run very wide. Off video was a straight line of jumps for her to finish on.
Next Naomi had us doing a blind send into the tunnel followed by a blind cross (off camera), before swinging into two rear crosses, one right, then one left. Again it took me a little while to get my body language right, but the end result was worth the effort.
We are still a way off using rear crosses confidently in competition, but Sparrow is finally grasping the idea of them and I am finally getting my body movements right. It is always exciting learning new things and perfecting them, and Sparrow is very patient with her dodgy handler!