This week we had what at first glanced seemed a straightforward setup – five jumps, two tunnels and the weaves, but the complexities of this course proved a real brain teaser. There were two versions of the course, and naturally we started on the easier one (above)
The obvious trap was 2-3, though I don’t think a single dog was caught out. The next one was at 9, where the dog could drive on to 12 rather than make the left turn into the tunnel. The final awkward bit was when the dogs came out of the tunnel to drive to 11. This required a 90 degree turn, which the handler had to cue.
Sparrow performed this course perfectly first time, which I wasn’t expecting. She didn’t even look at the trap from 2-3. Now, where I was not the best handler was at 10-11. I opted to stay on the right side of the jumps and brake her as she left the tunnel to turn her. This made her line awkward and she skidded. My trainers suggested I try a front cross behind 11 to straighten her line, and this proved the much better turn, even though it required me to dance around the jump. For Sparrow it worked a lot better – unfortunately I didn’t film that!
Course 2 was a lot trickier and there were several handling options, so we broke it into two parts so we could experiment with the course.
Course 2 – stage 1
We started by running numbers 1-7. As the dogs (and we handlers) had just run that section a different way, it was tempting to run the previous course again by accident! I performed a ketschker at 3, as this enabled me to move ahead and push the backside at 4, I then performed an s-turn to take Sparrow into the tunnel. I made sure when she came out of the tunnel at 7 that I was running ahead pulling her past the nearest jump, as that was what I would need to do when the course was put together.
Course 2 – Stage 2, handling options
Here is handling option 1 for jumps 8-9. I wanted to block Sparrow’s direct line to jump 6, which was an obvious trap. So, when she came out of the tunnel I collected her on my right arm and did a left wing wrap at jump 8. While this blocked jump 6, it meant slowing Sparrow for a 360 turn around the wing and I had to move further back to send her over 9, which put me behind when heading for the backside at 11.
Two other ways were suggested, firstly a rear cross, where I picked Sparrow up again on the right arm, sent her over 8 while asking her to push out to the right, with me rear crossing (effectively on the spot).
The second option was to run past jump 6, ask Sparrow to drive to my left arm, trusting her not to take the wrong jump, and then again sending her right over 8.
There was also a fourth option, which I tried with Merlin. This involved a blind, picking up the dog on the right arm and then switching to the left to flick them over 8.
Course 2 – full run
Finally we put everything together, including the weaves.