So, after a rain delay last week, we had our first outdoor agility class of the season this past Tuesday.
The set up:
The longer course (white circle numbers) was our first course and was all about using the off-arm to either 1) cue a front cross or 2) act as a "barrier" of sorts so that a dog would not pass the arm to take an obstacle. The premise was to get the dog to learn to not pass the arm under any circumstances (which would, theoretically, prevent off-courses from front crosses gone awry). Apparently the idea came from a Jen Crank seminar that my instructor attended.
It was an interesting concept and Marge and I did pretty well with it. I don't think I can isolate one really super hard part of this course - the whole thing was pretty tough. The 2-3-4 sequence was pretty tricky, but by using that offside arm and stringing Marge around to the far side of jump 3, we managed it quite well.
The A-Frame/tunnel discriminations were not as bad as they looked. The first one (5-6-7-8) was definitely the hardest, but Marge had it fine until I started completely over-handling and screwed her up. I need to just rely on my shoulders and dog-side arm position (high or low, held out away or close to my body) to cue her.. but instead I was bringing up my off arm which was pointing my shoulders AWAY from the correct tunnel entrance. I've got to be careful of that in competition, because I definitely know I do kooky stuff like that at trials, too.
The second course (black circles) was really just something thrown together because we didn't have a lot of time left. The only place I flubbed was a front cross between the weaves and the tire. It definitely worked better for me on the landing side of the tire. A rear cross worked just fine, but I was really trying to work on my weaknesses (and front crosses are one of them).
We'll be competing in a couple of weeks, a three-day (!!) trial on May 6, 7, and 8.
As a side, here's my absolute favorite picture from our last agility trial at the beginning of this month. This was after she, um, refused the dog walk twice and later proceeded to jump the contact zone, spoiling our beautiful and qualifying Excellent Standard run. Despite that, I'll be ordering this once I get some money together... because it's just too cute and such a great shot.