Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Simple But Not Easy...

I've been a little frustrated with myself the last few weeks in Agility class. How hard is a blind cross? or a Lateral Send? Why am I struggling with seemingly easy maneuvers? Because, it turns out, like most things Agility related, they are Simple but they are not easy!

When I watched Agility for the very first time, I thought, "Oh my gosh! That looks like so much fun! Those people are really connecting with their dogs and the dogs know exactly what to do!" I saw the humans moving on the course, but it looked easy. Some ran, some trotted. A turn here or there. Simple stuff. It wasn't long before I learned how profoundly wrong I was!
Now, I have to try not to smile when people say, "My dog doesn't listen but he flies all over the place. He'd be good at that."

{Mad Skillz}

A Blind Cross for example, is a side changing maneuver in which the handler crosses in front of the dog and signals with the opposite arm. For instance, the handler send the dog into a Tunnel off of thier left side and 'picks up' the dog on their right side when the dog exits the tunnel.

Simple, right? Except that it's a skill that your dog needs to learn to read and it's also a skill that the handler needs to learn because, as its name implies, it is blind. I was trying to run forward in class with my left arm extended while craning my neck over my left shoulder. Not an easy way to run and not an easy way to cue your next obstacle! It turns out that you must have faith in your partner that he or she will read your cues and run on the side indicated.
We had beautiful weather this week and we spent lots of time walking at the park. When we are able, we do as much off-leash work as we can (Shhhh. Don't tell the Rangers). This includes 'Go Free', Recall work, and Shadow Handling. I decided to incorporate the Blind Cross signal into some recalls. When Pico was on a 'Go Free', and  I was ahead of him, I would signal with an arm extended back, shoulder slightly back, and call 'Okay. Here'. I didn't turn to look but rather worked on simply trusting that he'd read the cue. And he did! Such a good little dog. And the fact that he thinks stuff like this is fun, makes it all just play!

{Watching the Ducks at the Park!}

Today, we had a fantastic class with fun, short sequences. Pico was in the game and was really paying attention. We (okay, I) had some issues with my Rear Cross (Simple move right?) but we worked through it and will continue to work on them in practice.

The Rules and the moves may be Simple but Agility is not Easy... and that's exactly what keeps most of us working to do it!

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