Clean Run - March 2013 - (Page 27)

Up until now in this series, we’ve covered horizontal arc groundwork for tighter turns, and how to move this skill to a wingless jump. An important point to recognize is that turning tightly isn’t a skill that’s used only with a jump. The benefits of a dog that understands how to use a horizontal arc with speed are seen throughout the entire course as tough, twisty sequences look less like straight lines and more like intersecting horizontal arcs of varying degrees. I want my dog to work smart and hard, so I expose him to horizontal arc groundwork that teaches him how to use his body and read his approaches to all obstacles. To see improvement on courses across the board, we need to spend more time teaching our dogs how to work their bodies on curves of all degrees, not just on tight turns over a jump. Head-Turning Turns © CAROL LAWRENCE • Part 3 By Jenni Shelegy, photos by Lauren Bond, except where noted As I mentioned in Part 1, the idea of traveling on a horizontal arc is a subject that hasn’t been explored to the same degree as vertical arc over a jump. We have less language for the curves that occur on the horizontal plane between obstacles. Horizontal arc can be motion on a curve that has a sharp bend or a soft bend, and depends on how tight a turn your dog is making. Problems arise when arcs and speed are mixed, which is a problem for obstacles that combine both of these components, like contacts, tunnels, and chutes. The horizontal arc is a subtle component of agility that, when not accounted for, yields less than subtle consequences. You see the fallout in dogs that approach a dogwalk or A-frame on a curve, with too shallow an approach angle. The dogs slice the corner of their entry and hit the up ramp with a straight body, putting all their momentum in the wrong direction. They end up falling off the ramp because they are off-balance. Footing and equipment can make the effects of these errors more profound. While we can’t control the weather or the equipment, we can give our dogs a strong horizontal arc skill set which decreases the chances of entry problems. You can visit my website, or YouTube channel for videos of horizontal arc paying off on course. Introducing Horizontal Arc Expansion The flatwork done so far has been geared toward tighter bends and uses the closed-base plunger setup. But for your dog to have a solid understanding of horizontal arc, and how to appropriately use his body to negotiate the arc, he must be introduced to an assortment of arc of different degrees. An open-base plunger setup will help improve your dog’s flexMarch 13 | Clean Run ibility and speed on different curves. By expanding the space between the bases of your plungers, you can train for softer arcs. Because the degree of bend on the curve is less, your dog doesn’t have to compress as much and can work the curve with more of an extended stride. The two plungers that are facing you become the entry and exit point for your new arc. The apex can also move, depending on how deep or shallow an arc you want to work; moving the apex plunger back will create a deeper curve. By working a spectrum of curves, you can familiarize your dog with the different curved paths he will travel in agility. It will teach him what it feels like to complete curves with balance when he engages his body in the bend. Your dog should already have a well-established understanding of what to do with the closed-base plungers, so all you need to do is show him that even though the orientation of the plungers can change, his job is still to read his approach, adjust his body to produce the appropriate amount of bend, continue moving along the perimeter at a run, and exit the curve with control. When introducing arc expansion, start by moving apart the two plungers facing you a foot at a time. The curve will be relatively shallow, but it will occur over a greater distance so the dog can start to become more familiar with adding forward motion to the bend and working it in a more extended stride. The same rules of body positioning guidelines apply to the expanded arc. We are still looking for our dog to read the approach and maintain a consistent curve in his body, starting at his head and continuing along the line of his spine. 27

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - March 2013

Clean Run - March 2013
Editorializing: Would You Treat a Dog Like That?
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
Knowledge Equals Speed! Teaching Verbal Directional Commands, Part 1
Power Paws Drills: Gnarly Rears
Ultimate Instructors: What Makes a Really Good Instructor?
Can You Handle It?
Head-Turning Turns, Part 3
The 10-Minute Trainer
Busting the Myths: Set Goals? Or Just Enjoy the Moment?
Out Spot Out! Five Required Skills for Successful Distance Work
Living Room Agility: Front & Rear Crosses
Nutrition for the Canine Athlete, Part 2
Puppy Agility Games, Part 1
Training with the Stars: Greg Derrett
The Judge’s Debriefing
Foundation Jumping, Part 1

Clean Run - March 2013