No, this post isn’t all about running contacts. Only half of it. This weekend Loki and I worked on both versions of RC – running contacts, and (cue dramatic music) rear crosses.
Spurred on by a friend’s Facebook post about her triumphant rear-crosses in a competition, I had set up a course already that saw me get waayyyyyy behind Loki at a critical point where I needed to throw in some kind of cross. I went out there with the theory If you’re confident enough, you’ll pull it off!
Uh… fail. My dog span back toward me. Ok, this could have been a matter of timing but regardless. I realised that the course I’d set up lent itself beautifully to at least 3 rear-crosses if you were to run it backwards. Not… running backwards… doing the sequence backwards. You know what I mean. That being said, I tend to walk rear-crosses in my first walk-through before pondering how on earth I can get out of doing them (because I hate them) and coming up with some brilliant plan to do blinds and fronts and whatever else instead. With Lu, it works. With Loki, at low bars? Not so much. So, we’d best practise rears.
I broke the sequence into little parts (very smart idea!) and placed one of his toys behind the bar I was going to cross. Suddenly, it all seemed much easier. In the end, I didn’t have to do half as many rear-crosses as I’d anticipated as I could get ahead of him here and there by legging it away from the tunnel. But he could do them, with minimal knocked bars (at 30cm) unless I crowded him (fair enough, dude). I also had him sending out and doing bars around the back of a tunnel (which considering yesterday he didn’t think these (wingless) jumps were actually jumps is pretty good) and getting HUGE working distance out of a tunnel and over some jumps. I’m still working out my body-cues for rear-crosses. I used to throw up my off-arm into the air kind of across my body but I don’t think that’s done any more, so I’d best figure out how to do it with the dog-side arm. I’m always thinking of Silvia’s advice which is that it should feel like you’re going to step on the dog’s tail – hence the occasional crowding. Sorry, Ro.
He just really is way, way too much fun and such a very good boy. The way he searches out a tunnel when he hears the verbal cue just floors me every time. He’d come over a bar, working probably 7-8m from me, heard me say “tunnel tunnel tunnel!” and gone way out of his way to take the tunnel that was sitting around as a distant distraction. It was pretty impressive. I saw him looking too like; “Yep, got it, tunnel, now, where is it!? You mean that one over there?! OK!!!” I’ll just have to be conscious of this!
Meanwhile in the land of running contacts, the lowered apex is still working well and I do think he’s thinking very hard about how to get jackpots. I’ve taken to starting our session by putting him at a random place on the dogwalk and running him. Usually he’ll miss once or twice and then do an awesome hit. The video below must have been from a very hard starting spot because the best he could manage were high rear-feet hits. He doesn’t have a lot of separation along the plank until the last stride or two but I’m thinking maybe that will come with practise and confidence – once he knows for sure what his job is, he’ll run easier and more naturally. Right now I think he’s concentrating very, very hard.