Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Jumping Skills

I am no jumping expert, but I am a student of jumping.  By that I mean, I want my dogs to have good form and understand their job so I seek out knowledge in those areas.

Tangle is a great jumper.  I have been told my many that he is "gifted" or a natural.  But, what does that mean?  I am not really sure, but when contrasting him to Hoot, I didn't really have to teach him anything at all.  He takes off from his rear, he has an even arc over the bar, he turns over the bar, he judges distances between jumps very nicely, it is effortless and he doesn't knock a whole lot of bars.  He has always been that way.

In contrast, Hoot has been different.  She is not a bad jumper at all, in fact she is a fairly good jumper by that definition.  But, I have had to take moments and help her slow down, use her head and figure out what I need her to do. 

With Tangle I used purely Linda Mecklenburg's Developing Jumping Skills.  He jumped 4" bars but never anything higher until I was ready to move him up to full height.  Then I followed DJS's methodology.  Do I think this was the secret to Tangle's talent?  No, not really.  It is a great method, don't get me wrong, but I strongly believe that I was working with a natural jumper.

With Hoot I decided to do things a bit different.  Why?  The best answer I can give you is that I wanted to see if some other method worked.  I loved DJS and found nothing wrong with it.  The only thing that I thought I wanted to improve upon is giving the dog, from early on, the skills to judge take off distances from bars at speed.

I took Hoot through Silvia Trkman's Foundation Class.  In that class you gradually raise the bars as the dog ages.  The dog never really has to jump from it's rear until the bars are close to withers height.  In the beginning Hoot knocked a lot of bars--a lot!  So I started her on some DJS one jump work at 12".  I know, I know, I wasn't staying with the methodology, LM is probably reading this and silently berating me, but that is OK.  When we slowed things down, she had to think and got rewarded for not hitting the PVC, engaging as much rear as possible and turning on take off, she suddenly began to really understand what I needed her to do.  She also got valuable experience on the mechanics of what she needed to do.

Each time I raised the bars I did this.  She has had her moments when screaming around the course has become more important than anything else.  But, again, we slowed things down, worked together and it became clear again what I needed her to do.

So, now she is at 18" and almost 15 months.  Tangle was already jumping full height by now.  I am about to embark on going through the whole DJS book with her at 20/22" inches.  Her jump training won't be done, but this will be her most in-depth lesson to date.

She already understands all the foundation handling, she understands it is her job to keep bars up, so at this point I want to focus on turning, scoping out where the bar is and how she needs to take off.

Stay tuned, it will be a while before we know if my experiment worked. :)