Ragtime Cadenza

Okay, this is too weird. I’m on a Delta flight, bound for Atlanta, and I have free access to onboard WiFi. It’s free right now as the service is being introduced. Though I expect in the long run I shall not give over the $10.00 for the brief opportunity to download a bunch of email. But for now it’s a delightful novelty and my first ever blog entry submitted from 20,000 ft (or however high it is that jetliners fly).

New League Play Course

My main objective in the new League Play game was to get something remarkably different than last week… because I won’t be around to move equipment and the task will be left to Marsha. So for the most part I’ve moved around jumps. And, I’ve even managed to find a set of the floor that accommodates specific skill exercises for upcoming class (which also I will miss). In this lesson plan I want to devote attention to the layered Front Cross and the Post & Tandem combination movement.

This is a standard course judged under C-WAGS/JFF rules. Performance on the table is handler’s choice.

New Lesson Plan

White (& Red) Numbers – In the early going this sequence is all about the transition from jump #6 to jump #7. What we’d like to practice here is a layered Front Cross. Many handlers intuitively develop this skill; but it’s a good idea to practice it. Determination plus intuition make for a pretty good team. In the layered Front Cross the handler will make the approach to jump #6 with the dog on his left side. After the dog commits to the jump the handler will slide to the landing side of jump #7 to affect the Cross. Note that the handler’s rotation into the Cross on the landing side will cue the dog to the turn and keep him from drifting past the #7 jump. The movement also puts the handler neatly into a blocking position to prevent the dog from taking the wrong-course dogwalk.

The red numbered obstacles, by the way, are a distance challenge for students so that they might be taught to point with their feet.

Black Numbers – Again we have an opportunity to practice a layered Front Cross. After getting the dog into the pipe tunnel at #5 the handler will drift to the landing side of jump #6 to set up for the long line out to jump #7. Note that the handler should reserve the counter-rotation of the Cross for the dog’s exit from the pipe tunnel. It would be a shame to use such compelling movement while the dog is in the tunnel and can’t actually see it.

White Numbers – The opening of this sequence is curious. A simple dog-on-left Post Turn is as likely to lose the dog to a wrong-course up the dogwalk as anything else. Consider starting with dog on left with a Front Cross after jump #1, using a Post & Tandem solution to open up the approach to the pipe tunnel at #3.

Now, in the turn from jump #4 to #5 a Rear Cross might be the best handling option. It might be worthwhile breaking down the set to a study of #3 through #5 just so students can get a feel for their Rear Cross skills.

Note that on the approach to jump #8 it might be a good idea to practice a Post & Tandem solution… just to practice the Post & Tandem.

Black Numbers – This sequence deserves a Post & Tandem solution from the #2 pipe tunnel to jump #3; and then maybe a more ordinary Tandem from jump #5 to the pipe tunnel at #6. Note that the corner of the turn from #5 to #6 is probably a good 6 or 7 feet beyond the jump.

And, just to be playful with it, consider another Post & Tandem solution to the transition from the dogwalk at #7 to jump #8.

Thinking Out Loud

Okay, whilst judging in Kansas City last weekend I found myself thinking of the Cadenza. It’s a musical term really and usually reserved for operatic virtuosity. One online dictionary defines it this way: “A Cadenza is a section of music which displays the skill of a player or singer.”

The analogy that I was playing with was my own feeling particularly when I do seminar work that I will often wrap with a meticulous summary of what I had discussed with that particular audience; or where the lesson plan had gone. Often I try to use the discussion to bring back down to earth what might have been painfully technical in some small ways on its delivery. Oh, and this discussion always begins with… “tell me one thing that you’ve learned!” And of course I’m always amazed at the broad scope of training matters that are retained by those students.

And yet I am a realist. I recall having heard once that Mozart was fond of a mocking cadenza that made fun of artists who were less talented than him (which, if you think about it, was just about everybody else). I tried to Google it… but it eluded me and instead I ran across this story I’d never heard about Mozart and the Starling: http://www.starlingtalk.com/mozart3.htm

Anyhow, if anyone were to set me to music it surely would not be grand opera or anything like that. More likely it would be Ragtime. And so whether I’m judging, leading class with my own students, or teaching seminar… I winge just a little bit if to myself I sound just a little pedantic or erudite; and I can almost hear the syncopated jangle of Ragtime playing in the background of my own consciousness.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: BudHouston@hughes.net. And Check out my latest publication the Just For Fun Agility Notebook #30 available on the Country Dream Web Store.


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