All this talk of Back Crossing

There’s nothing like a couple sessions of Back Cross exercises before my students forget that they have more intrepid skills and fall into the sloppy comfort of fast dog handling (behind and pushing).

In this sequence I can predict that certain of my students will figure out how to find three Back Crosses in this simple 9 obstacle sequence. Do you see how it would go?

Dog on right to the pipe tunnel at #3 ~ Back Cross; Dog on left to jump #4 ~ Back Cross; Dog on right past the dismount of the teeter ~ Tandem on-the-flat (a form of the Back Cross). There you have it.

The Challenge

The first rule of boot camp is: No Back Crosses. I’ll remind my students of the rule and then have another go at the sequence. What we get to see next is a couple Front Crosses mostly in toe-to-toe two-step with the dog.

The ExerciseAs a reminder… the dog turns when the handler turns. It all gets a bit sloppy when the dog turns where the handler turns. So in this opening the handler leads out very deep to a control position for downstream events. I’ve tried to use colors here to demonstrate the timing events for the Cross. The handler begins the rotation as his dog is in the air at jump #2; and continues to fold back with a nice Jenny Damm pulling hand.

This is, frankly, much easier than it looks. The problematic thing might be that if the dog has no stay, then the handler doesn’t get to practice long lead outs.

Frankly pushing to the landing side of jump #4 for a Front Cross gives a lot of pressure towards the wrong-course pipe tunnel and has the handler tangled up with the dog (in real estate that the dog should own). What I’d really like to play with in the vicinity of the teeter is drawing the dog to the performance of the teeter from the tipping side in a technical Front Cross.

You know, a Front Cross on the dismount of a pipe tunnel is a matter of real discipline and timing. Note in this drawing that the handler reserves the entire rotation of the Cross until the dog initially pokes his nose out of the tunnel. Good movement is wasted on a dog in the tunnel (because he can’t actually see the movement).

So the handler has stored up all his rotation, like potential energy, and at the moment of the Cross releases that energy to pull the dog in a nice tight line towards the weave poles (or will make it slightly serpentine to create more of a square approach if the dog actually needs that).

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

There’s a fairly new science fiction movie out based on a story by one of my favorite science fiction writers. He was also the author of another book on which a popular cult movie hit was based (something like 20 years ago, I’d think). In that movie there was a curse on companies that had product placement; (Atari, Cuisinart, Pan Am, Ma Bell… I can’t really remember the whole list).

Who’s the author? What are the movies to which I’m referring? And… what was the name of the book on which the cursed movie was based?

They’ve never made a movie of my favorite novel by this author. <sigh>


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The Country Dream web store is up and running.


6 Responses to “All this talk of Back Crossing”

  1. Ronni Says:

    Sometimes it’s “sloppy comfort” and sometimes it’s just self preservation for those of us with torn acls and/or other knee problems!

    • budhouston Says:

      I’m not saying there isn’t legitimate need for the Back Cross. It’s a necessary part of the agility repertiore. However, as often as not it’s just being lazy *or* it’s just a fanciful fit with the notions of the Novice handler.

      Trust me, I’ll be doing a log of Back Crossing with my faster than I am Border Collie.


  2. Rose Says:

    Keep in mind, I don’t have much opportunity to train with anyone now a days, hence my question. Would running with the dog on the handler’s right from teeter toward the #6 tunnel be slower than taking or sending him there on the handler’s left?

    Can’t wait until I’m ambulatory again and can try it both ways. Right now, all I can do is work on extreme distance from a chair 😦

    • budhouston Says:

      With a dog that is faster than the handler, dog on right and the dog will incline to the left (the dog always curls towards the handler). This leaves the handler with a Tandem on the flat (turning the dog away from handler’s position)… which is a form of the Back Cross.

      Now… the purpose of the exercise was to put all of the movements forward and pulling with no Back Crosses. I’m not saying what you suggest isn’t a legitimate handling option. But it wasn’t the exercise.


  3. deborahauer Says:

    You’ve got to stop giving so many hints…

    The author is Phillip K. Dick

    The recent movie is “The Adjustment Bureau.”
    The “cursed” movie was “Blade Runner” – the novel was “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” (which is a way-cool title and a book I’ve never read…I’ll add it to my list) I have seen the movie a couple of times.

    Told “no rear crosses” I would probably lead out close to #2 to front cross and slice the jump. I think I could still get to the end of the teeter – but thanks for making the point that where I might naturally want to front cross (the landing side of 4) is a BAD idea. I know I can front cross the teeter, but usually only do it on accident .


    • budhouston Says:

      Yep yep. All’s true. And my favorite Phillip K. Dick novel was “Man in the High Castle” (written back about 1964 I believe).

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