What Did You Learn Today?

Years ago, at the end of a seminar I taught, somebody asked me “What did you learn today?” The interesting thing for me then, and ever since, is that I had an immediate answer for her. It never fails that when I teach, I get to learn.

8 Kinds of Front Cross?

The mechanics of each type of Front Cross is different.

The basic attribute of a Front Cross could be stated: Counter rotation draws the dog to the handler.  So the 8 different kinds of Front Crosses all (mostly) rely on the basic “drawing the dog”. Subtle differences in the mechanics deliver different strategic objectives without losing sight of the basic attribute.

Each is like a choreographed dance. Posture, position and timing define each movement.

Simple Front Cross – the handler changes sides to the dog in a Front Cross on the flat; this is an simple change of sides, unworried and unhurried. All other types of Front Cross are variations of the Simple Front Cross.

Layered Front Cross – The handler layers to the landing side of a jump then: 1) using counter rotation to create a corner of approach to the jump; or  2) using position to a turn the dog after the jump.

Pre-cue Front Cross – The handler cues the dog to an impending turn by prematurely showing the counter-rotation of the Front Cross or by adopting a posture facing back to the dog.

Rolling Front Cross – The handler rolls through space while counter rotating

Squaring Front Cross – The handler uses the Front Cross to set a  square corner of approach

Serpentine Front Cross – The handler turns the Front Cross into a combination movement: either Post & Cross or Cross & Post.

Technical Front Cross – The handler Front Crosses the dog on the dismount of a technical obstacle (contacts or weave poles).

Blind Cross – This is a racing movement. The handler effects the change of sides by turning away from the dog rather than to.

Drop Dead Boring

I sure managed to make all of those Front Cross notes above sound drop-dead boring. Well, I’m an old technical writer where drop-dead boring is a way of life. But to be kinder to the muse I’m not ashamed of a “Just the facts, ma’am!” attitude towards writing.

Behind the stone-faced presentation there’s some real emotion in those words too. And I can prove it:

The handler approaches a moment in the course where he’s got to change sides to his dog, and the change of sides must set the dog up square for the path ahead. But the handler doesn’t know where to set the corner, or even where the corner is, and begins the counter-rotation of the cross before he’s in the correct position and before it was time to turn the dog in any case. His run goes to hell! He cries, he spits, he blames the course! It’s a very emotional moment.

Blog966 9-of-100

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

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