Saturday, December 31, 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR and some more on Aframe lesson with Rachel Sanders


I hope 2012 if full of new adventures and great surprises for everyone!

BOY, do I have a list of resolutions. I have been working on some goal setting programs, and there is sure room for improvement for me in that area. One thing I have been having trouble with is posting to my blog.

I promised awhile back to post about my running aframe and what I learned from Rachel Saunders during our private lesson.

Going back to when I was teaching Breeze a four on the floor, when that method first came out....I trained that and actually feel like we did a great job with it. Of course we did it before the second round of articles Ann Croft put out so a bunch of the things she addressed in the second round of articles were training issues that I had messed up with and had to figure out how to fix them.

When I started Crickets contacts I wanted to try a running aframe. I wish I had not wasted so much time going back and forth and had just went for it, but doing a running aframe was a bit scary for me. I am a slow runner, I feel like I have so many skills to learn as far as handling which will make the running aframe a little harder perhaps, and I really had no one around me learning it at the same time. Just like the four on the floor with Breeze, there were a few parts of the running aframe training with Rachel's method that I feel like I did not fully understand. Rachel is releasing a second running aframe DVD very shortly that I think will address some of those things. You know if I understood a few things I would have been done with my aframe and moved on a LONG time ago and it would have caused me a lot less worry, LOL.

So as far as my lesson, I started out telling Rachel the saga of our running aframe and all the steps we had taken. I fully admitted we started with the box, and the grids on the ground, then back chained on the aframe to the box, then slowly raised the aframe. At a certain point Cricket was VERY consistent about putting her left front foot right on top of the "box", two hits but a little bit of a step with her foot above the box, so only three feet in the box.

The criteria for the aframe when the pvc box in place is....
1. four feet in the box--which means four feet in the contact zone
2. two hits on the aframe

Well, I was very afraid to accept how Cricket was CONSISTENTLY doing the aframe because I did not want it to deteriorate and leave me wondering what to do once I broke down my original PVC box training.

Here is where I could have saved myself a lot of heart ache and time if I had just sent a video to Rachel and asked for some help. A few quick questions would have taken care of the problem and clarified things, if it took more then that I could have paid for her time, but I think most people who put out a method of training would really like to help people with quick questions rather then have their method twisted and messed up, LOL. In my case I know now Rachel would have said to take the pvc box off the aframe and to move on a long time ago-because Cricket was so consistent in how she chose to perform the aframe.

So the way I chose to fix the three foot problem was to put a stride regulator in place. I had to admit this to Rachel knowing she REALLY does not want to see a stride regulator used. I do not want to speak for her but my UNDERSTANDING is that even if you want to think of the pvc box as a stride regulator, it is a stride regulator with CRITERIA. The dog has a job and can work to do it. A stride regulator is just something that is trying to mechanically force a dog to do what you want. Hummmm, guess I see why the stride regulator was not a great idea, but truly it was the only way to get the behavior since Cricket was so used to sticking that one foot down BEFORE the PVC box it was a habit. The stride regulator did get the behavior.

After talking to Rachel I should have just taken the box off. The second thing I did not understand until after my lesson was that the criteria we used for the PVC box was for the PVC box, but once that box was off, the criteria for the aframe changed. Now with the box off it is perfectly acceptable to have three feet in the yellow as the criteria. If I need to put the box on then we go back to the four feet in the box as the criteria. I think before this I would have been way too fast to put that box back on, it should not be a crutch.

So as far as a lot of Crickets hits being rather high up in the contact zone Rachel said what I have heard Silvia Trkman say ....namely that as the dog gains confidence and relaxes into their running contact dogs with high hits will usually normally start hitting lower into the contact zone and so she thinks Crickets aframe will be fine. She also said that dogs that hit really far down into the contact zone will settle in and start hitting a little higher up, so you just have to sort of let them settle into how their performance will be as they gain confidence.

Rachel also said to make sure to help Cricket sort of settle and get ready for the aframe before she approaches it and for now to do everything I can to be out even with her or in front because she does not totally understand doing her aframe while I am decelerating behind her, so some good tips for when we do our first few trials. Rachel gave me hints about to look for that could still break down with our aframe, but said to send her a video and ask if any of those things that was really nice of her.

It was sooo funny because when I told Rachel I had used a stride regulator she kept asking WHY would I do that? She was kidding that her next DVD was going to have a big picture of a stride regulator with a line through it for NO STRIDE REGULATORS. A little while later we were watching another dog work, a puppy starting his aframe and I was filming, we were having trouble seeing what his feet were doing so Rachel says hummmm, I need to think for a minute about what we want to do here....I said "Do you think we should stick on a stride regulator" LOL, good thing she has a great sense of humor!!!

Just a few min. of the first couple aframes we tried with the box...then we did some without the box and a few in sequences.


Diana said...

Wow Kathy, What a great post. Im so glad you got around to it. I hope you have a great New Year! Cricket looks awesome!

Sara said...

Cool stuff. I bet Rachel loved working with you guys, as much as you enjoyed working with her! You're such a good student.

Happy New Year!

Priscilla said...

What fantastic news!

Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy new year!

LauraK said...

I think quite a few of us have been really bad at posting on our blogs :) You're not the only one!

Very interesting about the A-frame. I'm glad that you were able to work out the kinks and feel confident about the concept.

Happy New Year to you, hopefully we'll both be able to get to our blogs more this year!

Ricky the Sheltie said...

Such a great lesson you had with Rachel! Glad she helped you develop a clearer idea of her method of RA and Cricket sure did look amazing in the video!! Happy New Year!

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

Thanks for sharing!!! She looks awesome.

Running contacts are so fun!