Powering out of tight turns, running fast and jumping in extension

We are now a few days into Silvia Trkman’s Cik & Cap method for training tight turns and powering out of turns.  But since Lil has been having trouble jumping well when running fast on straight aways, I wanted to add that element early on, thinking it will be good for her to practice running fast over a bar on the ground before gradually raising all the bars back to full height. The other element I am adding early on is me running with Lil, since my movement can be distracting and cause her to jump inefficiently.

So yesterday I set up a pair of wings and a pair of cones (since that is all I have at my house right now), with a Manners Minder about 15 feet beyond the 2nd jump.  My focus was on Lil powering out of 180 degree turns, running fast and jumping in extension over the second bar.  Adding that 2nd jump on the straight-away created the exact jumping scenario Lil has been having trouble with lately.

After watching the first few reps (unfortunately I didn’t have my video camera out yet), it became clear that Lil was bouncing over the bars vs. driving or just striding over them.

The first video clip shows how Lil often takes an extra step before jumps on straight aways, which diminishes her speed.  But you can also see at the November trial that she sometimes over-jumps, which can diminish speed by transferring forward momentum to upward momentum, not that I felt her slowing down at that trial.  But I could definitely feel something wasn’t quite right at the December trial.  I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was.  The final video clip is of a CPE trial from one year ago.  You can see that Lil’s striding is not even on straight jumps and that she often takes off a bit early.  I wouldn’t go so far to call it ETS (early jumping syndrome) but it is not the most efficient way to jump.  ps–I am open to the possibility that Lil (and Jake) will always have a tendency to take-off a bit early when jumping.  And I am OK with that as long as it doesn’t involve dramatic studder stepping or crouching before jumping.

I can think of two reasons I don’t want Lil to over jump.  The first is because it slows her down and it is much more fun to run agility at maximum speed.  The second, and more important reason, is that what goes up must come down.  Bouncing vs. driving makes for harder landings. The other thing that causes a dog to land hard is when the dog doesn’t know a tight turn is coming well before it approaches a jump.   I believe this is the most important aspect of training Cik & Cap.

Over the past few days, I have been thinking about how I have been using the verbal cues Left and Right in a general way, adding specificity to them through movement, body language or following the words Left or Right with “Lil, Lil, Lil” which means wrap tight and come back towards me.  But I am now thinking it would be better to have different words for wrapping left and right so that my dogs know well in advance how tight a turn they will need to take.  My practice partner came up with two good verbal cues: Loop and Wrap, which I just might be able to remember since Loop starts with an L and Wrap phonetically starts with an R.

Today I am looking forward to doing a short session focusing on speed, tight turns and powering out of 360 degrees and multiple turns around cones and wings with the bar at 2″ using a ball vs. the Manner’s Minder.

These sessions are so much fun!

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3 thoughts on “Powering out of tight turns, running fast and jumping in extension

  1. I followed your link to your blog on Silvia’s facebook and have really enjoyed reading it! My corgi also has jumping issues (stutter steps a lot, flings back end out) and I look forward to seeing how you progress with your terrier. I love Silvia’s philosophy and training methods but I guess I’m confused as to how it could help with jumping issues? although I totally get how it would get awesome power out of the tight turns!

    • I am hoping Lil’s jumping will improve as a side benefit of training Cik & Cap. My thinking is that powering out of tight turns AND fast running over bars on the ground, will help Lil learn how to easily stride over bars on the ground when she is running fast, which then will translate into easy, extended jumping over straight jumps when I gradually raise the jumps back to Lil’s jump height of 8″.

      This is based on what I think fast and efficient jumpers do when jumping over widely spaced, straight jumps. They take long strides approaching the jump and then power over the jumps, landing well beyond the jumps and continue to drive forward with long strides (vs. running and jumping in collection). I think if Lil learns to really power out of tight turns that it will transfer to powering out after straight jumps too and the only way a dog can do that is by landing well beyond the jump, which means jumping long and low.

      I think Silvia’s focus on speed in foundation training will be good for Lil is because Lil’s jumping can be affected by a lack of confidence, being distracted by my movement, or not liking to knock bars. For example, if she misjudges the distance and hits a jump bar hard, she will then over-jump, butt flip, jump early, or add a little step before jumping for the rest of the course to to avoid hitting another bar. So I’m hoping that by giving her a lot of experience running fast over bars on the ground, which will include her hitting a bar now and then, that it will help her be OK when she occasionally knocks a bar on course.

      Structure also comes into play because Australian Terriers (and Corgis) are such powerful dogs, I think they can develop all sorts of inefficient ways to get over jumps (without hitting bars) so I am trying to do whatever I can to help Lil find a comfortable and efficient way to jump when running fast.

      Plus I have done a ton of Susan Salo’s and Chris Zink’s jump grids in the past and Lil is still able to do them with ease, so at this point I don’t think doing more jump grids (where we are dictating the dog’s stride length) will help her learn how to jump well when running fast. I think the thing Lil needs to learn is how to jump while taking long strides (vs. running and jumping in collection), and so I’m hoping that by giving her a ton of experience running fast over bars on the ground through a variety of sequences, that she will eventually be able to do the same thing over 8″ jumps.

      ps- I think structure also plays a role in jumping style, so I’m not expecting Lil to skim over jumps like a lot of Border Collies do. Given the structure of Australian Terriers (long-backed and heavy-boned), I believe they need to jump a little higher in order to clear bars with ease, when running and jumping in full extension. But they don’t need to butt flip or fling themselves extremely high over jumps to avoid hitting bars either, if they have enough forward momentum to land far enough away from the jump to easily clear it with their back legs, which also make is easy for them continue to power out with the first stride after the jump.

      Of course, I would be wrong about all of this! 🙂

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