A while ago, Alen Marekovic from Croatia posted a recent training exercise on facebook. His course was the base for the following exercises and I give him full credit for the design inspiration! I immediately saw the 5 parallel jumps at the top as a unique challenge that would make for an interesting drill. So, with a little simplification to focus on that part of his original design, I was able to come up with a fun adaptation that resulted in a fresh new challenge which I introduced to my classes this last week. Here is the basic set-up:
With the bottom 5 jumps used to build momentum and allow the dog to open up and run, the top part then focused on getting through the “teeth” of the exercises. This was a great drill for those dogs who are terribly space conscious as the handler was quite restricted by the proximity of the other jumps (those 4 jumps were only spaced 6′ apart!). These exercises also called for precision in timing and placement of handling cues as being a bit early or too late often resulted in an off course. The tunnel was a very tricky off course option, especially for dogs who don't easily stay in handler focus and tend to take off on their own when pressured. I mostly loved teaching with these drills as the handler couldn't dawdle watching the dog and had to keep moving to get to those critical handling points.
First, I want to point out the top portion (which I think resembles a Jacob's Ladder, don't you?). The possibilities are endless. You could isolate those 4 jumps and practice several variations of the “ladder” (keeping in mind that you never take 2 jumps consecutively due to the closeness of them). This first exercises shows a sequence in the ladder and how it could be executed several different ways (or a combination of both). Also, imagine the various handling skills that can be used within each option!
Here are a few additional ladder exercises. How many ways could you handle them?
Keeping in mind all of the handling options in the ladder, below are a few ways I incorporated it in class sequences with increasing difficulty. Another fun facet was the symmetry of the drill. Several times, I had students run the numbered exercise, then they had to run the “mirror” of it. Yes, I let them re-walk it, but it would also be a great exercise to run it with only mentally walking it!
This last one was great for snooker practice! To add difficulty, I required students to go through the ladder instead of around the outside of it when going to and from the tunnels.
I hope you enjoy these drills!