Thursday, July 14, 2011

Training the Broad Jump

I've been working on Dustin's broad jump lately, as one of the Graduate Novice and Open exercises, partly because it's good for both our fitness levels and partly because he finds jumping to be fun. I like to be a couple of exercises ahead of our actual titles, so we'll go into the Novice ring pretty soon with some Open exercises already in progress. Besides, the broad jump is in the yard, nice and available, and we can work a couple of jumps a day.

We started with a couple of boards broad way out, so they didn't look like something to walk on, very narrow, so he could just hop over. We had a target in a straight line from his sit through the middle of the jump, and he went to the target, or I stood in that spot and had him come to me. He already has some idea that "jump" means "don't go around" from other work.

From there I started making the jump a little bigger and putting more of the boards in their flatter configuration. After a week or so, I now only have to put the leading board edge-up to remind him what to do, and he'll sail over the full distance very nicely.

If I put the leading board flat, though, he suddenly re-interprets the exercise. He's quite nimble and quite able to trot along with his feet neatly hitting the center of each board, and he's such a show-off he's very proud of being able to do this. I'm half-pleased. He knows where his back feet are, which is oddly rare in shepherds, and this means he spends a lot less time planting them on my toes. However, that's not a jump.

And I find myself saying things like, "On what planet is that a jump?" as I take him back around and put the lead board back up again. He, of course, has not answered me, and if he does, we have a whole new area of communication to explore.

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