Monday, January 3, 2011

Looking for the lead

Slow motion videos open a view to the mechanics of lead changes.

I think it's because the frame-by-frame movement allows the viewer to actually see the things an agility handler only senses while running. I have always been fascinated by lead changes and I've learned that understanding how they work can be of such a value in running courses successfully. Handling informed by an understanding of how leads work also puts less stress on the dog.

This is because it allow you a better chance to give cues in a way that is more in tune with the movement of the dog, rather than just cueing based on where the handler might "think" they need to be placed (often too late).

These videos really allow you to see the mechanics of the lead change, and particularly, how they are initiated by offside hind leg before the new front lead leg extends. The dog really cannot engage the turn until both of these things happen.

It lets you see that the motions required for a four legged animal to literally make a turn, are a lot more complex -- and take a little more time -- than what the uninformed eye would imagine.

So as you watch this, try to trace the lead change back to the very first subtle weight shift that starts it all. It's an education for the eyes. In this particular video, it's most visible in the weaves.

Once you can see it in slow motion, try to detect the mechanics of the lead change while you watch other people's dogs run, and also your own.

In a while, it will become instinctive. When you get to the point when you can think in terms of leads, without really thinking about it, you will find it becomes very much easier to stay in tune with where and how to cue your dog for changes of direction on course.

Thanks once again for Michal Vokruhlik for posting these beautiful videos.

No comments: