April 10, 2012

Combination: 270 + Serpentine

The diagram below shows a common sequence often seen at national and international competitions. While there are three general ways to handle this, most people will opt for a front cross between 1 and 2.

Basic 270 Sequence


However, a tricky judge will often place several off course traps between the 2nd and 3rd obstacles.

Tricky 270 Sequence

In this situation, combining a 270 maneuver with a serpentine gives you a useful tool to tighten your dog’s turn after jump #2 and also eliminates potential off courses. A double front cross will also eliminate potential off courses, however, a 270-rear cross or a single front cross will NOT eliminate both off courses, as seen in the video. Both of those moves will require an additional threadle arm to pull your dog to the correct end of the tunnel. Or if you don’t use threadle arm direction changes (also known as reverse flow pivots), you can make me very sad and scream “COME!” at your dog repeatedly as they run into the wrong end of the tunnel. When compared to the front cross, the 270-serpentine lets you be further behind as well; this benefits the slower handler. Lastly, the front cross requires perfect timing or your dog will take jump #2 the wrong way; with the 270-serpentine, you can be less precise.

If your dog lands wide after the serpentine (jump #2), you can and should tighten up this turn by consistently rewarding your dog at or very close to the wing and selectively rewarding the tighter turns.

The entire 270-serp maneuver can be done in 3 simple steps. First, as your dog takes jump #1, step to the right wing of jump #2 with your right foot. As soon as your dog breaks the plane of jump #2, you are free to move into position for your serpentine. The serpentine cue is to rotate your left arm toward your dog as soon as her nose is peaking around the wing. You should see each other through the uprights of the jump. As soon as your dog jumps, you are free to drive toward the tunnel, looking back over your right shoulder to pick up your dog.

Video yourself and time the different handling maneuvers. For me and Rook, the 270-serpentine was 0.2 seconds faster than the double front cross. Have a great training session!

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