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Training Exercises: Speed Circle - Practice Your Skills

This is the final part in a series of exercises based on a simple course layout. Today's sequences work on a variety of crosses, as well as practicing Masters Challenge-level skills. By Emily Hurt

These "speed circle" exercises use only a simple set of equipment (two tunnels and six jumps for the full set), yet one course layout can provide a variety of exercises to build many different skills. In the first week of this series, we used this set up to build speed and confidence. Last week, we used it for practicing moving from extension into collection, as well as working backsides at speed. This week, we'll be using it to practice a variety of crosses, thinking "at speed," and Masters Challenge-level skills.

I love this set-up because there is something for everyone. It is so versatile that, regardless of your level of expertise, you can find sequences to be successful on and sequences to challenge you. You can also play around with the angles of the jumps to increase difficulty. This is a fun design that I like to bring out for my students from time to time. If you set this up, be sure to get your running shoes on! It is important to note that until the dog is moving at full speed through one sequence, I do not progress through the levels. Full speed or bust!

Course #5 is a "zig zag" that has many options for execution. You can practice front crosses (changing sides by turning into your dog while in front of them), rear crosses (changing sides by crossing behind your dog), blind crosses (like front crosses but turning your back to the dog instead of your front), and any combination thereof to get you from point A to point B. This exercise really helps handlers learn how to think on their feet and to gauge what will work on a real course situation.

Course #6 is the ultimate "Masters Challenge" speed circle of doom.  Going straight past the obvious obstacle, backsides, and threadles (pulling in between two jumps), are all commonplace on today's Challenge courses. You'll find them all here on this exercise!

If you and your dog conquer these exercises easily, don't forget to increase the difficulty by angling the jumps different ways to challenge your dog's jumping skills and to help them see the line of jumps even if they aren't straight on. Work these exercises this week and check back next week for the next two in the series. 

Don't have enough room for the full exercise? See if this scaled-down version fits for you!

This article is part of a new Training Tuesday series that is appearing on USDAA's facebook page. We encourage you to discuss these exercises on our facebook, and to upload videos of you and your dog trying one of them out. If you have a facebook account, please join in the fun here: 

Emily Hurt lives in Allen, Texas with her husband and their 6.5 dogs. She teaches classes at All FUR Fun Training & Event Center in Addison, Texas and also offers online coaching and consultations through her website At 18,700 square feet, Emily's training center is the largest indoor, climate controlled agility facility in Texas. Emily is a Masters Judge and has been involved in agility for 12 years. Her dogs' motto is "If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough" - Mario Andretti.


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