Sunday, February 26, 2012

Blended Front Cross

I went to an agility seminar yesterday with Beckett. Wouldn't you know it spring-like weather all week, then Friday we get a snow storm. It was still snowing and the wind had picked up on Saturday morning so the highway going down was snow covered and the visibility was not great. Again, I thought, why am I doing this. But once we got there and got started, we had so much fun and learned so much that it was well worth the drive. I car-pooled with friend and her dog so that made the drive down and back fun too, well maybe not that much fun going down.

I found out once again how awesome my little Beckett is, we did lead-outs that I didn't think he would get. And while he might have not got it the first time around, he was quick to pick up the new skills. Some times he surprised me by getting things the first time, and I would think: how did he know that?

One of the big things we learned at the seminar was a blended front cross. If you can find places to use it, it is so much easier on your knees.  Personally, while I understand why they called it a blended front cross, I don't know why they didn't give it another name all together like S-cross or just Blended cross. The seminar presenter told us that it can be used where you have to do two front crosses on one obstacle or where there is a serpentine.

Blended Front Cross Exercise
This was the first exercise we had that used the blended front cross. If you look at the course map, you could have run the sequence with a front cross on the take off side of 3 to get the dog over obstacle 3 and a front cross on the descending side of 3 to get your dog around to obstacle 4. The other option to handle it was as a serpentine composed of 2,3, and 4; lead out between 1 and 2, supporting the dog to stay out after they've taken 2, call him over obstacle 3 and move off to obstacle 4.

But as a blended front cross, it was so much easier on the handler and I think would flow smoother for the dog too. In a blended front cross, there is no change of arm and, for those of us with older knees, no hard pivot.

Blended Front Cross - first position

The first position for this exercise depended on how much of a lead out you could take from your dog, but I would have to say that in this sequence, you would have to lead out to where I did, between 2 and 3 as shown in the picture. As you can see the dog would be on my left and I'm facing towards jump 8.

Blended Front Cross - position 2
Once you released your dog and they have committed to obstacle 2, you start side-stepping to the right hand wing of obstacle 3.  The seminar presenter called it a grapevine step. If you've seen line dancing, you should get the idea. Your dog will come back in to you. I gave Beckett too much room the first time and he came between me and the jump, of course though he had never seen this move.  Note, the dog is still on the left arm and I'm still facing obstacle 8.

Blended Front Cross - position 3
As your dog is approaching the jump, you drop your shoulder back over the plane of the jump and, when a dog is learning this body language, you may have to take a step backwards.  Again, note the dog is still on the left arm and the handler is still facing obstacle 8.

Blended Front Cross - position 4
In this sequence, once the dog is committed to 3, you start to move off to obstacle 4. You might think the dog would back jump but this isn't likely since you're heading off the other direction, they just wrap around and follow.  Note the dog is still on the left arm and the handler is only now turning their shoulders towards obstacle 4.

I hope I've got the key components down correctly. I didn't take notes yesterday. I find it better just to listen.  I find I miss too much by taking notes and often miss things that are even more critical than what I'm making a note of. I had people try to explain and show me a blended front cross before, but I didn't get it. The key things are no change of arm and no hard pivot like in a front cross. I didn't get any video yesterday so I've added a YouTube video that might give you a better idea of what I've been trying to say.

Blended Front Cross example


  1. Thanks Helen, I am going to give this a soon as the snow goes away so I can get my equipment out. I enjoy your blog, see you soon
    Sandra, McCoy and Tyson

  2. That is the best description and examples I've ever seen of a blended front cross ... thanks so much ...

    sounds like a great day!


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