Regionals is almost upon us. Before going in the ring it is really important that you find the warm-up jump and plan to use it. Especially early in the day and early in the competition. As the competition goes on you may want to forego using the jump. You can make that decision as you approach the moment. One reason to use the warm-up jump is to help the dog establish footing. If the footing at the jump is not similar to the ring you are going into then this point is unnecessary. Footing will change as the day goes on. Either from use or from the weather. This really doesn’t apply on artificial turf unless it is exposed to the elements. On a side note… if you are on artificial turf outside be aware of the sun. It can make the surface quite warm. This may cause the dogs paws to sweat. If the dog has sweaty paws or moist paws from other sources, the dog may suffer from burned pads. In some cases this can cause the pad to tear. You will be unable to perform if the dog is showing signs of discomfort.
Things you should do at the jump. One is to let the dog get an opportunity to use their jumping muscles. One thing I often see is a dog being sent over a jump multiple times. You should try to avoid this. You could cause the dog to tire too early during your run. Ideally you want to stimulate endorphins in the dog that will allow the dog to feel physically at its’ best while running.
Another thing you want to do is give the dog an opportunity to show you that they are capable of thinking about the jump and keeping the bar up. If your dog is overstimulated this will be a sign to you that your dog needs some calming and a reminder that they still have a job to do when it comes to jumping.
Something else the warm-up jump can be useful for is to imitate something that is on course. For example, in gamblers there may be a particular distance element that needs good execution and understanding. You can use the warm-up jump to help you show the dog what you expect in that moment. Be careful you don’t do something that will hurt your confidence before going in the ring. It should be something you have practiced before. It is not the time to teach the dog something new!
When I go to the jump I will practice a lead out, a front cross, a rear cross and some rights and lefts. Then I get out so the next person can come in and use the jump. Try to be mindful of others who need to use the jump. Particularly if they are ahead of you in the running order!
Everyone will have their own routine and you can develop what works for you. It may even become part of a routine that you establish to give yourself confidence before going in the ring. Sometimes things happen that don’t allow that routine to happen. So be careful that it isn’t something you rely on! That can shake your confidence before entering the ring. Stay tuned for my next blog post on what you can do to help warm-up your dog if a warm-up jump isn’t available!