Jazz and I had the opportunity to go with our friend Susan Zimmerman and her Dal Ripley out to Ohio to the home of Linda Lombardi to train with Linda and her awesome horse Zippity. Linda has three Dals and lots of Road Trial experience. She was very encouraging and a huge help to me and Jazz today.
Susan and Ripley show us how it's done. These two got their Road Dog and Road Dog Excellent titles in the course of one year!
A big part of training for a Road Trial is focus and attention. Jazz did an awesome job, given that we were in a new location and working with a horse she had never met before today.
Here's Jazz "hocking" or gaiting along with me and Zippity. It's amazing how naturally this comes to Dals with very little prompting.
Part of the Road Trial exercises include a sit or down stay. It is recommended (but not required) that the rider move away from the dog a bit during this exercise in case the horse becomes impatient or fidgety during the stay. When you return to the dog after the stay, you return around the back of the dog and then back into "heel" position, just as you would in obedience. While Jazz kept an eye on me as Zippity and I went behind her, she held her stay and didn't seem nervous with Zip moving about so close to her.
What a thrill for me to ride Zippity and see Jazz hocking along beside us! This is only Jazz's second encounter with a horse and the very first time she's ever tried hocking, both on leash and off. I was incredibly pleased with Jazz's attention and focus and especially with her willingness to work with the horse. Susan noted that her tail and ears were always up and that she truly seemed to enjoy the workout.
Many thanks to Susan for her encouragement and help, and especially to Linda for giving up her Sunday afternoon to allow me to ride Zippity and work with Jazz. Regardless of whether we ever make it to a Road Trial, today was a very enjoyable day that I won't forget soon!