I didn't have much time to work Louie today, and since we had 12 inches of snow land on us last night and today and I had to work all weekend, we we weren't very motivated to do much real concentrated work. So, we did something that I don't think we've ever done before- free jumping.
I set up a small jump with a pole propped up on a barrel at the one end and the other end on the ground at the wall, and a chute with another pole propped up on the barrel on one side of the jump. I intended to have Louie approach the jump from the side with the chute, then go over it. Well, he didn't want to approach it from the chute side, but he did approach, but refused the first couple of times from the non-chute side. I think he was confused as to why there was a barrel laying in the arena, and why go near that if you don't have to? Well after a few tries, he finally decided it wasn't so bad and popped over the little diagonal-rail. Good boy!
I tried several times to get him to approach it from the side with the chute, but he was not going to have it. I think this is because I positioned the jump about 2/3 of the way down the arena, and the side with the chute was the longer portion, so he had way more time to decide to skirt out of the way and skip the obstacle. I never did get him to approach it in the intended direction, but he sailed over it about 10 times from the opposite way. Fun!
Next time I think I'll set up a second jump or a series so that he has to navigate two obstacles close together. That could be fun, and I want to do what Mary had told us to do last year when we started to try some little jumps- space them differently every time so that he has to figure out where to put his feet on his own. That will help him learn how to time his own strides more effectively. This is good cross training, and gives him some freedom of expression, as he gets to run around and "get the bucks out" a little and have some fun.