I don't compete in Musical Canine Freestyle events, and freestyle is not my main focus in training. This brace routine (one handler with two dogs) is the first time I've ever choreographed and performed a freestyle routine.
It's a simple brace routine . . . no hind leg work, no jumping or rolling over. It is similar to the Heelwork to Music category where the dog must stay in close proximity to the handler, and handler and dog must move as a unit. All moves in this 2.20 minute routine are easy to teach. They consist of weaving, looping (circling the handler), sidestepping, walking backwards, and heeling. Each dog was trained individually and then put together.
My main difficulty in performing this routine (besides trying to remember what all three of us were supposed to do and doing it in time to the music) is that these two dogs have very different personalities and energy levels. Jyah is laid-back, waits for cues, and thinks before responding; Sydney anticipates every move before I cue it.
The most daunting element for me of doing musical canine freestyle is that, unlike in the dog movies I produce, I am an integral part of the performance.
This is my first freestyle routine. In it, I am the puppeteer and Jyah and Sydney are the marionettes.
I start by having each dog circle individually.
Then Jyah begins to weave through my legs with Sydney running loops around us.
After several steps, we pause to get ready for next move.
Sidestepping with Jyah in "heel" position and Sydney in "front" position.
Pause. Dogs swing into new position, Sydney on right side and Jyah in front
In new position, we sidestep several more steps. Pause.
I step in front of Sydney. She comes through and puts either front foot on top of mine. Meanwhile, I have cued Jyah to loop around us. Sydney and I turn in one complete circle as Jyah loops around us.
I step from under Sydney's feet and turn to face both dogs and cue them to "get together."
I walk forward with the dogs backing together. About half way across the stage, I walk between them cueing "heel" as we walk forward.
We do several steps of heeling then I cue the dogs to "switch" around me as I pivot and walk back the way I came. We pivot/switch and walk several steps back on the same path and pivot/switch.
I pivot twice while the dogs back around me.
On the last pivot, we immediately go into the "weave/loop" moving to center stage front.
We back together several steps.
Facing forward, I have the dogs swing into heel position.
And all bow.
Picture puppeteer strings from my hands to each marionette/dog.
Pause -- then I cue the dogs to back around me.
It's easier for beginners to get ideas for a simple brace routine when they see how someone else put theirs together.