Looking at the rulebook afterwards, I am still really surprised to have been NQ'd for these moves. I should have lost points but not been NQ'd based on what it says there, but, I know different judges all have things they particularly look for, so we'll try again.
I found my 6 foot leash too long in the class before so I special ordered the 5 foot one I'm using in this video. The prob with the 6 foot was even with a knot to mark where I should be grasping it I was tending to keep it too tight. So I'm kind of thinking I want something where I can just hold the loop at my belly and have it be optimal, but yes it might not work for the turns. Maybe a thinner leash would help and be easier for me to fold up in my hand quickly.
In Novice CARO you can treat at the end of an exercise where the exercise ends with the dog stationary (a "Halt") as long as the dog stays in position. I use the harness because that is what he is used to walking on but I wonder if I should switch to collar for the actual runs because I think part of why my leash management needs a bit of help is I don't want it draping in his face as we are walking. If he were on a collar it might just drape below his neck instead. But yes you can use harnesses as long as they are just basic, not front clip, and don't tighten or do anything fancy.
Doing Rally-O is great because it improves our walks, and it is also improving my handling skills to help me be more polished and comfortable, which I think is important as I work towards becoming a certified professional dog trainer.
I think the two of you are doing AWESOME! I agree that you might find a plain collar easier than the harness at this point. He is clearly not needing the leash for "control", so you aren't going to damage his neck with it!
I assume that as you go up the levels in CARO you'll be working off-leash, right? So at that point, you probably would be using a collar anyway.
Even with a collar, I found that occasionally, Kodi would get a foot over the leash. It's REALLY hard with such a small dog, to have the leash with a "J" loop in it, but at the same time, not low enough that they can step over it!
In AKC and WCRL, you can stop at any point to get your dog's leg un-stuck without loss of points. I did try to do it mostly at stationary exercises anyway, though, just to prevent loss of flow. And as Kodi got older, her just figured out how to avoid stepping through it anyway. (Or I got better handling it! Not sure which!
It's actually SO much easier once you're off leash. Now that I'm working with my second one, and know a lot more than I did with Kodi, I am doing almost no on-leash "work" with Pixel. Eventually we will, but she will already have a firm understanding of heel position before we work on leash. When we're outside in a casual setting, we now have the advantage of an older trained dog for an example. she just follows Kodi, so I can get her to go where I want without her even realizing that she's "on leash".