Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Stacy Master Handling Workshop
(Click on map for larger version).
I took Lola on a trip up to Fort Collins for a Stacy Peardot master handling workshop last Saturday afternoon. It wasn't at her place but rather at a field in town so we were outdoors on grass, hot (80's), full sun, slight breeze. It wasn't miserable but it was hot enough to muddle my brain a wee bit and slow Lola down. There was a ditch to cool off in but the amount of shallow shore was small and Lola refuses to swim so she didn't have a whole lot of room to work with and had a long standoff with her tennis ball when it drifted just out of reach.
The actual course that we ran was changed a bit from the original course map so I had to redraw a portion of it for the map I've posted here (mostly #12-15) so it's not exactly as we ran it but you get the idea. We broke it down into 3 sections, running it ourselves then going back for analyses then running it again with the new ideas in mind. I was happy with myself for figuring out a few of the handling challenges myself but ended up making some not so great choices for the last part of the course (#13-#18). I started of running with Lo at #1 (no leadout), front crossed between #2 and #3, kept her on my right for #4 and #5 and front crossed the threadle between #5 & #6. This required some running but I made the cross in time no problem and had some nice tight turns. I kept her on my left up until #9, slowed before the jump to cue the wrap and had her wrap to her right, picking her up on my left then sent her to the poles. Kept her on my right through #14 (it was almost a little push out for some dogs to get in the #14 tunnel, some dogs took the other tunnel entry esp. if the handlers got too far behind). Picked her up on my left, wrapped #15, had her on my right for #15 -#17 and that's where I ran into trouble. My though was to keep her on my right and run with her to the weaves, flipping her in when we got there and also blocking the very inviting #3 tunnel. However I couldn't get Lo to turn into #17 and she ran past, headed for #8. Stacy pointed out this was also a bad plan (I wasn't the only one that had it) because in setting the line to the weaves you're in the dog's way if he's on your right and thus he has to enter the weaves at a shallower angle. Front cross so he's on your left and he has more room to get a better turn into the weaves. I kept her on my left through the weaves and turned her away from me for #19 then turned back toward #20, that part was not a problem for most if not all handlers.
Stacy had an interesting way to handle the opening that hadn't occured to me but worked really well (once we practiced a few tunnel sends). Start with dog on your left and front cross between #2 and #3 as I had done then send the dog to the tunnel and turn around running towards the #10 end of the weaves and pick up the dog on your right between #4 & #5 as she comes out of the tunnel. Then you have oodles of time to make the cross between #5 and #6. At first Lo wouldn't send to the tunnel even with me supporting the send with my arm out. Stacy pointed out that when she wouldn't go I gave up right away and told me to try holding my ground until she got it, something I always do at Gamblers don't know why I gave up so easily here. After 2-3 tries she got the idea. One handler led out and stood near the #10 end of the weaves and sent her dog to the tunnel from there from a stand still and Stacy pointed out that this was teaching the dog to ignore your motion. The idea was to run a bit of the way to the tunnel with the dog and support the send with motion, not turning the other way until the dog was committed. I had to go maybe 1/2 to 2/3 of the way to the tunnel with Lola and I still had plenty of time to pick her up on her way out of the tunnel and make my cross. It was a lot faster than running the whole way down the weaves to the #18 end and picking her up there.
She suggested handling the rest of the course as I had up until #16. Initially she suggested a front cross between #16 and #17 but after seeing someone do a front cross on the landing side of #17 she suggested that that would be better. I had a bit of problem with this at first because again Lola wasn't getting the turn cue quickly enough since I was drifting too far downstream before turning for the cross. Trouble was I had to stay back behind #15 to cue the wrap to #16 so I was behind for getting in place on the landing side of #17. Stacy pointed out that I didn't need to give her all that much room to get over #17 and that I could start my cross much sooner, before getting all the way to the other jump stanchion. It felt funny because I had to turn my back to her and trust her to take that #17 jump but if I was early enough with the start of my cross she read it no problem.
Setting a line to the #18 poles wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I missed it the first time, partly because I was still thinking about how cool it was that she'd taken the jump and wasn't concentrating on where I was going but she got it after that. Some dogs sucked in to the tunnel if the handler didn't turn early enough to cue the weaves. Some handlers cued too early in an effort to avoid the tunnel or approached at too shallow an angle and missed the weave entry. The rest of the course was fairly straight forward.
A fun afternoon and Lola did really well in the hot relentless sun. She had a few moments of distraction/stress sniffing at the starts of her runs but I was able to get her back on task fairly quickly and while she was running she did a nice job of paying attention and keeping with the plan. I even got her excited enough to bark and sass at me a few times, silly girl. I feel much better about handling her now after our long lay off. My foot didn't interfere with my running so that helped of course. My foot still hurts but I can shift my weight to the outside and off the surgical site when I'm running. This is likely the cause of my knee problems but that's a whole 'nuther post and I won't whine about it right now.