Strum and I had a fun 3 days but now I'm very tired. Saturday we had a Running Contact session then a full day of Masters Handling on Sunday and a full day of International Handling on Monday. Lots of running, lots of new handling stuff and an idea for moving forward with the dogwalk. I don't have any video, was planning on asking people to shoot at least a few sequences but kept forgetting about it or remembered too close to my turn.
Lots of international flavor to the courses, even the novice/advanced folks had some back sides of jumps if I remember correctly. It turns out it's not really a hard skill to learn and Strum and I have been getting better at it with practice. We practiced all sorts of scenarios with back sides of jumps and I feel a lot more comfortable with them now and I have exercises for practicing the basic skills for them, especially sending through a gap. I also did a lot more running backwards then I'm used to for handling threadles, wraps, pulling through a gap. And the blind crosses! I do them occasionally after tunnels, the A-frame, weave poles but pretty much never after jumps. But wow, what a useful skill for certain scenarios and so easy and natural to learn. Wish I'd had that skill for some of those courses at DOCNA Champs. Will be fun to try them out at the upcoming DOCNA trial if the course calls for them.
I also learned how to use a Ketschker turn to handle a wrap. When Marco Mouwen was here a million years ago he taught them to us and everybody was freaking out. Nobody was terribly enthusiastic about the idea of sending their dog behind them and I never saw anybody do it at a trial. It was back when I was running Cody and it turned out Cody was the one dog at the seminar that naturally did really well with it but aside from a 180 degree turn we didn't learn very many scenarios to use it and I never did see a use for it at a trial. But it turns out to be a handy thing for handling certain types of wrap scenarios and Strummer picked it up fairly easily which was surprising because generally if I face him too soon it's too much collection and he'll refuse the jump he's headed for. But he did well with it at the seminar. Will have to practice that one a bit more before trotting it out at a trial.
Another handy little thing I learned was calling his name before a straight tunnel to alert him to a tight turn coming out. At first I was skeptical about this because we already have a problem with very late commitment to tunnels and I was certain that calling his name would pull him off. But surprisingly this turned out to work well for him. I do sometimes call his name before he takes off for a jump to indicate a tight turn or convergence so it does sort of make sense that it should work and it's a consistent use of my cues.
And finally the dogwalk. My next move for the dogwalk is the dreaded stride regulator. I've been considering it and rejecting the idea for years now partly because I don't want to have to fade a prop but mostly because I wasn't sure where to put it. But Strummer was doing his extend and leap move at the seminar so Rosanne was able to see where it should go and showed me where to put it. It worked great at the seminar though, we'll see how he does out at the field and if it'll transfer to the ring.
Lots of running this weekend which was fun for me. I've been watching some European handlers on YouTube and puzzling how it is that they run so quickly and aggressively on such technical courses that you would think would require a lot of collection but now I'm starting to understand. I was tired by the end of each day and had to quit one exercise early both days. We covered a lot of ground each day and I feel like I've got more than enough to work on for the next few months. Rosanne was a great instructor, explained everything very clearly and had several different handling options for most of the handling challenges. Was interesting to see myself as well as the others in the class able to handle such difficult stuff without a huge amount of struggle. The handling seemed to come naturally without too much brain drain or over thinking, just going out there and doing. Very fun. The other attendees liked her as well, I woke up to a lot of positive feedback in my email box this morning.
And at the end of the seminar I was surprised to find out that the club was giving me vouchers for organizing the seminar, something I wasn't expecting at all and I was even more surprised at how generously they paid me. It amounted to several whole trial entries, tournaments and all! I was so excited about that. I may even be able to afford to go to Regionals now if we can qualify in time since I won't have to pay for trial entries for several months.
Normal people's normal dogs are tired after a seminar with lots of running. Strummer had a relatively quiet morning then decided a run around the yard with his watering can was in order.
What is this 'Rest Day'?
He may not need one but I do. No agility until at least the weekend or maybe even next week. I didn't make it to masters today either. I wish a couple full days of agility were not so exhausting.