Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday Night "Competitive Handling" - New Format

Due to the increasing number of agility competitors in our club, our Monday Night Competitive Handling class has grown to 10 students.  This is really too many for a 1 hour class, with each team wanting to run the course at thrice and work on specific problems they are having, setting so many bar heights, etc.  We kinda resolved that by letting the class run from 8-9:30 or even longer, which suited me fine.  So, instructor Nedra came up with the idea of dividing the class into "small dogs" from 7-8 p.m., and "large dogs" from 8-9 p.m.  Unfortunately, there are only 4 small dogs (Maxie, Tango, Casey and Jenny), and since Casey's owner is also the Monday night instructor of the Beginners class at 7 p.m., and they only have 2 students, it was decided to combine our classes together.

I'm sorry to say, it is extremely boring to watch Beginner dogs try to run an excellent course when I'm paying for my own hour of "excellent" instruction.  They are all over the place, it's too hard for them, their handlers are unsure of themselves, and while there are only 2 of them, I don't feel like my time is well spent sitting around watching them take their long, long turns.  I also miss the excitement of being around the "big dog" teams.  Their runs are so dynamic, handler comments so helpful, their problems so illustrative of what the sport is about -- getting accuracy and team communications.  Out of respect for Nedra, I'm going to stick with this for the rest of this session, but if it continues, I will try to move to Tuesday night, tho this is not as convenient for me. John's BRAS meetings are Monday night so we are out on the same evening and get to spend Tuesday evenings together.  If I have to move to Tuesdays, and I also have class on Wednesday nights, that's 3 nights a week we're going our separate ways.

I got there at 6:30 and had time to run Lucky thru the whole course, and practice on some difficult areas of it.  She was fast and motivated, didn't do the sequence perfectly, but did every obstacle she did very well.  She is weaving faster now, and taking the dog walk at a gallop.  Her down contacts are transforming from a 2 on/2 off sit, to a 2 on/2 off stand, which is what I'm working on at home.  I can "steer her from the rear" at last.  She still loves her tug toy and is highly motivated to do agility if she knows I have it. 

Maxie's 3 runs in class were good, not perfectly accurate due to my own handling errors, but he ran very fast and took the weaves from a great distance.  If we could run the same course 3 times, we'd get it right.  I believe in that method, by the way.  Repetition builds confidence and knowledge, which eventually leads to more accurate "first trys" at trials. There are only so many patterns.  Like anything else (chess, checkers, backgammon, tennis, fire fighting, human relations) once you've encountered them all enough and know how to handle them, "first trys" aren't new or surprising any more!  Of course, others would disagree.

One breakthrough. Nedre tried to run Maxie thru the 1st 9 obstacles to the table, and he ran for her.  Not very well as he knew she had his treats in her hand and if she slowed down he ran over to her and jumped up and down for a treat.  Once he ran back over to me as I was straight ahead, but on the whole I think he could run for her with enough practice.  It was fun watching my own dog run!  I never get to see that unless I watch the videos.  Little bugger swashbuckles along!  Makes mommy's heart melt!

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