Friday, April 29, 2011

More Photos From Iowa

I got these wonderful photos from Tammy Etscheidt, who was also taking photos at the Tracy Sklenar seminar. How lucky we were to have two talented photographers that weekend.

I love the expression in Schema's face as she is going over this jump.

Photo by Tammy Etscheidt
Then there are these cool photos that Tammy took when I was working Score on the yearlings in one of the large pastures on Saturday. It was so much fun being out there in the sunshine with green grass all around us.

This one was quite obviously when I sent him for an outrun - oh, the joy in his face!! 

Score - sending on an outrun
Photo by Tammy Etscheidt

Then this awesome photo of him fetching the sheep after picking them up at the top.

Score - fetching the yearlings
Photo by Tammy Etscheidt

And this one of Score getting them to me. These sheep had not been worked by dogs and this was about as close as they were going to get to me. Score did a great job working them. So proud of him.

Photo by Tammy Etscheidt
Thanks Tammy for the awesome photos!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tracy Sklenar seminar

Photo by Ami Shefield
I can't remember enjoying an agility seminar as much as I did this past Easter weekend with Tracy Sklenar, hosted by Christy Thomas at her 50 acre farm about 10 miles north of Council Bluffs, IA. Christy was an amazing hostess as she was also lambing at the same time (along with a few challenges that go along with this) she kept smiling all weekend.

Tracy is so patient, yet so inspiring with all the working teams. I could hear her repeating the same things over and over in order to convey concepts that were important for each team. Yet, she kept demonstrating and communicating with the same passion and perkiness and humor. She is by far my favorite agility seminar presenter because of this - if something bothers her, it goes completely unnoticed. She makes people feel important and worth the extra attention to detail and she puts people at ease by remembering their names as well as their dog's names.

Friday morning we were indoors for the Masters seminar because of the wind and the cool weather. But the afternoon session had us outdoors in the bright sunshine on plush green grass with lovely temps in the 60's - perfect weather for working the dogs.
Schema jumping indoors in the barn
Photo by Ami Shefield
Saturday, I had the day off as it was the ABC's of handling, which was specifically for learning the handling system and more for Novice dogs. Anyone that had a working spot throughout the four days, could audit free on any of the other days, which was a wonderful additional benefit of attending this seminar. Auditing and reviewing some of the basic handling was wonderful for me as I was able to pick up some of the finer points of the handling as was demonstrated by Tracy.

On Saturday, Christy was nice enough to sort out 6 of her yearling Cheviots into one of her large pastures. These sheep had not been worked much by dogs, so I was able to work Score twice on Saturday gathering them. It was a wonderful experience because it was a new field, with different draws and sheep that were very light, so he had to figure it all out. He made some mistakes at first, but he was doing some great outruns and gathers after he figured it out.

Monday was European Day with courses that had lots of back sides of jumps and very tight wraps and turns through tight boxes of jumps. Schema did a great job and showed that she has lots of great skills as a young dog. Most of the homework I took home to work on were handling weaknesses or new/better skills that I need to work on (love this stuff!):

1) Be more aggressive with my threadles and serpentines
2) Do the change of arm in the serpentines and threadles WHEN they are needed instead of trying to get to perfect serp and threadle position.
3) Continue to move when I'm doing a serpentine and keep my feet pointed in that direction
4) Take big steps when doing muliple serps or threadles, rather than the smaller steps I was taking
4) Change my footwork for the threadle, so I can move up the course faster
5) Use more acceleration (even if it's briefly) so I can show deceleration.
6) "Punch" those tight wraps with the same arm when in position at the jump
7) Use lots of motion forward with the same arm and leg near the dog to get a good threadle push through
8) Use spacial awareness information Tracy provided when walking a course to ensure I know where to drive out of my front crosses.

Photo by Ami Shefield

Some of the skills I need to work with Schema are:
1) More rewards at my front crosses to put more value into driving to me (she is driving her line and sometimes forgetting about that)
2) More independent 270's or back side of the jump

I'm looking forward to going back to Christy's in September for another weekend of Masters/European Day with Tracy.

Thanks to Ami Shefield for taking photos all weekend of the dogs working. She got some great ones of Schema...and what's up with this one? I guess I'm thinking about all the handling skills I need to work on when I get home.

Photo by Ami Shefield

Photo by Ami Shefield

Photo by Ami Shefield

Rewarding Schema with a good tugging session
Photo by Ami Shefield

Driving off the start line
Photo by Ami Shefield

Schema sliding teeter
Photo by Ami Shefield

Awesome slide teeter
Photo by Ami Shefield

Photo by Ami Shefield