Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Joan Meyer Seminar and a run in the mountains

Last Friday I participated in a 4-hour seminar taught by Joan Meyer. It was excellent as usual and I really received some helpful feedback on my handling. So you guessed it..... ARMS!

Joan had a challenging course set up and at first we all ran it while she watched. Then she talked about the different cues we use to get our dogs around a course (the usual - motion, shoulders, arms, eye contact, verbal, etc.).

She next had us run the same course but removed one of the cues (arms). So with our arms bungied to our sides (we could move our shoulders but arms were stuck straight down), we ran the course again. This really impressed upon me how much impact motion and shoulders have on the dog. Summit responded very well and in fact, I was able to successfully cue a forward send without moving my arms. Imagine that!

The next time, we ran the course without using verbal cues. The only verbal we were allowed to use was the startline release word and the release from contacts (if your dog had stopped contacts). This was familar to me and the results were not surprising since I train my dogs using very little if any verbals anyway.

The last time we ran this particular course, we were allowed to use all cues. However, we had to carry an opened bottle of water (the little shorties) in the inside hand (so everytime there was a change of sides, you had to pass the water bottle from one hand to the other). I know this sounds silly and actually, I've heard of instructors making their students carry a bottle or cup of water while handling a course, but this really made an impression on me. It SHOWED me how it should feel to keep my arms level and quiet while handling my dog around a course.

We ran two other courses (a jumpers and then another standard) before we were done. There were some challenging weave pole entries and Summit nailed every single one. I actually sent him to the weaves on one of the courses because if you crowded the dog, they could miss the entry since it was at a severe angle and close to a wall. Summit drove ahead and corrected his approach slightly and entered correctly. YAY 2x2's!!!

I also got the opportunity to execute a rear cross on the flat and happy to report that Summit read it perfectly (dog was exiting a tunnel and needed to make a 160 degree turn left to the teeter).

This week I have a jumpers course set up and have been practicing front crosses, pulls, and wraps (simple, nothing complicated or technical) focusing on my handling and keeping arms low without flinging or chopping motions.

Saturday I took the dogs for a run in the mountains. We ran for 4 hours on the trails West of Boulder. I am continually amazed how so many runners can run in our beautiful mountains with an Ipod. I like listening to all the sounds of the forest. It was a great day although Sunday, I woke up a little stiff (hamstrings) but otherwise felt good.

This weekend we have USDAA. First outdoor trial in Colorado and the weather is supposed to be nice. Hoping to get that last GP leg for Nationals.


Elayne said...

My flinging arms are my nemesis. Maybe I'll try that trick with the water just for laughs.

Sometimes I run with an mp3 player in the mountains but I'll turn it off for part of the time so I can enjoy the sounds of the mountains or if I'm in an area where I'm particularly worried about lions sneaking up on me. Sometimes it's nice to hear the peace and quiet but sometimes it's nice to have a soundtrack.

Kathy said...

OMGoodness that sounds awesome, I am going to try some of those things. I had to do the no arms things, but what a great idea to do bungies so people dont fall...but they remember the arms...anyway, it really confused Liz and I realized with her I worry a lot more so I want to help her and use my arms a lot more then I do with Breeze who I feel more confident with. So the bungies would be a cool thing to try and I love the idea of the water bottle. So many cues and so many things we do wihtout even realizing it, sounds like a great conference to bring some of that into what we realize. Thanks so much for sharing!!!!

Diana said...

Sounds like a great seminar. My instructor told me when she does pairs in USDAA and holds the baton, she holds it and changes hands with it to always keep it on the same side as the dog. It reminded me of the water bottle thing you described.

Flapping arm, not me, never. LoL Diana

Kathy said...

Wow, you ran for 4 hours? I wish we had your scenery!

Ricky the Sheltie said...

Sounds like a great seminar! Lots of good body language stuff to think about. Soemtimes I think that with small dogs like me, handlers could just move their feet in the right direction and not even worry about their arms and shoulders - I watch mom's feet a lot!

Mom agrees with you about listening to the sounds around you instead of to an ipod. She does that every morning even in our neighborhood. This time of year we have lots of migratory birds and it is fun to hear the new arrivals!

Good luck this weekend!

Christine Wynne said...

That sounds a great course and done in a really constructive way. Nailing the weave entries - fab.

Morganne said...

Yes we ran for four hours. But we took lots of breaks (at creeks so the dogs could drink). My avg. speed when I'm running trails is only about 10 mm. So jogging really - not running :-)