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Doing my happy dance!  This coming weekend our trial season begins and I’m in such a good mood!!  As of yesterday, the yard has melted and we were able to get out and practice some and then again early this morning before the kids arrived.  Which was fantastic.  And in just 3 days we have a NADAC trial.  I am stoked!!  (is that a word people still use?)

This was a chances course we ran yesterday.  It felt so nice!  I was very pleased especially since we haven’t really had a chance to practice any agility in weeks due to the weather.

And a jumpers course where I was choosing to restrict my handling to a small area.  We are still working on our distance skills.  I was so happy with her efforts.

Last week an online class I’m taking that focus’ specifically on handling with a small dog began.  I’m learning a lot.  I’m really appreciating the instructor’s feedback and plethora of experience running the shorter dogs.  Our first week exercises and materials focused on the use of visual connection to aid in communication and confidence with our dogs.  Zora and I have been practicing and WOW such a positive difference!  I’ve been videoing our class practices and can see the moment I visually disconnect from her to view the next obstacle and reorient myself to the course, she falters even just a little bit.

I am finding it challenging.  In order to run Zora this way I need to have a really really really clear of the course and where the equipment is at all times in my head.  Because if I’m visually connecting with Zora I can’t see anything else.  Lack of peripheral vision and all.  You can see where I’m off in where I think a jump is as she runs around it or nowhere near it.  The path I’m indicating to her tells her the jump doesn’t exist.  This is a good mental and spatial exercise for me.  And actually quite fun.  It’s different.  And the reinforcement of seeing Zora respond so well to it makes me like the mental ‘where is everything’ challenge.

It appears most of the other class members run AKC, USDAA and CPE agility with handling styles much much closer to the equipment and dog.  Some of the exercise set ups I’ve experimented with running different ways, and when I review the videos I’m noticing just how much I prefer to be on the edges of the courses where I have better ability to see things and how uncomfortable being in the middle of the course, near equipment makes me.

This clip was my preferred place to handle this sequence from. Get me out of the middle!

Fingers crossed for a fun, safe trial weekend.  And a good start to our 2017 trialing year!

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