I Love Agility Seminars!

26 Oct 2012Steve Schwarz

Just sayin’! I go to 4-5 dog agility seminars a year and without exception I love the experience. I think this past year I was at seminars taught by Dana Pike, Silas Boogk, Elicia Calhoun, and Tori Self. The thing I like most is the immersive experience; almost exclusively thinking and doing agility for a day(s) at a time.

Take-off Side Front Cross 270 Jump Sequence Step 2

As an agility instructor/coach I pay most attention to what is being presented and, just as importantly, how it is being presented. I try to contrast the seminarian’s techniques/philosophies with my own. I also try to find similarities. I look for how well other students pick up the concepts when presented the way the instructor does. Lastly I try to find contrasts/similarities with the approaches of other trainers/handlers with whom I’ve worked. There are far more similarities than most trainers/“systems” may want to admit.

I usually end up asking a bunch of questions; but try not become a class pest! If I think my questions are generally interesting I’ll ask them in the group setting. Otherwise I’ll ask them privately during a break/lunch.

I try really hard to embrace the instructor’s approach for that day/weekend, even if they contradict my own handling “system”. A few repetitions of something new isn’t going to “undo” our training. You never know until you try. I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

All that and learning/running/training really takes it out of me!

It can be hard to keep on your toes at the end of the day, or multiple days. But it can also really “whip you in to shape”. I used to love it when Dana gave 3-5 day seminars in early spring and bring in other pros like Rachel Sanders, Jen Pinder, and Mary Ellen Barry. Nothing like doing a full day of agility for 3-5 days - I’d be sore day 2-3 and then start to feel better by the end; ready for the upcoming season (back when there were agility seasons).

I also like the other participants. If they are willing to take the time/effort/money to attend they are probably pretty interested in the topic/trainer. As long as they are “in the game”, and not being “negative Nellies”, it is great fun to discuss what is being presented, consider handling approaches, and watch each other learn and succeed. It is so cool to watch someone try something new and see the look on their face when they get it!

Going to seminars can be expensive but if you are nerdly enough to read this blog regularly you need to go to one if you haven’t yet. This past year it hasn’t been too expensive for me, but I only had to stay overnight for Silas’ seminars, so it was just the travel cost and the cost of the seminar. Chicago has a large agility community and we are fortunate that many interesting seminars are given throughout the year.

I hope you like seminars too! If you haven’t attended one, go for it! It should only change you agility path for the better!

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