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Extracts of Agility Voice - The Agility Club editorial feature/photos (pdf A4) or read below

The Agility Voice Magazine - July 2009

Welcome to Our Agility Club

Fiona Stewart - Satorius Rousse: "Inspired by Greg Derrett's "Great Dog Shame About the Handler" DVD, I took a crazy leap into classes and competitive agility. I work in digital media and financial services; with Masters in Cognitive Psychology and Reiki (hands on healing), offered to dogs only.

Satorius Rousse succeeded my soulmate, merle collie, Yang. Rousse is now 4 years old, grade 1 with a dozen KC clear rounds, WSD, abandoned nearly PTS. Luckily fostered 2 years ago by Scallywags School for Dogs where today visits for agility coaching. Rousse started in his first week, at age two to follow a toy in my hand. Now does fast clear rounds, stays, perfect contacts, weaves, jumping and goes on. After 13 months competing, I became a ring manager, he moved up to UKA Novice for Steeplechase and soon for agility too. He recently did clear rounds in his first pairs/team runs.

Out of the ordinary, most dogs love tunnels, but due to past dark space phobia or acute sense of smell? Sometimes in competition, Rousse runs into tunnels, sniffs has a scratch or fear-aggression rub before exiting, so times out. Any rare similar experience reader tips, welcome! Rousse is magnetic with a mystical wolf-like blue eye and amber brown other eye, heart of gold, gives hugs, loves his walks, garden agility, snuggles, reiki, meditation CDs. Passionate about red kong, green frog, knows tonnes of words, loves clicker training. He adores pepperami, honey and ginger biscuit snippets. Communicates by blinking or nodding his blue eye head or confused tilts his head quizzically. Photography courtesy of Tom Adams. Rousse was selected for runner up Supadogs Rescue League Defa's Award, 2008' featured on www.supadarl.co.uk for Satorius Rousse and Fiona Stewart's own rescue dog story and Agilitynet's 'Spirit of Agility Photos.'

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Agility DVD Action Photographs 2011, courtesy of Emma Elliott, dog agility photographer, www.emmaelliottphotography.co.uk

DVDS FOR DOGS BY FIONA STEWART
ON COURSE TO EXCEL (DVD - GREG DERRETT)
The Agility Voice Magazine, November 2011

Fiona Stewart is a cognitive psychologist, dog reiki master and writer, who reviews agility DVDs with her first agility dog. Satorius de la Rousse, WSD, age 6.5 years (rescued from Blue Cross rescue, age 2, fostered by Sally and Don Bradbury). He is passionate about off course agility ball games, agility on course training, camping shows and competes at less shows than most. He has been competing 3.5 years, recently simultaneously moving up to UKA Champion Steeplechase, just two games points off move up to UKA Champion Performance Agility. He is a consistent all-rounder, naturally magical to watch, often placed, not fastest, but tightly handles complexity; with one KC and two UKA glass trophies this year. The 4 Derrett DVDs have provided us, with inspirational practical guidance, rules, great fun exercise drills, alongside our top trainer classes. Now, we take a tiny step closer towards 'On Course To Excel' far from our origins of DVD2 'Great Dog Shame About The Handler' which notably gave Rousse his consistent great weave performance. Never too late to fill missed gaps, ironically we played with DVD1 Foundations and started top DVD4 together, before achievements above. We trust these DVDs, help you too!

ON COURSE TO EXCEL PART I: We review Greg Derrett's DVD in two parts. There is a large gap between myself and the decades of first class world champion course performances demonstrated on the DVD by Greg Derrett. However, we can still help you, by using Greg's clear explanations, due to his international seminar teaching experience. This issue, we look at chapters 1. Combining Handling Manoeuvres and introduce 2. Decision Making. Next issue, we look at more at 2. Decision Making, 3. Independent equipment working and 4. Course Analysis. Content includes advanced training drills to improve both handling and dog's understanding; clear precise rules to enable handler to choose fastest path for dog; in-depth explanation of course strategy; detailed diagrams explain decisions on dog's path and handling choices; independent contact and weave drills; independent equipment working; comprehensive instructions on course walking; slow motions shots show precise timing (how to optimise time); footage and analysis from actual events; clear course diagram booklet.

IS THIS FOR ME?
This DVD shows the top end of agility handling performance, ideal for regular use by trainers and seasoned professionals. The handler takes this step or looks for gains change, most likely around Grades 4/5-7, Senior/Champion/Masters UK Agility. It depends on Individual aspirations, as DVD states "If you are looking to compete at any level, to understand handling and be able to analyse courses - this is the DVD for you."

OVERVIEW: This DVD is 2 hours long with a booklet containing all the exercises. 'DVD "On Course to Excel" is the fourth DVD in Greg Derrett's series on agility training, follows on directly from 'The Winning combination" handling.' This covers final stages of Greg's internationally renowned handling system (The Derrett or GD system). Impressively, the DVD reveals how to win, save second(s) against the clock. Courses are often deliberately set by judges, to test ability in optimal combination of varied handling strengths on one advanced course, not a preferred handling manoeuvre style(s). It is an eye opener, revealing inside secrets to achieving, the ultimate in agility. It gives you the big picture, agility vision, all in one DVD.

'Course analysis and handling, discusses the theory of how to make decisions on course relating to the dogs fastest path. 'National and International events are analysed;' handling strategy is visually shown and verbally explained; 'each course is then run to show you the theory and methods in practice. Greg shares his insight into some of his runs at the highest level.' Not only successes, but what went wrong and why. '

COMBINING HANDLING MANOEUVRES: This DVD shows how to achieve 'combining handling manoeuvres' in just one course run, especially front crosses, rear cross mode, serpentine handling, serpentine push-though; together with push-through, pull-through, check stride for tighter turns, working the positive reinforcement zone, lead out pivots, 270 degree turns, false turns tunnels, left and right turns, drive down the line, working the diagonal line, especially drive to finish. It is always essential to use positional cues correctly. Details about each of these moves are broken down in individual further depth on DVD3, the Winning Combination. In certain situations, 'use serpentine handling, this should be more efficient for me and the dog.' Always remember the dog's line and view. Working on correct timing cues are essential. Greg discusses and illustrates reasons for common handler advanced high speed level faults. Miscuing often risks a refusal or late wide turn or pole down. Wrong positioning or bad position cues or handling will often create a pole rattle, pole down or elimination. Once you communicate with correct timing, positioning, clearly signal to your dog, you will move efficiently around the course. In a few exercises drills, Greg shows the dog running a few exercise drills in the booklet, in two different ways e.g. rear cross mode or front cross/serpentine handling. An alternative is start serpentine/front crosses and move to rear crosses, then do it again in reverse. 'Want good reactions and dog commitment, use arms and feet correctly.' 'It is important to be competent, confident, consistent at all times, in all styles of manoeuvring.' 'Judges can set courses that force you to be behind, rear crosses 'followed by pull through or vice versa,' as sequences get more technical it can be harder to keep consistency, but if you keep your basic routines to mind, and your cues in mind', 'commitment to jump', 'then you should achieve it.'

To test your handling on a drill, you can run it rear crosses one way, then repeat with front crosses or/and serpentines as a comparisons. Greg shows how to work on timing, reaction times, in exercise drill box. Note: Greg and Laura (who retrained into the GD system) make box of lots of jumps with pull through drill all the way round look easy. But, he hints, you are doing well if you reach a certain point in box. I have never cued, signalled, stepped so fast in my agility life! Try it! Rousse working, glanced at me (saying wow, at last, that is how I like it)! Also he is smarter than me, so then jumps even faster in a great straight shimmering line round the box. Enjoy drills, play, making up fun random manoeuvres! To benefit from combined handling manoeuvres, you need to watch action shots, slow freeze from above shots, pause and replay DVD, listen and follow the course booklet diagram. Not the fastest agility handling learner, yet I can teach Rousse to do it, so quickly, correctly. I still find co-ordinating myself and it all together, like lightening, a real challenge. So, I replay a DVD sequence over. Each time, I focus on one thing e.g. watch dog or Greg or body or arms or feet or cues, turn volume down or listen. These DVDs can programme your mind at times! I find myself subconsciously replicating tiny sequences in show ring, when inadvertently caught on camera/video! Other times, parts are wrong, as we strive to master it. Greg recommends video runs to improve, see what went wrong.

DECISION-MAKING - 'RULES LETS BEGIN': Decision-making is about how to make the choice to turn left or right on a jump, when we have got those two options.' 'There are a couple of things', we need to do. 'Forget about our handling, what we need to do is work out the fastest line for the dog, once we know that line, then we can use handling to enhance the line, after we have made the decision.' 'Think about handling after the decision is made. 'The off course traps are irrelevant, the less risky safer option is not a consideration, if want to win the class, you have to go that way.' 'We are hoping the handling you have learnt on this DVD will help you get round any course, the way that you choose.' To make this decision, we talk about three things: 1.' Where dog has come from' (the line dog is taking into jump). 2. 'The distance between the jumps', (which is shorter?) 3. Where is my dog going next? (The line forward, I need to create). Greg shows, explains verbally, how to achieve this precisely: using clock, paces and dogs strides and more, in different ways on this DVD.

ROUSSE'S VERDICT FOR DOGS: We are working onwards at both DVD3 (our first DVD for dogs article review) and DVD4 in partnership. We cannot truly mirror or ever be a 'GD role model' as have our own unique hybrid style. Rousse in past year, trains once a week with me and benefits greatly from weekly advanced top competition training with (non-Derrett style) trainer, Mary Hammond. Rousse regularly enjoys short sequence work, maintains basic criteria, tight turns, cues, mini-contacts, weaves, 'GD' mini-drills garden (five minutes) and then on full-scale training course. Three personal gains at times at a successful recent show are: i) course-walking 'decision-making' (best choice left or right wing/obstacles to save time); ii) to 'maintain criteria,' avoid now and again, one or both of us racing like mad hares and iii) use more "serpentine handling" though got carried away, as serpentine final jump on pull-through gamble, so didn't get our final 2 games points! It took months to realise how many fantastic advantages, applications, serpentine handling has in one course in the show ring, as well as training drills. If not clicked yet, is not just 3 jumps in obvious serpentine line (see DVDs 3 and 4)!

FINALLY: DVD3: 'Great Dog, The Winning' combination covers the (GD) Derrett System. For final stages of GD system and content reviewed, this is DVD4: 'On Course to Excel.' Many handlers/dogs, gain most benefits, experiencing accelerated learning (like Rousse), working both DVDs, as recommended by Greg. All DVDs may be worked independently. Other references, ideal for anyone are: DVD1 'Agility Foundation Training' and DVD2 'Great Dog Shame About the Handler.' For further information on DVDs, contact Greg Derrett at www.gtagility.com. For a free training article, information on online courses and ultimate in agility training, contact FCI silver and bronze medallist Greg Derrett, who has an Advanced Studies Diploma in Animal Behaviour at www.ultimateagility.com. The words, views expressed and photo-diagrams, do not always represent DVD producers. Rousse loves his agility and is featured on top UK Agility equipment (rubber contacts) and 24" weaves spacing. Photographs courtesy of Emma Elliott, agility competitor, portrait show and agility action photographer, whose clients comment: captures, compelling, memorable, emotive, impactful, unusual, extraordinary dog images. www.emmaelliottphotography.co.uk

Agility DVD Action Photographs 2011, courtesy of Emma Elliott, dog agility photographer, www.emmaelliottphotography.co.uk

DVDS FOR DOGS BY FIONA STEWART
ON COURSE TO EXCEL (DVD - GREG DERRETT)
Agility Voice Magazine, December 2011

Fiona Stewart is a cognitive psychologist with NLP, dog reiki master, writer, who walked with wolves, and owned collies from working lines. She believes in helping others understand, develop, to balance, 'working sheep dogs': often active, hyper-responsive, manage energy levels and lifestyle wellbeing needs; when far from in-built instinctive, natural quiet rural working role farm fields. She reviews and tests agility DVDs with her first agility dog, Rousse (WSD). Rousse has competed 3.5 years, recently simultaneously UKA Champion Steeplechase and two games points off moving up to Champion Performance Agility.

ON COURSE TO EXCEL PART II: We review Greg Derrett's DVD in two parts. Last issue, we featured technical content, a few rules, drills, criteria for is this DVD for me: presenting chapters 1. Combining handling manoeuvres and introducing 2. Decision making. We continue with a review of Decision Making 3. Independent equipment working and 4. Course Analysis.

THE OPPORTUNITY: Here is one of the ultimate DVD's to motivate, inspire your long term handling goals or training others in agility! A very visual action packed DVD, which to maximise the benefits, you need to own, watch, pause, play and replay it. Then take out your learning to the agility course and shows. This is like tip of an iceberg; make your own mind up, is it for me? Some handlers/dogs have made significant gains, when begin to or can effectively handle and communicate like this.

DECISION-MAKING - 'LET'S THINK STRATEGY': The decision is to turn left or right where an option is presented. Strategy depends on dog's fastest line first, then handling. Remember, we talk about three simple rules. 1. Where dog has come from? 2. The distance between jumps? 3. Where is my dog going next?

Each of 3 rules gets a weighting of advantage one for each wing. So you may have two advantages to the left and one advantage to the right; indicates taking left wing is more beneficial. The DVD simply shows: each wing as point A and point B, with take-off for next jump as point C; then point D is line going forward after next jump (or can be ahead near the finish line). You need to accurately pace, when walking the course. In training, you can use course designer plans, count dog strides, clock and video camera. Your dog needs to be competent consistent at manoeuvres, turning tightly. Predicting, dog's line, natural arc and landing position are critical. This you can see how to do precisely, efficiently on the DVD. The DVD has some great overhead shots of exercises. It is clear that the dog is struggling, fighting a little to turn move towards the finishing jump line for one choice. Yet the other decision choice sets the dog up to power through down a straighter line towards the finish. Sometimes, there is no advantage to left or right turn; it can be equal, until you look at the next decision point and where finish line is.

As you weigh up three or more cumulative decision points, it gets much more complex: as where you are going to finish, may largely outweigh where coming from, or shortest distance (or vice versa earlier on). 'So we need to work out the biggest advantage too.' Cumulative poor decisions, even with great handling, losing you say 0.25 seconds x 4, will make 1 second lost overall, which at a higher level is critical time loss. 'So when get onto agility course, we need to walk round and find out where our decisions are' (note just flowing and no decisions too). 'At each decision point, we need to apply our decision rules' and strategy. 'Next we need to combine our decision making with choice of handling manoeuvres' and 'positional cues'. Decision-making can reveal handling choices. Even if you choose 'different handling' for same decision (left/right)', and one style may be slightly slower; it is 'often still faster than the route of poor decision-making.' Decision-making often plays a key factor for a faster time on the clock. Once you have chosen your winning strategy, you need to stick to it. 'Decision-making is an essential skill to have.' 'Poor course walking, often means you have lost, before you get the dog out of the crate.' 'So understand this, then the more you use it, the easier it will become.' In essence, 'make a decision on the three rules and your answer will be there for you.'

INDEPENDENT EQUIPMENT WORKING: 'It is important that once, start running courses (at this highest level), that the 3 pieces of contact equipment and weaves are completely independent. So once dog is committed to that piece of equipment, it completes it no matter what I do. So it doesn't matter whether, I am behind her, or in front or doing handling manoeuvres, dog still meets its criteria.'

DVD gives drills to show the independence. 'Hanging back and wide of weave; doing an early front cross on weave (not easy, note); how many times have you heard handlers say moved early and dog not completing weaves,' 'hanging back on dog walk'; 'running ahead on dog walk' (get ahead) standing by and calling into far end of tunnel, away from dog view into tunnel trap. 'Rear cross, hang wide of see-saw; front cross by see-saw and maintain perfect positional cues.'

So could Rousse and I extend our independent working boundaries and attempt it? This surprised us, we've done Derrett DVDs 2 and 3, so do focus on precision control, consistency and maintaining criteria (not everyone wants to prioritise these). The first time, I ever asked for far out independent weaves, I got it. I tried all exercises, executed a front cross by side of the A-frame, Rousse stayed committed. I ran got way ahead of the a-frame, stood far end of tunnel, cued, signal away from trap, it worked brilliantly. At this amazing development step, I must clarify (at our level), usually Rousse still prefers working close to me and though not fastest sprinter, for me to get up near or cut ahead of him. We are still proofing these independent working drills, quietly alone; not taken it up a level into a distracting class and months before attempt to it at a KC or UKA competition show! Hidden advantage is independent equipment working for photo-session of Rousse in failing light end of day, without handler shadows, impressing photographer! Key to success seems to be dog understanding, maintaining criteria; the next step is confident competence in all situations, including shows. Another hidden benefit, is 'layering' not part of the Derrett system apparently, seems irrelevant. I found that I could run along, get ahead on dog walk (or weaves), with jumps and see saw line in between me and dog. I can hang back or cut ahead, provided I don't pull away with an abrupt 90 degree turn at start, before dog was committed in intention or put paw forward. On a-frame, jump, tunnel, I put a layer of jumps in between. At this early stage, I still use at odd times, an extra prop i.e arm out or cue word 'out.'

COURSE ANALYSIS: This chapter of the DVD, you can enjoy watching world class agility on PC or TV, from your sofa at home. The DVD gives a snapshot inside view of world class runs, broken down into tiny steps and analysed. So that's how to achieve perfection in less than a minute, blink and you missed it! Here is the chance to pause, play and replay Greg's world class performance. See the identical world agility class competition course set up. The arena that few run and many of us, only watch on TV, read about, or if talented, you one day dream about.

ROUSSE'S VERDICT FOR DOGS: At our level, two decades experience, behind Greg Derrett, we find this DVD insightful to move us onwards. A few tips to share: realistically, you only mainly benefit from working this DVD in competition, once your dog understands and maintains your required criteria on all equipment and manoeuvres, despite distractions or show ring environment. Your aim is to achieve: a combination of consistent competent professional handling with high power speed drive; not only in training, and to not lose maintaining criteria, which can happen to handler/dog partnerships, once in the show ring. To win at all costs at expense of desired training handling criteria, often does not help dog perform consistently long term, close to top of his/her ability (especially with agility contact/weaves). With no cues, your dog should walk around the jumps.

Working hands, feet, signals, cues to communicate clearly to your dog are essential. 'Without instruction if you are moving forward, the dog should just take the next jump and turn in his natural direction over it.' If you make an error, but body language is signalling into tunnel, then the well trained dog should do that! Always remember foundations, you are meant to be the most exciting thing to your dog (not the obstacle ahead). There is an incidental shot of Greg's dog on DVD4 on start line, studying him like a sheep; 'watch that handler, what's he up to, does he want me yet? No, wait, he is walking, talking to camera. Now, ready, signal, cue, action first jump!' Rousse (like some dogs) take note. So, I now work at being more exciting than agility course or first jump, alongside advanced manoeuvres. Don't push, rush it, as some belief working sheep dogs, only start to emotionally mature, perform handle at shows much better, age 2.5 - 5 years. We especially enjoy off course and on course agility training; planning his winning strategy for next series of great KC and UK agility shows!

FINALLY: DVDs: 'Great Dog, The Winning combination' is DVD3 and covers the (GD) Derrett System. For the final stages of GD system and content reviewed is DVD4, 'On Course to Excel.' Many gain from working both DVDs, as recommended by Greg. All DVDs work independently. For further information, contact Greg Derrett: www.gtagility.com.

The words, views expressed and photo-diagrams, do not always represent the DVD producers. Rousse is working independently on UK Agility equipment and 24" weave spacing. He is enjoying himself, at a quick photo-session, end of a show. UKA shows offer great competing (often camping), exercise space to warm-up muscles; practice jump; countryside walks. Photography permission granted by Stuart Carter, show manager, who also masterminds, popular Quadpaws UKA Show day(s), entire first week of June. All UK Agility show details, progression programmes, qualifier heats for finals, registration (if new), classes: www.ukagility.com

Photographs courtesy of Emma Elliott: an agility competitor, portrait, and dog agility show action photographer. www.emmaelliottphotography.co.uk Emma Elliott Photography (Facebook comment) I've just seen a lovely testimonial in Agility Voice by Fiona Stewart who has used my images for her article: "Photography courtesy of Emma Elliott, agility competitor, portrait show and agility action photographer, whose clients comment: captures, compelling, memorable, emotive, impactful, unusual, extraordinary dog images." Thank you so much Fiona! I loved working with you! If you are into agility and haven't seen it, it's worth a read, Agility Voice publish an issue every month packed full of great articles! Like Comment 2 December 2011 at 13:38

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Astrolovemates  - Love Stars Soulmates - Dog Reiki
MC-Dev - Master Canine Development - MC-Dev - Media Creative - Development
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