Yesterday I took Hannah and Kestrel to agility.  There is a trainer about 25 minutes from me who offers lessons and also is willing to rent out her arena.  When I spoke to her on the phone earlier this week, it quickly became clear to me that she’s had a lot of people come to her facility who didn’t know what they were doing, and either accidentally or intentionally made a mess of things.  As a result, she has a lot of rules about being on her property.  I respect this, and offered to take a private lesson with her prior to renting her facility so that she could show me the ropes directly, and also get a feel for me and my dogs.  Actions, after all, speak louder than words.

We just worked Hannah and the instructor showed me the various courses she has set up this week.  She changes them weekly.  Her facility is really nice. The building is very large, the equipment is excellent, and the ground hard packed, slightly moist sand (so there’s no dust). I can only imagine how much it cost to put up.  I wonder how she can rent it for just $10 an hour.  Not that I am complaining!

Hannah was in her element.  She really loves agility and was over the moon to be back in the arena.  She performed magnificently even though I truly can’t remember when we last seriously trained.  I lost count of how many times the instructor exclaimed “what a nice little dog!”  I think by the end of the hour, she felt much more comfortable about trusting me with her arena and equipment.

After the lesson ended, the instructor told me I was welcome to spend a little time training Kess on my own.  Wow, that dog is fun to work with.  Agility is very different from herding because in agility, the dog is totally focused on you.  With herding, it’s about the sheep.  And with a young dog like Kess, you sometimes aren’t in the picture at all.  Herding is a working partnership, while agility is a game.  The dynamics are very, very different. I have long said I think they are complementary, and Hannah is an excellent example of that.  She’s a very serious worker around stock, and a light hearted whiz at agility.

Kestrel was similarly excited about learning the equipment.  I had her sequencing three jumps within seconds and taught her the tunnel in about two attempts. I had closed up the tunnel and helped her through.  She went through under my guidance once, twice, and then figured out that this was a game and that was that.  She loved it and dove hard and fast through the tunnel.  I started to stretch the tunnel out, then bend it.  By the time she was on her 10th go (ever), she was driving through a full-length, curved tunnel faster than I could run it.  Woo hoo!  This is going to be a fun dog to run.  She is fast and confident, but still very focused on me.  What an exciting combination.

I am going to start doing agility at least once a week now, taking the occasional lesson and training regularly on our own.  I’ll bring Mira in the future and see if I can get her up and going with the same enthusiasm as the others.  Today, however, we’re heading up to the farm to work sheep for the first time in two weeks.  It’s turning out to be a good weekend for the dogs!

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