Monday, May 23, 2016

Contact Practice and a Little More

Because contact equipment is so heavy, I absolutely hate setting up standard courses.  However, I did want to spend some training time this year on improving Willie's A frame and dog walk performances.  The other day, we ran a course that had two challenges we couldn't meet with my limited mobility.  The first challenge was AF to the tire, and the second was table to the weaves.  Here's a photo of the section of course in question.

The approach to the AF is from the left, and it is a fast approach from a chute.  I layered the jump and table and stopped between the table and the tire before releasing Will to the tire.  Despite out-stretched arm and foot, Will took the table.  The only way I could get him to take the tire was to actually take a step toward it as I released him, but I'd really like him to also be able to take it with a verbal and my static body cues.

The second problem was the weave poles after the table.  I wanted to layer the tire so I could get a head start on the DW which is off-screen to the right.  What I got was a lot of barking and spinning. I was really, really surprised by this, since I thought Willie's weave entrances were pretty much rock solid.  Apparently, this is a little varation we will have to work on.

I designed this course for working on these two issues, plus our contact performances.

I ended up adding a couple of jumps so that we could go from AF to DW.  The teeter is rather a dead end, but since its not really as big a problem for us as the DW and AF, I'm okay with that.  I suppose if the teeter were a bigger issue, I could put it where the AF is on this course.  Here's one sequence we ran this morning.

Note Taking

Over the years, I have taken reams of notes and analyzed hours of video often with either written comments or voice over.  The big problem is that I almost never go back and review my notes.  For a short time I even tried two different spreadsheets for tackling the problem.  One spreadsheet was for categorizing types of errors (contacts, failing to support an obstacle until Will was committed, late cues, etc.).  The other was an attempt to make comments on different types of exercises we tackled.  The second spreadsheet turned into way too big a project and was basically no better than taking notes and storing them in the computer.

I also took a stab at creating my own flashcards to serve as reminder notes.  For example:

The process of creating the flashcards was kind of tedious though, and I wasn't real good about keeping them up.

A couple of months ago, I came up with a solution that was somewhat similar to the flash cards, but seemed to be a little more useable for me.  I create a Word document that includes a course map and a few notes, and, often times, my handling path.  I then save it as a PDF file and make my annotations and comments using the comment and text capabilities of the free Adobe PDF Reader.  Here's an example:

  Once I made my notes, I save the file with the original title plus "annotated."  By adding the same word, "annotated," I can do a document search and review all the notes I've made or copy them to my Nexus so I can review them when I have a spare moment.

What I really like about the comment markers is that you can place them at the key points on the course, but you don't obscure the course with the written word.