Being part of the ring party and putting up poles is a great way to observe different handling techniques. If you're a good handler and you put up a good performance people will remember you. If things go wrong they'll forget it as soon as the next dog comes into the ring. Here are some handlers I observed on beautiful summer's day in Cornwall. It's a lighthearted look at handling. Whatever kind of handler you are you're absolutely brilliant for getting out there and doing something with your dog.
The Ballet Dancer
Beautiful to watch, the ballet dancer makes light work of the most difficult course. Dog and handler flow like Fonteyn and Nureyev with graceful twirls and perfect crosses. They are such a team you hardly hear a command. Hard to beat.
Usually young and energetic the sprinter is always racing the dog. The dog is often happy to let the
handler lead and rarely works ahead. They will make it in the time it takes
the handler to get round rather than the dog.
"You're enjoying this aren't you boy?" The round is punctuated by yells of "Yes," "Good boy," "Wee wee wee good boy." The dog either thinks you're a lunatic or joins in. Jilly needs a bit of cheerleading now and again.
The Sergeant Major
Roars commands at every turn and obstacle which sometimes causes the dog to panic and go wrong. Mostly they just ignore the sergeant major and do it their way anyway.
Wants to get everything right so does a careful weave, careful placing at every jump and takes most of the course time on the dog walk. Usually gets time faults but one day will get faultless clear rounds.
The Non Runner 1
Puts their heart and soul into the round and tries to keep up but they are fighting a losing battle all the time. The dog is often miles ahead not knowing where to go. (Been there, done that.)
The Non Runner 2
Knows they can't run so has made an art of distant control. (still trying to do this.) Fantastic to watch when it all goes well. The dog is highly obedient and is hard to beat over a nicely flowing course.
The Devil May care
They get round the course but you don't know how they did it. Jumps sway and poles rattle. The dog gets just one toe on every contact. The dog often turns the wrong way but gets it right at the last minute. They don't know if they've gone clear until they ask someone at the end. Sometimes they win and that's brilliant.
The Clever Clogs
Runs six dogs and all go clear. They know exactly what they're doing on every course. They can also do a right hand weave from the other side of the ring whilst doing a cartwheel which isn't fair on those of us who can't. As Flanders and Swann would say, 'They practice beforehand which spoils all the fun.'
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