SAVHDA Workshop Part 1 - Basic Overview, Manner of Retrieve, Drags and Water Work - September 22, Suikerbosrand.
SAVHDA Workshop Report, by Oscar Neumeyer
SAVHDA presented a practical Handler Workshop during September 2018, in the Heidelberg area. The event drew a crowd of SAVHDA enthusiasts from all over Gauteng. It is exciting to see the growth in membership and interest as handlers reach for higher ideals and standards.
Trudi Winter and Matthew Berry presented a fantastic program on the finer points relating to drags, retrieves and water work, in a manner that was easy to understand and relate to. Attendees also received a workshop manual, that drilled further into details and put the test requirements in context.
The interactive nature of this workshop was well received, with members and their dogs taking part in practical sessions. These hands-on exercises yielded valuable question and answer sessions and really challenged handlers to apply themselves and consider what they have focused on to date, and what could be improved.
Of particular interest was the tips and tricks to help the dog identify the situation and expectation of the handlers – the ability to “switch gears” between situations, and how to use body language, posture and equipment to draw distinctions between activities.
Matthew drew attention to conflict situations, and handlers were made aware of conditions that intimidate or distract young dogs, resulting in negative outcomes. These aspects as easily overlooked by novice handlers, and the tips and advice dispensed during the session will equip members well on their own individual journeys.
Experienced dogs were on hand to show what the end result looks like, but the real learning opportunities came from handlers taking part with lesser experienced dogs. Attendees could relate to the challenges and mistakes made, and learn how to improve and avoid negative situations.
Part of the workshop also addressed mental stillness, and getting the dog to focus on you as a handler. This concept resonated with attendees – and challenged most. Far too often an energetic lively dog is either left unmanaged and out of control – or overly disciplined to the point of human dependence.
Those in attendance benefitted from an immense amount of knowledge transfer and experience shared, not only from the presenters but also from experienced handlers in the audience - a most valuable commodity in the field of gundog handling. Hopefully the culture of knowledge sharing will spread throughout the gundog community, raising the standards and expectations of handlers, year on year.
Our most sincere words of thanks to the SAVHDA officials taking time out of their busy schedules to visit, teach and entertain our members. Your commitment is truly appreciated.
Photos by Mike Vogdanos, Mariann Wilson and Trudi Winter