Logan and I had our second handling class last night. As much as I enjoyed the first one, the second one was more productive, yet wouldn't have been without the first if you know what I mean.
I attempted to put everything together that I'd learned last week along with some of the feedback I learned here. One thing I noticed about myself is that I was trying to stack him way too fast. I have to take a breath and slow down. The trainer pointed out to me that if I move too fast I risk startling the dog and that's distracting to the judge. Of course it is. Common sense when you say it. A bit tougher in practice. I thought about that on the way home. It finally dawned on me that one aspect of handling is facilitating a relationship, albeit short, between the dog and the judge. I have to get better at staying out of the way, and it seems there are so many opportunities to do just the opposite.
Things like holding the lead too taught while moving within the ring, leaving too much lead hanging, forgetting to hang the lead around my neck when stacking, setting the dog too close to me on the table such that he leans against me, not placing him close enough to the front edge of the table so that he nowhere to go when I go to adjust his rear legs, reaching low for his wrists rather than high at the elbow while stacking, etc. Also learned that I'm tall enough that I don't have to jog or run to get him to gate. I just need to take long strides.
EDIT: Another skill that takes some practice... at least for me is holding the choke chain and jaw with one hand while adjusting the front foot position with the opposite hand (remember to adjust at the elbow and not the wrist!), then switching hands and doing the same with the other foot. Seems easy until you feel all the eyes on you while at the table and the dog isn't quite cooperating as well as you'd like because you set him too close to you and too far away from the front edge. Aaaaah!
We need to work on his attention when we've had our table and movement turn and are back in line. He tends to want to wander around and not stay pointed forward. @tanza I remembered watching Jeff and Joy at the last show. Jeff would kneel beside her. I tried doing that and we were a bit more successful. And @Zande, you're correct. It helps to keep on eye on where the judge is so I can be ready and have him paying attention and stacked again when the judge approaches us in line.
The kennel club people were really great last night as well. They were very welcoming and helpful. Logan and I have entered our first show. Well see if I can put it all together and stay out of the way.