This Autumn Flyte and I have been back in the classroom, not Agility related this time but to brush up on our Hoopers knowledge and skills. In case you have not heard of Hoopers, its popularity has spread from the USA, across Europe and has now reached UK shores. Unlike agility, Hoopers has no jumps or high impact equipment: just hoops, barrels and tunnels. It has the same pace and excitement as agility, but the courses are flowing and don’t involve the tight turns of agility. Why not check out the Canine Hoopers UK (“CHUK”) website or Facebook page to find out more.
I had decided it was about time I stepped out of my comfort zone to add another string to my dog activities bow by taking the plunge and enrolling on a Canine Hoopers UK Accredited Instructors Course which, if I passed, would mean I could teach Canine Hoopers to Starters and Beginner level students. The course would be in a workshop format which would involve problem solving and discussion based training with demonstrations and practice sessions to aid our learning with the day split into theory, practical and discussion sessions culminating in a final assessment. It would certainly be testing but I was definitely up for the challenge.
With background preparation done and feeling mentally prepared for the nine hours of intense learning ahead, Flyte and I set off at dawn to reach our destination of Ely, Cambridgeshire for a 9am start. The first module of the day was the theory session. We worked our way through various topics including rules and regulations, different class types, equipment, progression structure, measuring and code of ethics to name but a few. Our heads were spinning by now with all that newly acquired information so what better way to clear them than to move outdoors for the demonstration and practice sessions accompanied by our four legged friends.
The course’s aim is to provide all would-be instructors with all the training techniques and methodology to teach Canine Hoopers within the ethos of Canine Hoopers UK using positive, reward based, modern training methods. With the help of our dogs we were taught how we would instruct students in various foundation exercises including an introduction to and building value for the different equipment (hoops, barrels and tunnels), flatwork exercises for directional cues and side changes, introducing a wait and teaching the dog to drive on. Flyte loved the practical session and all the tasty treat rewards that went with it!
As time was short a working lunch was in order and we put the time to good use designing a Hoopers course based on the knowledge we had gained from the morning sessions.
With the practical and course design sessions completed it was now time for the individual assessments – eeeek! One at a time we were to lead a group training session for the other course attendees who would stooge for us with their dogs. To pass the assessment we would have to demonstrate our ability to teach the foundation behaviours and practical exercises that we had worked on that morning. Thankfully there was no written test (phew!) but we would be asked questions as well as demonstrating our teaching skills under the watchful eye of the assessors. The final piece of the assessment would be to design and set up a small Hoopers course which would then be analysed and discussed. I was going to be the final assessment of the day in our group so I would have to keep my nerves in check for a few hours yet. The afternoon flew by and Flyte and I were willing students for the trainee instructors who were assessed ahead of us. At last it was my turn as the daylight was starting to fade and my nerves were still jangling. My assessment went by in a bit of a blur and to my amazement I got through the teaching element, the question and answer session and the course design without making a faux pas.
And now for the moment of truth – fingers and paws crossed – had I done enough to pass? YES!!! I passed and I am proud to say I am now a fully-fledged Canine Hoopers UK Level 1 Accredited Instructor. So exciting times ahead with Hoopers workshops and weekly lessons already in the diary – it’s going to be a busy Autumn and Winter.