Although the first day of the OMD camp started off gloomy and rainy, inside it was buzzing with action. The welcoming OMD crew greeted the participants at the ATT training venue in Lieto early in the morning. Coming from 7 countries - USA, New Zealand, Sweden, U.K., Russia, Poland and Finland, altogether 22 handlers had gathered for a full week of hard practice.
During the first day of camp, the training hall was divided into three sections: two rings for course practice and one for handling techniques. On the technique ring, different handling techniques were practiced with OMD coaches Mikko, Mari, Jenni, Minna, Kayl and Tuulia. Reverse wrap, blind cross and human arrow were just among the few of the techniques covered.
First off, Tuulia and Mari demonstrated the secrets of the front cross. This technique is all about timing, as was marked by many of the handlers. The same applies to the blind cross, as Tuulia Liuhto explained:
"With the blind cross, all you really need to do is turn your head to the other direction to change the dog’s line. Also with this technique it is the timing that matters - the dog should know which way he's going before he jumps."
On course one, Janita was giving her handlers some serious practice. Chris Ott from New Jersey, USA, got her dose of Janita's tricky maneuvers.
"I've trained with Janita and Jaakko in Canada before and that was plenty of reason to come all the way up to Finland for the OMD camp. Today's training was just great. Janita already knows our dogs now that she's worked with them before. For me, the biggest thing at least at this point is finding that timing and the maneuvers. Everybody's learning from the critique. It is the real fine details that make everything happen. As soon as you make it right it's just awesome! It' very natural for the dogs, although it doesn't always come naturally to us."
Jaakko's practice on course two was described as rather technical - in a good way, of course. Kathleen Desvigne from New York, USA, was among the lucky first day trainees.
"Training has been great. For me, I think we all have some natural tendencies. It's hard to break a bad habit and even harder to acquire a good one. Sometimes it's the little things that make the biggest difference. For me personally, it's all about the head turn. It only takes a moment to be late and in that moment, things awry."
At the end of the day, the ATT arena was filled with tired yet enthusiastic handlers, eager for the coming week.