Goals and (Collected) Strides

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My handsome beast…

My last post sure was… rant-y. Eeesh. I was all off-kilter with the thought of Phin being injured I guess. Fortunately it passed quickly and we were able to proceed on to that weekends trial without any physical issues.

We had a few moments of beauty, mainly on Saturday, but overall the trial was a bit of a rough one. But, it was rough for the reason mostly that I was holding to my criteria. I am taking Daisy Peel’s online Clear Mind course, and one of the things we discuss is that you have to prioritize your trials and treat many of them as “training” in order to get to those bigger picture goals. Which is so right, but pulling your dog from a class you paid $$$ for is never easy. I did it twice on Sunday and while I know it was the right thing to do, it was not something I enjoyed in the slightest. It did help our third run, but by the fourth and fifth runs I was toast for the weekend and had other things (mainly my client’s Malinois) on my mind.

To focus on the good though, we had a great Steeplechase run on Saturday and got our first Tournament Q. We also had a great time in Master’s Challenge Jumpers. I made a poor handling decision on one section that got us an off-course, but for the most part I was happy with that run, especially considering the “challenge” of it. I also started practicing my new mental routines, and while I still need a LOT more practice, mostly I felt a lot more confident and focused as we were going into the ring. That didn’t help the fact that Phin wanted to do 2 hit A-frames, but I was much more focused up until that point–hah.

The online class has also helped me drill down, focus and follow thorugh on things I know we need to work on. I have been diligently re-working on our A-frame performance over the past few weeks. We’ve gone back to the grid on the ground and when possible, an A-frame at the lowest height with the box. I’ve really come to realize that in order for Phin have a successful A-frame performance that he has to run it in true collection. He easily, and willingly, will often do a 2 hit A-frame, which has been our recent problem in the ring. In order for him to hit the yellow, he MUST collect over the apex and again to stride into the contact zone. This is not something he naturally likes to do, so we have been running the grid on the ground for at least a few minutes everyday to try to get that striding ingrained in his little brain. I wish there was another magic solution, but as far as I know, that’s it. I am curious about other trainer’s successful running A-frame strategies. I never did hear wind of how Susan Garrett trains hers… And I know Linda Mecklenberg has something online as well. How many ways can you skin a cat? I know at least one sorta-successful way, so I guess I’ll just keep slogging along at it.

We are changing our training venue yet again. I have been invited to head out to a new place for a sorta-experimental forming group. We’ll see how it goes, but I do already know I will get more feedback than I have been getting for quite some time now. My handling needs more consistent help than what I can get over one or two days of seminars every few months. We saw Karen Holik last month and when she asked who I trained with and I said “Right now, no one,” her response was “I can tell.” Yeouch. She was being funny, but, still was a little tough to hear! So, fingers crossed this new option works out. Definitely will be a trek, but I think it should be worth it.

We have a lot of agility coming up, which I am looking forward to (and am trying not to dwell on the A-frame issue!). We have one day of AKC this Friday up in OC at one of my favorite venues. Then we head out to our new class next Wednesday, get to see Daisy that Friday, have USDAA in OC on Saturday, then down to SD for AKC on Sunday. Then 2 days of AKC for the following 4th of July weekend. After I’ll that I’ll have plenty to chew on and evaluate ala my new goals assessments and strategies skills! 🙂 It will be fun regardless and that’s the most important bit after all.

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BLARGH Action Day; Improving Agility and the Power of Standing Idly By

Today is the quarterly Dog Agility Blog Action Day, and this event’s topic is Improving Agility Organizations. I have thought a bit about it, I even submitted a few recommendations to the AKC upon their recent review. However, as I sat down just a few minutes ago, other than listing out a few specific details that I believe would help the competitors of the two organizations I compete in, I did not think I had anything insightful or original to contribute.

The main reason being, I am in a FOUL mood. Why? Because I stood idly watching something today, that I could have prevented, and it ended up as a large FAIL. (Lest I am about to lose you here, I will circle back to DABAD, promise.) My family was over, and my 2 year old nephew was having a ball—literally—playing with Phin. As he was playing I was keeping a loose eye on things, but also trying to cook, engage with my guests etc. At some point, they moved to the stairs, with Tyler standing at the head of the stairs, chucking the ball about 2 feet to the midway point, ball flying wildly and Phin leaping, climbing and spinning, mid-staircase. You see where this is going…. Phin in all of his insane athleticism was not missing a beat, but in the back of my mind I started hearing alarm bells. But I was distracted with the great importance of the frittata and popovers and passively chose to avoid setting off either Tyler (who is easy to set off), or his mom (who is all but a saint and could have cared less). I let them do their thing and keep each other occupied.

Fast-forward ten minutes, Phin shows up on the deck with a bloody pad and a solid limp. Mother-F*&^%*$#!!!!!!!

So now, he is in his crate, resting for the time being, but class is cancelled for him tonight as I am assuming our trial will be this weekend. Fingers crossed I can have my vet tech friend take a peek at it tonight to at least give me a direction on what she thinks it is.

I find myself in this situation in life, not frequently, but more than I would like to admit. I see something happening, going a certain way, and instead of diving in to prevent something potentially worse from happening, I hold back. Its quite sad actually, but public pressure and social mores of not hurting or disturbing another person’s actions run deep.

So WTF does this have to do with Improving Agility Organizations? A lot. Don’t stand around and just watch it all go by. And especially don’t stand around and COMPLAIN. If you want change, make it happen. Stop things from happening if you see them going awry—whether that’s someone manhandling their dog at a practice jump, or a clatch of competitors mouthing off about so-and-so, or a kid throwing a tennis ball for your dog down a flight of stairs. Change comes from action, not after-the-fact verbalization. Or god help me, even worse, venting anonymously online or on facebook. It can be scary, it is hard to stick your neck out there, but that’s how it works. Those who sit idly by get burned. Take it from me.

And that’s all I personally have to say about that.

There are many much more concise and thoughtful posts about the subject here.