Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Taking time to reflect

I'm going to write a few random blog entries while we're away for our holiday in New York and Vermont. Taking time out is often a good time for me to reflect.

The first topic I want to write about is Wraxall show last weekend. We went there mainly because we were going to be in the south dropping our dogs off to their carers while we're away. I wasn't really in true competition mood as I was excited about going away. However I really enjoyed the show, I liked the venue, the atmosphere and going to a relaxed show. My main class to focus on was the Crufts singles. This was a good course with some challenging sequences. Devo completely caught me out at obstacle No. 1!! It was a straightforward sequences practiced and drilled many times and yet for some reason Devo turned completely the other way to what I was expecting. I was going to say wrong way, however, this made me think was it wrong? why was it wrong, what have I done in my training recently to make him think this was the way to go.

Like many agility people I try to be consistent with my handling, commands and signals so I'm practiced at the set pieces and my dogs know what to expect. So why did such a basic movement go wrong I asked myself, over and over again!

I guess there are many answers to this question:

'The dogs performance is a reflection of your ability as a trainer' - that's a fairly common answer; 'He's an animal, not a machine' of course they can make mistakes' - very true; 'Maybe you gave Devo an subtle indication that led him to do what he did' - again, very possible. I've watched this bit of the course back on video a couple of times and thought that is very possible; 'S**t happens' again yes it certainly does.

So the answer is..... I don't know except the first reason is probably the most likely.

For the following few days I have the debate with myself about how I can improve in the future. On this occasion I actually think this small 'trip up' (which by the way I handled our way out of and avoided picking up any faults) was a combination of many things that have been going on in my life recently; although I don't like to admit it.

So here I am somewhere over the Atlantic flying to New York reflecting on an error on an agility course the day before. Get a grip man!

Well yes in the grand scheme of things its a very insignificant event. However, the thought process this has sparked off has been interesting. It goes something like this:

Have I been spending quality leading up to and during this season training my dogs to perform at the standard I enjoy running them at? The answer is ... not really. The reason why not comes from using the '5 why's technique'.

Why (No. 1) - There has been a lot going on in my life over the last 12 months..
Why (No. 2) - Because I have a lot of other interests and commitments..
Why (No. 3) - Because I get a lot of enjoyment from my work, my home life and my interests. Also because I like being with friends, I like helping other people and I enjoy new projects etc...
Why (No 4.) - Because there is so much I want to experience from life and so many things I feel I need to do ....
Why (No. 5) - I don't know why I feel the need to do all these things. All I can come up with is an inner drive or motivation or possibly I find it difficult to say no.

So how can I expect to perform at my peak performance on the agility ring when I don't put the work in or my attention is being diverted in other areas. I can control how I use my time and there has been many demands on it recently and I can control the amount or quality of effort I put in. One thing I've realised is that I haven't been revisiting my training plans. I've forgotten one of my golden rules 'keep yourself grounded, don't forget the basics'.

That is definitely something for me to work on when we get back.









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