Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Guest Blogger - How did I have the nerve!

For this weeks blog I thought I'd share a story with you from someone I've been working with during the last few years. The lady has worked so hard and been totally dedicated and focused on her achieving her agility dream. 

So over to this weeks guest blogger, Jean.

I just saw a post about  ‘agility gods and their dogs in champ’.  An elite group then?  No - a grandmother with a tiny Sheltie, we would not be an expected champion pairing, but if we can reach our goal, so can anyone!

At my young dog’s 4th champ show, distractions and low expectations meant that I missed the chance of gaining a reserve ticket (none was awarded).  Realised how much I minded and determined to be ready to seize any further chance.  Had an excellent agility trainer, but knew I needed knowledge of sports psychology and booked lessons via skype with Mark.  Best agility decision of my life.

First the Agility Dream.  Would have been happy with ‘reserve ticket’ but told to go higher – so ‘Ag Ch’ it  was.  Ha ha.  Long term goals next: ‘ticket’ and ‘Crufts singles’.  Then short term goals: measurable targets such as see-saw speed, tightness of turns, fitness (both) and weight (mine).  And an excellent book to read on how to use visualisation, relaxation, positive self-talk, buzz-words, and most of all, how the subconscious mind targets one’s dominant thought.

Having clear specific goals is essential for concentration on how to achieve them – which shows, which judges, what type of extra training, what to think while driving many miles alone, diet and routine at shows, focus methods in preparation and in the ring queue, visualising success on entering ring and savouring the emotion of success on leaving the ring, to help with further visualisation.

At the next champ show, the last of the year, we gained his stud book number (for 3rd in champ final).  The next year he achieved a ticket, a reserve, and a place in the Crufts singles, and as a bonus my older dog also qualified for singles and stud book.  Crufts was wonderful, with both of them there, but essential to keep working at it, no time to relax and let others rush past.  

The following season gained us another ticket and frustratingly, five reserves, plus a singles qualification.  And two reserves for the older dog.  Now the ‘dream’ is near enough to be a ’goal’, but a steady nerve is required – and all the mental training is there to draw on, different aspects coming to the fore as situations demand.  


A slow start to the next season with increasing competition in champ, but by now I wasn’t doubting we’d do it, we’d come too far and I believed wholeheartedly in my tiny lad.  A very long drive and total mental concentration, three great rounds and we were there.  Ag Ch!  Having pushed myself to the physical limit I was glad to relax, and several entered champ shows were ignored.  After a break, and catching up with the so-patient family, we did one more champ show where I aimed to give him a good run, which proved successful and an extra ticket joined his haul.  Dream fulfilled – WOW.



Looking back I wonder how I had the nerve.  There are many younger, faster handlers than me, with stronger, quicker dogs.  Many ‘rivals’ have not moved on greatly since we reached our goal, even though  they go to good trainers.  Most set annual targets, but I feel the difference is to set incredibly high goals, and then to have a very clear mental and physical strategy for working steadily towards them.  


Excellent agility training and crossed fingers aren’t enough.




4 comments:

Rachel Ward said...

Jean you are an inspiration... hopefully we will follow in your footsteps, starting with your sheer determination to be the best you can be. And of course I am even more intrigued and interested as Nimbus is equal in stature to your little lad. Well done Jean :)

Rachel Ward said...

Jean you are an inspiration... hopefully we will follow in your footsteps, starting with your sheer determination to be the best you can be. And of course I am even more intrigued and interested as Nimbus is equal in stature to your little lad. Well done Jean :)

Linda Bood said...

Inspiring words 😊

Aljeana Baddley said...

Jean I have watched you, trained & competed with you over a number of years & know & understand the effects of nerves & low expectations of ourselves being of the older age group. You are an inspiration I have missed so many opportunities with one of my dogs due to just as you say working on annual goals. Thanks you for this it has inspired me to think differently