Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Mind over things that used to matter

We have done quite a few Sports Psychology for the Agility Handler seminars this Autumn/Winter. Mark demonstrated that his mental approach can reap great dividends by coming 2nd at Olympia in December - see previous post - Walking Advertisment :)

This weekend it was my turn. 

I can be a great worrier and often about things that are not my concern. Even now I feel embarrassed for asking the visiting head of the secondary school we were going to go to if the boys needed to wear black or blue trousers! Well nobody else was asking any questions and I thought it was rude not to ask something. It was the only thing that came to mind. He very unkindly made me look even more stupid than I felt the second the question left my lips :(

At shows there is so many things to worry about as we discover in the seminars. 

Two major ones for me are inappropriate queues - not keeping to rough numbers then not letting people join because the queues are too long and missing a class. The latter can be a because you have been back and forth several times and not been able to join the queue and then don't hear the final call as happened to Mark on Saturday.

Rhyme's name is Devongem Dante - Dante is the poet that wrote
Divine Comedy which is about heaven and hell. Luckily Rhyme's heavenly part comes in the ring. Not so good is the hellish demon he is round the show and particularly in a queue. 

We started the day will Rhyme running off to chase a ball with the people with 2 collies using a chukka in the small exercise area. He has a higher chase drive than recall skills. Another thing I had thought I conquered last year. Something else to have fun practicing more of.

After lunch I checked with the G4-5 jumping class and was told yes, if I got my dog I could join the queue. No mention they were near the near of the class. I explained I didn't have my dog and would go to get him. His running order was earlier in the agility so I thought I should run him in there first. I went to get him and whilst warming him up the the exercise area I heard an announcement saying that if you were in the agility queue to let the ring party know and they would get the jumping ring to hold the class for you. I had not heard a call out for dogs or the end of the class. One of my worst nightmares.

I could not rush with Rhyme as further excitement would make him uncontrollable so I had to keep calm and accept that if we didn't get to the far ring where the jumping was in time we would miss our run. That was a big mental challenge for me. 

The good news was that we made it and not out of control either. The bad news was that although I had not been ticked off the running order somebody had run on my ticket :( 

I am sure I would not be alone in being nearly hysterical about that usually. This is where the mental skills training really came into it's own and it happened nearly on autopilot. Instead of being emotional I accepted that things can go wrong, the ring manager was great and calmly they found the initial ticket and wrote out a correct one for me. The other person had had time faults and I defended myself in case they thought I was cheating (that is an even worse nightmare) by saying "If you've seen my dog you would now he is capable of various things, time faults not being one of them" LOL The ring manger said yes he had seen my dog and agreed. 

During all this Rhyme had been near the beginning of the queue seeing dog after dog go past him to the start and being released to run without me being able to distract him. I did mentioned the chase drive earlier.

Last time I had run in this ring at Ribble I was distracted after having won the G4 Agility and done a lovely controlled agility clear in the other class and thinking this agility lark is easy. The resulted was a disaster of a round.

I had words with myself that I would not on any account have the same experience this time and in spite of everything Rhyme switched straight into work mode on the start line. Heaven part again :)

I walked to my start point and concentrated and focussed just on the run, just on getting him round the correct course, just on giving him good well timed commands, just negotiate the last few obstacles and we went clear.

Overwhelming success on my mental skills ability.

The RM cheekily confirmed I was clear 10 seconds quicker than my last run!

I was still so focussed that I then went and joined the agility queue without checking his result on the score sheet etc and it wasn't until later that I heard our name being called and found out we had actually WON.

It is amazing that it was Rhyme's first grade 5 show and he won a grade 5 jumping. It was even more amazing the way my mind was so able to park all the issues.

I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to all the course participants as along with your learning I have created the correct pathways to help my own performance. Not so much leading by example more, come on guys this stuff does work and if I can do it so can you :)

We already have confidence of the power of our minds and how our courses help. This performance only adds strength to it.

It does require practice and we can all come across failure (those on the Inner Agility group will know of mine around setting goals LOL) so keep on working at it.

 We are happy to catch up at shows or email or even on the Inner Agility Facebook group if you have been on a seminar.

We are already taking bookings now for next Autumn/Winter seminars so please contact us if you are interested or if you want a follow up with a group that came this time.

Friday, 14 March 2014

The A Team

We were very proud of how quickly we settled in on moving but I noticed that there were still 4 boxes in the garage that hadn't been done. I found great treasures in old photos, records and achievements. I will take my time sorting these out to display more of them.

Clearing the garage highlighted a hidden idea of Mark's. He thinks it will be great fun to park the van in the garage. Then when we go to a show load the dogs into the van and burst out the door in an A Team style.

Yes even Mark can have moments of boyishness.

In 2013, a crack agility unit was sent to live in Nottinghamshire for a crime they didn't commit. These dogs promptly decided to go to agility shows in their van. Today, still wanted by the Kennel Club, they survive as Grade 5 to 7 dogs. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.

We have even decide who is who:

Devo is always rushing around trying to keep charge of any situation and will think of ingenious things that he thinks we need him to do to sort things out - so without a doubt he is Hannibal. He loves it when a plan comes together.

Rhyme with his good looks and charm has to be Face. He certainly conned Mark's Mum when she was staying and has been declared her favourite which gains him many advantages. He will have no qualms about becoming anybody else's favourite when they come to stay.

Torro is an unusual dog and it is easy to match his personality to Mad Murdock - weird but totally loveable and a good guy deep down. When there is something on the course that needs attacking Torro is your dog.

So who could be our BA? Well that would have to be Oddjob. He is the first to react to any noise and has a natural bring it on stance. He'd probably also look cool with loads of gold chains but that is not happening.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Dreams really do come true

Crufts is labelled as the greatest dog show in the world and having not been to any others I can only confirm that it is a great event if you are interested in dogs.

As well as the top breed dogs the Kennel Club have gone a long way to include many other dog activities that all dogs pedigree or not can have fun with.

I was told Wag and Tone would not be able to be included in displays as there are no rules and as such it is not governable. Part of the essence of it is that it is non competitive and everyone and dog can work at their own pace. The dog would never be under pressure to perform better than it wanted to. It may be that somebody will come up with some kind of competition equivalent as has happen with Rally O. For us it will continue to be marketed as just fun

Mark and I had a busy week starting with the arrival of his parents for a couple of days as they were looking after our boys while we were away. The down side was preparing extra bedding and cooking for more the total upside was they not only love dogs - they love gardening too. With the great weather we had the dogs spent all the time out in the garden and our garden is ready for spring.

Crufts had many areas for us -  Agility 1st has been awarded KCAI preferred educational provider status and we had a pod on the KCAI zone, watching the squad preform ready to help Mark's decision on the Teams had the Performance weekend and the Wag and Tone ebook was featured on the stand. Possibly a good thing neither of us had qualified this year 

Agility was in the arena and the KCAI zone was in Hall 5. They were at opposite ends of the NEC so we had plenty of exercise going between them. Saturday was too busy on the Agility 1st stand to be able to see any of the agility at all.

Mark was given passes to get into the collecting ring so was able to observe how the squad was doing. Very interesting viewing. I try to keep a relative low profile.

Greg had 2 dogs in the singles and as I know them and his requirements I gave a hand by holding Rehab whilst he ran Detox. It is great knowing you played a part in someone's success. A few years ago we looked after GT whilst Greg was away and so also felt part of that win :)

It is great for Team GB that 3 members of the squad won the main events. 

There was so many great runs and the atmosphere was brilliant.

It is all over so quickly and it's all back to normal except for the inspiration given by those fantastic dogs and handlers to get out there and do the best with our own dogs and who knows next year.

From having a long old nearly forgotten dream of being an author come true with help from my friends I know anything is possible.

Amongst all this excitement I had my birthday celebrations. Mark had arranged a lovely hotel with flowers, champers and chocolates plus a lovely meal (sorry to turn you down Howard). We had cake on the stand and then on Monday we had a meal with our closest friends and another cake.

My niece Donna also sent a cute photo of my great nephew but forgot to write some important words on it. I'll forgive her this time.