Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Timing is Everything

Wow the season has definitely started here in the Laker household.

After a couple of back to back seminars my own Sports Psychology skills have certainly been revised.

Our own dogs have started the season looking amazing. Even though Crufts didn't go to plan the boys looked very fit. (Searched 'looking fit' on google and thought yes this will do 😉)

Mark and I both have young dogs at the same time which is something we haven't done before. Plus with one in a different height there is loads of learning to do.

On top of that I started judging last year and have had a couple of judging appointments this year already. 

I know the rules and keep abreast of any changes for myself as a competitor. It is a different ball game for me to focus on these rules whilst watching 100's of dogs for a whole day.

Becoming a judge involves a couple of days training to earn your certificate. With quite a few others attending there is no way to practice or test the mental stamina that is required.

And then there is the things that you couldn't anticipate happening and how to deal with them. 

Lastly there is nothing to prepare you for the slating that you will receive on social media if you do happen to make a mistake.

Luckily I had two appointments back to back and was able to experience a more normal judging day with good decisions this weekend. That has strengthened my resolve to become a good judge.

I have spoken to a senior, experienced, long standing judge about my decision at Wyre to restart the class due to a timing issue and allow the first few competitors to re-run from scratch. Once I explained the situation she totally agreed with my decision. 

Whether the decision was right or not matters a lot to me - I would not deliberately do anything to give any competitors an unfair advantage.

To be fair in the grand scheme of life if the decision had been wrong bleating about it on Facebook is not the way forward. Any judges walking the course could have easily approached me about the timing gates BEFORE the class had started or somebody could have recorded it in the incident book for future learning.

An Honest Mistake

I would rather it hadn't happened but I am trying my best and learning with every appointment. The worst that happened was one person qualified for an event that their first run might not have. (I say might not as they only had 5 faults the first run and a dog with 5 faults did qualify anyway) 

What a lovely bonus for them to have a second chance after doing a near perfect round with one jump down on the first attempt. 

What a bonus for a few people to have another go at the course. Who can begrudge a few G1-3 handlers having another chance? 

Hats off to the ring party who dealt with it all so well too.

Those capable of qualifying will no doubt have other qualifiers this season and if not I do apologise as I would have to your faces had you spoken directly to me.

This weekend we had the opposite where a lovely lady and her happy dog did a beautiful clear only to find out the timing didn't work. On her re-run the dog had the first pole down. She was disappointed as anyone would be. We're hoping her bad luck with that will turn around for good luck next week in a qualifier she's going to. Meanwhile they did another beautiful run in a later class gaining a high place and I'm confident we'll see more of that partnership.

My forte in judging is my course design. I love setting a course that will assess a dog's key skills and the handlers understanding of the dogs path to get the fastest route.

Wyre was a real challenge as the rings are quite a bit smaller. I spent hours setting up our own equipment in our field, moving it around and running various dogs around it or parts of it to get it right.

I needed a course that met the new distances, all the other KC rules and was of course safe. 

On top of that minimum movement of equipment to keep the different classes running through smoothly. 

Ring party, show organisers and least of all competitors do not really want to be at a show past 6:00pm at the latest. 

Those that thought I should have rebuilt the course and got everyone to re-walk it may not have appreciated that I simply did not have another planned G1-3 course ready to fit all the above criteria and it would add 
at least another hour  to the end of the day. 

As one of our friends likes to say - 300 million people didn't die. However if I was not such a determined person then my judging career could have.

Luckily for me this weekend at Agility Nuts Show my courses ran as I'd designed them and I received many compliments on my courses. I felt I kept my focus for over 90% of the time and am confident my contact calls were right. 

I had 2 scribes that were also judges that if I had any blips of confidence were there smiling and encouraging - thank you Natalie and Anne. 

We had a dog walking over the long jump that we looked in the book to clarify our decision on and I know that one for next time too.

I've still got 2 judges appointments to do this year and I'm looking forward to them.

How our dogs did will need to wait for another post now but I'm very happy to report Torro got 3rd in Veterans, Rhyme got a 2nd & a 3rd in G7, Devo got 3rd (when I was 2nd oh yes!!) and a 2nd (when I was 3rd normal business resumed), Moog got more and more experience and oh yes, Pikachu went clear and won the class.

She's smashed my targets for the year though so I now need to sit down and write some more or sit back and let the rest of the season drift about to see where it gets us ;)

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