A short entry this week given that it’s been too hot to work Lexi, and either way my schedule has been packed with 121s and groups, so we haven’t made it up to the field yet.

Meg came back from her short holiday on Monday and was as incredible as always. This coming weekend she is entered into our 4-7 show and I’m really looking forward to see what she does. Her last practice competition was way before lock down when she had only just started on Intermediate and didn’t have a full set of ring ready skills, so it was more about practicing in the environment than actually chasing clear rounds and places. Obviously, she is being put up against a much harder field than she would normally face, but logistically, I wouldn’t have been able to run her in the 1-3 show, so this is a good compromise and I know that she has the skills to run a higher level course.

I’m going in with zero expectations which I think is important with any beginner dog. Naturally, I am a very competitive person, my boyfriend can attest to the fact, and he likely wouldn’t recommend playing board games with me, but this can be potentially problematic with a baby dog or even an experienced competitive partnership going into a high pressure situation. With Lexia, I know that I have a very good dog who has the potential to do well in major competitions, but if I go in with that all guns blazing, must go clear and win attitude, it tends to take away from my connection with her. I have found it far easier to enjoy myself and actually obtain good results, by relaxing into it slightly and focusing more on my connection with the dog than running the course for myself.
I try and impart this small nugget of wisdom onto my beginner groups who are just starting out with competition, that they’ll get more out of a show if they set small obtainable goals per each individual round, rather than getting sucked into the overly competitive mindset where it can be quite easy to lose focus, sometimes leading to more eliminations and faults.

This is what I’m going for with Meg on Sunday. Rather than telling myself that I really, desperately want a clear round, which is perfectly doable with the dog depending on the course, but also a lot of pressure on her in what is only her second foray into this kind of setting. Instead I’m trying to pick what I’d like to take away from the experience as a whole: a clean set of weaves in at least one of the classes considering twelve poles are still relatively new to her and completely untested in this setting, keeping the majority of the poles up, particularly the last one which she has a tendency to drop, and confidence on her contacts.

I also want to see how she copes in a queue, even though it will only be four other dogs. In training she gets quite vocal and stroppy when she doesn’t immediately get to have a turn, so I want to try and establish some kind of routine between the two of us to build up our working partnership and keep her engaged with me before her round. This is a really important pre-competition ritual for me, and I have obviously built up a good strong system with Lexi that I now have to try and recreate with Meg.

No matter what happens, I think it’s going to be a really good couple of days of competition, and I wish everyone the best of luck, particularly some of our first timers and my group students.
Hopefully the follow up videos will come on Sunday evening, so until then, good luck and hopefully see some of you soon!