Monday, October 05, 2009

Grasping for Qs

The elusive Qualifying Run (Q) in agility. I thought a lot about getting Qs and earning titles Saturday at the local NADAC trial. I have a goal of getting another agility championship with Wyatt in NADAC agility. The title is called a NATCH. It's a good goal. It has forced me to learn how to handle Wyatt at a much greater distance. That process has been very fun and it has forced me to improve my handling. Ultimately, I do agility because I like to learn new things and improve. I also like the excitement of having a fast and clean run with my canine partner.

But I have been too focused on getting Qs and getting that NATCH title. Focusing on these is not bad by itself. However, it was decreasing my enjoyment and actually counterproductive to our success. We have this part of mind called the ego that is always grasping for things, criticizing, and calculating. So when I messed up and lost a Q for us, I was beating myself up and having a lot of so called bad feelings. When we got a Q, I was too proud and having a lot of so called good feelings. And the grasping for the Q increased my nervousness, which decreased my performance and was resulting in handling errors on my part.

So I tried to take the No Q approach this weekend. When I found my mind saying we really needed this Q for a run coming up or calculating how many more we needed for a specific title, I just let it go and return to breathing and focusing on the upcoming run. I have found that I really need to remind myself lately of what I need to work on for each run, whether it be how I handle Wyatt's contacts (he need to hear from me throughout the contact, I need to drive to the end very smoothly, I need to paint a line with my hand a few feet ahead of him but stopping at the end of the contact), keeping my arm straight out for an "Out" command and not pumping, and a number of other things I tend to forget in the intensity of the run. So I focused on the course, keeping connnected to my dog, and what I need to work on and also remember for each run. The titles and Qs should follow from that. Starting for a place of grasping for Qs results in nervousness and also bad handling. I also find that I will take shortcuts and allow things that that I should train in the ring for if I want the Q too much. This actually results in less Qs in the long run.

I did well after our first jumpers run. We had a great run and I ran close to Wyatt because he has been running around jumps. I was pulling or pushing him around them no doubt. He did great. I thought he Qed but I saw we had an off course and a missed obstacle lately. The judge pointed out the jump I had missed lately. So I stayed happy with Wyatt's great performance and did not beat myself up. The next run was Chances, our hardest game. We qualified in Elite for the second time! I actually found it harder to stay focused on fun and the next run after getting a Q. My mind tended to go back to that place of calculating how many more Qs I needed for title or what I could get that day if things went well. Again, all things that are counterproductive. We had some other really nice runs where we missed one thing, which I accepted and focused on what went right. In regular round 1, we had contact problems. But I figured out what I needed to improve on next time and Wyatt's contacts were excellent for the rest of the day. We also had an awesome Weavers run and got Wyatt's elite Weavers title. It is extremely difficult to make time in Weavers. We had a perfect run with 3 awesome 12 pole weaves.

I found I had a very enjoyable day at agility, much better than my last weekend when I felt very disappointed. So my new mantra is: "have fun and focus on the run."

1 comment:

Paula said...

This is a great reminder. I just did my first Rally trial with my dog Curly and we didn't Q. It was hard to remember it was all about the FUN! Thanks again.