Monday, October 31, 2011

Mental Block Revealed

For three years Feisty has been in Elite Chances and for over two years Sinco has been Elite Chances in NADAC.  For the first time I have had a "block" on qualifying in a specific class with multiple dogs.  Going into the trial this weekend Sinco had 2 Qs and Feisty had 1 Q in Elite Chances.  I have been training all of my dogs distance skills from the time they are puppies.  Both dogs have earned many Gamblers legs in ASCA and USDAA.  I have earned many NATCHes with multiple dogs back when NADAC had the Gamblers class. 

So when Susan Perry was here I told her that I needed help figuring out why I was having so much trouble with this class.  We worked on some challenging distance sequences on Friday with both dogs in the seminar.  I was really pleased at how well both dogs did and I found a couple of things I was having a tendency to do - like moving too fast as if I was runnning with them instead of going slower when they were at a distance.  After Friday's session I felt very confident going into the trial.

On Saturday morning I handle the Elite Regular courses from significant distance. One of the courses had a "bonus box" in it and I handled quite a bit of the course from that box with both dogs.   I did a lot of distance with both dogs on both courses. 

On Saturday of the trial the Chances course felt very doable to me.  I had a plan.   I ran Sinco first and somehow I thought I had cued the rear cross flip out to the jump in a timely manner but she kept going straight ahead into an off course tunnel.  I ran Feisty and she was amazingly thoughtful and smooth and she did the course perfectly to earn her second Elite Chances Q!

I ran jumpers and handled the jumpers courses with a lot of distance 40 plus feet with both dogs and they both qualified which was really a rush!

On Sunday morning I did some distance on one round of regular and ran with the dogs in order to work on Feisty's dog walk on one run and to help keep Sinco motivated I ran with her on one of the regular rounds.

On Sunday the Chances course felt even more doable than Saturday's.  I had a plan.  I was going to be far from the line.  I ran Feisty first and she did the distance part beautifully like clockwork and then I did a front cross and came out of it blocking the aframe which is what she was supposed to take and she went into the tunnel under the aframe for an off course.  Then I ran Sinco and I somehow didn't support the "out" jump enough and she came in to me.  I was pretty upset with myself after both of those runs.  It occurred to me pretty quickly that I am mentally sabotaging myself in this class for some reason.

I ran Tunnelers and handled it with a lot of distance with Sinco and she qualified.  I did the Jumpers course from about 20 feet from the bonus line and she qualified.  I feel as though my dogs and I have distance skills.

I feel strongly that with good quality training that is consistent with strong foundation skills in handling and distance that dogs and handlers can compete in any organization they want to do.  If I have a dog with strong obstacle focus and weaker handler focus I spend most of my training time working on the handler focus.  I would be careful to not keep a dog like that in Novice very long so the dog is having to run more complex courses where they face choices in obstacles.  If I have a very handler focused dog then I would work more on distance and increasing obstacle focus and I might keep them in novice longer to develop confidence and distance.  I am always working on maintaining a balance between handler and obstacle focus. 

Therefore my dogs and my student's dogs can go from Teacup trials one weekend where spacing between obstacles is 8-12 feet to a NADAC trial the next weekend where spacing is 20 feet between obstacles to an AKC and/or USDAA trial the next weekend which is in between the two for spacing.  I do think it requires more training to have a dog who can compete in different organizations which have different niches in the market.  It is a challenge I enjoy.  I do have one small dog who does not enjoy Teacup courses and has made that very clear so she doesn't have to run in it very much.  I have another dog who stresses too much at AKC trials so she doesn't have to them for now.  So I do look at what my dogs seem to enjoy doing and will respect that.  I personally enjoy doing all of it and I enjoy the different training and handling challenges presented by each organization. 

So now that I have realized I have a mental block in one class in one organization I am determined to work on it.  I'm grateful Kathy Keats will be here soon with her Inner Power Seminar to hopefully help me overcome this particular mental block I have.