Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ring nerves.

Ring nerves - being really nervous about messing up or looking like a fool during dog sport competition.
OK, everyone gets this way and many people won't get into the ring because of it. My first agility trial, I was so nervous I thought I was going to throw up, couldn't eat, clammy palms and needed to pee avery 27 seconds. By the end of the weekend, I wondered exactly what I'd been so terrified for! Everyone was really nice to a rookie handler, I watched seasoned handler and dog teams make dumb mistakes, I made lots myself...the world didn't come to an end and dammit it was fun.
By now I've made so many foolish mistakes in the ring, I've gotten used to it. It's good, it is teaching me to forgive myself for dumb mistakes and just carry on.

So, I still get - not so much nervous, but definitely keyed up, before a run. I'm hardly a "seasoned handler", yet. But I have developed a little routine in agility trials. Dog gets to run and stretch out and pee. We'll do some attention exercises. While we're waiting for our turn, I don't like to chit chat with other people. I'm about to ask my dog to give me his full attention, and do his best job. Seems only fair that he gets my full attention before the run. I watch other teams and make sure I've got the course, and my strategy, memorised. I talk to Cooper and tell him he's wonderful and get his focus fully on me and ask him are you ready, wanna play?

Some dogs need to be motivated and jazzed up before running, some need to be calmed down and encouraged to focus....mostly I think Cooper just needs to remember he is here to work. Because he loves loves loves to work and has tremendous drive.

Last trial we did was a busy public show, hundreds of spectators. I realised that, as keyed up as I felt right before the run, I was oblivious to everything but the "job" once we stepped in the ring. For that brief time, it was just me and my dog (well, and the judge - gotta pay attention to the judge!) and doing the best we could. All the people watching and clapping and the surrounding commotion simply disappeared. It felt really good!
And - after a particularly good run, you're just on a high. It feels so great.

OK. So that's UKC agility. In two weeks I am doing my first AKC obedience trial and dammit, I'm getting nervous already! Which is rather silly because we've been doing obedience classes off and on Cooper's whole life, he is technically really really good and I simply must at least get a CD title on him.
But, still. I'm nervous. Silly me. We're entered March 1-2.


Blogger daydreamer said...

I wish you the best of luck in March.. I'm sure you'll do an awesome job..

11:53 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Good luck in those Obed trials! I've put CDs on two dogs in four registries, and competed at some big tournaments, and still get extremely nervous... I've also flunked my share. I know a few judges from before they were judges, and I believe they really *are* rooting for the handlers. Good luck!

2:16 PM  
Anonymous jan said...

I think a little controlled adrenalin is always good to make an inspired performance. Good luck in your next trials.

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Great Dane Addict said...

Good Luck!

I remember the first time I went in the ring. Not only did I feel like barfing, I pretty much felt like I was going to crap in my pants too.

11:49 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Oh, how fun!

Where is it being held?

12:50 PM  
Blogger yellowdog granny said...

you know you can be as nervous as you want as Cooper will carry you..ha

2:35 PM  

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