“It’s Not Just About the Ribbons” Chapters 2 & 3

Chapter 2Insecurity
This really hit home for me as I definitely have struggled with self-confidence at different points of my life….especially when branching out into something new. 
In terms of agility, I spent so much of my early days sheltered from the “real deal” because Miles wouldn’t do the teeter in public.  So for the longest time our career in agility was self-limited….we’d never get to a MACh or other high title because of his teeter phobia and other struggles.  When Melanie helped me start him on a retrain/rehab program I was so excited and worked hard everyday to help him to overcome this obstacle.  In February of this year, Miles had his public teeter debut during a run-through at PBH and, as excited as I was that he did it, suddenly I found myself depressed and starting down an unchartered path that I had never dreamed of.  Suddenly the sky was the limit and I couldn’t (and sometimes still can’t) believe that we were worthy. 
A similar thing happened when he moved up to Excellent B.  He moved up so quickly that suddenly we were playing with the big boys yet I didn’t think we deserved to be there.  My Q rate started to drop….I made foolish mistakes….wasn’t patient….couldn’t focus.  I really think that I unconsciously was self-sabotaging.  This still happens from time to time when I’m preparing to run, but I’ve been trying hard to be a “jumping flea”.  I will need to remind myself to stand tall and puff out my chest feathers and talk as if I’m confident 🙂

Along the same lines, I certainly have moments of feeling very insecure when stepping to the line with Rue.  Probably mostly because I expect a lot from myself with her…she’s my second agility dog and I’ve raised her to do agility from the get go.  My expectations for her are already much higher than for Miles.  I get worried that folks will think that she’s too slow or has a crummy running dogwalk (something that has so far taken me 8 months of pretty constant training).  Yet what I really need to be telling myself is that I am doing the best I can with her right now.  She’s a *baby* and I need to remember that this takes time and when she’s ready, she’ll be a force to be reckoned with….

Chapter 3Neuro-Associative Conditioning
This was interesting.  Not sure how much I buy into it, but it’s certainly worth a shot.  I can see using the “pattern interrupt” at times when I might start overthinking a course and worrying about everything from knocked bars to off-courses.  Now I just need to come up with something to say or think that will break my train of thought….for some reason all I can think about right now is shouting “Waffles!”.  No idea why??? 
I’m not very clear about how to recondition myself though.  I understand how counterconditioning can work while training dogs and this sounds similar, but I’m not sure I’d be able to do it to myself.  I am afraid that my own mind would realize that I’m trying to trick myself. 
Using visualization and repeating my verbal affirmations during these times would be helpful:

– I am confident in my handling choices for each dog
– Miles has wicked fast weaves and slams into a down on the table
– Miles rides the teeter all the way down
– Rue is motivated to work/play with me
– Rue runs fast and extended
– Rue and I move together as a connected team


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