Thanks, everyone, for your comments and thoughts the last few days. I appreciate you all taking the time to share them.
Phoenix and I are entered in a local UKC trial this weekend. We’re going to do Open. He has his U-CDX so there’s absolutely nothing on the line and I want to use the weekend to work on ME in the ring. My friends and I have talked about this extensively - am I nervous when I show?
No. I wouldn’t call it “nervous.” I’ve shown in obedience trials since I was 11 and have always enjoyed it tremendously. I’ve finished two OTChs and shown at National Obedience Invitationals. I love to be in the ring with my dog and I don't care who is watching so “nervous” in the traditional sense is a non-issue.
Am I the same person in the ring that I am in training? Probably not and I’ll admit it.
I’m excited and a little tense, definitely. There’s a pretty good adrenaline rush going. And I know I tend to analyze every step of our performance in my head while we’re working (great heeling, fast sit, oops, there’s a lag, ugly turn, oh nice recovery) which is okay but I’d like to STOP IT (that’s what video is for, for studying after the fact) and live in the moment and stay connected with Phoenix instead of thinking about what the judge is marking and what kind of score we’re working on. It’s a bad habit I’ve slipped into.
I wouldn’t call myself a super competitive person, someone for whom second place equals losing, but having a sharp working dog and earning high scores have always been important. They still are, but I need to get my ring focus back on Phoenix so he feels supported and connected to me as part of a team (that's a hard concept to put into words) versus two separate beings just getting through the exercises.
I’m also curious to see how Phoenix works this weekend because A) he’s very comfortable with the Open exercises and B) it’s a very quiet trial, one ring, in a familiar building and I will probably know every single dog and handler entered - in other words, it’s the total opposite of last weekend’s 10-ring circus. I’d like to get Phoenix to play with me in the ring between exercises. Definitely don’t want the judge tapping his pencil on his clipboard, waiting for us to get set up, but I know this is an area that needs work if I want both of us to be relaxed and not feeling any (self-inflicted) pressure.
I’ll definitely be taking notes for next week’s Stress and the Handler post.
Have a great weekend, no matter what you're doing!