The problem with spring in eastern Iowa is that there are too many obedience trials.
Never thought I’d complain about that. I remember back in the day when area obedience enthusiasts were happy to have one trial weekend a month and that usually required a long road trip and at least one night in a motel.
Now, starting at the end of March, I can show at DeWitt, Amana, Decorah, Waterloo and Marshalltown, take a weekend off and then jump over to western Illinois to show at Rock Island. That’s 5 out of 6 weekends of “local” shows. And with the exception of one trial, the sites are generally lovely.
To make it worse, now obedience and agility trials are starting to fall on the same weekend. Oh, the conflict! One of my favorite local agility clubs is having a 3-day spring trial on the well-established weekend of one of my favorite local all-breed obedience trials. I pretty much flipped a coin to decide which venue to show in, but obedience won out. I’ve shown at this site for 20-plus years, couldn’t miss it. And they have great vendors.
The problem with this deluge of trials is that I suck at the grind of showing weekend after weekend. I entered a 4-out-of-5 weekend circuit this March and April and literally woke up one weekend morning with the vague idea that we were entered at a trial somewhere that day but I had absolutely no idea where. (The kitchen calendar cleared that right up for me.)
Add a trip to our national specialty and Phoenix and I have been running balls to the wall (figuratively) all spring. We’re showing in Rock Island this weekend, then have six weeks off before our next obedience trial in late June. But we have two agility trials and an obedience seminar in the interim.
I keep waiting for the mythical “down time” to appear. For us, it’s in July and August. There are a couple of agility venues where we’ll run but those summer months are a dead zone for obedience unless I want to pack up and travel to surrounding states. No thanks. Regardless of how things are going in the ring, Phoenix and I will both need a summer vacation. I think we do our best training when there’s no show looming on the horizon and no self-inflicted pressure to meet an imaginary achievement deadline.
I don’t know how people who show every single weekend do it. I don’t know how their dogs do it. I rarely enter more than 3 weekends in a row simply because I need a mental health weekend at home on a regular basis. One year when I was showing Jamie a lot, we did a 7-out-of-8 weekends stretch. We got through it. Somehow. I’ll never do that again.
It was definitely too much of a good thing. By week 5, I was questioning the wisdom of my decision to enter everything I could get my hands on. By week 6, I realized this was not as much fun as I thought it would be. By week 7, I just wanted it to be over and by week 8, I had a major Rhett Butler moment and frankly my dear, I didn’t give a damn what happened in the ring, I just wanted to wake up in my own bed on a Saturday morning and not have to go anywhere.
If I’m not in the game mentally (which is sometimes hard on a good day) I can’t expect my dog to perform at his best and brightest.
We’ve had a 2 week break since our last obedience trial. Phoenix and I have enjoyed some wonderful training during that 2 weeks. He’s learning some new things. We’ve gone back to the basics on a few things. I’m learning how to ask for more effort without putting too much pressure on him. We've had a great deal of genuine fun in training. Will any of this carry over into the ring this weekend? Dunno. It’s a big fat noisy all-breed show and obedience trial. Our ring time will be a test of our training. I’m looking forward to it.