Magic. That's how every run felt this weekend. Although I was so busy with everything at the trial, I felt connected when it came time to run. I felt as focused as I could possibly be. Toffee and Mach are such little troopers. The rain was atrocious on Saturday. I ran in my rubber boots for the third weekend in a row. Can the rain stop, already? The boots didn't keep the rain from soaking my feet, unfortunately. It was a soggy day, to say in the least.
Mach and Toffee both went 5/5 on Friday and Saturday. This is not uncommon for Toffee, but I am always enthralled when it happens, however, this was the first time that Mach went clean in all of his runs in one day. And one of those runs was a jumpers! YAY! A JUMPERS Q! These are like gold to us. It felt like gold. It always works out best when I just run and let him work. I wish it was on video. Ah, the very few that aren't on video are usually the best ones - stored away in my memory bank somewhere.
A little while ago, there was an agility blogger day where they talked about internationalization. Although I always knew this, I never conciously thought about it until I read about it in these blogs. North American agility is mainly geared towards consistency and going clean for the Q, whereas European agility is more so a 'go for broke' type competition (which is way more fun, and I highly recommend you try it - so exhilarating!).
I admit, when I started agility, all I thought about was getting that Q ribbon. I wanted to go clean, I needed to go clean. It might have had something to do with the fact that I was 9,10,11 years old and couldn't bare to do anything "wrong". I grew up and got over that feeling of need to get the Q. I've been lucky with Toffee and her amazing ability to just do it, and in turn, I didn't have to deal with a lot of "failure". When something did go haywire, I was mostly baffled by it, and maybe a little upset. "Didn't get the Q" would race through my head. But again, I grew up and realized that it was nothing to get my panties in a bunch over. It happened, there's nothing I can do about it, move on, but still an expectation. I learned to love her runs no matter what.
When Mach came around, Toffee and I had pefect ebb and flow. We knew each other; we had a perfect system. I've said it a hundred time before, Mach was a troubled kid. I had to change everything that I knew from Toffee and make it specialized to him. That meant whispering while I trained him, no sudden movements, no cuddles. Just a lot of positive everything, everywhere we went. At this point, I knew I couldn't put any pressure on him to get a Q. Who cares?! It's a freaking Q, not world peace! I was just happy that he wasn't peeing his pants because someone looked at him. I'm so glad Mach taught me this. It's not about the Q, it's about going out and running with your dog, feeling magic, and being happy. Our dogs are so amazing for even considering doing agility, so why couldn't we all just be there for them, like they are with us, and forget about the Q? Agility is much more than that.
Having said all of this, I have found myself wanting the Qs as I've approached the last legs for our ATChC. Going into this season, Mach needed 1 Snooker and 2 Jumpers for his first big boy title. I've been catching myself saying silly things like "Let him drift over this jump", "Be careful", "Do a rear instead of rushing into a front"....which are all the things I don't want to say when walking a course! Okay, no, I don't want to rush him over jumps, that's bad handling, so is rushing into crosses that you know you're not getting into in time. In one sense, I am being more thoughtful of my handling, (until I just thought about how to word this sentence, I've realized that this is where my feelings of "being careful" are coming from. Not careful, but thoughtful. It's just coming out of my mouth wrong!Epiphany!) but maybe in the other, I am telling Mach exactly what he needs to know. With Toffee, I can just run in the general direction, and she does it right. Maybe she can read numbers? Maybe she's human? Right now we are in the midst of changing mindsets and rhythms and we're still trying to figure things out. I love where it's going, though.
Mach now needs one more jumpers for his ATChC, and was one kocked bar away from getting it today. In due time, Mach, in due time. You are a rockstar.