If it's at all possible, Tof and I became so gelled that it was nearly impossible to do wrong. (In a literal sense, she seriously did nothing wrong in terms of her agility runs this year...ran clean in 60/68 runs; the ones that got away were mostly gamblers, and the others were miscommunications on my part). She got her 4th Excellent Gold award, in gamblers. We will certainly get those last fifteen steeplechase runs for our Excellent Gold STC, but unlikely that we'll ever see an Excellent Gold award for either Team or Challenge since they're not offered around here. Not that getting our Versatility Lifetime (you need six Ex. Gold awards) is something that I'm really worrying about, but being that close to an achievement so large is exciting, and I'm proud that Tof and I have been able to be that close to getting one.
Already being qualified for every Nationals to come is a lovely feeling, and this year going out west again and having her place 4th overall was pretty incredible. We are connected in a way I've never been connected to anything else. We talk in mysterious ways, we understand eachother, and that's why we do so well. We grew up together, that's our secret. Childhood, and boundless understanding.
Mach brought me on a very different journey this year. This year had big plans before they were even made, but I had an inclination that fantastic things were going to happen. Our Q rate may not have been excellent, but the runs were more connected, faster, tighter, more powerful and efficient. There were many one bar runs (probably equal amount to the number of clean runs we had, hah.), and some of which were more of a highlight than the clean runs.
Mentally, he gave me a huge challenge. This year was the biggest mental rollercoaster for me that I've had yet. Trying to find the balance between having fun all the time while playing the sport that I love, and the competitive edge was tough. Mostly, when I became frustrated, it was because I know he can keep those bars up, and do all that other stuff perfectly, too. Catching a break seemed to be lost in the abyss at times this year, and so was my ability to swim my way out of that mindset. I lost myself inside my head a few times, when I let my own pressure get to me. Pressure is important, but I do need to learn how to deal with my own a little better.
We had some huge accomplishments, getting our ATChC and our Bronze Award of Merit (Hah, yep, we got our Bronze when we got our ATChC...didn't realize Challenge runs were part of the standard accumulation. Go Mach!). We have enough games for our Silver, but need the standard runs.
Going to the EO was the most magical of all the experiences, and of course if you read my post about it, you'll know all the adventures he took me on, and the lessons I learned. Placing 30th in that first standard was a definite highlight, but so was the disqualified Individual Standard run...it's still holding it's place as my favourite run ever, ever. Nationals were interesting, but I'm so impressed by his ability to dish out the times that he did. So much potential just bursting at the seams, so much of it.
I'm so proud of all of the agility adventures we went on together this year, and I'm so excited to see where next year will take us. I'm glad we're on an agility break, just training here and there (which, holy frig, go Mach!). We all needed it after the intense season we had. So for now, just hiking and enjoying the autumn beauty (fall is my favorite season, so crisp and beautiful), and picking away at the exams and assignments and all the things that come with university.