Monday, May 19, 2014

Back in the Saddle

I really loved how the girls ran for me this weekend.  Yep, I'm back in the saddle, hanging out at the post, running the girls at sheepdog trials.  Nell has become such a partner; we are finding the ability to get things back together when they go wrong which has been and will always be a goal of mine.  Not that I don't strive for "perfect" mind you.....but when things go wrong, the getting it back together is progress from the stinking it up the whole way around we've seen.

Bella got around twice and I am so happy to have her out running and trying.  We have work to do.  Today we head back to the PT's office, as it might be physical work that needs done.  Her runs were like driving a car with no breaks (our go-to under pressure maybe) and the ability to turn only one way well.  It's not like Bella to not open up a come bye flank close at hand...say the pen......when I make my point. I'll go have her checked out and see what I can do to help her be more comfortable with the stride out on that left side.  I cannot express how thankful I am she ran and ran sound!  The detailed picking of that flank is the best of starting points for trialing....we will find our rhythm and get back into sync and I will do the physical work necessary to get her back to feeling 100%.

Stepping back into the trial world after a brief hiatus was a bit like being sugar free for 8 months and going to a grocery store........the bakery isle whispers to me: german chocolate slices of cake, maple bars, blueberry muffins, and even the darn bagels can look at me with bedroom eyes.  I've learned to just not go there.....I don't even use the bakery section to get the the deli section....there are safer routes to travel.  I can and do spend time in the produce section and allow myself to go hog-wild with honey crisp apples and kale.  Such is life at sheepdog trials.....

I got an email from a sports psychologist I love reading just before I headed out the door to run dogs Saturday morning.  She spoke of a disease I've actually contracted in the past and one I have to work to prevent relapse in myself......it's called the Disease of Me.  "When you have the disease of me, your confidence is not real.  It's not based on your skills, your results, or your resilience.  It is based on your PERCEIVED superiority to everyone else." This disease seems to be more prevalent in the world of competition; its not isolated to any one sport and sheepdog trialing is not exempt. "All unhappiness is caused by comparison"

I also see a secondary, and almost more fatal disease beginning to rear its ugly head.....the Disease of You.  That's where a person will have the Disease of Me and want to have company in their misery so the PERCEIVED superiority is shared with others that have not asked for any input.  Not that handlers don't need mentoring....just not from those who do it from the point of making themselves look like Gods.

I was talking with a gal at the recent sheepdog trial, and she confessed to me that, this year, her goal is to really enjoy her dogs and their runs.  This was not the excuse of somebody who can't get around well; instead they focus on the good in their run and don't address what needs attention.....this comment came from a top competitor who routinely puts down runs that make a person sit, watch, and make notes.  This weekend, her runs were astounding!  Was it the change in focus or did her dogs just mature over the winter?  Did her dogs feel the release of pressure and find their best in the support coming from the post??  I do believe that this might be one of those magical moments where "right focus" creates winning.

It's that double edge sword though...you can't say, "fine I will have "right focus" so I can win".  "Curing the Disease of Me can free you from envy, unhappiness, and under-performance. You see other athletes as an inspiration, not a threat.  Of course the quickest and easiest way to cure the Disease of Me is to stop living in fear that someone else will surpass you.  This means concentration on your game, not someones else's game." ~L Brown

That and stay out of the bakery section at the grocery store......

Seize the Day!!!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Drinking Lemonade...

The valley has been unseasonably hot and I keep a watchful eye on the flock: radical temperature changes seem to invite the likes of pneumonia and cocci and the dreaded "just lay down and die for no good reason" disease that sheep seem to get on occasion.  My culls keep their gifts to themselves and I wonder if I might be that "crazy sheep lady"...obsessed with udders, vulvas and watching.  This year, I have new neighbors and a smaller flock than years gone by....I now have three nice, tall green grass fields with trees for shade and that makes for happy sheep that can't quite get all the mowing done.    I'll wean this week and with that, phase one of the Rocking Dog Ranch plan for the future starts:  cull hard, no lambing, small flock over winter, buy in lambs and culls for spring.  Doors begin to close...and I'm back to the theme of watching for windows.

Bella is doing PT now.....that plus laser twice a week and massages every night before bed has promoted Bella to Princess Bella, thank you very much.  She still has a hitch in her giddy up on a few steps but I wonder how much that might be habit as it is a dab of tender.  I do 'close at hand' work with her; easy work and she opened up her come bye flank last night without my reminder......she is getting there.

Dot has had a very exciting spring with her meeting three top handlers and getting their autographs.  With Dot, I continue to dig into the "make" versus "get" theory of life through dogs with a new twist; I've added "tell".  That 'tell, make, get" is a heady cocktail; the fumes from the mixing rising up and almost making me lose my way into the world of responsibility and understanding of the job.  My biggest challenge right now it to look at what my correction and my asking is doing to my dog(s).  And in the blink of an eye, I am right back to this whole darn dog journey being about me.  I soldier on, I know what I want with each of my dogs and that is: relationship and each of us understanding the dance of being accountable for our part of the journey.

I've pondered many a moment of pondering about "gracefully letting go of what is not meant for me".  How do I know what is meant for me and what is not meant for me?  When I sign up for a trial, I get into the mode of sports psychology, dreaming of how the trip will unfold, visualizing runs, preparing for the good and what might happen in between.  I don't vacation in the way others might, so often my road trip trial extravaganzas become my getting away from it all vacation time.  Sometimes I find when the going gets tough, I need to just dig deeper, want it more, find out who I really am with letting go of all distractions to get there and run.  Then there are other times when I need to let go, change plans, rest.  Finding the balance in all that is challenging me right now, but it is a good challenge.  I know it is life....not just dogs but all of life.

Lemonade is very refreshing!

Seize the Day.