"You need to work on consistency." DD, post Kelley Creek summation
For the first PN trial, yesterday morning, Pat came in second and Jai did a good job of getting around the course. Pat did his usual very nice O/L/F and then he slowed down for the rest of the course and we made obstacles and we got our pen. (Initially I had said that we timed out, because I didn't remember getting our pen. THAT is how MENTALLY FOCUSED I AM during my run…)
Jai's outrun and lift were really nice. She took most all of my flanks and her pace was good. P*trick and DD both commented that you could see her confidence build during the run, she knew what I wanted and she was anticipating my whistles.
I was very happy with both dogs, and myself for not falling off the handlers box or bursting into flames when refracted sunlight from DDs bedazzled accessories traveled across the field to ignite my 'organic' sunscreen. (I forgot to put sunscreen on. Make a note of that Handler Tip – it's one of my better ones.)
The second trial would have welcomed flames. If you are going to be insincerely thanked off the field, it might be nice to have it accompanied by someone straight-streaming you with a high-pressured hose (and not just figuratively).
Pat did his great outrun etc etc…and then I failed to slow him down as I should have after the fetch panels, which this time we missed. We split the sheep and never were able to recover a nice tidy package again. I worry about Pat overheating and dying* somewhere on the field during a run, probably at or near a drive panel, the second one, and me leaving the post too early and sobbing like a baby on the field while the sheep stare from me to exhaust and decide to hang around and watch me cry because they are range ewes and it's something they haven't seen before…somehow I remind them of something that should be edible…meanwhile the judge yells THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU because I am such a bummer; everyone knows to wait and cry OFF THE FIELD.
So…I called the run.
Jai again did a beautiful outrun, after some redirection (horse fetish!) and a nice lift, again. She came closer to making the drive panels. Then she decided that I should compromise a little and shut the fuck up with my "Away" whistle and the command – bilingually spoken and screeched. She thought she'd like to go around the post the OTHER WAY. I argued with her until it became moot because the sheep had run off course. Thank You.
After the trial I spent a lot of time trying to decide why things went to shit so solidly on the second run for both dogs. I mean, there are obvious technical reasons – I didn't slow Pat down; my dogs and I always struggle near the post because I expect trouble there and Jai hates that pressure. I should have and could have reacted sooner to set things up better. BUT I CONSISTENTLY DO NOT DO THIS.
I try to remember what it is, generally, that I think about when I'm at the post and I can't. It's like not remembering your dreams but having a sense of the pieces. The pieces are not typically helpful.
I'm comfortable saying that last year I just stood there at the post in a sort of blind panic and hoped things wouldn't go too badly and that the time would pass relatively quickly. This year I am somewhat calmer. I do best when my expectations are minimal.
My first run with Pat, my goal was to simply not kill him.* Keep things slow so that he didn't die. My first run with Jai I just wanted her to bring me sheep. Just that. After Wessels, where she hung around setout wagging until I called her back, and Tremonton last weekend where she decided that what we REALLY needed was a horse, I was going to be happy with her leaving my feet and coming back with the right number of the right species of animal within the alloted 6.5 minute timeframe.
Pat lived* and came in second, and Jai brought me sheep and proceeded on through the course relatively nicely.
The afternoon trial had bigger expectations. I think that while OTHER PEOPLE'S expectations were that I would walk upright to the post and hang around for some minutes out there with my dog while things happened that were recognizably part of the sport….MY EXPECTATIONS leapt right ahead to OHSWEETNEARLYSEVENMINUTEJESUS I have to BEAT PATRICK, CRUSH DIANNE, MAKE HELSLEY BEG ME FOR ADVICE …PLUS: COME UP WITH A LOGO. I'LL NEED BUSINESS CARDS AND A HUGE TRAILER WITH MY FACE ON IT!! AND PAT'S (slightly smaller)…AND JAI WAGGING ON THE BACK — IN 3D!! I'm getting a monkey for SURE to ride Scout. … He'll wear a little green hat. And a belt to hold up his jeans that will feature a huge buckle from a rodeo he was never really in…bullriding or something. He will wear a wife beater under something that requires drycleaning. That's evolution for you.
…Not really. I did think that I should do better each time, though. Plus my mind does tend to travel down these long dusty roads to no where when I should be keeping it in the here and now at the post. But that also makes me panic. I only do well when my expectations are reasonable and I'm comfortable that I can easily achieve them. At this point…I'm mostly comfortable in achieving the Walking Upright to the Post part …and that my dogs, both, are GOOD DOGS.
Next weekend is Athena. I don't know how to keep my mind in the moment and calm, but that is my goal, along with not killing Pat*. The only other consistent thing that keeps cropping up here is that I need a monkey.
*Dianne tries to bore hot holes of disapproval into my brain with her eyes each time I express this irrational thought of Pat dying on the field. Her slapping hand twitches.