Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Brilliance, like mud!

Can mud be brilliant? Spur's training seems to be that way. Moments of brilliance, moments of mud.
Sometimes it seems the mud gets deeper and deeper, but I do try to remember the quicksand we were in last year, so mud shouldn't seem so bad, right?

Goddamn, am I being cliche'!!

Sylvia Trkman says the dog should ask to work for you. You want the dog to do YOU a favor, her #9 tip from her 10 tips to agility success -

9. dogs work best when they work for themselves. Don’t ask them for a favour to work with you. Make them ask you for a favour to work with them.

Not sure Spur asks to work for me sometimes - during class. He worries, he feels the pressure, he feels my worry and the pressure I put on myself, he and I get stuck in the mud. We don't have this mud at home so much. It's pretty dry and clear and at times totally BRILLIANT! It's easier at home. No one is watching us, no one is telling us we are doing it wrong or should maybe not do it that way or there is a better way or why the HECK are we doing what we are doing. The mud gets deeper and deeper sometimes and Spur and I get stuck. There are times I wonder how much benefit we get from class. I hate practicing in mud. (OK - slap me for the cliche!!! SLAP - I slapped myself)
I don't like practicing when we are not feeling the love. When I have to ask Spur for a favor to work with me. I don't like that. I want to practice brilliance and happiness and glee and fun. But, there are so many reasons to continue in class. We need to get over this!!! This working in mud (SLAP!!). We need to figure things out, regardless of the setting/environment. We need to work in public, in the presence of other dogs and people, on different equipment, different footing, and we need the help! Goddamn, we need the help!!

So, we continue. It's hard, the hardest thing I have ever done. I may be forgetting the work I did with Roscoe, but I don't know........... Roscoe ALWAYS wanted to work. If there were food rewards to be had, he wanted to give it a try. Always. He asked me to do him a favor and work. Always. We sure had our issues at trials, but he would try his hardest in training if he thought a cookie might show up somewhere along the way. I could totally suck with my training plan, but if a cookie dropped down his throat he was happy to try.

Here is a quote from a horse person I got the other day. I like it. I like it a lot! -

"What people do not appreciate is that every time a horse submits to pressure, whether subtle or overt, he is diminished... If he can be persuaded to give his assent freely and pleasurably rather than give into man’s pressure or clever techniques, he is not diminished." ~ Frédéric Pignon

Boy does that ring true for Spur and our work. Every time he worries and frets and I ask him to perform when he is not comfortable, he is diminished and our relationship is diminished. This quote is really no different than Sylvia's #9. That said, life can not always be a world without pressure. The world is pressure, it's everywhere and all around us. Life is that way and is not always roses and ice cream and pressure free. It isn't, life itself is pressure. But, Frédéric Pignon has a good point and his quote is sure something to think about when we are working with our horses or dogs. A goal of the highest order, perhaps!

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