They’re double-edged swords, personal expectations. They can lead to disappointment when they go unmet, which can, in turn, create frustration and the desire to just throw in the towel and give up. Self-doubt raises it’s ugly head and whispers, “You’re not good enough. Not talented enough. You don’t have what it takes.”
Long rides give me far too much time to reflect and, on occasion, wallow. I despise wallowing, yet, I fully admit, I succumbed and did a bit of it on the drive home from the That’ll Do ASC trial Monday. Although we had some ‘blue ribbon moments’ over the weekend, Jig and I did not perform even close to the level I wanted us to. In fact, I came out of more than one run feeling about as inept a handler as I ever have.
It’s where I kick myself in the ass, put on my big girl panties, and quell the self-doubt. It’s where I remember a trial is nothing more than a test of where we currently are. Failing the test doesn’t mean we can’t do it, it just means we need to work harder so next time, we pass. Next time, we come closer to meeting those personal expectations. Failing the test shows me where my training has been lax, or rushed, or where I’ve accepted half-measures, where I have to put in more time, what isn’t working, what has finally started to show results.
It’s so very, very easy to dwell on what went wrong after a disappointing weekend, and forget what went right. There were a few things I need to remember:
- We earned a leg on Advanced Ducks, my weakest class of stock. Ducks and I don’t get along, and it doesn’t help that Jig is fast and pushy. I become Madam Motor Mouth, whipping out commands like an auctioneer trying to get a higher bid, nit-picking and micro-managing, which only gets Jig more wired. Her ears head toward Crack Dog status, she speeds up even more and then… kerplooie! Breathe, idiot! Shut your mouth, and let your dog work.
- We finished our Open Cattle title with a respectable score and a 2nd place in open, and came very close to finishing our Open Sheep title.
- Sunday and Monday were Course A, meaning a take pen, something that has been an issue for us since the beginning. We’ve worked hard at fixing it, and did some fine tuning under Steve Shope’s guidance last weekend. The result? Our take pens were probably the best she’s ever done in a trial situation. Overall, they were quiet and controlled, with only a couple bobbles.
- On cattle, she walked straight into some noses and actually held pressure until they turned off, without exploding into a crazed head-hunter.
- She took her flanks and her backs, controlled her stock, and saved my bacon once or twice. Possibly more that I didn’t see.
- And, as always, I got to hang out with folks I only see at trials. We shared a lot of laughs, support, and commiseration.
Dillon made the trip with us as he continues to learn about being a good travelling dog. He not only got to play with his pal Hemi, but found a new friend in Dan Sanderson’s Riddick. There’s nothing like watching young dogs play to put a smile on your face, and they had quite the wrestling matches. He’s got his own journey to take me on but, for now, he gets to watch and learn.
Jig and I have a lot to work on as we up our game and move forward. Most days, I believe we can succeed, that we can meet my personal expectations. Those times I flounder, I think of this quote from Peter Pan…