Don't get me wrong - I like ribbons - they are pretty and they hold lots of memories but ...
It's Not Just About The Ribbons.
Honest, Jane Savoie says so.
She should know.
She was a Olympic contender and is an Olympic coach.
Her sport is dressage (fancy horse dancing for those who know nothing about horses) and it's a serious, hard core sport.
I got her book, It's Not Just About The Ribbons, a couple of years ago; read it; enjoyed it and revisited it at bedtime last night. I read articles by her back BA (before agility) and found them meaningful. As an event rider dressage was always my biggest challenge - my horses thought it was boring and so did I. (yah I know - no shock they did if I did ... I got that even then!)
I have my own mental psychology thing going on with dog sports - I don't get nervous about a run (though I can imagine runs I would be nervous about when a LOT was on the line for example); I really am at a place now where I can enjoy the run. The Q is nice, the Q is a just reward for hard work and lots of money but it is not the be all and end all for me.
However the thing that STRUCK me last night was her discussion of insecurity. Of course her book is horse oriented but she feels, and I agree, that everyone suffers from insecurity to one degree or another. She believes that horses humble people (I'd say many dogs do too) and we have to always struggle to master new skills. Hitting plateaus in training don't help and given the competitive nature of our sport(s) we compare ourselves to others all of which can lead to lack of confidence.
She discusses the challenge of training alone all the time (prompting second guessing - did I do that right? can I do this? and so on) and the challenge of only working with a trainer watching - which can create dependency and a lack of self faith. Interesting eh?
She also shares the story of jumping fleas. If you put fleas in a jar without a lid on it they will eventually jump right out of it. If you put a lid on that jar with new fleas in it they will jump for a bit and stop jumping when they realize they can't get out. Once the lid is taken off the jar they WON'T jump out even though they easily could.
I believe her point is we should all find any ceilings we've put in place on our abilities and let go of our perceptions around them. we don't know what we can achieve until we do it.
Other tools she offers for insecurity are the "as if" principle and "changing your physiology" .
"As if" simply means acting confident. Eventually you won't have to act confident you'll simply be confident. I do "as if" all the time. I learned that one back in riding days when I would be so nervous going into a ring I'd literally be shaking. Shaking doesn't make for a confident horse so I HAD to get it under control. As if was my technique.
"Changing Physiology" is similar (if I understand it properly). It is putting on what you need in a situation. Does it matter if you sing when you're happy or dinging makes you happy? Not really if what you need to do is sing. Either scenario leads to singing and that's the goal.
I hadn't realized that I got my goal setting habit from Savoie until last night. More on that another time.
It's a good book if you know anything about horses or can work around examples that may not be intuitive for you. I'll work my way through it with you in doggy terms anyhow though!
Sampson says enough thinking ... how about throwing the freaking Kong already??