I'm sorry the judge didn't see the person who beat you miss an entire loop of the spiral. But weren't you lucky the judge didn't call that pretty iffy contact? Maybe that judge just really doesn't like grey horses. Another judge will love them. It's called Life.
But you picked the sport. And, like it, or not, you picked your partner. And, accept it, or not, life happens.
So. How are you fair to yourself and your partner?
1. Be realistic. If you've never trained a dog before you aren't likely to be the top of your chosen sport two months after you discover said game.
2. Train for success. Miracle methods don't work. Simply wanting to be good at something simply isn't good enough to have perfect runs.
3. Build a toolbox custom designed for you. I mean that figuratively. Know what you will do to keep yourself and your partner in the best state on show day. Have strategies that will work for you to be calm, emotionally together,, focused, or whatever you need. Have warm up routines that are built to aid your success (Engagement is an issue? Know that? Do something about it.)
4. Find your self discipline. Then use it. Luck is hard work. Success is harder work. Self discipline includes things like practicing good self care. And, sadly, all the work in the world won't always result in success or good luck. (See ^^^ "Life isn't fair" )
5. Use good judgement. Know what a reasonable plan for progression might look like and be honest at least with yourself. If you arrive and a situation isn't going to work for you in the now don't say "let's just try it" and then be upset if your dog or horse reacts exactly as you thought they would.
6. Avoid excuses. Something didn't go as expected? By all means figure out why and what to do about it but it's happened. Move on. No matter if your dog has never smelled horse poop or a carnival ride was beside the show ring. You had a cold and felt crappy? So sad too bad - not an excuse.
7. Accept that there are bad days. The flip side of that is, if you do your work, there are also good days. Shake them off and carry on.
8. Absorb the great around you. Take classes. Participate fully. Watch video. Ask questions. I live in the middle of a lake. There is no one around me to train with. I have online friends who I ask questions of, and discuss video with. We share training ideas and plans.
9. Learn from the days it doesn't work. There are take aways from every situation and a likely big one will be "I didn't think of training with that happening". So make that happen. Get your partnership used to as many variations as you can while working happily. The time invested truly does pay off.
10. Celebrate the days it all comes together and life is fair and wonderful and success is YOURS baby yours!!