Out of the backyard

[I wanted to take a week before I reflected on Cynosports. Because I felt that I needed to take the time to separate myself– to think. When I was on a layover in Cincinnati on the way home last Monday I wrote. Handwritten in my journal messily scrawled, hurried in my attempt to capture what I was feeling in that moment– no right, no wrong. So here that is.]

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Two weeks ago I wrote about being honest, so that’s what I’ll do.

To say I’m not disappointed in the results at Cynosports would be an unfair lie to spout. I’m not disappointed in Bolt– am I ever? No. But I am in myself. I think in many ways I tried to convince myself that the results of the weekend “didn’t matter”– what a silly thing still to go un-learned at this point. Of course it mattered. It always matters. Of course it stung to watch Bolt sail off course at #2 in Grand Prix semifinals (an off course jump I hadn’t considered) and then go on to lay down what was a close to picture-perfect run from there. If only I had grabbed his head, just a fraction of a second sooner. We’d be in our first national finals. If only.

Of course it stung to drop the third to last bar in Steeplechase semifinals. After a completely stunning opening (and one I had spent a good portion of the day debating over). I changed my plan at the last moment out of the poles– charging ahead for a front instead of the rear I had planned and imagined over and over again. It’s a move I try to avoid because it sometimes causes Bolt to launch in an attempt to catch up. He can’t always be superman. The bar came down and I cursed myself. Why did I do that? That’s something I’m still trying to understand. I still think of that cross, imagining the rear that was planned being executed. Finals would have been ours to visit yet again. If only.

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I think if anything the weekend highlighted my lack of trust in myself. This seems to follow me to national events, this lack of trust in my instinct. Never Bolt. He trusts completely. He, in almost every aspect, upholds his end of the bargain.

It’s hard to be the weak link in a team.

So yes, I’m disappointed (still). I’m sad. Because it mattered. Because upholding my end of this team matters. To say otherwise would be a disservice to my dog and the work we’ve done. Are the results of the weekend the end of the world? By no means. I still have perspective. Agility certainly isn’t the most important thing in our lives, but it still does matter. I think there exists this unwritten pressure to always smile, to always brush it off right away, to say “it doesn’t matter– it’s just a game!– it’s just for fun!”, to not feel disappointment. It’s true that it’s a game, one that we compete in for the fun of it, but there is more to it than that, too. It’s a sport that many of us invest quite a lot of money in to. That we invest parts of our hearts and souls in to. Results matter, too, as much as we like to say they don’t. Because results feel like a validation of that money spent, of that work put in, of pouring hearts and souls into something. As a friend of mine said over the weekend– “of course we’re all here to win. If it didn’t matter we’d stay in the backyard.”

Being disappointed is okay as long as you move on and don’t dwell on it. I think I’ve done that. Yesterday we got back in the regular groove with a day of AKC. Bolt earned QQ8 for his MACH 2 with a first and a second. We had start lines, tight lines, and good contacts (minus that pesky a-frame. Guess what we’re working on this week?). This coming weekend will bring another show– and I’m looking forward to it.

Being disappointed is okay as long as you learn from it. I’m back to training in the ring, preparing for what comes next. I’m glad we went to Cynosports. Am I planning on going to Arizona next year? I’m not so sure yet. There are other events I’d like to attend with him next year. But no matter what, I am glad we went. I’m glad that a different national event broke up our year and that we got to compete on a big stage before NAC and tryouts next spring. To learn another lesson before then is an invaluable experience.

Because we’re out of the backyard. There are goals yet to reach.

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