Friday, August 17, 2012

Stepping Up My Game?

Since moving to Nashville (and having some $$ in the bank account) Moira and I have renewed our commitment to agility training.  For most of the summer, we've taken 2 agility classes a week.  One to fine-tune my handling and another to bring Moira's skills up to scratch.  There have also been a handful of private lessons to help us focus on some specific things.  We've run in more trials in the last 5 months than in the previous 4 years and there are many more planned for the coming months!  Our Q rate still isn't what I would like it to be but Moira and I have definitely formed a much closer partnership and the Q rate is improving with each trial.

So, we've taken the steps to get my and Moira's skills to the level they should be.  Moira is already in awesome condition - she's a self-excercising dog - and she is a natural and very pretty jumper.  That leaves me.....

I've never been a particularly 'sporty' girl.  My parents weren't athletic and there were circumstances that made it difficult for me to participate in intramural sports - even if I had wanted to.  Now I find myself in my early 40s, participating in a sport that demands a certain level of physical prowess.

Now, anyone who has ever attended an agility trial can attest to the fact that almost no one running a dog in agility is a prime physical specimen.  There are lots of knee braces, ankle braces and bad backs at any given trial.  There are also a high percentage of women my age and older who are, shall we say, "prosperous." Interestingly, they almost always are running Border Collies.  I think it is because BCs are great at distance work and that allows these women to participate in this sport. A dog who is really accomplished at distance work can allow the handler to practically stand in the middle of the ring and point to obstacles.  Distance work is something that we all strive to master but few ever do.  Ed Note:  The point I am trying to make is that we are all there being physically active regardless of our infirmities.  And that's a lot more than many Americans are doing!

I'm in good enough shape, and fast enough, that I can run with Moira but it's not pretty.  I overstride and am a very heavy-footed runner.  And then there are the arms waving around or held awkwardly away from my body.  When I finish a run, even a 30 second run, I often wish there was an oxygen tank at the finish line.  The best handlers are the ones you don't see.  Their handling is so deft and their physical presence so subtle that when you watch their runs, all you see is the dog.  When I run, all you see is a skinny white girl who looks like a disjointed scarecrow.

So I'm considering putting myself into training.  I HATE running but I may try to find a running coach who can help me improve my mechanics and form - as well as my condition.  I'm not making any promises but I think I might owe it to Moira.


  1. Good luck I think its a great plan.

    1. Thanks Dawn! I realized after I published this post that my original wording about the folks you see at agility trials didn't come out right. I've corrected it and added an editor's note. I think everyone who participates in agility should be applauded for getting out there and doing it!

  2. I have been feeling the same way, maybe not running but cycling as I think that's all my feet can handle. I have a pair of Orthotics on there way hoping that will do the trick.