Saturday, July 25, 2009

Random Thoughts on Competition

It seems like every few months the topic of competition comes up on some of the agility lists that I follow and honestly, it's a topic I find myself thinking about quite often.

I would consider myself a mildly competitive person...I grew up showing horses, and as competitive as dog sports can be, I don't think they're any match to what I've seen in the horse show world! Competition there could be very, very ugly - especially when you were competing against friends. 

Oddly enough, I see competition in agility quite differently. I don't look at my friends as competition and honestly, I don't think I look at any one else as competition either. I don't know why...I guess in my mind we're really only competing against the course. Sure, placements are nice, but at this point it's not something that I even really think about. I view agility as a team sport...and I can guarantee that my teammates are not thinking about "beating" another dog on course. :)

I'm always amazed when I hear stories of agility friendships that have turned sour over competition and it makes me sad. I love watching and cheering on my friends, and would like to think those feelings are mutual. I sincerely want them to be successful and for that matter, I hope that anyone who works hard and are nice to their dogs can enjoy success in this sport. Now if you are mean to your dog, or a nasty person in general, that doesn't mean I won't snicker if you happen to say, fall on your face while running a course. :) 

Am I saying that I never have feelings of jealousy? No way! I often find myself thinking I wish I could be as good of a handler as ___, or I would love to be as consistent as ___, and I wish our table was as good as ___. :) I think those feelings are normal! But at the end of the day, I just want us to be as good of a team as we can possibly be at any point of our training.

Blah, blah, blah...I'm rambling now. :) I'm not sure that there's a point to this post other than the fact that ever since Peyton has started doing pretty well, I have seen a few glimmers of the not-so-nice side of competition. I've been so fortunate to have some wonderfully supportive friends who have encouraged me to keep trying even when it didn't look like we were ever going to make any progress. I just hope that some of them will continue to be supportive no matter how good - or how ugly - our runs might be. 

I finally got around to uploading our last run from Perry. I don't think it's as bad as it felt at the time, but I'm pretty sure one of us must have been 1/2 asleep during this run...gee, who could that be?


Jenn said...

ok it definitely wasn't peyton sleeping. LOL. I know what you mean about the competition thing. And I have a friend that used to compete in the horse I've heard some stories there too. I've heard some pretty nasty comments when I was competing years ago with Logan and Keegan - not that anyone had to worry about us! I finally feel like I have made some friends that truly care about how well Steeler and I do as a team since I moved. And I know I have a few friends from the beginning that have always been supportive as well.

Today Steeler and I worked on some control unleashed exercises ... like there's a dog in your face and the car crash game. Steeler never even looked at the other dogs doing the car crash game with him.

Oh and I just love watching Peyton run - he has so much enthusiasm! It's almost never as bad as you think it is at the time. Unless you're at the DCA doing advanced rally for the very first time. hahahaha

Kim said...

Oh dear...this means that I'm going to have to get out our "spotty competition" voo-doo doll, because I can't have Steeler behaving himself. You'll make us look bad. :)

Seriously, hooray Steeler! That's fantastic progress...I love "there's a dog in your face" game. We also like to play "there's a dog up your rear", "there's a dog looking at you", and "there might be a dog in the vicinity" games too. :)

Owner of Storm and Jackal said...

I just found your blog and so far I love it. The photography is amazing and your dogs are lovely.

This was an interesting post. What discipline did you ride in? I never competed. I'm sure it would have been fun but I made the decision not to because I didn't want riding to ever become a chore (and I have stage fright). I've heard some horror stories about competition from my boss (veterinarian that shows arabs in halter & working cow), but I've mostly only been around the local dressage scene. Fortunately we don't see too much drama there. :)

Anyway just thought I would leave you a comment. Gonna go back and read some of your old posts.

The Thundering Herd said...

Freely admit that we don't enter any competitions, but have been involved in enough sports to know that there are always a few who take the winning part too seriously. Especially when something is really about bonding with our furry friends.

P.S. - Came visiting as I am trying to visit everyone on LWD's top 10 list. Really not checking out the "competition." LOL. Great blog!

Kim said...

Owner of Storm & Jackal: Thanks for stopping by! I started out in 4-H and local shows and then eventually ended up in hunter/jumpers with a little dabbling in dressage (where I didn't compete much, with the exception of intercollegiate shows). I have friends who have shown at various breed shows - Arabs, Quarter Horses, Paints - and I hear those can be nasty. For me, 4-H was bad enough...I remember when you had to careful that your horse didn't get drugged overnight - in 4-H...which is for kids!!

The Thundering Herd: LOL! Thanks!

Paula said...

Kim, I'm with you on the competition aspect. I'm out to beat the course and do the best I can with my dog. If we place, great! If not, that's ok, too. I started with Lilly, so ANY success I have with Alex is like gold to me. (I'm pretty sure you get that, too).

I could never see myself "rooting against" someone, friend or not, for a placement. And I am a very competitive person! You don't want to see me at flyball. Wait, you already have. ;)

Now I'm babbling, but great post!

Kim said...

Yes Paula, exactly! I'm just thrilled that I don't have to hope for all of the stars to be perfectly aligned in the sky and that the dogwalk & teeter ghosts don't decide to attend the same trial that we do! Maybe dogs like Indy and Lilly come into our lives to keep us humble (said with love, of course). :)

I dunno...maybe the novelty will wear off at some point, but honestly I hope it never does. :)