Budding Agility Diva

I adore watching junior handlers at agility trials. I love seeing the nervousness and the bravery on their faces, the sudden surge of confidence when it all goes well. And sometimes my heart breaks a little for them when things don’t go right. All those emotions seem magnified on those youthful faces.

Truth be known, I’m a little jealous. I so wish I’d discovered this sport when I was their age. I dream of the confidence and awesome handling skills I’d possess. Then I remember that agility hadn’t really been thought up when I was their age and comfort myself with the fact that at least I was playing around with horses back then..

It’s especially endearing to me to watch them as they mature, both physically and mentally. With that maturity comes some stellar handling. So much can be learned from those kids by the adults that play this game.

I saw one such example this past weekend.

I drove up north Sunday to attend a small agility trial. Last week, down the Oregon coast for 320 miles. This week, a 100 miles each way. Because that’s what agility addicts do.

The trial was small, but there were a handful of junior handlers, the most I think I’ve ever seen at one trial. A few of the boys I’d seen at several past trials and it was very inspiring to see the improvements in their handling, as well as the improvements made with their dogs. I freely confess I probably have a mini crush on one of those boys, although I try not to make it a creepy one. He’s just an awesome kid in general. I always tell his mom what an awesome kid she has. She beams and tells me me she thinks so too. Love that!

At this weekend’s trial a girl and her mother were there from out of state. The little girl, 11 years of age, was running a very fast and spunky pug. Those of you who do not believe that pug + fast and spunky can exist, have never been to an agility trial. I’m hear to tell you that pugs are very trainable and they don’t all look like tubs of lard.In fact, no pug should look like a tub of lard. Ever.

The girl was all legs too. And she needed those long limbs to keep up with her pug.

I watched her runs and was super impressed with her handling and her positivity and connection with her dog, while standing on the start line, during the run and after the run was over. I loved how she praised her dog after each run, no matter what happened.

One run in particular stood out. It was, I think, a clean run. Regardless, it was smooth, flowing and pretty to watch and the girl ended the run with a big smile on her face, lavish praise for her dog and a little soft pet and hug for him at the finish line. She did what every agility handler should strive to do, make it appear that the run was perfect and that she was pleased with her dog, whether it was perfect or not.

After the class was over, I walked back toward my own vehicle and right behind the girl and her mother. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but it was hard not to. The mother was critiquing her daughter’s run. Interestingly, I never heard her say she was happy for her daughter or that she did the run well. Or maybe I missed that part. It seemed to be an actual critique, yet from a person who wasn’t an actual trainer. Or maybe I’m wrong. Either way, it was a critique on positioning and handling technique. The girl listened and offered a few points here or there.Then she made the most marvelous statement.

“But it went really well. I did good.”

She said it with quiet, but powerful confidence.

My heart soared when I heard her say that. Her mother then admitted it did go well.

I did a mental fist pump and veered off a little way to get to my car.

I sincerely hope that young girl keeps that mental strength and confidence. I also hope that someday I get to compete with her. She’ll probably kick my ass.

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