Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to get to the point of qualifying for International level competition?
I started agility in 2007 with my lab Lexie. Soon after I got my Aussie, Carly. Carly ended up having terrible ring nerves and Lexie decided weaves were not her thing, so I decided to get another dog. Vette came along in 2010. He was an old soul from the beginning. He loved learning and caught on fast. He started as a steady dog. He earned his USDAA ADCH in just 7 months. It was not until a few later than Vette confidence increased along with his speed. Of course there were always challenges along the way. We did have one-knocked bar syndrome for a bit. I will admit the more competitive I got the more I lost criteria on contacts by ripping him off early, so my contacts are not as strong or reliable as they use to be.
Do you have a method of dealing with ring nerves that has helped you along the way and at these competitions?
I try and wear headphones and listen to music while walking course to focus in creating a plan that is best for my dog.
What impressed you the most about you and Vette’s performance?
Vette always impresses me with his easy going personality regardless of where we are. Looking back, I was pleased with my ability to shake off the “E” I had in Team relay. In my mind I just cost Team USA a medal.. I had to get past that and focus on the last run in Pentathlon.
What would you say has been the single most contributing factor to being successful at these high pressure competitions?
I don’t know if there is any single factor, but Mental Management preparation is definitely key. Trying to keep the same pre-run routine regardless of where you are running. Visualizing the course in your head and picturing yourself running it successful.
What has been the biggest struggle for you personally and how were you able to conquer that challenge?
My biggest challenge is my health. I have Lupus and struggle with hypocalcimia (low calcium levels in the blood serum). At big competitions I tend to get lost in the day and it messes up my normal medication schedule. I told my coaches of the dilemma and they were great at ensuring I took my medications at the prescribed time.
Besides the travel elements of international travel, do you find these competitions to be similar to local trials. How would you say they differ?
It really is just like a local show with a few minor exceptions. There is a person standing in front of start jump and you can not leave until they are gone. You exit the ring off-leash.
If you could go back and talk to your ‘new to agility’ self, what would you say that would help the most?
Have more patience and remember every dog is different.
You can experience Sangie as trial judge August 26, 2017 in Leander Texas at DePaw Dog Sports.
Click here for UKI entry form and trial info