Takes a little time ..

It’s amazing this world we live in now – the internet brings us information, ideas, skill development classes, webinars, workshops, FB groups, articles, blog posts … the information overload is real and making sense of it all is challenging and, at times, even frustrating. There is so much more information available to us than time we have to process and apply it. Overwhelm is real.

Takes a little longer ..

Figuring out how to synthesize all your learning, knowledge and goals into a cohesive training and competition plan is difficult.

  • How long should you train?
  • How many classes should you enter in an event?
  • How many trials a month should you enter?
  • How often should you train?
  • How can you keep all the information you are learning organized?
  • How can you recall all the material you have access to?

These are great, important and timely questions that really have one answer. It depends. It depends on what’s going on in the rest of your life; what your specific sport needs are; the level of competition you aspire to; the personality and motivation of the dog or horse you play with; your personal motivation and drive; how much you can invest (energy, time and money) in this thing.


Once you are able to identify your key challenges a useful next step is to break them down. Way down.

a) What works for your life – what is truly realistic for your energy, time and finances right now in this particular moment?

b) What works best for your animal partner? Is your dog an every other day let’s do new things dog? Maybe your nervous horse needs lots of foundation and routine work with the occasional glance at the new and then right back to routine. If your partner is confident and bold it’s easy to get tempted to fly through the new stuff and learn more more more but it’s important to figure out how to balance the foundations you want to keep a polish on for the sport you want to play.

c) How many sports do you play and how do they roll out competitively? Some people like to focus on one venue for a block of time then move to another activity. Sometimes there has to be overlap because of peaking performance goals but you need to consider what works for you, your partner and the sports you participate in.

d) Balance new skill/ foundation skill and ensure you don’t neglect fitness. Fitness matters physically and mentally and for you and for your dog or horse. People forget that happily crating at a busy trial or out of a car isn’t the norm for all dogs and deserves (and needs) work and attention. Getting braided and clipped stresses some horses out – and should be seen as training until it isn’t stressful.

Figuring it out …

What’s the tipping point between training and life for you? For many many students, of all species LESS is actually much much more. Less new, less length of a session, less stress for everyone. More planning. More thinking. More training matters. Expecting your dog or horse or self to be competitive with no work is unfair to all of you. Cycling around and around all the information that you have but don’t use isn’t productive either. Running yourself into the ground, causing your partner stress, neither of these things need to be a part of good training and solid competition achievement.

Develop a plan, find accountability, support and information that fits your needs. Keep the passion and pleasure that brought you to animal sports in the front of your brain. Use record keeping as a way to help your motivation, but also use it as a tool to check your progress and plan.

A dog who is eager to work is hard to say No to.

Remember this is a game. It’s a place to relax, spend too much money, learn things you WANT to learn and enhance relationships. You do not have to overthink it. Don’t be a slug. Make this thing we do for fun add to your sense of self worth and accomplishment. Make it work for you. You got this.