About Q Coach Julie Bacon
The first time my Berner had major surgery, I learned a lot about goal setting. I thought I was on this nice plan: learn, practice, compete, qualify, repeat. And until my 4-year-old needed back surgery, it seemed to be working. Suddenly, I had a six-month rehab in front of me and this goal-oriented person had to shift focus.
Planning to Win
It doesn’t take an injury or setback to need a plan or to want more. Actually, most of us have big goals for our four-legged teammates and we are constantly seeking ways to produce better results more consistently.
To me, success in the ring is a combination of mental management and preparedness. The mental game is a huge fascination for me and I continue to be an avid student. I’ve met with sports psychologists, upped my meditation practice and evolved my visualization techniques.
It takes a lot to be “prepared” to walk into the ring - mentally, physically, logistically ... from getting a good night sleep to eating well to having the right gear to conditioning ... the list is looooong!! The key is to take care of all of these supporting elements so that when we walk into the ring, we’re truly ready.
That’s what this is about - getting ready. So how do you know if you’re prepared? Does it just come down to the result? Can you only measure success in terms of ribbons on the passenger seat?
Student for Life
I started obsessing about success in sports as a pre-teen kid in love with horses. At age 11 I took home my first state championship from the hunter-jumper banquet and knew I wanted to feel like that again, and again, and again. I worked hard, cried a lot and got tossed into the dirt. I learned about perseverance. I learned about visualizing. I learned about the mental game.
I achieved most of my goals, finishing in the top three in the equitation and hunter divisions and top six in a professional division at 16. But what I didn’t learn then - and probably didn’t have the attention span to learn - was how to PLAN for success. I didn’t know the difference between process goals and outcome goals. Yes, I enjoyed practicing (process), but really I just wanted to win (outcome).
I left the horses behind when I went to college, but have always been a competitor at heart. I’ve traded reins for leashes and have been challenged at times to stay connected to my four-legged partner who I’m not physically touching (i.e. riding) as we navigate a course.
What Gets Measured Gets Attention
Most competitors focus on the outcome - winning, qualifying, points, titles. But if you’ve ever managed a rehab plan, or run a green dog, you will also know the importance of process goals and milestones. Here we are going to focus on the process of preparing so those outcome goals become achievable.
In a relatively short time I have been fortunate to accomplish much with my "non-traditional" performance breed, Bernese Mountain Dogs. My first Berner, and "Novice A" dog, went on to run at the AKC Agility Invitational; finish third in the inaugural AKC Rally National Championship; become the first Berner to earn the Triathlete award five times at our national specialty; and earn a Grand Master Draft Dog award, becoming the first with Master-level agility titles to do so. In his lifetime he earned the following: Edgeside's Karma CDX RAE3 MX MXB MXJ MJB MXP MJP2 XF ANDD ABNDD MDD MBDD JHDs plus the WDX and GMDD awards from the BMDCA.
From him not only did I get exposure to a new world, but also to coming back after injury as he also endured a Dorsal Laminectomy, 2 TPLOs and 1 broken toe. We learned a lot about rehab and conditioning together and I'm now pursuing deeper knowledge in that area.
My second Berner is still running well (knock wood!) and became the second Berner (first female) to earn a Grand Master Draft Dog award with Master-level agility titles. Indie is a finished Champion, has also competed at the Rally National, has earned multiple Triathlete awards and whelped a litter (okay, a singleton, but still!). She recently passed the Junior/WD test for the Newfie water test while competing in agility. She is currently officially: CH Edgeside's Grand Indulgence V Anatar CDX RAE2 MX MXB MXJ MJB OAP OJP NF ANDD ABNDD MDD MBDD JHDs WD plus the VD, WDX and GMDD awards from the BMDCA.
I teach obedience and agility at A Click Above in Leesburg, Virginia where I also offer draft workshops. I am a draft judge for the BMDCA and have recently welcomed an adolescent Berner into the family!