Friday, May 6, 2011

A Great Day

Today we had a great day at Fido's Farm. 

I went with a couple specific goals in mind for Beth and Brynn.  I also had an opportunity to put Bea on sheep again with Monique & Lucy as back up.   This was one of those days where things went well, leaving me with a positive feeling and a boost to my self confidence.

Bea was first up.  The goal with her was to keep her moving so she doesn't get sticky, no pressure & have fun. 

Brynn was next up.  Monique came out in the field with me to hold sheep.  We worked on outrun and fetch.  Brynn's out runs were lovely.  She self corrected and kicked out nicely each time she checked on the sheep.  She came in deep.  The lift went haywire a few times because I just couldn't keep my whistle quiet.  When I shut up and let her get the sheep moving on her own, she was beautiful. 

The problem happens on the fetch and she does not seem to want to cover.  When I flank her on a fetch, she slices instead of giving me a square flank.   So Monique and I set up a few dog leg fetch scenario's and I tried to work with Brynn to get her to take my flanks square on the fetch, rather than slicing.   We had a good set of sheep.  One did not want to play with the rest and kept splitting off, so it put some pressure on Brynn & she had to fix the mess at the top once or twice. 

It was good experience, and good work.  I was very happy with her.

When it was Beth's turn we tried something new - shedding. 

Slowly but surely Cindy has been trying to teach me how to shed.  Beth is never going to be an open dog.  I hold no aspirations in that direction for her, but the teamwork we practice shedding will help us in other areas beyond the shedding ring.   I also entered her in an arena trial this summer that will have a easy shed, so we needed to get our feet wet. 

I left about 30 sheep in the field.  I had Beth gather them up.

Beth was laying down, looking at me waiting for my next command.  

Then I picked four sheep at the end, faced the direction I wanted them to go...and called Beth to my side. 

"That'll do Beth, here.....THESE" (pointing at the sheep who were slowly moving away off my bubble). 

Beth got up, walked to me, the stopped...and dropped to her belly again - looked at the sheep on the left, the sheep on the right.  Then gave me a look that almost withered  my eyeballs.

Kinda like this...

I could hear her thoughts beaming into my brain.  

"WTF?  Seriously?  Have you lost your frigging mind? Bugger that! First you want me to put them together, then you want me to make a MESS?  No f*@king way.  Bite me you feeble ole' witch.  This is a trick...isn't it?"

"Its okay Beth, I promise this will make sense in a few minutes.  Please just give it a try...okay?"

Lo an behold, Beth listened...she came up tentatively at first and we walked together to behind the sheep we split off moving them about 50 feet away from the rest where they were content to graze.  Then I had to convince her to leave those and go back to the rest.

When we got back to the bigger bunch, we did it again.  The second time was smoother - she came in nicely (still slowly) and turned in the direction I was facing.  I took a few steps with her and then let her drive those four sheep to the others.  I called her back and we did it again, and again. 

Slowly a lightbulb turned on in her head.  She stopped beaming sharp daggers of death in my direction. 

"Oh, I get it now, you want these sheep here moved away from problemo!"

After the light-bulb moment things loosened up and she started working with me.  We would shed the sheep off, methodically moving them from one group to the other.  I tried to keep it simple and clear.  She worked with me and not against me.

Today reminded me of how much she loves to work up close.  Every flank was perfectly square.  Once she understood what I was asking, she was relaxed and happy.  In turn I was quiet and happy. 

I am sure I did more wrong than I did correct. But for now I am happy with my dog and for once...myself.

Next lesson with Cindy - Shedding 101. 

1 comment:

Monique said...

Way to go! Shedding is a lot of fun and never gets old. Always something new to learn about it!