A Border Collie's Mistress' Place for News and Musings

Travels, Trials and Tribulations

Friday, May 28, 2010

Training at Fido's

I went on Monday and look here it is Friday before I get a chance to write anything up!

I have to say for Molly she was super!  I haven't worked her in what feels like forever.  She was a little rusty feeling and it took a bit of time before we reconnected.  She was actually slow, which for her is HUGE.  Also on her first outrun she went out and was wide and thoughtful.  I usually have to stop her and get on her case the first out run to get her to cast out and use her head.  Some feel at the top, good stops all day.  We are still struggling with the driving, we've hit a bit of a wall.  She goes  only so far(same distance every time) and justs wants to flip around and fetch them back.  Basically she quits walking up strait  and just slides around to the outside.  I have to start walking with her again. We can get around a PN course at Fido's, but I think the Ranch course publicly is still going to be a test for us :)  I also must start working her at Susan Crocker's on sheep that run and entice her to be too fast the tight. We have some work to do and we have some AHBA trials in our sights for the fall.

I pick a few things to work with Z on.  Lucky for us Chris held some sheep so I could work on that pace down the fetch line and the stop at the top.  He was really getting the idea towards the end.  He's also learning that slow down doesn't mean slow down forever, that you will get to switch gears.  This revelation has reduced the pouting.  I didn't work the stop too hard, it has really cleaned up not where it should be but it is better.  He doesn't cheat it at the pen or while we are shedding, so I have to figure out why I taught him it is ok to cheat it in other places and then fix it.

For the second session I found some light yearling ewes and did a bit of driving, he's always had good pace here.  We worked on flanks to let go of the pressure learning to relax if he felt they were getting away.  He has a hard time giving me a flank on the drive if he has to let go of the pressure to do it.  Same issue on the fetch, but that has increased hugely.

For the final session we worked the shed. I'm using the Scott Glen method.  Started out with the mob and just whittled it down to a single.  Worked both of his sides and he seems equally comfortable coming in both ways.  He has keyed into the back set of sheep, which is not hard for him since he LOVES to walk up on their heads.  I've also got him coming all the way through before turning, he's starting to target behind me more consistently.  He still needs a fairly large gap to come into, but I know as soon as he really gets this he'll come through the tiniest crack.  This is his favorite game of all sheep herding.

Our first Open run together will be at Susan Crocker's in June and then off to South Dakota at the end of August.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Just a quick Scribble

I'm just going to write a few things down and hopefully expand on them as I digest them.

The Bluegrass was amazing.  If you have ever wanted to go, just go you will not regret it.  The car ride however was meh.

So what I learned:

To let go of my ego
To expect perfection
To practice non-judgement and play the game moment to moment

I'm starting to become the handler I want to be.

Homework for dog training:
Gears- we have fast and stop but we need a little in between
Range sheep-need to work on more difficult sheep to improve my timing and keep the dog's work sharp
Cross drive- need to sharpen this up but with gears it should come together pretty quick
Terrain- need to work in places that aren't flat
Must gain a little more control over the dog when he's on the far side of the fetch panels, seems to be a deaf zone between the lift the the fetch panels.
Distance-must get him working a bit more farther behind the sheep.

What I liked about my runs:

My dog moved and controlled every packet of sheep we drew-4 of  our runs were on TX range sheep and 2 runs were on Vergil Holland's very cranky farm flock.  Verigil's sheep had been trialled on two weekends in a row, before coming to the Bluegrass.  He took control right away and moved the sheep down the fetch line, beautiful cover at the top.

Last 2 runs no points off outrun or lift-sent him every day to the come bye side which is his least favored side.

My dog tried hard every run, listened well and the things we had been working most on in training came through even under big pressure.

I worked every element of the run trying to keep as many points as possible without beating myself up over what had already been lost.  I kept my act together every run for the whole run.

I gave necessary corrections and backed off the minute Z reacted and adjusted. Less talk more whistle-we made that happen.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Made it to KY

Trial starts on Wednesday.  Today we have a free day to hang out, walk the dogs and find the trial site.  Best to take the guess work out of it as much as possible.  The driving wasn't too bad.

On Sunday we stoped in SD to visit with Jamie Spring.  She bred Z and is was cool to meet her and her family.  It was also really nice to meet Z's siblings and mother.  I was able to watch his sister Hope (same litter) work a little bit and she is a very nice dog.  I met Rye ( litter brother) and Pink(sister same cross but the year later).  I'll post some pictures in here when I figure out where they are! :)

It was also great for Z and Merckx to have an oppertunity to stretch thier legs and work some sheep.  Jamie had a nice group of fresh shorn yearling ewes off the range.  She had been woring them a little bit so they weren't completely rank and fighting the dog.  They would how ever turnaround and look at the dog and the boys had to work at getting them lifted.  Once they got moving they were sort of light, but the dogs still had to push a lot to prove to those sheep that they had to move.  Z's session went great, best lifts I have seen him do in a long time.  He just kept walking in with a some encounragement, but mainly on his own.  He also was fairly quick to take charge of them and push them around.  Maybe he wants to work sheep the put up a litttle fight and be naughty.  It was really cool to be able to have a traing seesion on sheep like that.  I'm sure it really built his confidence.  As for my side of the bargin, I didn't yell.  I gave a few nessary corrections, but I minded myself and my dog went really super.  Hope we can hang on to half of that when we walk to the post tomorrow.
Jamie in conjunction with Laura Hicks is having a trial at the end of August and I would say it would worth the drive, two days on Jamie's unfenced and then over to Laura's for two days.  I hope I can squeeze it in, but if not you all should go.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Inward and Onward

This weekend was jammed full of things to do.  I had to get a lot of stuff gone and organized before leaving for the Bluegrass.  We leave next Saturday at the crack of dawn.  First things first, this weekend!

Saturday we went to Fido's Farm to set stock for the AHBA trial.  I decided a bit last minute to run Mick in the arena trial class on sheep.  I'm trying to pick up the last few points to finish his championship. The run was amazing.  I haven't worked him in months, he's been training Tanya.  I really wasn't expecting anything phenomenal to happen.  I knew we could score over 80 points, but I haven't worked with my buddy in ages.  We walked into the arena and we could totally read each other's  minds. He took every step exactly like I asked, he was so soft and easy.  I was totally grounded and centered, just feeling the zone.  Our High in Trial winning run was 99 points out of 100 possible points.  We lost 1 point the whole run.  I achieved a near  perfect run while in a state of mental bliss, I want to do it again.  Hope that mojo sticks with me for the next few weeks.

Molly was great!  I used her to set sheep.  It was a great opportunity for her since we have been trying to get her calmer at trials.  I had an opportunity to work her in the trial atmosphere, but in a place where I could be close by and help her out, keeping her from getting frantic. She stayed pretty soft and relaxed until she began to get tired and the sheep began to get obstinate. She gets frantic when she loses confidence, this is always amplified by distance.  She's coming along on her own time.

During the day I did get to work Z.  I just worked him a little bit.  I took him out to Clover and pushed around some yearling ewes.  He did nice work and I pretty much left him alone.  His stop still needs some work.  He nearly has 2 gears for his walk up, the flanks are 90% square and snappy.  The come bye out run is looking almost as good as the away to me out run, so much so I feel pretty confident sending him in either direction.  He's still not quite getting to the right place on the come bye, but I see improvement every time.  He's plenty deep enough that he seems to sort in out on the walk up. He's still stalling out a bit at the top, but that too is getting better every time.

On Sunday I worked him up on Whidbey Is.  Pretty much did the same thing I did on Saturday, tried not to pick on him.  He did much better out runs on Sunday.  He also likes to push the lighter hair sheep around.  I had 2 actual gears on those sheep.  I worked on flanking him around their butt to turn them back to me.  He's a champ if I send him to head, but things get sticky if I have to send him to their butts.  He feels them escaping if he goes at them from the butt end.   I wanted to show him he can catch them no matter which way he has to go.  So we spent some time pulling them off the fence by sending him to their butts.  As he gets better with this, our panel turns get cleaner. Basically, I tried really hard not to pick at my dog.  I made him do things right, but no nagging.  Oh and NO yelling.  I don't get to work him again until we get to Jamie's on Sunday.  It will be interesting if I can maintain my end of the deal when he is feeling a bit up.

A friend of mine who also works dogs came to the conclusion it is all about her.  I would like to take this opportunity to say that I must continuously look inward at myself and evaluate.  I must continuously grow as a person by understanding my weakness and turning them into my strengths.  It is all about me, their issues are mainly the symptoms and not the causes of the difficulties.

So next Saturday I am going to embark on a huge journey.  I will be fulfilling a dream I've had since getting into working dogs.  I have always wanted to run at the Bluegrass and I have thought about it every year since bringing Libby home 10 years ago.  I never thought I'd have a Nursery dog amazing enough to make the trip with, but here we go.  This is a dream coming true.