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

Travels, Trials and Tribulations

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Trip to South Dakota-dog work

I have been trying to find the time to write about this for a week now.  I'll try real hard to keep it brief.

The drive out there was uneventful.  In Billings MT I got my Cracker Barrel fix and a cushy stay at the Motel 6.  I was so excited to be headed out to Jamie's huge ranch near Sturgis, SD.

On Friday morning I got up and drove the 6 more hours to Jamie's house.  I worked Z once that day, twice on Saturday and twice on Sunday.

My main goals were to take him out in the big open spaces, use the tricky terrain and tougher sheep to expand his experience.

For the most part I worked on out run issues.  I set up some shorter ones at a comfortable distance but used the hilly undulating terrain to make finding the sheep a difficult.  He would often lose visibility several times, sometimes leaving my feet blind or seeing them only for the first bit of the run.  I placed them up on hills, on the side of big hills and sent him from all over the place.  Usually the fetching was kind of tricky because the terrain was hilly and he really had to work at keeping the line no matter the terrain  I also had big spaces where the out running was pretty straight forward.  In these place I was sending him 400+ yards.

We did some driving.  It went alright.  These tougher sheep are very sensitive and not very forgiving if the dog is and whisker out of place.  I didn't work too much on the line just keeping him going confidently on, just letting him chug a long.  It was nice to not have worry about a fence.  I also practiced 90 degree turns while driving.  I have been struggling with my timing at the drive away panel.  Often I let him go too far.

I did work a little on shedding these sheep.  They were pretty hard to shed.  We managed it a couple of times, but failure out weighed success in that department.  Which was ok with me, it is a skill he knows but he's not practiced enough to come through small gaps and hold sheep that want to fight a little bit.  I practiced just making gaps and not calling him through too.  This really tuned my eye up.

We also worked cows a tiny bit while we were there.  He was interested but a little unsure.

Thanks so much to Jamie and her family, it was great!

Here are some of the videos that were taken from the trip.
Blind out run

Last Day


On Monday morning we headed home, staying in Missoula on the way back.  Just a couple hundred miles, me and my dog.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Vashon Sheepdog Classic

This trial was fabulous.  Next year I'm going both days.  Thank you Maggi McClure http://www.mightymutt.com/ for reviving this trial.  Thank you Patrick Shannahan for judging http://www.patrickshannahan.com/ . The terrain was difficult with multiple rolling hills and swales.  The dog lost sight for large chunks of the outrun on either side.  The lift and fetch were visible as was the drive away.  The cross drive was blind for the first 1/3 of it, due to a large hill. The sheep were challenging but very doable.  Thank you Eric Harlow of Harlow Hills West Coast http://www.harlowshillswestcoast.com/ for these fun sheep.  They didn't move very well for some dogs and other dogs picked a fight with them.  Confidence and patients were the qualities that made the successful dogs of the day.

I sent Z right and had to blow him out 3 times.  He kept coming down into the swales looking for sheep.  I thought he spotted the sheep before he left my feet, but apparently not.  He had a good lift, not one sheep though about not moving for him.  He was a little on the muscle for the first 1/3rd or so.  I got him back under control and things started to look pretty as we made the panel.  The post turn was wider then I'd like, but the sheep kept on moving.  Z chugged them right up the drive away line and did a nice turn.  He kept them on line until the last bit of the blind spot where he started to fetch them.  I had to work hard to convince him to put them back on line.  we made both drive panels.  I knew I was in good shape as he hustled them to the shedding ring.  We got the shed, he turned on  the wrong group for a split second.  I got him turned on the right group and he held them.  We had 4+ minutes to pen and it just didn't happen for us.  Mostly my lack of reading these sheep too well that day.  Grr on me.  Our score was a 63 and we were in 9th place after 30 dogs had run.  I left before it was over so I have no idea how we ended up.  I know the things I need to work on.

I need to be a better me during the whole run.  I have to get more work on sheep that don't want to pen.  I have to boost my dog's confidence on the cross drive so he is more comfortable holding that line with my help.  I need to look at my shedding.  I think he is turning on the sheep that are trying to escape, this is magnified in a trial situation.  Since he rarely does this in practice.  The sheep we practice on don't run away after being shed.

Video of the run


Friday, October 1, 2010

Really I do continue to train my dogs

We have been up to the usual stuff around here.  Trying to keep dry already, yuck.

I've been taking the dogs out to Fido's and up to Whidbey Is. to work.  Z has been doing really well.  We have been focusing on the same stuff for a while.  Mostly working on our outwork, getting really exact.  I can now get him to do many things in his out work.  Starting with the outrun, I can stop him anywhere and pull him, cross him over multiple times or push him out.  At the top I can stop him short, flank him over, stop him on balance, or just blow a steady on the lift.  I can also swing him around at any point on the fetch and cross drive the sheep.  He will also gather them silently for the most part, usually needs a steady or 2 on the fetch.  This tells me I can put him anywhere I want or he can find his way if  I cannot  help him.  Pretty much perfect, he knows his job and is willing to listen.  This has transfered over to our driving really well.  I don't have the pace I want yet on the drive, but I am opting to leave it be for now.  I can slow him down or speed him up, but the steady push isn't there yet, like it is on the fetch.  I see him changing a lot and growing up almost every time I work him.

I've been really mindful of the gems I held onto from me most recent work with Scott Glen.  I have him stopping really well, now I barely have to stop him at all.  He's taking his steady fairly consistently and if that fails he will stop.  I'm really, really working on not letting the sheep stop him.  This is a bit troublesome on our fetch because he really feels my bubble at the end of it.  Otherwise it pops up on the drive occasionally and I do my best to give him something to do besides stop as long as it makes sense.  So many things to think about.  I also have been working really hard to not push him on his sheep, Scott got after me a bit for this.  So I have let him pick the pace, especially on heavier sheep.  I know he can move though sheep and he doesn't give ground, so I'll just let him go slow in training .  I also know at a trial I can speed him up on the heavier sheep if I need to, cross my fingers he doesn't grip ;)  He's still a bit sticky if I stop him so I have been ultra aware of giving him something to do right away to get him moving again.  I have implement a stay command to make the difference clear of when staying put is or isn't required.  Interestingly enough he's beginning to drop to his belly if I tell him to stay, like when holding sheep.  Normally he stops on his feet while working.  Hoping this will become more and more clear to him.  Honestly I probably hold sheep too much with him and this is not helping some of this sticky stop issue.

Guess that is all for now.  Off to Vashon Is on Sunday for 1 Open run.  Then we make a training trip to SD and have an AHBA trial at the end of the month. Oh and up to Arlington the first weekend of Nov. We will be busy!