Sunday, September 28, 2008

More stick-chucking, but less than usual.

Went out to Dianne's this morning for a lesson with Cedar. Rhonda was there with Belle, and LJ Estes was there running a very nice little bitch called Gina. Cedar is really coming around and we are both making a ton of progress...

But before I tell you about that, I suppose I should talk about yesterday. I drove out to New Plymouth with Jodi to go watch the ASCA herding trial. Colleen and Jaenne were there competing with Reena and Kip. I'd never been to an arena trial before, only seen videos of the different levels on Youtube. So needless to say it was a ton of fun and very interesting. A completely different event than USBCHA stuff that's for sure!

I'm sad that we arrived too late to watch the duck runs, I've never seen duck herding in person before so I was curious about that. Oh well, next time I guess!

After watching the Started, Intermediate, and Advanced sheep levels, I think that this is something Cedar and I could definitely do well at with more training. The Started course is extremely easy. It seems like there is no real skill needed at that level except for a well mannered dog. But I definitely can see the merit of stuff like this, though. It's good for people like me who need to get their feet wet in a trial situation. Plus, getting ribbons, titles, and prizes is fun, too :)

After the trial I worked Cedar for a bit at Jodi's house. I worked on getting her out farther away from the sheep and got in a few very nicely timed corrections. My inexperience gave her several big opportunities to mess up badly but for the most part, she held it together. I was very pleased with her, aside from the few cheap shots she took at the sheep when she got in too tight. But she's learning!

So anyways, went to Dianne's this morning for a lesson like I said. Jodi has Rob back so I just had Cedar. I worked her twice and I am really inspired. I had to really get after her to get her to stay off the sheep, but I think she's really starting to "get it." And I'm getting really good "stick chucking" aim... :D

We even got a few nice, controlled mini-outruns and a few brief, but glorious moments of a real walk up! Cedar is really starting to learn to think about rating herself and is not so concerned with circle circle circling the sheep all the time. I shed figurative tears of joy when she did a few straight "walk up" steps without thinking about circling, laid down on command, and walked away from the sheep with me with just one "that'll do" :)

The second time that I worked her today, Dianne made me go out on my own :).

Dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn....

The sheep were grazing right underneath the big sprinklers, which made me nervous. The sprinklers create a whole different kind of pressure scenario. I asked Dianne to get Rose to move them out into the open for me but she wouldn't do it. So Cedar and I trekked out to the sheep, I laid her down, and sent her on the "come by" side. My thought was that if she had to go around one of those big wheels, she would come out on the other side far enough away from the sheep to calmly send them back to the main pasture space. Well, you know what they say about "best laid plans..." Tail straight up in the air with an evil glint in her eye, she blew me off completely, ran really tight (to her credit, at least, she didn't run straight in) and pushed them to the other side of the sprinkler (NOT the side I wanted, though). Thankfully she didn't chase them. I banged my stick on the metal which made a loud enough noise to snap her out of it. So I hop over the sprinkler, lay her down again, and shush her on softly. This time, she does beautifully, pushed the sheep in the right direction and stayed decently off them.

Once that situation was under control and I got Cedar's brain in "working mode," we started working back and forth across the field. I corrected her every time she tried to circle the sheep when I didn't ask her to. Aside from continuing to push her further and further off the sheep, I worked a lot on using my voice properly... it sounds SO obvious now, but I noticed that the calmer I sounded, the better Cedar listened and the calmer SHE was. We've been having problems with her "lie down"... blowing me off and stuff. When I lowered my voice, she did much better and was much more obedient. Dianne said we could start working on penning soon. :)

She is such a good girly... with quite the sense of humor, too. Every time after I work her, I take her over to Dianne's pond. She usually just kind of wades in and gets a drink. Today,she submerged herself completely, head and all. Then she did her cute jump/splash thing where she makes splashes then chases them. What a ham. I know I've said it before, but I just love this dog. Even if she turns out to be a herding flop, I'll still keep her forever. She really is my "once in a lifetime" dog.

But regardless, I'm having a blast with this herding thing anyway :) The whistle is coming along... Dianne gave me the commands for "lie down" and "walk up" to learn so I'm working on that. It's harder than it looks, though!

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