I learned a couple of things today.
1) Cedar doesn't respect me/my bubble/authority nearly enough... or nearly as much as I thought she did.
2) She can actually take my corrections without shutting down.
3) Apparently, my mind thinks that the best reaction to being pissed off and frustrated is to freeze up completely and burst into tears.
4) Right now, Cedar needs to be more worried about me than the sheep.
5) When this happens, she works awesome! And doesn't get quite so frantic.
Our lesson today, like most of the others we've had recently, was both terribly frustrating and incredibly productive. Cedar does not respect my bubble at ALL... well, before today anyways. She has always been tight and pushy and worried about the sheep all the time. Dianne told me that I need to start expecting more from Cedar; that she is capable of doing the things I'm asking without messing up or me needing to babysit her. Rationally, I know this, but I tend to get a little bit lost in negativity...
Our goal today was to make her be more worried about ME. So, I kept using my body pressure to push her out. I *tried* not to use my voice too much.... but that didn't really work. I need to work on talking too much. Every time Cedar would push on me or the sheep, I'd chase her down and back her off. At one point, I even chased her out of the arena.
And then... as the sheep always seem to do, they bolted for the fence. Again. Cedar "helped" them. I think they know that Cedar and I both have a hard time getting them away from the fence, so they gravitate towards there. Or something. Must be self preservation... I dunno. After fighting with it for a few minutes, and getting nowhere, I had a meltdown.
Bursting into angry tears is always SO helpful in these kinds of situations. Jeez.
Nothing like crying, in public, over SHEEP. At one point I remember yelling something along the lines of "isn't this MAGICAL?!?" Funny thing, though... I think my blabbering freaked Cedar out enough that she was so concerned about me and what the hell I was doing, that she forgot to be frantic around the sheep. I sent her on an Away flank to get the sheep off the fence, and she swung out and did it perfectly. She watched my face the whole time, LOL! However, I did need to "remind" her a few times that any sort of pushiness was NOT okay. The last time was when I chased her out of the arena. I think she finally got the message that she works sheep on my terms, not hers. And I think I at least got started in showing her that she could trust me to help and direct her towards something resembling calm and normal stockwork.
After all the drama, Cedar really worked much nicer, paying more attention to me than ever before. She was nice and thoughtful, off her sheep, and listening well. It was night and day from the way she was working before. Dianne promised that I will only need to do this a few more times for her to get the message... at least for awhile. I sure hope that she's right. :) I am certain that we will "get" it eventually. I know that Cedar has the ability... I just need to find the best way to bring it out in her.
I just realized that I never blogged about Moss's work last week!! He did really great. It's interesting to contrast his first real time on sheep with Cedar's. Moss is a completely different type of dog. He is very laid back, methodical, and tries to think things through and problem-solve. Dianne worked him this first time, but I may get to work him myself next week. We'll see. I'm enjoying watching him either way.
At one point towards the end of the lesson, Dianne intentionally created a "mess" for him... splitting two sheep off from the others. Instead of freaking out and chasing the "deserters" all around the arena, he stood there calmly for a minute looking puzzled. You could almost hear his thought progression.
"This isn't right..."
"WHY isn't this right?"
"... what can I do to fix it?"
(The other sheep is to the right of him in the photo)
... He brought the them back to the group (Dianne let him have a little "fun" with this...
...and she got some very good (and cute!) work out of him before putting him up. He was very enthusiastic and wanted to go right back to work. What a good boy.
I'm greatly looking forward to watching him progress in his training. I think Dianne is going to take him for training for awhile this fall... I'm excited to see how he'll do!
Well, I'm sick of writing... more later!
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