Monday, November 30, 2009

Off-balance, Outruns, and Penning

Bug and I had a herding lesson yesterday and it was a STUNNING day. I heard on the radio that it will likely be the last of our warm days. ::sniffle::

Our lesson went well. We started by working on driving and off-balance work. Both Bug and I are really starting to get this and it feels really good. Last week Diane worked her AS Dually a bit on this to give Bug a break. Dually had never done the off-balance work before either, so it was helpful for me to watch Diane work him through the same things we are working through.

Then we went into the big field to work on some outruns. Our goal was for Bug to move out more and have a nice arc. Go By was lovely. Away to me he tries to come in much too straight. We manipulated the situation so he would need to go around a panel. Go by no problem – Away to me he still tried to cut in.

We also stopped him on the opposite side of the sheep. The goal was for the distance to be equal-distant from where he started. This did not end up happening most of the time. He did a decent job stopping for me considering he doesn’t seem to have a stop on stock right now.

We interspersed this with fetching.

Then we worked on penning which is quite hard if your dog does not have a good stop or flank commands. I know I can practice flank commands dry – Jan taught us how this summer. However, no matter how great Bug is with a stop or down off the sheep he sucks on sheep. Diane suggested (tongue-in-cheek, I think) I buy ducks or chickens. John said maybe they could live in the attic. Hah. I guess we just schedule as many lessons as possible.

We moved three sheep into the control pen and then out. Then we moved an additional three sheep in to the control pen and out into the big field. Then we moved six sheep back into the control pen. It figures that I am getting comfortable with the off-balance work so we move on to something that makes me feel like I am all thumbs again!

Diane and I talked about where I want the sheep and where Bug needs to be in order to hold the sheep, but not push them past the gate. In truth it was MUCH more successful than the last time we worked on penning, but it still feels awful.

It was a good lesson, but we ended on a difficult task. Had we started with penning and ended with off-balance work I would be more elated. However, I tend to see a big improvement between lessons – almost as though Bug processes it during the week. I suspect if we work on penning next week it will feel better.

AND Bug was less stiff afterward! Hooray!


Sarah said...

very cool, awesome progress!!

Sam said...

Congrats, sounds like some sizable improvements. I really admire those who herd..

Blue said...

Bug is making such good progress! Also, I am SO glad to hear that he was less stiff afterward.

By the way, Iris has a lesson on Sun (12/6) at 2. Finally no more ataxia from the meds!

Nancy said...

Sounds like a great day! If you get chickens, you can have fresh eggs, haha!

Jules said...

Thanks! The progress feels so good.

Blue - Bug and I will be there at 1 pm if you want to talk to Diane about coming earlier. I'll definitely try t stay for some of your lesson.

I am so glad Iris is feeling better!

Nancy, Wouldn't that be nice?!

101mutts said...

I know there's a big chicken rescue operation going on with Farm Sanctuary.

Unfortunately there is an adoptian fee. You have to promise not to eat the birds... not sure if there's anything in the contract about letting the chickens be herded. :)

Nat said...

Cool!! Looking forward to reading about future lessons!