Monday, December 7, 2009

Herding in the Snow

Well, not really! Saturday night the weather forecasters were claiming we would likely get 7 inches of snow. I think we ended up with about 2 inches of heavy, wet snow. Snowball snow.

Sunday we had a herding lesson scheduled and I wasn’t sure if we would have it with the snow. Diane checked out her control pen and said, yes. Hooray.

By the time we could there at 1 pm, between an earlier lesson and the feeble sun the control pen was clear. I did act proactively and put Musher’s Secret on Buggie’s paws just in case we ended up working in actual snow.

Kris, with Darwin (Ransom’s brother by another mother), also had a lesson at 1 pm and I was very excited to have a chance to watch them work. Blue and Iris had a 2 pm lesson scheduled so I planned on staying to watch some of their lesson, too.

Diane had Bug and I start with off-balance driving but asked me to move further into the pen so that between me and the fence were the sheep. I held my rake perpendicular over the sheep and Bug’s job was to stay behind the sheep and drive them. He was a little wild at first and actually was doing some “holding” ( I think that is the right term - grabbing the sheep and not releasing the bite) which is NOT allowed. Nipping ankles to get sheep that are not moving to move is allowed.

Once we got that out of his system he worked REALLY nicely. Diane commented that we were working her heaviest sheep and the fact that he had them moving pretty smoothly was excellent. We had a couple of moments where Bug tried to do his job and I prevented him and a couple of moments were I made the right decision in correcting his path of travel and I could TELL I made the right decision!

Bug took a break and it was Darwin’s turn to work. I ran off to walk Bug and do his active cool-down before crating him and then returned to watch Darwin and Kris. Darwin talks a lot while he is working and has a lot drive. I think they were working on flanking and ended with fetching.

Next Bug worked on outruns and he was diving into the sheep. Diane commented that I really need to exert more pressure on him before he begins. I was having trouble with the mental image and then I was having qualms because I still think of Bug as soft around sheep. Diane said it was likely Bug would sort of shut-down when I began exerting more pressure because I am making him do it my way, not the way he likes to but she didn’t feel there was ANY way I would turn him off sheep. She coached me to exert pressure and then verbally reward him for making the right decision. Once I started exerting more pressure Bug went much wider.

We also did some “That’ll do’s” and holy cow – they’re back. I was/am SO ridiculously happy that Bug came with me and didn’t try to dive back into the sheep. Yay, Bug!!

Another break and cool-down for Bug and Darwin worked again. He did some VERY nice fetching for Kris.

Kris, Frank, and Darwin left and I stayed to watch Blue’s lesson and put Bug in the pen once more. He still had a bit of work left in him.

Blue is working very hard at teaching Iris she can work sheep Blue’s way and still have fun. Diane says this is a very typical Aussie mentality – they want to do it their way or forget it.

Bug worked one more time. We worked on driving from corner to corner on line. Flank Bug around the sheep, stop him in the corner, there, walk up. I was stopping him while facing him and Diane asked me to stop him so we were both facing the sheep. That took a bit of finagling on my part – I just wasn’t sure how to do it. I did start to get it and we quit on a positive note for both of us.

Iris worked again and then we all quit for the day – frozen!! Diane lent me a couple of books on herding which I am looking forward to digging into. Next lesson is 12/20 – weather permitting.

1 comment:

Blue said...

It was really fun watching Bug's lesson! He's doing great.