Sunday, February 22, 2009

Another Sheep Weekend

Each weekend I spend at Fido's Farm just seems to get better and better.

It didn't start out the best. Since we have a long drive - I wait until I get there to put on my boots. I was standing at the tail gate putting them on and talking to John. While bending over trying to tuck my pants into my boots Beth suddenly decided to leap into the back of the vehicle. She jumped when I bent and her hard forehead hit me directly in the mouth. While checking her head to make sure she wasn't hurt I kept seeing blood! I couldn't find where she was bleeding & started to panic a bit. Then I realized it was coming out of my mouth. My lip was split open and my front tooth was chipped. *sigh* Our lesson was in a few minutes so I grabbed a tissue and went out into the field looking like a vampire who just guzzled a pint of blood.

The walk out to the field was peaceful. (I only had to stop a few times to spit blood). A lovely light white blanket of fog had settled into the valley. John was along to shoot some video. This will be one of his last weekends off from work for a long while. Some clips from the video he shot is below.

(YouTube had a glitch last night and my video was stuck in processing. I have deleted it and reloaded it - hopefully it is unstuck now! Sorry about that!)

Later in the morning John went to take a look at an electrical problem Chris is having in one of her outbuildings. While he was doing that I took Beth back up into the same field the lambs kept escaping last week. Chris had put up a new gate. (YEAH!) When we first got out there the lambs were stuck like glue to that gate again. I remembered something SheepKelpie told me HERE about walking up to the sheep. So I leashed Beth and together we walked down the narrow pathway to the gate, slowly and steadily circled around behind the sheep and lifted them quietly off the gate and drove them down the pathway out into the field.

Then I let them go back to the same spot. We did it again, and again. On the fourth time, I didn't leash Beth. She confidently walked right up to them and orderly scooped them up and drove them up the lane with me walking behind. It is so cool to see your dog have a light bulb moment.

I found that she is challenging me on just about everything. She refused to lie down. She would stop, but refused to drop. She was being very naughty. So we went back to 'sheep sandwich' and just some circling drills until she got it through her pretty little noggin' she wasn't getting the sheep without behaving. After that I set her up for a few longer outruns - which were very nice and ended it there.

While on break I had a wonderful chat with Dee & Jeff Morroni about learning how to 'drive'. Jeff gave me some excellent tips. He said that I need to spend time walking the pasture (along side a fence to start) with Beth parallel to me (on leash) and follow the sheep around. Then after a bit, off leash, gradually let her get further and further ahead. He said I should be doing this almost every time I work her. It is a nice way to break up your training sessions.

Today (Sunday) I took Beth back to Fido's and back to the same field we worked in yesterday. She was being a brat again. So we went back to basics. She was darting in on the sheep, once she even flossed her teeth. For the first time ever I threw my stick at her & I hollered "WHAT ARE YOU DOING! LIE DOWN". After that she stopped the darting around and ignoring me. I felt utterly terrible, but it was necessary.

It didn't slow her down at all. Why when John works her she moves slowly and deliberately, then when I am working her she zips around like her arse is on fire.

When she finally settled down a bit we worked circling drills (turning the clock as we went), a few outruns, triangle gathers and walking up to the sheep together like Jeff told me Saturday.

While walking behind the sheep with Beth I was concentrating on the sheep's heads and Beth, all the while not watching where my feet were going. Hitting the dirt with my chin took me by surprise. My lip didn't split open again but I did bite my tongue. Top it off I twisted my ankle in a hole - the worst part I broke my training stick in half on my way down. *sigh*

I limped my way back to "sheep central" for a break. There I had the pleasure of talking to a few wonderful women (Gael, Carol & Corrine) about dogs, herding, agility, whistles & various other things. Corinne is the agility instructor at Fido's. Her dog Tae (hope I spelled that right) is amazing. Tae's brother, Chili (Gael's dog) is equally impressive. I truly enjoyed watching them in the big field taking turns driving & fetching the sheep back and forth to each other, through panels etc. It was better than anything on TV. (Well, not better than drooling over Burn Notice but a close second).

Toward the end of the day it sunk into my brain what I am doing to cause Beth to cut in on the top of her outruns. I stopped using any verbal cue's and just sent her with my stick (correctly) like Karen told me. When she gave me what I wanted, then I gave it a name. I think it may be working.

Beth and I ended the weekend on a good note, back with the same 24 lambs we started with Saturday. A few nice outruns (with distractions) that were reasonably straight. One where she was being a complete brat & cut the top off completely then barreled into the flock from the side scattering them like a cluster bomb. However she did a very nice job cleaning up her mess with a beautiful 'look back' and brought them all to me in a straight line. All in all I was pleased.

I can't wait to go back on Wednesday, then Friday, and Saturday, and Sunday....


sheepkelpie said...

Jeez girl. I would say that I would like to see a pic of ALL your injuries, but no, not really. That's gotta be a record eh? I think since John is still there, even though he is just videotaping, Beth is unsure of exactly who her loyalties are with. She sounds a bit anxious (I just posted something about this in my last blog entry), so, just stay calm, enforce the rules and when she gets wiggy, just go back and do something that she is usually great at. Also, take lots of breaks. I LOVE that you pulled those lambs out. Those things up confidence so much in dogs, it is immeasurable. Haven't watched your vid, but will do so :)

Fenway said...

Glad to read that Beth came to her senses! She really sounds like she'd rather please you than be a brat and it seems you sorted out her problem with direction.

Good job...that'll do!

An English Shepherd said...

Great video :-)

Greenhill Farm said...

I know how that head in face feels! I was calling Sheila over to me and I was bent over, but then Sheila jumped up and hit me in the face! Very sore and I had a swollen lip for days!

Well done you for going out to training - shows just how addictave herding is!