I think it is the excitement, change in our regularly scheduled programming, sleeping (rather NON-sleeping) in a hotel, different food and ... let down.
I still hold onto a dream of one day finishing a course with Brynn, and every time I have to walk (or run) away from the post it makes me sad. Three times to the post, two times I walked away, one time I tried to run like hell up the field (envision a lumbering water buffalo in a plaid shirt).
After our third run and Brynn's trip into the exhaust pen, where she attempted to bring me all of the sheep (which, thankfully no one witnessed) I hid out for a while and spent some time with Brynn & Bea allowing my thoughts to settle.
What was I feeling? Embarrassment? Absolutely. Followed by oodles of self doubt.
I am proud to say I did not cry. I held it together and started to combat the malignant negative thought pattern by focusing on the positive things and remembering my goals.
What did we accomplish over the past month? What has improved? What is the point of a trial if not to show you the area's you need improvement?
- Brynn's outruns were gorgeous! I have fixed the problem with sending her from my feet. She kicks out wide (almost too wide) but she checks on her sheep, self corrects. She came in nice and deep behind her sheep. (I talked to the judge about the deductions he took on her outruns, they were for each whistle I blew at the top trying to get her to walk up & engage on the lift - other than that he said her outruns were beautiful. At the top was moving very,very slowly and I put pressure on her to do it quicker - I needed to shut up and let her lift them on her own).
- Brynn acknowledged me on the fetch, she paced herself (okay, maybe it was just a tiny little bit) and there was the smallest hitch in her step a few times. The improvement was not as much as I hoped to see, but still... it is better!
- She did lie down a few times. She even stopped and looked at me - mind you this was after I blew whistle after whistle she ignored - still an improvement from before.
- I kept my cool. I did not scream, jump up and down, yell, cry, panic (well, not totally) or threaten to beat her to death with my crook. I have to admit that I did call her a 'little sh*t" under my breath as I tried to run across the field.
I clearly saw what I need to focus on before Lacamas.
Brynn needs to develop more confidence in her lift and I need to shut up (I know I have said that before). We need to practice on heavier sheep and she needs more practice lifting sheep that hold their ground a bit when she approaches them. I think this comes from working so much on very light sheep that take off the minute she even gets near them. Having to actually lift sheep seems to be an issue, and seen a multitude of times working heavier sheep, especially when driving.
I have tried to keep her back - then the sheep stop - she has to move into their bubble and they still do not move....Brynn gets stuck and stops. To counteract that & break the eye I start flanking her, quickly back and forth, which creates movement and gives her confidence. I believe that is what she is doing on the fetch, like this weekend when the sheep pushing hard on her and she felt like they were getting away.
This is the same problem that is manifesting on the drive. Brynn can move the sheep at Cindy's anywhere in the field. She can do figure 8's, around the fenceline, back and forth, zig-zag's anywhere I want her to put them...they will go. Driving the heavier sheep at Fido's has proven more difficult - she gets too close - almost up their ass to even get them to move - which causes them to turn and she is picking a fight. I don't have enough tools in my tool box to identify yet where that sweet spot is and help her stay there. Given that she does not seem to want to hold a line. Hitting panels is impossible unless I flank and flank and flank and flank - she waits for me to flank her instead of holding the line & pressure. If the sheep are pushing, she just floats along side of them like a satellite...not really influencing their direction. She mostly follows them along - then she gets scared, hooks them and brings them back.
- Holding a line & keeping her back which will help with the fetch and driving - and hopefully will help her on the lift.
- Learn to shut up while she is on the lift, let her do it and trust her - only encouragement - not pressure.
- Repair the broken down.
I wrote this quote in my training journal. If I ever get a nice wooden crook I would like this carved on it some how - it is a good thought to carry to the post.
“If we look at the world with a love of life, the world will reveal its beauty to us.” ~ Daisaku Ikeda