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 Quest for HRD 1, 2nd trial

Nov 9 and 10 in Wilton.

From blackman Sun Nov 10 02:31:39 2002

Today's run was still non-qualifying, but much better. There were several parts where we got nearly full points, such as the repen - we got 12 out of 15. We still lost most of our points for non-obedience, but we might actually have qualified if I hadn't left out one obstacle. The Y chute gave everyone problems - big problems. So I'm feeling a lot better. I've arranged to practice as two new locations. That will make a big difference.

Diane Blackman

I actually had a stop in this trial. But geeez I have a loud harsh voice. I watched the video and I couldn't stand listening to myself. Still it was mostly controlled except for the Y-chuite. You see they decided to make it a bit more of a challenge so they put a tarp over the end of it. The tarp kept flapping in the wind and the sheep didn't want anything to do with it. We (Tsuki and I) have a distinct lack of experience with free standing chute work so just getting them in would have been challenge enough.

The start was calm enough. Since the sheep were pushed out into the arena we didn't have to worry about going into a small pen after them. Tsuki's initial outrun was OK, but then he decided the sheep were boring and split them. I yelled at him and he stood there looking at me, then decided to cooperate. The next step was to open the far gate, take the sheep through the middle pen, out that far gate with a "jump" across it. Most of the points off were from me yelling and him not listening. But mostly if I had just shut-up it wouldn't have been a problem. Still there were plenty of points off for unnecessarily chasing and splitting the sheep. No harm done, nor even threatened, but it is a really rank novice problem. I am a rank novice and it shows in every decision I make. Once through the gate and in the big arena the sheep were to be settled in a "graze". When the judge decided the sheep were settled enough I had to send my dog to pick them up and take them through the Y- chute.

The Y-chute just got things all riled up. The sheep did not want to go in and they did not like Tsuki. They also recognized that he wasn't controlling them very much so they could pretty much do what they wanted. When I finally gave up on the Y-chute it turned out that I forgot to go around a cone before heading out. Back down to the graze area and out another gate, down a narrow alleyway between holding pens, into another arena and finally to the sort gates. The sort gates are one sheep wide and the idea was to put five sheep through one sort gate then the rest through another. It doesn't sound all that hard but sheep, well sheep like to stick together. So once one goes through it isn't always so easy to control how many go through. But Tsuki's gate work has always been decent and this time I had to remind him only once not to get up and push on the sheep (step toward them). So the sort went pretty smoothly. And then we were done.

On Mon, 11 Nov 2002 a friend wrote:

"One thing I was really pleased with is I can leave her on a down and walk the sheep away and she will hold it till I ask her to move."

I responded:

*Sigh* I *had* that until our first trial. I mean *sheesh* we have actually had him hold a stay while another dog herded the sheep around him. Then there was last week's trial. *Stay* had turned into a completely foreign word. I was sooooo embarrassed. ALL his control words disappeared. Fortunately my instructor persuaded me to stick it out for the next one, this past Saturday. Not fixed but at least it was much better.

Of course *walking* the sheep away is, and should be for the dog, entirely different from the sheep running off on their own. Any herding dog ought to find self control really difficult if the sheep are running off uncontrolled. The common thread of all herding breeds is the intense desire to control the movement of the sheep. They may do it in different ways but they all should want to stop those sheep from being uncontrolled. The condition of "uncontrolled" may also differ between herding breeds but for most the behavior of running is sufficient. For some breeds the relative location of the handler is also important, so if the handler is with the sheep they are less likely to be viewed as "uncontrolled" than when the handler is away.

Tsuki's practice session today was picture perfect. Nice wide outrun 100 yards or so to swoop in on about 30 sheep and bring them trotting, not running, nicely down to the front pasture. They wait calmly in front of the gate and Tsuki waited nicely 'til they all went through. Then he came through and downed himself waiting for the next command. I also viewed my video from last Saturday's trial, and I'm feeling even better.

Diane Blackman

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