One of the consequences of any kind of public activity is the dubious joy of hearing from those who coulda woulda done better. This weekend's herding trials did not display us in our finest form. And those backseat handlers were - well I don't give them enough mind to call them annoying, but they were a minor irritation.
Saturday's run started out OK, but quickly deteriorated. The sheep were light and I wasn't attentive to keeping Tsuki back far enough. It became more chase than herding and the judge called the run about the same time I did. I try to keep these things in perspective, not fret over them, and just learn from them. But it really bothered me.
So for Sunday I committed that I would not allow him to reinforce the chase by deciding that the first run back to the draw I was going to call it. A big part of Saturday's problem was staying too long in the hopes I could salvage the run and get back control. And I did until he'd get too close and the sheep would run and *blam* no control. So Sunday's run started out great. Very very controlled. Then Tsuki pushed up too close and the sheep headed for home. He went to get them, and the second I saw that tail cranking I called him off and called the run over. Then I got the "But he was doing great. Why didn't you ...." My favorite was from the guy how had my problems all diagnosed, but he runs an Australian Shepherd. Most of the, including his dog, can work much closer to the sheep than Tsuki can. Actually that's part of MY problem. Most of my models work closer. I've been getting better about picking new models. (Models being the people I watch to get ideas about how to handle) Well, nevermind the backseat handlers. I felt actually pretty good about the run, as short as it was. At least I ended with some good work done, and under control. Not only do I feel comfortable I made the right choice but the reaction of two handlers who have seen us run several times before helped.
One of my goals in having my trainer run him a couple weeks ago was realized. That is I felt no need to try to qualify since I didn't need the qualifying score. In a sense I was already "throwing away" my entry money, and in another sense I was not. After all I could have moved him up, BUT he's not ready to be moved up, so why not take the opportunity to problem solve.
And of course the main issue is not Mr. Tsuki, its that I need more experience handling. And no way to get that but to do it. But I have to do it without encouraging bad habits. Arrrgh - Oh well, its all a learning experience. 4 weeks to the next trial.
I'm really glad I've got video tapes of my last couple runs. I wondered whether I had pulled Tsuki too quickly yesterday. But I looked at the tape and the little dweeb pushed the sheep into running. I guess he was getting bored because it was going too smoothly.
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