Today's herding lesson was a lot of fun. First up was an opportunity Tsuki only gets occasionally. He got to get all the sheep (about 50) from the big field, bring them down to the front, push most into one round pen, hold back a half dozen for the front arena. His outrun just amazed me. Considering how rarely he gets to do a really long one this one was perfect. I mean really perfect. When the sheep started to move downhill as he came even with them I fully expected him to slice his outrun and come in early. He didn't. He stayed on course and topped out exactly right, and stopped himself before trotting them down. We stopped him at the bottom to give the sheep plenty of room at the round pen gate. That kept them from bunching up and made it easy to close the gate when we had what we wanted still outside. He held his stand perfectly, no reminders. And pushing the remaining sheep to the other gate he put just enough pressure on.
So then I went into work those sheep. Well I got through the first part of the exercise very nicely but every time I'd get to a certain point the sheep would bolt every which way and Tsuki just isn't experienced enough to hold them. My instructor came in and had the same problem so we switched to a more cooperative group. That worked out much better.
That first groups was *really* uncooperative. One of the more advanced people showed up. She runs in Open, and places high. But even her dog had to work hard to control those sheep. They would have been reasonable trial sheep but not so good for learning on. baaaad sheepies.
Oh well we got some really good work in with the more cooperative group.
The whole herding thing just fascinates me. One of the barn cats was out in the pasture and deliberately trying to attract Tsuki's attention. But when Tsuki is herding he can (and did) stand right next to the cat and completely ignore it. This is so normal for a herding dog that I tend to expect it - and I get surprised at the dogs that are more interested in the cats than the sheep. And I'm not quite sure why but dogs that are completely disinterested in sheep are harder for me to understand than those that are afraid of them.
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Copyright © 2003, Diane Blackman