Tuesday, October 27, 2009

SUPERGIRLS move those sheep

I have to give you my impressions of Liz's herding Instructor-Robin from Om the Lamb Herding. I LOVE HER. She is a SUPERGIRL as far as I am concerned and I wish I could have got a picture but the way she arrives at the lesson and leaves-it just struck me as too funny, and a real SUPERGIRL entrance and exit. So imagine Robin-who is working Liz in the video leaving the lesson, she strides out of the herding ring, telling me what she thinks of Liz and what we need to do, she is dressed in shorts, with tennis shoes, a sleeveless top, her hair back in a low pony tail, and a visor that advertises On the Lamb Herding, and sunglasses. She is usually dressed pretty similarly because it is hot here in So Cal. So she is talking about Liz, striding quickly through the trees away from the area and onto a golf cart or 4 wheel drive vehicle-she hops on the cart, there is a crate strapped on the front, and a crate strapped on the back, her black/white smooth coat BC gets into position in front of the cart, she hops onto her little cart and flies off with her BC running in front. It made me laugh because I felt like who is that masked lady who strode in here fixed some problems with my dog and then flew on out.

It has been about a month since Liz could go herding-Robin was sick for her last lesson ;-(, so I was really looking forward to the lesson today although...I did not realize I had scheduled lessons for the same day as Liz's agility class, so it was a VERY long day for the Lizard. A 2 1/2 hour drive to herding, and hour herding and then a 2 1/2 hour back, we ran into the house to feed the other dogs, grab some treats and we were off to class. It was a big experiment and I was anxious to see how she would do with agility class after thinking for her herding lesson. The herding lessons really make her think, and tire her out, so I knew she would do amazing at class or be fried, but who knew which?

I am not quite sure how it worked, and how to interpret what I saw at agility class-did Liz do great after having herding first or was it too much?...Liz did AMAZING in the sequences she did and was so on it and so focused, she was actually decelerating and reading me when I needed her to, she was doing her contacts perfectly, really driving ahead and looking for obstacles, that was all good,....but then she took off a few times and we had our first full fledged...well, sort of full fledged zoomie that we have had in a LONG time. She took off to see friends a couple of times ;-(. The last time she went to see Deanna the instructor and when Deanna played the bad guy and sort of shuffled her off she at first sat and sniffed and kept out of reach and then just took off really fast...but the new thing was she took off and went to her crate. Humm, that is new. I can not say that is a bad thing if she is going to run.

When Liz ran into her crate Deanna had me take Dillon the blue merle aussie out and sit and play with her and give him lots of treats and do lots of tricks while the next dog ran,....Liz was not happy about that idea -as soon as the next dog had run she got another turn and she was all about working and very excited.

AS FOR HERDING During the lesson Robin said she did not think Liz would ever move big buffalo-which is OK because I have no access to buffalo, and Liz would never be a really super powerful dog and she does not know if she will ever be able to do 1,000 yard outruns...but she thought she would definitely be good enough when we build her confidence that she would be able to WIN some herding trials, whooo, is she serious?. I hope she is right about that....I would really like to learn more about herding. We went to a herding trial this weekend and I really know NOTHING about herding, but it sure made me realize how much there is to learn.

THE HERDING LESSON: Liz started off very stressed looking, avoiding, eating sheep poop, acting like no one was there. One sheep in particular kept staring at Liz...and that really upset her, first it made her nervous and a bit scared but then Robin encouraged/let her run after the sheep and yell at her and then Liz just got really mad when the sheep would stare at her. It was funny a couple of times when Liz almost shut down Robin would walk over and pet her and tell her she was a good girl- Liz's whole body would visibly puff up and she would rush into those sheep like a bull in a china shop. Robin worked her around the edges of the pen, using the fence to make Liz deal with the sheep and try to feel the power she has to move the sheep-Liz is really unsure if she has power and what to do with the power she does know she has. Little Liz needs to learn how to feel like SUPERGIRL-she has power and she can MOVE THOSE SHEEP.

Another thing Robin did say today was that she really felt having worked with Liz now that this herding work will really help her learn how to deal with things better which will help with her in agility. Helping her learn to think, and think through things, helping her confidence to grow and letting her feel her power should help her not be so overstimulated at times by her environment. I sure hope she is right about that but it sure seems to make sense and I am thinking....she just might be right.

This is a long video, and about half way through is the more interesting part where Robin talks about what she is teaching, how and why. The first part is just some of the stress signals I caught. I REALLY like Robin and I love that she does not seem to teach by a set schedule of steps but seems to respond to the dog and what they need which seems to change even in one lesson.


Diana said...

Im tired just watching you guys. What a long day. Herding and agility. I cant imagine. Diana

Sam said...

It's so great that you found a trainer who you really like, it seems like it's really important for Liz that you have...

Every time I see her herd, I think of the comments that that last guy made. Even I, who doesn't know anything about herding, can see that she is improving!

The big thing that I noticed was when she went off to sniff.. definitely trying to remove herself from some stressor, and perhaps when she got too excited and started chasing the sheep, but otherwise she looks pretty good!