Monday, November 9, 2009

HERDING-getting better?

Well, we had another herding lesson today, but this time I did not video the whole thing because I got to actually do the handling for a lot of the lesson.

First off when we got there Robin said that Lizzie has told her she wants more room to work, so we were going to the big ring. Whoooo, hooo, PROGRESS. We got in the big ring and we got stressed out Liz, running around checking out every inch of space and rolling, A LOT in a LOT of sheep poo or pee, who knows what it was, I just know that she was stinky and filthy. Robin said she thinks dogs do that because sheep are prey animals, and the dogs might be camoflaging their scent, smelling more like sheep so they can get closer to them??? Sounds like a good explaination to me, as good as any I would come up with. I just know Lizzie enjoys stinking and is very offended when I work hard and make her smell good. So after a few minutes in the big ring which did not seem to go so well, Robin said, well, how about we go back to the small round ring. LOL. Well, so much for progress and feeling like we were moving along.

When we got to the small round ring again Robin said she thought it would be a good time for me to try my hand at the herding. Anyway, I should have got video because I am sure it would have been good for a few laughs, and I am positive it would have made anyone else who has tried herding feel pretty good. There is a lot going on when you are herding with an inexperienced dog, especially when you are inexperienced yourself. The first big challenge is staying on your feet, you are supposed to sort of walk back wards and the sheep follow you, you walk back wards so you can watch the dog and guide them. Then while you are trying to do that there are BIG SHEEP. Those sheep are big. They get in your way and they do not want to move and apparently I am a pretty easy mark for the sheep. I have been told many times to just move them-shove through to where I need to be, to hold my ground, to not let them get me spinning in little circles, all things that are easier said then done when you are me. Then you need to watch where the sheep are going and where the dog is, when the dog moves up too far forward you need to dive through the sheep and move them out of your way so you can get where your dog is going and put your flag in front of them or let them know they are too far forward. Of course as the dog is rushing in the sheep are butting into your knees, and usually about that time the dog rushes in for a cheap shot at the sheep which makes them all stampede whildly into your knees (they like the knees), and this all happens as I am backing up and trying to stay standing. Then when the dog gets too far ahead you need to change your direction and quickly back into the center of the ring, there is a lot going on. You need to get a sort of dance going and my dance is still looking like a funky chicken, not a very pretty dance yet. I do think I did pretty well, as evidenced by my survival, and I remained standing, LOL. I do think I did slightly better then last time I tried, so I will take my successes where I can.

Robin suggested we aim for our first trial run, just the beginning level run, but she said we could really do one now but she wants us to go in and look GOOD -she felt that we could aim for the trial in our area the end of January. By then she is thinking we might be able to go in there and really look like we know what we are doing. So that would be fun.

WE GOT OK'D FOR PRACTICING ON OUR OWN! Yippie, we got the official OK to come and rent the sheep and practice on our own. She said what we need to do now is just the practice what we are doing, so she felt we could not mess ourselves up too badly right now by practicing on our own, so that is exciting. She showed me how to get the sheep out of the little holding pen if I am there practicing and how to get the sheep back into the holding pen when I am done. Did I mention sheep can be big animals and they do have minds of their own? LOL.

We got homework:
1. practice walking backwards, YEP that is really our assignment. Seems I throw like a girl, I run like a girl and I walk backwards like a girl. So the secrete is to step back and put your toe down, then put your heel down. Toe, heel, then pick up your foot, toe goes back and hits first on tip toe, then you set your heel down. Girls apparently shuffle their feet backwards and the heel is down first. Problem with that is that you can not feel something behind you until you trip ;-), convinces me to practice that skill.
2.teach Liz to follow me, meaning she has to stay behind me, using the flag to keep her from going ahead. I think that is to teach her to respect the flag and to get used to following something, because that is something she is not really comfy with. Not sure how that fits in with my agility training, where I try to teach her not to be behind me.

It was a full day, we were up and out of the house early to get to herding, then we went to the beach and played in the ocean ;-), that was MARVELOUS and we had the whole place to ourselves, we went to Andrias, my favorite seafood fast food type of restaurant, and then home to get ready for agility class. A HUGE day for Liz.

I brought Breeze so we could run over the dog walk a few times and so she could play in the ocean. I do not know what happened but at herding I parked way away from the ring so Breeze could not hear us working. I left her in the car in the shade, and left her some chewies. Well, she did her seperation anxiety panic and chewed through all sorts of things she pulled into her crate. She got a really cool Spiffy dog collar-Liz skull and cross bones one, she got two long lines and chewed them in half and then chewed all the tails off my water wubba so we did not have that to play with in the ocean. Bad little Breeze.


Diana said...

Ive heard that herding is dangerous and a lot of people get hurt when they just start out.
Sounds like you all did really well. I dont know how you have time for all these things. Diana

Sam said...

That's great news! Now that you can practice alone I bet you'll progress faster and faster.