Tuesday, October 13, 2015

always learning but not sure it is always the right thing to learn

I keep thinking about blogging again as mostly I have posted long posts on face book . Quick and easy but I am thinking only interesting to a small % of my FB friends.

I have recently had a lesson with two new people .One just sort of by accident as she saw a post I made on the FB group "to novice and beyond " about my Ava buzzing in on sheep at the pen.   She felt I missed some basics . I think because Ava was naturally wide that I never worked on close flanks with her for fear of pushing her too far out !  But the time has come . This instructor ( Lynette Millville) was able to really make an impression on Ava with just her pressure and got some very nice flanks in a small area ( AKC A course duck arena size ) .

I did go back for another lesson about a month later to again work on flanks and we used her double fence with the dogs inside the two fences and the stock in the pen itself so this did indeed basically force the dog to be square but at this point in their training how much do we need to do to make it carry over ?  It was also helpful for me to be able to use my intent and pressure to stop and turn my hard to stop male dog ....I really liked that part : < ) We also used this to work on "stand there" when he was in balance and he actually started to stand still !   She uses a pulley system for "out" work ...don't think I like that but will think on it.

Then I finally got a lesson with Cindi Hayden in New Hampshire !  I have been trying to connect with her for a long time.  I was surprised as I thought she was more of a munchie crunchie , no corrections let the dog do whatever trainer . I was wrong.  She starts with the dog learning your energy and intent on a leash and if the dog does not respond to a quiet "lie down" she does a quick leash correction .  She also uses pressure pops and reales and a growling UH if the dog is pulling ahead on leash wish becomes ; if you hear Uh , you are wrong figure out something else. Her corrections were emotionless but consistant .  My boy dog was doing some awesome downs on a whisper in short order ! Consistant ...hmmm ... I teach agility and taught obedience ...I KNOW THIS ..why am I so bad at doing it ? ! THe best thing about this lesson was being shown to connect with the dog before letting it go to work. She took Fios all around the field getting him on her page with walk , down , come here , etc. and then did let him do a bit of work . They looked great !

I am taking care of a friend's stock and went and trained yesterday and was very good , using my little old dog to do all the sorting .She really seems to like this work and is calmer than the others which is weird because she gets very stressed at trials...hmm I am letting her feel her way in pens but am giving commands in trials...rotten little just let me do it my way dog ; < )  Then before working Fios and Peak , we did on line walk abouts as Cindid did.  It was a very good session for both dogs ..yeah !

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

NESA AKC trial August 30 and 31

I am starting to understand the AKC herding game . At least enough to not look totally foolish out there ! 
Saturday , Peak is all wound up for her Advanced a course duck run and can't get out to get her ducks.  Not sure why ?  Bigger hoop , different set out person, ?  I suspect just crazy Peak.  I finally convince her to get her ducks but of course have lost way too many points on this section to qualify. But I persevere and the rest of the run is in typical Peak fashion with some running insanely about , although I don't think any screaming from her so that is progress.  Anything Peak does is a miricle to me ; < )
    Diane Menard runs Fios for me since he usually is in better control with her and her timing is better. They get a 4 th in Intermediate sheep with a decent run and qualify in Intermediate ducks.  Everyone loves to watch the big boy outrun and catch those sheep ! He is a stunning looking dog if I do say so myself : < )    They can run but not as far with him as with allot of the other dogs.  However he runs tight as well and in the small arena this freaks out the stock. Who knew I needed to teach my dog to slow down.  I wonder if I put some agility equipment on the field...LOL he is slow and thoughtful in agility...so backwards..sigh I wonder what could have been if I had started out right with him . I did so have a wonderful time that first year or so watching him catch sheep and run them back to me and past me and back to me and past me..you get the picture.  Ah ignorance was bliss !
     I run Ava in Intermediate ducks and she is on edge and naughty so no Q .  Hmmm I can't run my own dogs and qualify but Diane can .
     Sunday goes much better for me.  Peak has a much better run and qualifies for her 2 nd Advanced duck leg.  While I am running her I hear Diane yelling at Fios in the sheep field..uh oh . He makes her head explode by not taking flanks...after all he knows best and it is more fun to run to and fro .  So needless to say I get to run Fios in Intermediate ducks ; < )   By Sunday the ducks are about done playing and many runs are lost with ducks running to the exhaust pen and refusing to come off the fence.  Fios outruns in his usual fast style and spilts up the ducks.  It takes a bunch of attempts but we fianlly get things under control.  The rest of the run is pretty decent and while Fios doesn't exactly STOP he does slow up so we get the panels even the cross drive . I can't wait until I can finesse my handling and make it pretty.  Really fun to start to get the timing of all this. At least I know what skills are seriously needed and well I am a dog trainer so will get er done.  It was in some doubt for the past several years though . Thankfully Diane believed in my dogs and was willing to stick it out with me. Ha ha she says my dogs and I are going to be good...in what year , Diane ?  I do feel like I have made a quantum leap this year though ! I think we have failed on teh lift but to my surprise not only do we qualify we get 3 rd !  Apparently all the futzing around on the lift was like the off course rule in AKC agility..you have points off for the original split but not constant points off until you get them back together . So Fios finished his Intermediate duck title and I got 2 of the 3 legs with him myself .  Gulp..I now have two dogs in Advanced !
    Ava got excused for running into the exhaust once when I opened the gate for the repen and once when she put the ducks back in....Oops  BIG THANK YOU : < (  Thankfully I did not have to buy a duck. So now Ms. Ava will take a break from the excitement of arena trials and just be my USBCHA dog for a few years.  Only fair since I made the decision to only do arena trials with Fios for the time being. Again , Diane says I will get both dogs under control and the future is ours : < )

Starting To See The Light

Starting to see the light now. Wow over 4 years of feeling pretty much useless and clueless : < (
I'll start by recounting the USBCHA trial at Wooly Winds :

I was worried about the sheep as I have had a few lessons with Barb Armata and found her Scottish Black face some times hard to handle . Well they were super . At least on the first Novice runs.  The second ones got tricky when the sheep figuered out that some of the dogs couldn't prevent them from going off into the woods.  Of course these dogs had pretty much pushed them to that point !
    The course was set up length wise so more narrow than what I had worked on there. The fetch and drive for ranch was a killer ...long, narrow , up hill, over a stream or break .
     Ava came in much tighter and faster than normal so sent the sheep offline right away but she recovered and got them on a reasonable line ( lost lots of points though )  and we got them to the post ok I think I went around the wrong way both times.  How silly, I can't get around a post right !
     Our first wear to panels and back was fine.
     I can't pen !  I often forget to hold the rope but this time wouldn't let it go...lassoing many sheep, requiring unwinding of horns and round and round we go .  Ava got tighter and faster with each pass . I wanted to let the sheep settle but was afraid if I kept Ava off they would split for the woods.  Don't know why I thought that since the sheep were really into hanging on the side of the pen playing jump rope with me  ! We run out of time but do post a score of 53 for a point and 8 the place .  I think there were around 18 novice novice dogs . Certainly not one of our finer runs.
     Fios came in fast and tight as he does and the sheep split for the former exhaust area in the woods break so I ran up the field to get things under control.  I asked the judge if it was ok and he said if I thought I could do it.  I know Fios will hang onto his sheep just in a zippy , circular fashion . So I get him under control, the sheep stopped on the wear and notice the judge and everyone is leaving so call Fios off.  Silly me, I should have seen how long they would have let me play out there !
    Pro novice dogs do slighty better than the nov nov dogs but no cake walk. And the Ranch class..yikes..what a long fetch and drive ..so hard not much luck for anyone. 
    Ava's second run and she decides to stop for a quick snack at the lift...So I can now wear my old obedience shirt that says " My dog never did that before ! " I guess she didn't like breakfast at 3 AM and was ready for lunch.  I think our fetch was straighter since Ava wasn't pushing the sheep..bad bad dog !! I probably went around the post wrong again...judge was not amused at handler errors so lost lots of fetch points again.  We ahve a nice wear going and at the panels , a sheep that had split into the woods from some one else's run decides to run up the field. No problem she is headed our way, I see her, Ava sees her and goes and gets her tucking her in with our others and we march back towards the pen.  The crowd went wild...laughing like crazy . Had them all lined up nice for the pen and rotten Ava bolts forward scattering them.  The judge decides since I can't get 3 in the pen , 4 will never happen and tells me to stop our run and come back later just to try the pen. I am still being stupid at the pen so no luck and we end up with 6 th place but not a high enough score for points.  At least we didn't lose sheep !
      I decide to just use Fios next run for training and go up the field as he is doing his outrun.  We get some control but yup I can't pen so the judge ends that game.  You were allowed to run non compete and help your dog so that was really nice .  Fios and I will take a break from USBCHA now and concentrate on AKC . Smaller area so I can get in his head quicker and he can't get too wound up with no big fun outrun .
      Weather was perfect and fellow competitors and workers were great  !  A real fun and entertaining weekend : < )

Monday, April 7, 2014

Finally Spring and mostly clear ground so we get back to some herding !  The best we could do over the winter was 2 or 3 times working ducks in Sue Amsden's really nice but small arena in N.H.  Thanks for the invites Sue !

Started the season with just small stall almost packed pen work with Fios and Ava at Diane Menard's . The dogs do like all that pressure but work through it : < )  I was standing in another stall so got to work on inside flanks. 

Now Diane has a mostly clear big arena so have worked Fios, Ava, and Peak out there twice.

 Peak has really come on and was doing bigger outruns than normal and running past the dog tied on the inside of the fence to prevent sheep from running to gate.  Normally Peak would go no where near another dog !   She was on all through her lesson and doing some nice driving with holding sheep on the fence line !  At 9.5 years old when most dogs are being retired , Peak is just beginning !  Very exciting stuff since she would hide behind my legs in the beginning .  I have high hopes for good stuff from her in arena trials this year. 

Fios is getting driving now and getting better at stopping and getting a better pace on the fetch . Everything is improving for us as a team.  Been a long , slow bus, tearful and occasionally joyful journey.  As long as he will keep coming into the field with me, I will keep trying to do right by him ! He has been quite the teacher ; < )  I was really happy with our work at my most recent lesson at Denise Leonards ! Her big field is all open now too. 

Ava is kicking it up more now . I was happy with the big wide outruns and natural stop ...LOL  She is really naturally talented and probably would go far with someone who can give her daily work but she'll have to make do with me.  She was distracted a bit by duck egg shells ( she loves to eat them )  in the field . .....hmm  bad sheepdog and BAD seagulls for dropping the eggs out there !  I am planning on sending her to Barb Armata for more continuos training this Spring. Denise had taken her twice but now has a litter of pups due so not as much time or space for that extra dog.  Will be good for Ava to get work on different sheep anyway.

I am very excited for this year and learning how to handle now that I believe in the dogs and am building partnerships with them : < ) I actually even occasionally did the right thing in directing the dogs in driving in my past two lessons !

Onward and upward : < )

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wow it has been almost a year since I last posted !

Zest is now 12.5 and had a bout of Vestibular so will soon be retiring fully from herding.  She is entered in one more AKC duck trial; for one day. We muscled our way around the AKC course at Diane's yesterday.  Ducks did not want to move and one so did not want anything to do with us so I let that one go.   Zest and I stuck it out and got the course done.  Had it been a real trial, we would have timed out and pointed out but it wasn't and we didin't give up !

Peak got to do ; let sheep out of the take pen and RUN to get them back !   She still needs to work at knowing she can catch running sheep.  Diane and I were very pleased with her : < )  Tried driving for the AKC Intermediate a course but not successful. Timing Timing Timing..crap !  Will continue to try to figure that out for her. 

This past year has so finally made it's mark on me understanding that the dog MUST stop  ( Fios)  and get wider , squarer, calmer flanks (  Zest, Peak Fios ! )

Started working Ava who is now 15 months old.  We started her around 7 months as she was so natural and sane.  Ha...tricked !!    She has now gotten keener and thus wilder.  Where did my nice , easy dog that was going to help me get around courses with ease and finally learn how to actually handle the course go ?  It's been allot of fun with her , with several big handlers telling me I could just leave her for them : < )   I keep telling the powers that be that I do not want to learn anything new , I can barely understand the old !!! But of course Ava is different than any other dog I have tried herding with.  She started out all wide, calm, lie down on her own.  Looked good to me.  But as time went on I start to see that maybe this down on her own is not so good as she can get sticky . But well I still have the  big wide out run ( oh wait Cheryl Jagger says "don't let her be so wide, call her in )  crap I liked that big, wide, deep  outrun.  Her Away side isn't so wide.  Cheryl wanted her to loosen up and get keener.  I thought Ava was plenty keen. So we go in the round pen and just keep moving all over to keep Ava on her feet.  Ya Thanks Cheryl , now she doesn't lie down and stop !  But back in the big field , she does the stop and stick a bit again. So now my challenge is keep her on her feet but not too close without stopping her ( how does that work ? ) or she feels the pressure and buzzes around ! Sigh : < ( 

On a real good note, Fios and I are starting to get it together as a team : < )   Good downs or at least stop and sit ( I'll take either) and for the most part he stays put until asked up again.  Getting some pace in wearing and getting the idea of driving !!  Also getting him to give  to my pressure and get wider on his Away flanks.  Lovely wide inside flanks yesterday and outs.  Finally moving forward.
      What a long, hard but interesting journey I am on !!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

lesson with Barb Armata 8 4 12

Diane Menard and I went to Barb Armata's for a herding lesson yesterday in Esperance NY.  

At 62 you would think I would not care about praise but I was most pleased when after my first go with Fios that Barb said she was proud of me for insisting Fios down and stay and sticking with it  :< )   She also commented that she was glad I had Diane to kick my Ass !

This was sooooooooooooooo hard for me to do after 15 years of click and treat for agility.  Pretty much have to use verbal and or physical corrections for herding unless you have an easy saint of a dog .

I have been worried from the start that Fios would not like herding if I put too much pressure on him.  Maria (Fios's breeder) said in the early days that he wanted to work for me and I could not turn him off but someone else could . I should have beleived that a bit better.  Now after pussy footing around for 3 years, Fios is snapping too quickly and not quitting !  He might run off a bit with each new pressure thing from me (hmmm if I run off maybe Mom will give in ? ) but he always comes back happily for the next go :< )

Since Fios was doing good with the down (it's all we worked on in our last lesson !), we got to do other things. Like widen him at the top (by my running towards Fios through the sheep)  and turn out on away flanks  (pointing my hat at Fios  and pressure into Fios) .  (I got him to down originally by slapping my hat on my leg as I marched all pissy faced at him ) All done with mostly body pressure as really that is all Fios needs.  Now if I can get the presssure prescence right and timing he will just do it. 

Diane calls me "oblvious Betty "  and I guess sometimes I am in herding :< (  I turned around to hook Fios's lead to the fence and he took off after the sheep !  She's not looking ...... GO !!!! Barb told me to call him back and our sheep left for good.  Had to wait now for another set.  Barb said the others would come back eventually.  BAD DOG !!!   BAD BETTY :< (

Barb isn't really saying or doing anything I haven't heard but she has a prescence that makes you just do it with no argument ;< )  She just is this is what needs to be done ..period !!

Thank You Barb for no fooling around, just do it attitude and the praise ;< )  and Diane Menard for believing in me and my dogs and picking away at me until I was ready to hear it !

We may never be great but we'll be the best we can be !

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday July 30 herding at Diane's ist draft

Hey found the first draft !

Tom didn't want to drive to Rye N.H. to the seafood place we heard was good so I went herding again ;< )

My dogs are such good teachers and I am learning so much from them about herding and dog behavior in herding :< 0

Worked Zest and Peak on ducks again. This time using the AKC hold pen lift thing ...ha ha don't know what to call it.  Zest was ok with that but man she is so flanky on wearing.  A bit better than last time I think though.

Freaked Peak out..OMG I have to go around that thing and Diane holding it ? !!!!  She wears much straighter than Zest so that was  easier with her.   This time she didn't run off screaming in pushing the ducks to the corner so Diane could re-cage them.  She did do some of that when asked to flank around the pen and Diane though .

Both Zest and Peak would flank back to the start position nicely.  Get away from Diane holding that scary thing OK !