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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A small breakthrough ...

Wow, this blog is hard to keep up with. I'm convinced I will never remember to post in it every time I work the dogs. I'm going to continue trying though.

Well, an update since the last time I posted ... I went to Vegas, met up with my sister and my best friend, gambled and partied all weekend, and had a blast! We stayed at Caesar's on the 42nd floor in a completely comp'd room ... with a jacuzzi and t.v. in the bathroom! There was even an entire bowl of fruit, cheese and crackers, chocolates, etc. welcoming us. Such a nice place. Got my tattoo, won some money, and came home tired. A great time was had by all!

So last night, I was in a funky mood ... so I decided I needed to work the dogs. I was frustrated because I can't wear anything on my foot because of my tattoo, so I went out in the wet pasture with one boot and one flip flop on. Desperation, baby. Desperation.

Anyway, Tess went and got the sheep for me. She kept her head and didn't split them to holy hell. She took my downs and we kept control of the situation. I am trialing her this weekend, and I suddenly became painfully aware that I haven't done any pen work with her. So I had her put the sheep in the freestanding pen a couple of times. She did great! She took my downs, she understood that I only needed small flanks. She felt her sheep, and only got excited once and blasted the sheep all over the place after she put them in the pen. LOL. So then we learned how to take them out of the pen by going around the backside and waiting. The got out of the pen and bolted. I sent Tess. She did a great job gathering them back up.

So then I had her put everyone in the round pen. That was much more of a challenge. The sheep know what happens in the round pen. Tess and I had to work pretty hard to keep it all calm, cool and collected. Again, she only blast in once. But she is taking small flanks, listening and starting to feel her sheep and understand what is correct.

Another thing we started working on is ... usually when I am up against the fence, her job is to hold the sheep to me. What I started having her do was flank around and come to my feet, and then keep going, essentially pushing the sheep off of me. She would only do it on the come bye side, and that was ok with me. I was thrilled with her progress.

So I'll work her again tomorrow night. We have "movie night" at Donnie Mac's tonight. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Happy Days!

Wow! This blog is hard to keep up with. I know it's been a lot less than a week since I worked my dogs. Hmmm ... I'll have to pay better attention to this thing.

Well, Gem State Herding had their Roy Sage clinic at Janie's house this weekend. It was tons of fun! Zip and I set stock in the morning for the #4 course. That was a bit frustrating, but Zip and I eventually figured out the best way of handling it. I agree with Janie. We need to redo those pens. Zip ended up lame after all was said and done. He seems to be feeling better today.

I worked Tess on the ranch course. We have quite a bit of work to do before we will even be entering the started class with that. She really needs to kick out so she can release the pressure and to see what it's like to work without creating all that pressure.

I had the opportunity to put Echo on ducks, so I though, "Ah, what the heck?" Well ... I had no idea. Here's a sample ...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A Different Perspective

Worked Zip last night. I have one of those giant wooden spools in my pasture (don't ask) so I figured I'd use it. I rolled it over to where the handler's post would be and turned it on its end. I then climbed up (gingerly ... it's werry werry wobbly) and stood on it. Sent Zip on his outrun. (Saying "outrun" when you're referring to my little pasture is almost a joke.) Very nice. Lift. I can see the entire thing! Fetch ... I can see him! I loved it. So we actually worked a miniature ISDS style course and I could see him the whole way and correct him the second something was not going right. My neighbors were doing something with their barn, and probably thought I had lost it altogether. Oh well. It was fun!

Good job, Zippy.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Jen came over last night and we worked the young dogs. Tess is so fun to work with. She's so goofy, though. I am trying to kick her out on her outruns by standing between her and the sheep, and then getting closer and closer to her, and then eventually turning my back and sending her from a bit behind me. It's all working fine, right up until I am completely out of the way, and she then runs straight for them, does her "outshed" and then is completely baffled that there are sheep all over the place. It's getting a bit old.

Jen mentioned that it might be the stock wand that she's learning to avoid. I think she may have a point. I think I am going to start working on this in a much different manner to try to get her to understand -- and feel -- what's going on. We'll see.

On a good note, her "stand there" is doing great. She's calming down a bit out there, and she's maturing very quickly now that she knows I am starting to reach for her first when I need a dog ...

You're a good girl, Tess.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Idaho Fair Weekend

Thursday night: I worked Zip out in the pasture. I am doing a lot of shhhh'ing him up to get him to go faster (and thereby hopefully take off a few pounds), but am focusing more on squaring up his flanks. When I was out at Don's for my lesson, it became painfully obvious how much I've let his training slack. Anyway, Zip took the pressure very nicely, as he always does, and worked beautifully for me. Fine tuning ... fine tuning ... fine tuning.

Saturday: Saturday, I went to the fair to watch the trial. I saw Judi Mault (Tess' breeder) and updated her a bit on Tess. We're going back to the fair today, so Judi asked me to bring her along. I guess I'll bring Echo, too, so Don can see her. After the fair, Jen, Phyllis and I came back to the house. Later on, I went to dinner with Jen, Tory and the kids, and then Jen and I worked the young ones. Tess is doing great. I am really enjoying working with her. Her speed keeps me on my toes, and her reactiveness gives me something I know how to work on ... and beat. When I saw Charlie Torre yesterday, he gave me some ideas about how to get Tess to leave my feet properly on an outrun, and if she doesn't, what to do about it. So we practiced about a 50' "outrun" and focused on her first few steps. She did great! By the end of the training session, she was actually arcing out from me by choice. So I think we should move along pretty quickly in getting her outrun together. Her "stand there" is awesome. It's making her think about how quickly she walks up on the sheep. I know eventually it's probably going to make her a little less confident when she drives, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

For now, she is just as fun as ever!

Happy tails,

Monday, August 20, 2007

Who'd a thunk it?

Well, Janie and Kirk invited me over for an awesome dinner last night (yum!), and I brought just Tess with me, with the intention of working her on Janie's sheep. Well, when I got there, she was working one of her dogs on ducks in her cute little A course duck arena.

I asked her if I could try Tess on them.

I brought Tess in ... and for a while there, she wasn't "seeing" them. She was flanking and stuff because I was telling her to, but it wasn't in response to the ducks. After a while, you could see she was getting it. It was weird, though, because she didn't "turn on" like I've seen Zip do with cattle. She just eventually got more and more intense and looked at me less and less.

So I had a ball ... giving her all kinds of commands in a small little area. I don't know if she knew what to make of it, but she did a great job. She would put them through the obstacles, hold them to the fence, did her "stand there" which I was very happy was working, had a nice call-off, and only grabbed duck twice, and responded beautifully when I told her she is not allowed to do that under ANY circumstances.

I pushed her to see how far she'd go. I got her doing small little commands ... "come bye, way to me, lie down, walk up, stand there, walk up, come bye, down," and she took it all beautifully, but I could see where her limit was when she would stop and ... get this ... bark! at me. Just once, as if to say, "Enough already!" LOL. She was so cute.

I also worked her on Janie's sheep, and got much the same result as I did on my own sheep yesterday (you can read that blog).

All in all, it was an awesome day with great weather. Thanks again, Janie and Kirk. Dinner was wonderful!


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Getting it ... slowly ...

Well, being that I've been boring Tess to tears with "walk up" and "stand there," I figured today would be a good day to give her some more acion, especially because the pasture is flooded, which slows her down just a hair.

So we worked on her outshed ... err ... I mean her outrun.

I am really trying to get in her head and understand how she thinks so I can better train her. She is very very quick -- which is great for me because I am used to Zip who gives me plenty of time to think. With Tess, I need to be on top of my game, and if I'm wrong, I know it immediately and at lightening speed.

The good thing is ... she knows her left from her right. I can stand there and give her a flank with no body movement at all, and she definitely knows her "come bye" from her "away to me". She doesn't get know "away to me" from "aaaaaawwwwwwaaaaaaaayyyyyyy ttttttoooooo meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" yet ... but that will come with time.

Today I focused on the top part of her outrun, and stopping her when she starts to come in. She did great. She is kicking out pretty nicely either when I am facing her when I am between her and the sheep, or when I have my back to her, yet I'm still between her and the sheep. I did a couple where I stood directly in front of her, both of us facing the sheep, and she bent off me pretty well if I "threw" (stepped into) her with my body.

I can stop her halfway through the outrun if she's cutting in, I can get between her and the sheep again, and send her again. And she took that pretty well. So then I shortened it up and figured out exactly how long her outrun is. It's not very long. About 100'. But she's getting the concept of picking up ALL the sheep -- which is a huge improvement. When she split them, I am never ever letting her leave any behind because I have no doubt she will. Her "look back" command is getting really good because it's one we use often. ;-)

All in all, I was very impressed with her today. She has also now taken to walking off the field with me with her head right under my hand. I love that. She's such a good girl.

Happy tails...


Friday, August 17, 2007

Blessed with Great Friends!

Well, some of you may know Kate Moureaux (I always butcher that name, sorry Kate). She came to Boise for a clinic, and made the time to stop by and visit. She took some lovely photos of Tess and gave me permission to use them on my website. So without further adieu, here are some of the pictures! Thank you, Kate!

Wildflower Pasture

Well, Jen and I worked dogs last night. There is nothing more tranquil than watching the dogs navigate their way through the wildflowers, the sheep nice and relaxed, and hearing nothing but the occasional verbal encouragement of the handler. I wish I had taken some photos.

Tess worked very nicely. I am spending a grip of time training her in the pens, and having her be nice and calm and "stand there." She's doing really really well.

Her gather is still a mess. She still does not understand the concept that she has to gather ALL of the sheep.

But she'll drive them from here to Timbuktu and back without so much as a glance over her shoulder.

She amazes me.

Zip's leg is better than it was the other night (he took another spill ... but this was his back leg, and he has been moving pretty slowly since Tuesday night, so he's on a break). It's forcing me to use Tess, which is a good thing. Her and I are partnering up quite well, I think.

She'll never take Zip's spot on my bed, though. You're a good boy, Zip.