When the opportunity to attend a Larry Painter Cow Camp presented itself, I jumped at it. Jig loves cows but rarely sees them. That makes it a bit unfair when we go to a trial and I’m expecting her to handle them like a pro. I’d heard nothing but good things about Larry Painter and so was thrilled when I got a spot. So, on the 22nd I loaded up the truck and headed out to Ohio where the clinic was being hosted. Needless to say, I had a blast and, despite the heat, we managed to learn a lot and come home with plenty to work on.
Before our first session I watched the other dogs work and listened to Larry’s comments and instruction. One thing he was working on was getting the dog to hold the pressure and not pop out of the pocket. Translate that to mean, when a dog approaches cattle she should always give them the opportunity to move off. Jig has a tendency to hit a nose and then start a fight. That was one of the things I wanted to work on. Being a header isn’t a bad thing, but you can’t move cattle efficiently if you’re always in their face. The trick is to have the dog lie down and hold the pressure. If the cow moves off, the dog can get up quietly and keep them going. If the cow steps toward the dog and ‘offers’ their nose… well, a little persuasion goes a long way. That’s the part Jig has problems with. Not so much the persuading, mostly knowing when enough is enough. So we spent some time on that, as well as getting her more comfortable with moving cattle from the rear, and also hugging the fence to pull them off. Our first several sessions were in the small pen, where we both had to work through some issues. We worked once in the arena, and finished up in the round pen with some great results.
One highlight came when Jig showed that (with more experience and confidence) she will hit heels as well as heads. I’ve seen her do it a time or two on my sheep, but this is the first time we brought it out on cattle.
All in all, the clinic was awesome and I’m looking forward to working with Larry again. I’ll have more of a breakdown on some of the things we worked on, but for now, some photos. And a huge Thank You to Kathy Males for manning my camera.
I’ve been a bit of a slacker on keeping up with posts. Problem is, I’ve been super busy. If you’ve ever checked out my writing blog, you’ll see I’ve been almost as absent over there. If you haven’t, Wednesday’s post will give you some idea what’s been gobbling up all my time.
And yes, training is part of that.
Among other things, the end of June was the Steve Shope clinic here at the farm. This year, Steve threw down the gauntlet and laid out some expectations for the dogs who will be returning next year. Some of us have been a bit… um… lax in regards to foundation work, and it’s come back to haunt us. Or at least me. I won’t speak for anyone else. I fall into this nasty habit of moving on too quickly. If I do an exercise, proof it a few times, get the results I want, I take a giant step forward. Baby steps and going back to refresh things is the better way to go.
So I’m picking up the challenge and am going to slow down a bit. Jig is young yet and talented or not there’s no need to push her and expect perfection so quickly. Or ever. Because there is no such thing as a perfect dog.
July 4th I made the drive to Iowa for That’ll Do’s trial to see where we stand and what we have to work on. Jig is running in open now and we’ll have precious few chances to trial before Nationals. All things considered, I was pleased with what she showed me. She earned an Open Cattle leg and went High in Trial Cattle, and also earned an Open Duck leg.
There were plenty of learning moments for us both, and I called a few of her runs to keep her from thinking she could get away with some of the crap she was pulling. Trialing is a good way to see where you stand, but it wreaks havoc on training.
My last post included a ‘wish list’ of sorts. Things we needed to work on. After the clinic and the trial, this is where it stands:
*glances at calendar*
Sure. We’ll go with that. Happy spring!
We managed to somehow avoid Mud Season this year — that’s not a complaint — and now we’re full tilt into the year with nearly 4 months behind us, and decent weather for working dogs. That means a continuation of Jig’s Journey (cue Piggggssssss in Spaaaaaaaaaaaaace).
The ASCA Nationals is in TN this year and I plan on going. Whether or not I actually enter Jig has yet to be fully determined. She’s in open everything and we have a lot of work to do. Right now, we have three clinics planned — one in June, one in July, one in September. As for trials… a lot will depend on her progress. Looks like IA in July will be the first, just to test the water and see how good or bad we’re doing.
I’ve only worked the girl a handful of times so far and she’s doing what I will term ‘okay’. The list of things we currently need to focus on includes:
So, yeah, that’s our wish list of sorts. I’ll keep you posted.
As usual, it’s been a while since my last post. But as I mentioned before, not a whole lot goes on around here during the winter. With spring comes lambing season, although mine began as somewhat of a surprise a couple weeks ago. No one looked even close and I wasn’t expecting lambs until… well, now. It hasn’t been the best. In fact, it goes down in my books as the worst. But, on the bright side… there’s these…
I know I promised I’d post more, but really, there’s not a lot that happens around here in the winter. Not with the frigid weather we’ve been having. Chores, chipping ice out of buckets that are supposedly heated, and trying to keep the dogs from going stir crazy. Especially Jig.
What I do during these times, is try to get caught up on inside projects that are languishing. One of those is the portrait of Shaine that’s been laying on my drawing table for…well…a long time.
This was far and away the most difficult portrait I’ve ever done. Even now. But, outside of a few tweaks, it’s ready for matting and framing so I thought I’d share it with you, just to prove I’m still here.
It’s not the best photo ~ it looks better in person. I took it with my phone, in the kitchen, hanging on the fridge. (Sounds a bit like Clue, doesn’t it? Mrs. Peacock, in the observatory, with the candlestick.) Okay, and I wasn’t hanging on the fridge, the picture was.
Just a quick (photo-intensive) post to share some of my favorite photos from our cattle runs at the pre-trial and National’s trial. Thanks to Lori Herbel of XP Photography for the excellent shots. (You’ll notice our National’s run was much calmer than the pre-trial run.)
Quinn turned twelve on the 8th of November. He has no clue. Seriously. Outside of exhibiting some signs of going deaf, it’s hard to tell he’s a ‘senior’ now. He still tears across the yard with his brephew (brother-nephew), makes snow angels, barks at me in his big-dog bark, and hops around like an absolute fool when he thinks we’re going to do something fun. Or when he’s in a good mood. Which, with Quinn, is almost always. He is the most mellow, relaxed dog I’ve every lived with; at ease just about everywhere, with everyone. And yes, as a puppy we swore he was narcoleptic because any time you picked him up, he fell asleep. I remember him as a tiny guy, laying in the palm of my hand, legs draped over the sides, happily snoozing away.
Last month, I officially retired Quinn from the trial arena. I had hoped he would retire with his WTCH*. He didn’t. But he came damn close. We needed one Advanced Cattle leg to accomplish my goal, and we would have likely had it at the Coyote Classic in October had I not made a very conscious and deliberate choice to cross the handler’s line. I made that choice for reasons. I’ve thought about it many times since and, if given the opportunity, I would likely do the same thing. For the same reasons. None of which are really important to anyone but me.
And, at the end of the day, a WTCH doesn’t mean anything to Quinn. It’s a human thing. But don’t think for one second it was easy for me to give it up. It was something I’d been working hard at for quite a while. Something that took me on a roller coaster ride of highs and lows, and tested my partnership with my dog. Something that, at one point, almost cost me that partnership. But it also, ultimately, taught me a lot. It wasn’t always the best journey, but it was one that, like Quinn himself, I wouldn’t trade for the world.
And so, to celebrate Quinn’s retirement, and our partnership, some pics over the years of him just being him.
Thank you, Mr. Quinn. Here’s to many more years of snow angels, and big dog barks.