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:
- The ongoing take pen issue This reared its ugly head at the trial. So I got to talking about it with some friends, one of whom had a very similar problem with her kelpie. I often prop the take pen gate open and work on figure 8s in and out of the take pen as though it doesn’t exist. For most of my dogs this tended to loosen them up and get them comfortable with going in the pen and bringing stock out. For Jig, however, this may have made matters worse. She locks on the stock as soon as the gate is open. When one starts to leave, she pops out to put it right back in because, after all, isn’t that what we’ve done? Take them out, put them right back in? Isn’t that the job? Um… no. So I’m going to have to work on getting her to see the job as taking the stock out. Putting them in is a totally different job. Running things together is never a good idea in training, and that’s what I may have done here.
- Dealing with her propensity to suddenly act as though she’s on crack, or has at least had five pots of coffee and all the sugar in three counties She got her crack eyes on once or twice, but she didn’t blow me off like she has in the past. There was none of the mad circling at a high rate of speed while totally ignoring the fact that I exist in the universe. She believes I exist now. She also believes I might have something to say in the matter. That’s a step in the right direction.
- Firming up her drive Ongoing. She doesn’t rate well. Push, push, push. Especially on ducks. I’m more out of breath after those runs than I am on the larger stock!
- More cattle experience Going to the Larry Painter clinic in a couple weeks. This will be an awesome learning experience for us both.
- Getting her more comfortable holding pressure and coming into pressure. It doesn’t appear she has too much pressure coming into pressure. Holding it is getting better.
- Getting her to hit heels.