Jig’s Journey – An Update

I threatened you with promised an update (whether you want one or not) on Jig’s training, so here it is.

The best thing I ever did for this dog was invest in cattle of our own. I wish I would have done it years ago, but something else always came up. Plus, even four steers are a bit commitment of resources. In any case, we won’t know until the SEMASA trial Memorial Weekend if our hard work is paying off, but I’m feeling a bit more confident in our chances.

Trialing on cattle has always been tough for us because Jig likes them a bit too much. So much, as a matter of fact, she tends to forget I’m out there with her. That’s not to say we haven’t had our moments. They just happen to be few and far between and the rest have been… chaotic and less than inspiring.

The biggest issue with cattle is Jig never had enough time on them to realize her power from the back. She’s been all about the heads and, though that’s occasionally required, it’s hard to move stock when you’re always in their face. I know she has a heel in her, we just need to bring it out. We saw glimmers of it at cow camp last year. Unfortunately, without regular cattle time, we regressed. Since getting the calves and putting in some time on them, I’m starting to see results.

Over the past weekend, I was able to get some video and stills of Jig in action. Some of this may not look like much to those of you who haven’t seen her at her worst but, trust me, this is momentous stuff for us.

Here we’re doing some work in the pen. The ‘old’ Jig would have followed this threat up with a bit of a tussle. She took one more step after this shot, the calf turned and Jig released the pressure.


Her heeling technique needs some work yet, and she needs to figure out which leg to go for, but she’s got the idea and is making the attempt more and more often. She actually got a couple good ones in, on the correct leg though still a bit high, but this is baby steps and I’ll take it.

And thanks to the Hub’s willingness to stand in the cold drizzle, I actually got some footage of our work in the small arena. All I was doing here was sending her on flanks, letting her pick up the stock and start a drive, keeping her behind and stepping in to push if she wanted to pop out of the pressure. At the risk of boring the pants off you, this is what I’ll call The Highlight Reel. Again, it may not look like much, but for us it’s huge.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7L5H-WRVvA]

I try not to spend all our time on the calves. Jig still needs work on her driving, so there is quite a bit we do with sheep in both the small arena and out in the larger area. Time will tell if all this work will transfer over to the trial arena. And, even if she WTCHs in May, there is so much we need to work on. This part of our journey is just beginning.

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