Jig’s Journey ~ When It All Goes to Shite
Since the May SEMASA trial I’ve been working pretty hard at fixing the holes in Jig’s training. I knew the cattle at their fall trial this past weekend would be a challenge, but I felt pretty confident we could find some success. Not only that, but I was looking forward to a good showing in the farm trial and the rest of the arena trials for the weekend.
The beginning of the farm trial started well: fairly decent take pen, covered, settled the sheep, held them while I walked down to the advanced handler’s cone, did a decent outrun-lift-fetch, drive through the panel, and a good hold. Then it was on to loading the trailer. A little muff-up on my part, but Jig had my back, covered, and in they went.
That’s when we hit our first real snag. A ewe challenged Jig when we needed to take them out of the trailer. Those of you who know Jig, know how she takes to being challenged–head on and teeth flashing. Self control went out the door as fast as the sheep and the incident quickly devolved into a dangerous train wreck resulting in a ‘Thank You’ and rightly so. Unfortunately, that set the precedent for the rest of the weekend.
I won’t elaborate on all the gory details. Over the course of the weekend I went from disheartened, to frustrated, to royally pissed as Jig progressed from pushy, to pushier, to not even flicking an ear my way when I gave a command even when I forced the issue. A major disconnect was apparent but how and why it happened, I don’t really know.
There were a few scattered moments that showed all is not lost. She had mostly nice take pens (something that’s always been one of our major issues), there were a couple nice drives, and she managed to lay down a beautiful duck run to not only win ducks for that trial, but take High in Trial Aussie as well. That went only a tiny way toward redeeming her.
Now I’m looking at how I can fix something when I’m not even certain what broke or how it got that way. It seems every time Jig and I get one tiny step forward, we leap back fifteen more.
So, fine. It is what it is. I’ll reassess the results I *think* I’m seeing during training. I’ll push for more. I’ll find a way for Jig and I to reconnect and find the partnership between us that seems to have gone south for the winter. I’ll keep working at trying to make it right because I’m dedicated to this journey and to doing right by her.