Sunday, June 28, 2009

Novice Trial, Part Deux

We ran again today and did well. The outrun was... abysmal... again. She ran up, then slowed and started to cut in. I kicked her out and she was even slower then and needed a few redirects. I knew that if I kicked her out she would slow down but if I didn't, she was pretty much going to run up the middle-- and here the dog needs to be as wide as possible (it's a narrow field) because otherwise they would have booked back up to their holding area. If I encouraged her along, she would have sped up the middle... I didn't really know how to handle that so I let her continue her out-walk and was able to grab control of the sheep. At least I know that I need to work on confidence at a distance in new areas, fo' sho!

BUt everything else was nice. We got a score of 60 and that landed us 4th place. I am pretty happy with that. On the lift the sheep split and one went and sat with the set out person. I waited for a couple of seconds to see if they would reclump ... they didn't. So I asked Soda to "get back!" and she did and went back and gathered the single (there may or may not have been a well placed shove by the set out person ) and continued on the fetch.

all in all, I was pretty pleased.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Our very first USBCHA trial.

Soda and I ran in our very first USBCHA trial today. We ran "novice/novice" (well, they called it "ranch" but same thing in this case apparently). I was nervous and this was a big deal for me. I never, ever ever thought we'd be running border collie trials. Ever.

We finished the course and got an okay score of 56. I think that put us at like, 6th or 7th place. The outrun was as abysmal as I thought it might be. Soda just had zero (actually negative because she sucked it out of me, lol!) confidence and I had to redirect/encourage her 3-4 times (!!). It's just a new field thing. I REALLY have to start getting out to new places. The sheep did not, early in the day, break for the exhaust so we lucked out there. Later was a totally different story.

The lift was as abysmal as the outrun. She was nervous and did some displacement sniffing (!!) and sort of fetched the sheep to the set out person (that's okay though. She's not used to that). So I encouraged her and she moved them right along. I do not remember the fetch, haha, other than it was offline--of course. We didn't manage to make it around the post but the judge was kind and I heard her say "It's okay, just go" because we were struggling. I like it when judges help the noobs.

Our fetch through the drive panels was nice and I'll be danged if Soda didn't actually rate her stock. I nearly died when she sat on her own to take the pressure off. That part was really quite nice. The pen was nice too and Soda really showed her stuff to help put a sheep in the pen. I think she enjoys penning because she can clearly understand the goal (sheep go in here). She always gets a little more eye and a little more style around the pen. That's nice.

All in all, I am extremely proud of the Soda-monster. She really gave it all she had and she may have had no confidence, but she did as I asked anyway and that's all I can ask for. I was so proud that she tried so hard. I really was. She is such a good dog--I just love her to bits. I keep saying it but, you really don't understand how far she has come and how she has learned to show heart and respect for me and trust that I am not asking her for something too much... well, it's amazing. Makes me all weepy eyed. (don't make fun!!!)

Okay-- so I got to watch Open and that was fun. I think the run I remember most was Bob Dias and... shoot, I forgot his dog's name but it was the epitome of control and calm work. I loved it--the cross drive was a beautiful thing.

The venue was different too. It's at a festival so there is the "general public" there. They watch and enjoy and ask questions. That was neat. Lots of kids wanting to pet the dogs--I'm not so much a kid person, but Soda likes them well enough. There was also an announcer, Joe (I didn't get his last name) who gave play by plays and explained things to the public and he was very entertaining. He was also very kind after my run and was very sure to tell me "great job". Herding folks are always so nice.

It was a great experience. I am excited for tommorrow, sort of. The sheep are now VERY wise to the exhaust area and I'm sure will be making some mad dashes. I'll report tomorrow on how it goes.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I am a "seeing" learner

Worked on holding the line today. Terry finally came out with her dog and had me stand next to her and then did a nice OLF for me to see, while holding the line.


I have it in my mind that the dog should be directly behind the sheep (I think this is a common noob thing) but they don't have to be and I need to be reading the pressure and having my dog hold against the pressure to keep the line straight. It was so helpful to see this.

I worked a few times having Soda hold the line. I had a some issues with me over flanking her to they turned off line but I was pretty proud of myself that I realized that was the problem. :P

I got all over her-hard- for blowing off stops and she was doing better. I am just going to have to keep at it to keep them consistent. Her favorite *favorite* thing is to blow off the stop, go to the head, and turn the sheep around. FUN!

I also did some chore work--including sorting sheep! I have to brag on myself here (and don't laugh at me!) I was able to pull out 3 light Katadhin sheep from about 15 other sheep. I have finally figured out that you don't have to get it 100% the first time--sometimes it's easier to pull out too many and then put away the ones you don't want.

It was a really good, long lesson that was very productive. Soda is really starting to get "pen" work. OH, also I was able to get her out of the pen without having to go in the pen. yay!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009



Soda's stop is something I regularly struggle with. She hates to stop and if I don't enforce a blown off stop every.single.time then she basically just stops stopping. Additionally, her stop isn't a down (I know, what kind of border collie doesn't lay down?) -- she sits, like a loose eyed dog.

We were working on big outruns and her fetches, as I've long known, are too fast and too chasey. She doesn't rate stock well so I have to stop her and I swear to god, I nearly murdered her on Thursday. It went something like this

Outrun : Fantabulous
Lift (with a stop at the top that she took just fine)--beautiful

Fetch: RUN LIKE HELL, no real control, WHEE!

"Lie down!"

<--I start leaving the post to go enforce the down


I really need to recue the down and reteach it. I think that's my big problem. I hope a whistle will help but I think I 'm going to reteach it on another cue.

I say "lie down"... I wonder if "LAY down" is different enough...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Running and Running and Running

Outruns outruns outruns!

We worked on outruns again today. I enjoy working on them because Soda enjoys it. We had her run up the hill today and she was pretty successful. She ran out on the go-by a bit hesitant again but after 2 or so runs was doing pretty well.

We switched it up to the away side and that was a bit of a mess. At first she wouldn't run out at all. She started critter hunting (GRRRR). So, to help her, I left her at the post and walked about 15 feet out and cued her from there. That was successful. She sliced the top off really bad, but I was just glad she ran out so I let it slide. The next time I stood at the post and had her run out, preparing to correct her for slicing in but that didn't work out too well--she didn't really take the correction and just sliced it anyway!

SO then I walked up to the top, where she was slicing so I could push her out. It sort of worked. When she took off she wanted to run wide so she left outside the fence and couldn't get back in. I told her to get in there and she ran straight into the fence and went head over heels over the fence and then came and lifted the sheep! It was pretty hilarious.

I think next week I'm going to lay her down where she is slicing, kick her out, then recue her.

I also talked to Terry about her hesitancy at Llano on the field and she agreed that Soda just needs to get out to more fields.

Good lesson--Soda worked super hard!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Trial from Hell

Soda and I ran in a trial this weekend. Didn't go real well. We ran both A and B course. On Saturday I qualified and got 2nd in A course and was actually pretty happy with the run. I didn't qualify in B course on Saturday. I had to retire. Soda showed a real lack of confidence on the new field and I didn't do a good job of handling the wiley sheep. They REALLY REALLY wanted to run back to set out on the top half of the course and on the bottom half of the course they wanted to run to exhaust! Soda is not a natural cover-er so I needed to handle it better. On the fetch they actually tried to break behind her to run back to set out so even though Soda was being pushy, I couldn't lay her down or they'd have broken back to set-out. Also, on B course I had a raging migraine and had taken 3 excedrin migraines and was not feeling well. Our fetch looked like a small series of "S"'s.

On Sunday we qualified in B course and took third place but didn't qualify in A course. I probably should have qualified in A the day went horribly awry.

Let me tell you about Sunday--it pretty much ruined my whole weekend. About 1/4 of the way through the day my back started to hurt. Bad. My lower back, my kidneys to be specific. And it burned to pee. (TMI, I know). Then about 1/2 way through the day I started to be in excruiating pain and spent a good part of the afternoon laying down and crying in the car. I called the nurse hotline and she advised me to get into the doctor that day.

I waited it out and tried to run. The sheep were nuts and my head wasn't there and neither was Soda's. I retired. I may have been able to qualify but it wasn't good stocksmanship.

Then the true ordeal began. I drove to a 24 hour urgent care in Lancaster. I got there at 4 in the afternoon. I left at 10 at night. Six freaking hours of pain and vomiting. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: I was queasy all day. At about 4:45 they "checked me in" with vitals and I had to pee in a cup. When they finally called me back to the exam room it was 9:30 and they hadn't run the urine yet. No, I'm not kidding. I vomited again in the exam room. I have a kidney infection. It hurts so bad. I've never even had a bladder infection but I wouldn't wish this on anyone. It hurts and you just can't get comfortable.

By the time they got done examining me the freaking pharmacy had closed. So basically I spent 6 hours in a waiting room with Soda sitting in the car the whole time for nothing. I could have waited until Monday.

I got home at 1 AM because I was so exhausted I had to pull over and nap. The whole thing was awful and I was uncomfortable all weekend. But on a positive note, Soda finished her started B title. :) She's Soda-Pop HSAs, HSBs, HRDIs yay!

I have decided not to run at Porterville N/N. Soda's lack of confidence showed me that she's not ready for that yet and that's just too far for me to drive for a dog who's not ready yet. She's doing the outruns on her home field but needs more practice in other places. We also need to work with VERY strong draws and very light sheep. Again, I really appreciate not qualifiying because it so eloquently demonstrates what I need to work on.