The finals was the best CLINIC I could ever have attended especially with the professional commentary along with the runs. I got 10 times over the $59.95 I paid for unlimited viewing!
One thing I noticed is that EXPERIENCE (handler AND dog) played a huge role. Plus, the dog's physical AND mental stamina played a big part, too.
The younger dogs had difficulty walking into the range ewe pressure. As soon as they started giving ground by flanking the range ewes got a bit more comfortable with grazing. The younger dogs had a bit more of a "bubble." They didn't exude the confidence of the older, more experienced dogs. I believe it was Jack Knox who said, "the dog that walks straight into them is the dog that will move them more easily than a dog that continues to flank." So then, I began to watch closely and sure enough he was correct. Imagine that. ;0)
Even though I don't have many places close by to work my dogs, the finals formulated an exercise I need to work on. I took the dogs over to Terry's ranch this morning. It was already 70 degrees at 8 A.M. Sure hope this week is the last of the heat waves! Now most of you know, if you read my blog at all, that I allow my youngsters to grip as they see fit. Now, since my youngest is 3 1/2 yrs. of age, I'm enforcing some stricter requirements for a grip.
This morning I took 15 VERY hungry ewes (waiting for a shipment of hay to arrive) out to the field. Yes, they all know my dogs and no, there isn't a one that would stand up to any of them. But, that's okay, they were VERY, VERY hungry. What a perfect time to work on fast AND slow. Most of it was FAST work. I only had to tell YOKO once not to bite. I had to tell KILT twice, and of course, I never had to say anything to 11 yr. old JET. I had each dog do fast walk ups, canter if they would, moving the sheep up the field and back down the field.
Jet was the KING. Kilt, as tough as she is, doesn't really like to walk into pressure. She likes to blast into pressure. So this was a fabulous exercise for her. Yoko is still wearing quite a bit, but is oh so much more like her sire. She held a FAST trot behind the sheep. On occasion I would give them a slow down whistle and the sheep would begin to graze and then I would give a QUICK walk up whistle and get everyone going at a trot or lope AGAIN.
Okay, so now I need to find NEW, HEAVY sheep to work. I called a friend who has 15 Dorsets. That will work. I will see her this Friday. I will see how the dogs do with this new exercise on strange, heavy sheep. Now in the perfect world, I'd dump the 9 light sheep I have and buy 8 Rambouillet yearlings. But, I don't see that happening, so I'll make do the best I can. :0)
What did YOU learn by watching the finals?