Friday afternoon I visited with Bonnie Block at the Art Walk in the Woods in Poulsbo. They really had some fine art work there and I enjoyed getting a chance to visit and also, going to dinner with the other artists and Bonnie that night.
I got an early start in the morning to get to the ferry but in the fog I got confused and went the wrong way, of course. Finally I got myself turned around. I was the last car to get on the 7 AM ferry. Yea. The sunrise was gorgeous.
I made it to the Haynes new farm in Arlington without any difficulty. No one was there when I arrived. Patrick was working a dog at another ranch. Joe and Heather were trialing their dogs 15 minutes away at the Kirchgessner trial. Their farm is gorgeous. Such a very pastoral scene with the sheep out in the green meadows. The house is very modern looking with a huge fire pit and raised porches to view the fields. They also have a very large barn that can house their horses, sheep and dog kennels etc. They have a second home that Joe's parents are living in. I love that. Harvey Creek runs next to their property giving birth to many different types of wildlife, flora, and fauna. Of course, I didn't have my good camera with me, but I managed to take some fairly decent pictures with my iPad. I didn't bring my Canon camera because I knew it was going to rain. And rain it did on Sunday.
First field upon entering the driveway
House with porches and tiled walkways
next to Harvey Creek
Second field taken from their elevated porch. Beautiful fire pit :0)
It was great to work Champ with Patrick again. We had worked in February at Bonnie Richardson's clinic with him. He reiterated everything my new instructor has been telling me. So, we are all on the same page. Lots of work needs to be done. Patrick told me the third year is the hardest year. If I think Champ is pushing too much this year, he will be even more confident in his third year and really start to push. So I have my work cut out for me. It was much easier for me to communicate with my horse on top of his back versus standing next to a sheepdog trying to communicate to him what I want him to do. Champ is waiting for me to tell him what to do instead of holding up his part and being responsible for what he should be doing on his own. We are trying to make Champ understand this.
Champ is a very keen dog just like his mother. At the trials I need him to be responsible holding up his end of the partnership. He needs to think more, pace himself self better, and start learning some finesse type moves. Pace is starting to become a word in his vocabulary, but he needs to start developing some finesse. My lessons taught me to help Champ think about working a little more independently. He would like to work like a robot. He is a good partner, but I would like a great partner. To have a great partner, I need Champ to be responsible for his part in teaming up. My goodness, this is such a complicated sport. And, some dogs are just more complicated than others.
I learned to use more inflection in my voice. If I'm not getting the correct response, I need to do something else. The hard part is finding something else to do to make a difference in how he is working. A couple of times Patrick took off his jacket and whacked it on the ground and Champ immediately started to think. Champ is able to take any type of correction, but we find the most useful correction is kind of shaming him or embarrassing him in a high soft tone.
We also worked on his sneaky stops. He Is just like his mother in that respect. For every couple of steps he takes after I tell him to stop, I am to push him back twice as many stops. The hard part is being consistent about this. One would think that a person that trains sheepdogs would make an excellent parent. The reason I think this is probably true is because we have to be so consistent in our training. We can't give them an inch or they will take a mile. LOL
After my lesson I went over Kirchgessner trial to trial Champ in pro novice. It was a rather small field to me and he worked so-so. He did not handle like butter and he was an idiot in a few places. He still managed to win the class. But that showed me exactly what I needed to work on with the Patrick for the next morning. Losing four points at the pen on dog broke sheep was embarrassing to me. The guardian dog incident didn't seem to phase Champ much. His wanting to work took over any mental repercussions. He's a pretty 'steady eddie' type of boy.
It rained throughout my Sunday morning lesson. I barely even noticed because I was so intent on learning new aspects of training Champ. We worked on his stops. We also worked on short wide flanks up against a fence. It's time for me to teach Champ and 'out' and a 'get' for his come by and away short wide flanks. We had no pen so used a 6 x 6 dog kennel that was 4 feet high topped and with a sliding gate that opened up about 3 feet. After a little practice Champ was able to get all 5 sheep stuffed in the dog kennel. The only way we could get the sheep out of the dog kennel was for Patrick to roll the kennel up on its side. It was pretty funny. We also worked on shedding, taking two, and also a single. Patrick was very helpful showing me how to show Champ exactly which sheep I wanted him to help me with. Champ loves to shed so by me showing him which sheep I want, we are hoping he will get a little more finesse-full holding them before he comes through.
The other thing I have to be so careful about is that Champ pattern trains so easily. If he patterns "wrong," it becomes very hard to undo. So lots of sheds, I will set him up, but not call him through (to keep him from anticipating) and go do something else. At the pen, he is not to go behind the pen (to keep him from anticipating) to bring them out. He has to wait at the side. Lots of waiting around for Champ. It's like working a kid with ADD.
Oh, and the constant looking back at me while driving was starting to bother me. Patrick told me to forget about it. It will all work itself out in the long run down the road. He is just trying to figure stuff out, wants to be right, yarda yadda yadda. Jet was the same way. But, Jet was the KING of finesse. But, Jet was also, soft and could be wimpy when I needed power. I guess it's all about give and takes, eh?
Champ wants to be a good partner. He has his own method; just not enough finesse and feel yet. He has presence. He has a lovely personality even if he wants to breed and pee on everything (I may take care of that early next year). :0) He's keen. He is a ranch dog extraordinaire like his mother. I haven't seen anything or any type of correction that makes him want to quit. We just need to keep doing some fine tuning, more on MY part than his :0)
Champ will be 3 yrs. old Decemeber 19th. We are moving up to open.
Jet says I don't really care. I'm with my mama and I'm all warm and toasty. Let the other idiots live in the garage in their crates. Old dogs RULE :0)