Let’s get the hard part over with. I drove to San Diego on whim once. So driving to Spokane and back to Seattle randomly it just one of those things. It happens. 🙂
I went out with the plan of teaching myself to sit and watch. I realized not long ago that i’ve never gone to an ASCA trial and just watched. Take it all in, and see the trial the way a competitor does. It might help me present a better trial?
In a moment of Deja Vu, i went back to the handlers to say “hi” and the next thing i knew i was helping to sort sheep and asking if adding Molly to the mix would be too many dogs? This happens fairly often… i just can’t seem to sit and watch like a normal person. Anyway.
The setup at Black Sheep is not one that i’ve ever seen anywhere else. Stock are presorted into groups and then the alley way is partitioned as there are not enough holding pens for the number of stock. As one group goes out, everyone is moved up one space. The last two spaces before the take pen are metal sided boxes with sliders that separate. They always remind me of something you’d use in calf roping or similar – though i’ve never seen the stock handling side of calf roping. Each star in the diagram indicates where a dog/handler team were located along the way. Up front was Ron and Tigr/Kiki, then me and Molly and finally Randy and Ben.
With everything being solid sided in those last two spaces before the Take Pen you have two options to move your stock: you can use your stockstick to encourage them or use a dog to create pressure. While using your dog *sounds* easy enough the space is only about 4″ high. After a lot of cajoling, including me on my hands and knees trying to get Molly to look underneath – which there are no pictures of. Thank doG. She did however, watch Tigr the Open Border Collie stick her little red nose under there and wanted to know why. Little black nose went down, stock moved, dog was praised and the habit begins establishment.
The goal was always to have her do what she needed to do to move the stock. Not necessarily to get into the chute, but if that’s what she thinks she needs to do i’ll give her latitude. After a little work, she started sliding under the divider and would stand into the middle and push them at. It was interesting watching her learn how to manage her power standing still. Molly’s power is typically by movement, but it’s hard to move in a bitty box. At first she went from zero to head – which isn’t the best solution. Don’t be confused by us all being happy that the stock is stressed. Molly has traditionally not been the ‘tough dog’. You can bring that behavior down and shape it – but it’s hard to build in. In time though she started to use move eye, more of the cow moving skills that we worked on at Summer Spectacular. Holding her ground until the stock turns and then releasing pressure. Being fair to everyone.
The last task after moving the groups in the chute up, was to take the newer group from the last holding pen and putting them into the chute. Even though Molly has been doing take pen work, i was concerned about her moving light trial sheep and something not going well. i do like to be careful with other people’s sets. What you may not see in the end of this video because of the additional fencing is that she is backing the sheep up into it’s group. This was not unusual and allowed us to practice that slow methodical walk up and stay to hold. As a side note, i did try to down her a few times, but realized about the third time that she didn’t take the command that if she did lie down and release any pressure those sheep would have run over her. She stood quietly and never dove in.
We got a lot of nice compliments, which i loved. A competitor came back to watch just in time for me to accidentally let a sheep (another brown sheep come to think of it!) down the alley instead of going into the chute. Molly was hot on her tail, turned her before the end of the alley and stopped completely. Then walked her up slow and careful back to pen and finally her chute. Thankfully the competitor missed the part where i was on my hands and knees trying to get Molly to nose under the chute… only realize that she was disinterested because the sheep had already left. I’d like to imagine Molly’s thought bubble read “are you ok?” and not “are you blind?”. 🙂
Dog is wise…