First, if you’ve not been able to go out to the BlackSheep trial… it really is a fantastic trial. The set up in the back is designed for rodeo, with calf and bronc chutes, but we’re pretty sure it was all handmade. Not totally intuitive in some places – there is no easy access from the stock pens to the take pen so on the first day when we were doing A course someone was going up and over the 10 foot panels regularly.
More than anything, the setup in the back is about pen and alley work. The first day, we had a bit of flat Molly. She didn’t have nearly as much power on cattle or sheep as we’ve had in the pens in the past. After the first day, the sheep were down with what was going on and started to try to turn around in the alley. Getting her around the sheep in the end of the alley became the ultimate goal. Part of the problem was that i got after her in the beginning and she kept that in mind. As i started to loosen up and brighten up, she started to loosen up too.
Saturday and Sunday were both 8 or 9 hour days and by the end of each day, you should see little Nut starting to fade.
Molly started to power up and we got a lot of great feedback from a few handlers. Sunday and Monday were B Course days, with a take pen. No up and over the bars.
The voiceover you here is Ron Green of SpokaneStockdogs. Yes, the dog is smarter than I am, i know. LOL what you see is Molly doing the smart thing and going out to the area of lest pressure from the sheep. She then takes that space to get her own pressure going as she’s a loose-eyed dog that gets most of her power from motion. Her stop at the gate was perfect and right on cue – Stay. So proud. She also spent a lot of time walking cows up and down the alley ways. She didn’t need to work off leash as she wouldn’t go far from me, but the experience was good for her.
By Monday she was Ms Super Queen of the World. Ron was with us part of the day and game me more pointers on keeping her up. i over did it once and she chased a sheep in the alley (shameful.. i know), but the next time i pushed her just a touch too hard and she started to power up, I remembered how nicely she shut down and returned on cattle. She is nothing if not consistent, from a dead run to direct return with a quick soft “that’ll do Nut”. <whew>
You can see in her alley work she’s not working the center, she’s holding one side to move her stock which is why the sheep are getting the opportunity to turn back on her. Though if you watch on the first video at the first alley corner she does have to go out a bit wide to cover.
Simon had a great day too. He spent the weekend with Ron because being a non-working dog at a trial is *boring*. He came back to us on Monday and Ron used him to load the first set of cattle before i saw him. Before you poke at him for being a social butterfly… he’s not been on stock in at least 2 years, but they went in. One silly cow even lowered his head at Simon. Si is all about giving cows proper warning; bark, posture, hit the head or in this case the nose. No body lowered their heads at him again.
So the lessons are:
- keep my cool
- never forget the short leash
- take more video