After taking time off for the holidays, it felt good to get back in the field. I feel more relaxed, more settled and i have figured out how to make small goals that really work for me. First, set the big goal, then the small goals, but give those small goals flex. Imagine a few possible acceptable scenarios instead of getting set on only one outcome.
I decided today we’d work inside flanks on the hardside, the bye side and that i wasn’t going to obsess about shape as much as completion. Also to try and wean off the physical cues and extra verbal cues *if* possible. That means not using the bending down physical cue to bring her to me and trying to remove the “here” in come-here and just leaving Come. We have done a number of different drils to install flanks on the full circle and used the fence and corners and smaller spaces to teach her to come in between me and sheep. We have laid some good foundations, so starting to put those skills together and removing training wheels makes sense.
First we started with the super familiar: corner work.
Corner work may be one of the first formal work jobs Molly ever learned: fetching up stock quietly out of a corner and bringing them…. where ever. I’ve used her comfort with corner work to start drive work, to reinforce downs, to help learn confidence on ornery stock. Since every arena has a corner (or four) having her comfortable spot be a corner has allowed her to learn to generalize working in different locations quickly. It also allows for a start to work that is successful and correct from the beginning.
After warming up, i wanted to really focus on her getting comfortable with coming in between me and the sheep. I set the sheep over and over so that when she was coming into the flank, she was also covering the draw. Also, over the last few months, I’ve learned that the easiest way to get er comfortable is to make room between me and the sheep. Lots of room. Even in the below round two video you’ll see that as she finishes the flank she’s tight and that is because I’m still not giving her enough room. She’s coming into the inside flank too close to her stock. She’s blowing off pressure by swinging around at Mach 2.
Fading the “here” lure and the physical cues was really the only goal. First, emphasizing Here in Come Here to establish the behavior, then emphasizing Come in Come Here to create the connection. Then using the Here intermittently and finally eliminating it completely. While doing that, i’m watching only one piece outside of swing out for the whole flank: how she takes off. She need to bend even slightly with the cue.
I also took video of round 1. The videos are 7-10 min each.
Session 1 – http://youtu.be/eh3qlOEO0mQ
Session 2 – http://youtu.be/EyqpjgeSJdM
In other news, we had a great holiday. I’m blessed to get a lot of time off work around the holidays, which means i can spend an inordinate amount of time making Simon wear silly things on his head and still spend time with my family. 🙂