Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A natural paradox

Well, we didn't make it to the trial last weekend. I got up bright and early, put some hot cocoa in a thermos to ward off the cold, spent an hour and 15 minutes (no lie!) chipping the encrusted ice off my truck outside, and then went to put Craig into his crate in the back, and...the canopy's lock was frozen shut. I worked to unfreeze it for a while, and I did, but by the time I was ready to go, I'd gotten reports from friends about the treacherous road conditions and I decided it was too late to bother at that point. Really, I'm just a big scaredy cat about driving in the snow. I heard that a good time was had by all at the trial, but truthfully I would have just been white-knuckled the whole way down and back and I'd have spent the day stressing about getting home...

Ah well. Pam reported that she had a good day with Wink and Kirk, so I was very glad to hear that at least they had a good day! Elaine and Nancy helped organize everything, and I heard Elaine's account of the trial, too, tonight. That discussion led to a talk about what I need to do with Taz right now. Taz is a lot like his uncle Ben and his grandsire, Gel: powerful, fast, with just the right amount of eye, and a natural feel or his sheep. I continue to worry that he won't live up to anywhere near his potential with my clumsy handling. His biggest flaw is that he is a bit too pressure-sensitive. I said something about hoping my next dog had a natural outrun, and Elaine said that she thinks Taz, like Ben, actually has a natural outrun. Um, what? Did she forget we were talking about my straight-up-the-middle boy? She laughed and said Ben used to be the same way. Unlike Craig, who feels his sheep so incredibly well everywhere except during his outrun, Taz has shown that when he is working well, he instinctively understands just where he needs to be to calmly and efficiently approach the sheep. The problem is that Taz has practiced working incorrectly for so long, he doesn't realize what it feels like to do it right. I agree, he hasn't had a lot of practice doing correct work at the top. In fact, Elaine said, once the top of his outrun is fixed, she thinks he'll progress quite quickly.

But how to fix this? How to coax out that relaxed natural work when he has gotten away with slicing in for so long that this is what feels natural to him?