Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Working our way back...

I met Larry at Steve and Lynn's place bright and early Monday morning. It's an hour and a half drive each way, and I knew I wouldn't have very much time to work, but I was looking forward to working somewhere relatively new. The sheep were very light and wanted to run. This is great practice, since the sheep we're most used to working with at Bill's are very heavy.

Larry set five sheep for me and Taz maybe 125 yards away. I sent him with absolutely no idea what he'd do. He ran super tight, so I lied him down and gave him a redirect. He was still tight and sliced heavily. Aargh. We tried again, with similar results, and I tried calling him back to me to start over. He didn't get much wider (a little, perhaps) but he did start hesitating again. Aaaaack. Larry suggested we move the sheep into a fenced corner of the field and send Taz to get them from about 100 yards away. I did, and he was tight again. This time, Larry suggested lining him up correctly (so Taz was facing out) and taking a few steps in front of him before sending him and then walking up toward the sheep. I did this, and Taz immediately kicked himself much, much further out. YAY! It seems to me that Taz understands that he should be further out, but sometimes something happens to push him back to his default tightness, and then he simply needs a little reminder that he should be further out. It's like he was saying, "Oh! Right, I'm supposed to be out here, sorry 'bout that." I tried this a few more times, on both sides, and he was wide as long as I set him up this way. We moved back toward the center of the field, with Larry and Raid holding the sheep again, and I set him up the same way as we'd done in the corner. He again ran nice and wide (though he still sliced at the top). I was too happy that he was at least running wide again to correct him for the slice (though Larry warned me not to let him get away with slicing either). I know I shouldn't let him slice, but I just feel like I can't do everything at once. He'd lost his outrun entirely over the weekend, and I just wanted to get back to some semblance of a proper outrun. Taz was getting tired, and I was running out of time, so I decided to let Craig work for the rest of my time out. Taz and I would tackle his slicing next time. Maybe at Faansie's clinic later this week.

I had told Larry about our disastrous runs over the weekend, and I asked him to watch Craig and I drive for a while. We ran through the panels on the course set up in the field, then worked closer in, doing square patterns and then randomly moving around. As poorly as we did at the trial is as good we did driving now. We really did pretty well. Craig was listening to me (well, he didn't always take the first lie down, but he always slowed down, which is usually what I actually wanted—I'm going to have to start enforcing my "time" command, so I can go back to having "lie down" actually mean lie down again). He gave me nice short flanks when I asked for them and was generally relaxed and responsive. Larry told me my timing was fine and I was really improving. WTF? How could we look so bad over the weekend and so good now? Well, Craig knows this field and these sheep very well, for one thing, as he spent a lot of time here working with Elaine. Both of us were obviously much more relaxed. The weather was a lot better. I guess all these things make a difference.

We also did a little shedding, which was way fun! The sheep were separating pretty easily, so it was a good opportunity for me to practice calling Craig in and having him walk up on the rear set of sheep. Heh, Larry joked that with the right sheep, Craig and I could run open. Someday we might. In the meantime, I regained a bunch of the confidence I'd lost over the weekend. I'm really glad we went out!

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