More sense of progress

I wrote just today about the sense of progress I feel with working the cattle.  I was just reading this post  wherein the poster bemoans her tendency to screech at her dogs while training; her inability to read the situation correctly and not being quick enough to respond appropriately.  Oh, I remember being there!  It was no fun, that feeling of not understanding and feeling out of control.  I know it’s all the practical work that I’ve done with Gel that has got us to the point that we are now.  I finally feel like I can read livestock well enough so that I can keep Gel where he needs to be in order to keep things where they are supposed to be.  For example, just this morning, in the field where we had to pick up the sheep and cattle my landlords have planted a good sized vegetable garden.  I had to make sure I kept Gel in position so when the stock passed by the garden, they didn’t drift into the garden and tear it up.  We were successful.

Granted, for the most part, I am working my own sheep in their own environment, but then again, I am moving them all over the 100+ acres behind me.  I periodically work the sheep over at Wally’s house and we are sometimes called in to move stock we’ve never worked before.  I don’t screech at Gel any more.  If he’s screwing up, all I need to do is say his name in a growl tone or if necessary, ask him what he’s doing.  I have always insisted that my dogs lie down when I tell them to and they know if they don’t lie down, I’m coming after them.  Even Fern knows that now.  I lied her down this morning at approximately 100 yards out. 

Granted, Gel used to be pushy and I admittedly took too much of that out of him, but he’s getting better at speeding up when I ask him to.  Fern is pushy, but she seems to have a good sense of where she needs to be so she doesn’t get too far into the sheeps’ bubble and cause a train wreck.  We’ll see how things go when we get the lambs.  I think the lambs are going to be just what Fern needs as they’ll be very lively and quick moving.

What it comes down to though, is trusting your dog and your dog trusting you.  Gel and I are there and that is a wonderful feeling.  Fern will get there too.

A quick note on trialing in USBCHA.  I wrote to my agility instructor (whom at one time did trial in USBCHA) this morning and asked her if she thought it would be possible for me to trial USBCHA if I was unable to take lessons from an Open handler.  The closest Open handler to me is three hours away (one way) and given the price of gas, I’m no longer willing to drive that far for lessons.  There was a time that handlers didn’t take lessons, they worked at home and then went to trials and learned by trial and error.  Of course this was ten or twenty years ago and I think USBCHA trialing has become more exacting and it has become more competitive.  I told my agility instructor that I had a good idea of what it looked like (USBCHA trialing) and what I needed to do to get there and that both of my dogs had a good amount of natural talent and got daily work.  Did she think I could do it?  She wrote back and said that it was worth a try and that the worst that could happen would be that I’d fail, which is okay, we all fail sometimes.  Then again, there are not a lot of USBCHA trials within close proximity to me and I’m not too willing to drive three, four or five hours to a trial for one run a day.

So, we’ll see what happens in the future.  Hopefully with four days off, I can get my panels made, finally!  The way back field were I’m going to set my ElectroNet tonight would be an excellent place to practice as it’s almost completely flat.  The field closest to me has a lot of hills and dips, which have their purposes of course.  There are fewer briers in the furthest field back too.