I did some heavy duty cleaning, did the telephone interview, talked to a friend for a while, then headed out with the three dogs to train. I worked Cian first and got very similar results as we did during my lesson with Kevin. Structure and demanding that he be accountable for his work really tires him out. After I worked him the first time, I didn’t have to work hard to get him to call off the sheep and in fact, for a while when I was working Fern, he was lying quietly. A first for Cian.
Fern is so different from Cian in how she moves and reacts to the movement of the sheep. She’s much more drawn in to the stock whereas Cian boomarangs out. I had to use some pressure to keep her out and going around the stock, but I was amazed at how quickly she was picking up flank commands. She did two nice outruns. For the first one I lied her down and sent her to the right. She bent out properly and covered well. For the second outrun, I sent her from my feet to the left and again, it was very good. She’s on both a stop and walk-up whistle now. I’m going to have to work to soften my flank whistles because she’s ultra sensitive to commands. She stops and turns on a dime.
After I was working Fern for a while, Cian started his manic swaying. He was tied close to Gel and after a while, Gel corrected him for his craziness. That didn’t stop Cian from swaying though. Fool.
Then it was Gel’s turn. I sent him for a short outrun, then completely flanked him around and started a drive. I had him driving the sheep all over the field, it wasn’t pretty nor was he particularly happy doing it, but he was taking his flank whistles as I asked. Then we did some shedding. While Kevin wasn’t able to actually show me how to shed, we talked about it. Was I ever pleased that we got three really, really nice sheds. I forced Gel to keep the shed sheep separate for the others. When we got down to the last group, however, he was suffering from some burn out and ended up in outer space (Cian isn’t the only Martian wannabe) so I called him off and called it quits for him.
I worked both Fern and Cian a second time, but in future training sessions, one time is all they get per session. They were both a bit burned out during the second session. I can see I’m going to have to handle Cian with kid gloves now because I am not allowing him to rocket out like he was. He’s not liking the pressure. I am sure though that his desire to work is going to overcome this obstacle. Kevin noticed that he was quite soft, as is Fern and even Gel … I suppose I had better learn to train soft dogs.
We have a total of six lambs on the ground, four rams and two ewes. I’m ahead of the game so far. My agreement with Wally is he gets the ewes lambs, I get the rams. Last year he ended up with more sheep. It doesn’t matter really, at the end of the day, they are all our sheep.
All in all it’s been a great day and I feel certain if I can keep myself in the training groove, getting out and training the dogs every day that I am able (work schedule and weather permitting) I’ll have Fern and Cian ready to run Pro-Novice and Gel Open in March. The days are definitely getting longer. Here it is 5:15 and it’s still quite light out. Plenty light enough to put off milking and pulling up the sheep for a few more minutes.
Until later …