Just got in from training. I brought the sheep up to the Christmas Tree Farm and put them in the fenced-in area and gate sorted them into groups of three.
Wow! I have a group of very un-dogbroke sheep. Kevin said I needed wilder sheep to work Gel on for driving practice and do I ever have wild sheep.
I had hoped that the lambs would move off Cian easier than the whole group did. Nope. He couldn’t hold them against the draw back to the other sheep. I moved all over the field trying to get him in a place where he was comfortable but had no success.
Fern did much better, but she worked her tail off keeping the sheep to me.
Gel did okay, but he’s really not much better than Cian when it comes to pressure. I’ve written several times about my issues with working with Gel’s pressure sensitivity.
I did end in a good note with Cian. There were about six sheep left in the fenced in area. I brought him in there with me and went to the far side of the pen and sent him around the sheep so he had to go between the fence and the sheep. Then I brought the sheep back out and had him hold them to the gate. Every time he tried to flank off I called him back in. His flanking off isn’t just a few feet, in some instances it’s many yards away. He essentially runs away from the pressure.
So, the game plan is to set up some chutes and work on those with all three dogs. That means I need to figure out where to set them up. I can’t really use my fenced-in area because my options of where to put the goats and Rose when I’m working in there are minimal. Most of the fencing that’s around the property is barbed wire. There are some areas where the vegetation is dense enough so I might be able to use that as a fence line. I’ll have to figure it out. I can transport my Maltese Cross panels on my ATV so I might take them down there this afternoon and see how it works.
I think people have the tendency to put too much attention into outwork (outrun, lift, fetch and driving) and not enough in close work. I know I’ve been guilty of that. I rarely practice penning and it’s evident when I trial. It’s much easier to just work the whole flock than it is to separate sheep out into smaller groups. I recognize now that, except for Gel’s driving practice, that I need to keep the whole group together with Cian and Fern so they are calmer. Gel and I need to learn to manage the small, light groups. It’s pretty cool that these lambs do not just run away from the dogs, they turn on them and stomp. Perfect!!!
Fern loves close work and is razor sharp in her movements. Where I believe her issues are going to be are leaning too hard on the sheep. Cian and Gel are just the opposite I’ll need to work hard to get them to come into the sheep.
I’m glad I went out and trained and now I have a game plan for future lessons.