I didn't get much blogging in last week because I was at a herding clinic -- a workshop for training stock dogs. I love going to clinics: getting a fresh perspective on my dogs' strengths and challenges, picking up tips on how to further their training, hanging out and chatting with other herding enthusiasts, and of course getting to watch a lot of different dogs work. This clinic was taught by Jan Wesen from Washington state, but was held at a local farm. (Well, local enough that I was able to drive home every night.)
Here's my current working/competition Smooth Collie at work on the sheep. We're entered in some upcoming trials, but on ducks rather than on sheep, because we have all of her started level sheep titles already. She needs a bit more polishing before I can start competing with her at the upper levels.
I chat with Jan about penning. That's Jan's Australian Shepherd, Royal, in the foreground, and my dog to the left, holding her sheep in the pen. Penning is an area that I find particularly challenging, mostly because my dog and I have not had a lot of experience with it. Most of our pen work is with fence-line pens (like are found on a farm), not free-standing pens (a pen in the middle of an open field) as are found in some trials.
My good doggie, having penned her sheep and waiting further instruction from me. She's five years old, and is the dog that I use for doing chores around the farm, so she had quite a bit of working experience, but hasn't had much training for trial work. I'll be concentrating on her in the coming year to finish up her training so that I can compete more seriously with her, and so that I can start working with another one of my dogs (who is a close relative to this one).
While other participants work, I get a chance to relax in the shade and learn from the lessons others are getting. My dog is relaxed, but at the ready to spring back to work if needed -- in farm work, there is a lot of "down time" while I attend to barn chores, etc, but I may suddenly need her to move the sheep to a different pen, or hold them in a corner so I can work with them, so she's learned to get in her rest time while she can.
Many thanks to my friend, Barb LeBrun of Belchertown, MA for the photos from the clinic.
5-7 year mission preview, realized
5 years ago