Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Looking for keys that are lying about

Rhonda, one of our Leaning Tree Cattle Dogs moves a bull through the lot

I often ask myself why I spend so much time on the internet, it seems like it is lost time that I could be using training dogs. But then out of no where an answer comes to me from this source, it instantly turns that time spent into time invested. Today was one of those days.

Last week I mentioned the older male Border Collie that I have been trying to problem solve. He has spent the last week hanging out in the kennel, no sense taking him out for me to end up getting run over again or to injure sheep. While instant messaging another handler about this dog the key to solving his problem landed right smack dab in my lap. I couldn't wait to sign of, get sheep into the barn and make a new attempt. This renewed resolve brought about success, this dog that just last week I fear hopeless showed me that he could change.

This dog that was laying in wait to get them before they got him showed me that he could take the bull by the horns (rather ram), stand up to pressure, take the threat of a hit, counter with a bite and properly release. By no means is he fixed, but I think we just took a huge step in the right direction, but it all began with finding one key, the key that openned the door to a success, which I can only trust will lead to future successes.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ouch....that really hurt!!

It's been a few years since I've taken a hit like the one I took today. The last time was a few winters ago, I had Sandra Dee and Sheila out in the pasture, using Sheila to hold sheep, I had my back to the sheep trying to get Sheila to stay put, unknown to me Sandra Dee had latched onto the tail of a ewe, the ewe was in hot pursuit to safety (me). When she hit me she spun me and dropped me into a snow drift. That hurt my pride more the me, I guess I ended up with a pretty cheap chiropractic adjustment.
Today it was way different. A few weeks back I took on a new dog for training, he is a border collie that is 5 years old, has been used on cattle and feels that sheep are to be eaten. Things were going pretty well when all of a sudden he broke taking off after some sheep, the sheep circled came toward me and past. I stepped into the path of the dog to get him shut down, but he didn't stop, he ran smack dab into my leg head first about 4 inches below my knee and just to the side of my shin, luckly the muscle of my calf took the brunt of the blow. But boy, it hurts!!! The muscle and my shin bone are sore to the touch and when I move my leg.
After that wonderful event Wayne worked with Chip, which eventually turned into me working Chip. The little guy did some nice things, the highlight of the session was when he stopped on his own causing the sheep to slow rather then getting sucked in which results in excitement and chase, good dog.
Can't wait until tomorrow, will my leg hurt worse, or will it be better then today....I'm counting my blessings that he didn't hit my leg straight on. BTW, the bugger never slowed down, atleast that I saw, and then not long after that he ran headlong into the fence when a ewe jumped over him to elude him. This dog is going to take some time, he get's so wrapped up in "Get the Sheep" that he can't see anything around him.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Where have the last 10 days gone??

Vicky has an announcement!!! Read on...

I did it again, fell behind on my blog...and training has slowed to a snails pace.

The trees are beginning to change color and the weatherman is predicting a drop in the temps, fall is coming to our area fast!!!
I've been busy trying to get the Club newsletter put together, this is my 4th day working on it.
Oh yeah, Vicky's announcement....We have a new baby boy, Sunday Vicky succeeded in whelping, it was not all great, we lost two, a really big tri color female and a little still born male that Wayne ended up pulling, but both we and Vicky are tickled with this one little bundle of squeeking joy.
But that's not all, about 6 hours after Vicky presented us her little male pup, Dottie got into the act producing 3 female and 2 male Australian Cattle Dog puppies.
Last evening we had some entertainment, I purchased 5 new pullets that needed to get rounded up and put in the hen house, well, they were not to keen on being caught up. Chickens everywhere, so I employed Jake, amazingly he had no problem getting the feather renegades corralled and back to the hen house, though he did reveal an issue with his flanks. Until your dog works really light or fresh livestock you don't always see a push or a slice, Jake was far from producing square flanks. Reflecting back, the reason behind our failure to master the sheep at the Minnesota State Fair was just identified. Time to get a little more serious about require perfection not only while training but also while doing chores.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Wayne is back to working his dogs

Wayne took Chip, one our young Australian Cattle Dogs out to work on the sheep. The work was slow and steady, but progress was made.

Chip finds a place to hold up the stock, he was not told to lie down, he just planted it there.

Wayne moves in to bump Chip out of his trance, imagine that, a clampy cattle dog...

Chip moves off, not quite a flank but not quite a drive

Wayne moves in again and Chip stops

Chip then offers a drive

But...then decides that he needs to stop again, clampy little bugger

Wayne encourages Chip to "Walk up"

Wayne allows Chip to drive the sheep along the fence

Then in a circle around him

Now Wayne is walking with Chip during a drive

He has them all on his own!!!

At this point Wayne asked Chip to flank

The Sheep move off the fence, Chip continues down the fence on his flank

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Another cute little mare for sale

When we arn't working in the leather shop or out training dogs we are playing with horses. A few weeks back we ran across this cute little bay mare, she is as sweet as they come, now she just needs to find someone to make her theirs:

Two Eyed Magic Trick (APHA 956015)
DOB 4-13-08

Sire: Fine Shine Bartender (QH) by A Fine Bartender out of Watch Joanne Shine

Dam: CS Doin Black Magic (buckskin/Overo) by Doc Cupid Chance (Red Roan/overo out of Mu Rocket Moon (Black/solid)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Far from perfect but still showing improvement

I thought I would take a moment to reflect back on the two trials we attended this past weekend.

Wayne ran Jake down at the Nebraska State Fair on cattle. The cattle were younger and smaller then we normally run, Jake showed us some good things. Granted he didn't get the job done, but he showed more confidence in his approach when dealing with cattle that were not wanting to move off of a dog. Each time Wayne runs him in a trial we can find improvement in one form or another, and honestly don't see where he has regressed in any way.

Straight out of the arena at Nebraska we jumped in the car heading north so that I could meet with Sharon and head off to the Minnesota State Fair with JJ and Jake for a sheep dog trial the following moring. We arrived at the motel around midnight, alarms went off at 5 am trial began at 8 am. I was very pleased with JJ, he went off on his outrun like a pro, landing just about perfect, lifting the sheep calmly and bringing them with purpose right up the arena toward to me. We then began our drive, which started out well, JJ giving me some nice off balance flanks, but as we worked our way around the course I swore I could smell brake smoke as I lost a little bit of control over him with each passing second. But, we succeeded in getting the sheep penned, ending the day in sixth place and a perfect score for his outrun, lift and fetch.

Jake had a tough time with his sheep. They just did not trust him and refused to settle or be controlled. Each time I stopped Jake in an effort to settle the sheep the sheep would try to break. Poor Jake spent 10 minutes solid on his feet doing his best to master these silly ewes, and I was little help unable to figure out exactly what needed to change in order to help Jake out, I feel as if I failed him.

The shed proved to be difficult, or rather as another handler stated "impossible", but we got her done, not certain how. I kept looking for the right place to call Jake in, worked hard to try to create it but it just was not happening, then all off a sudden Jake just came in, I don't think I even called him. Just like that the sheep were split and Jake had one set under control. We ran out of time just as I openned that gate for the pen, but that's ok, there will be other days.

It never ceases to amaze me how different a trial is from the work we do here at home, I trust that one day it will all come together.