Monday, February 2, 2009

Herding lesson

Tori and I had a herding lesson at Val's on Saturday. In town, a beautiful day was evolving, evident by the fact that I left the house with my hair down, wearing a light jacket. Thankfully, when I got dressed that morning, I thought it was going to be cold, so I was layered up; and despite the gentle breeze outside my lovely city abode, I remembered to bring a hat. My herding instructor lives approximately 10 miles from the Colorado-Wyoming border, and it is plagued with my least favorite form of weather...wind. As I drove the 30 minute drive north, I started to recognize that it might not be so beautiful at the aptly named Rancho Terra Norte ("The North Ground").

Val laughed when I asked if we should reschedule as what felt like 60 mph winds roared around us. She reminded me that since Tori would barely be able to hear me, that yelling "Lie Down!" repeatedly wasn't going to get me very far, so I had to get after her the first time I say it. We were working on outruns for AKC Started A Course, which I realized are really pretty basic, but difficult because a.) the stock are often not where they should be (big surprise) and b.) there is barely enough room to get a perfect lift on this course even if your dog is able to press itself to the fence and be very very sneaky - a powerful dog needs more room to get to the top than the A course allows. Because we didn't have a set out dog, we really worked on pulling sheep off the gate of their pen, and trying to get them to the fetch line. Tori still has a big tendency to cut in at the top of her outrun, and I am *slowly* learning how to position myself to keep that from happening. She had a couple of pretty nice outruns, which were a bit sloppy at first, but saved by the fact that she listened to my "Lie Down" at the top. We also worked on walking behind the sheep in a straight line, not dashing back and forth as if the 3 sheep were going to suddenly break rank and flee in all directions. Not exactly a natural tendency of sheep, especially those who have been worked by dogs. We are getting some nice straight lines with the sheep behind me (although not very far)

After her lesson we went to the [grooming] shop, to visit Jason and give Tori a bath. She hates getting groomed, but I gave her the works...I did just stand in raging wind for an hour so she could play with sheep :P