I went out to Alta-Pete all by myself this morning. Well, I had Brit of course. I knew the rain would clear and it would be perfect. And I was right. The last rain fell as I was pulling into the driveway.
It was a very relaxing morning- we took our time and everything went smoothly. I think every time we go out will get better and better. But this time was a lot easier than last time. I was surprised at how much though. The sheep had settled in the yard, and it took only a single flank to get them moving towards the pasture. We easily sorted out 6 ewes and a lambs. I learned last time that it is best to take too many Ewes than not enough- in case I lost some when I tried to sort the lambs off.
I've been thinking a lot about what would work better to get the lambs off. Last time it felt impossible- because they won't leave the Ewe- even for an open gate. When I got to the barn pen I actually pushed them into the barn on purpose- I figured a smaller space would be easier and I was right. It took just a little manuevering with a gate, and the pressure from a dog and presto. Down to three Ewes and one lamb. Totally doable. I locked them in and put the others away.
While Brit rested I played with Alaska and Togo. We enjoyed Tim Bits and Coffee together. :) There will be a whole post about them tomorrow (or later if I get around to it.) They are the best guardian dogs ever. :)
The actual trial work was great- she took every stop but two! I used lots of good girls and frequent pats. We broke up each part- worked a few times on the L. I am trying to teach her to not actually go through the L, as I don't want her to push the sheep too fast towards me. I am a slow walker, and even more so when I am going backwards. lol. We did two 20 minute sessions in the arena and we both had a good time. Brit was happy that I wasn't yelling at her, and I was happy that she was stopping and taking flanks. :)
I was thinking on the way home about why today was so easy, and as with all things training related it has to do with me, and my emotions, and frustration. The second I am frustrated it goes to shit. I am going to have to work on that a lot between now and the trial. Adding stress is okay, but frustration is not. As soon as I feel it starting I need to take a deep breathe and remind myself it's just a dog and some sheep. I can work a dog and some sheep.
It's amazing to think that I've only been doing this since September. Not even a year. In that time I have learned a lot about my dog, about training, and about sheep. I think that a lot of what is helping me with the real farm girl stuff, and even with the trial prep stuff is that I have sheep sense. I know what to look for, I understand and can predict how a sheep might react. I can see something, and stop it before it's too late. Of course there is still much to learn, but I feel pretty confident that I am on my way.
I am way past the point that this is a hobby, and just for fun. This is a full out addiction that has changed me. In a good way. The other day I was telling Sarah that this finally may teach me patience. Nothing else has. But with this- there is no other option.
PS. Today was the first time I managed a camera, and my dog and the sheep. I impressed myself. :)