Sunday, March 28, 2010

Herding Seminar

This weekend Grace and I attended a 3 day herding seminar at the McKowen farm. The seminar was given by Pat Taylor and Karen Trimble. Pat's husband produced a DVD series for introductory stock dog training which I borrowed and watched before the seminar. I was pleased with the basic stock pen obedience presentation in the DVD series and the same philosophy was presented at the seminar. Tim is now working on an intermediate level DVD series.

Grace has no yield in the sheep pen. Therefore she has no flank. Pat put a gut rope on her and proceeded to explain to Grace that the stock stick was going to win in the herding pen. By Sunday Grace was yielding .... and very meekly working her stock. I have lots of homework to do. Grace needs to learn to yield to the stick (moving backwards, forwards, and laterally), stay behind my shoulder plane when she is on her herding line, and listen to me (that includes a solid down command). This training method also teaches the dog when to be on the handler and when to be on the sheep. With Karen/Pat's help we have a training plan. Linda audited the seminar on Saturday and Sunday so she was able to discuss the training short term plan forward. I see a trip to Kerrville, TX in my future to let them train me on a Phase II training program for Grace. It seems Pat has a rescue Aussie very similar to Grace so she knew what to expect from Grace.

During the packed pen (100 sheep stuffed into a small pen) exercise to build confidence in the dogs of being around lots of stock, one of the ewes gave birth to a lamb. We stopped working the dogs long enough to relocate the lamb and ewe to a small holding pen. A few minutes later the small lamb was joined by its twin. There are always interesting scenes from mother nature at Roberta's farm. I've seen a fox, newborn stock, and various birds. This weekend there was a squirrel hanging out near the training pen. The squirrel was hanging upside down snacking on new spring tree growth. The squirrel stayed upside down for a long period of time munching on the goodies she had located.