Monday, June 28, 2010

Shedding Clinic - ONE MORE THING...

Scott reminded me last night, but I still forgot : Many thanks to Jeanne Boudrieau for making the sheep collars for the International shed!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Alta-Pete Shedding Clinic - Day 3

Our final day of the clinic was a little warmer but again, the nice breeze kept us from getting too hot and kept the mosquitoes away. This was the day to work on "the big one", whatever that may be for the level you were at. Both Jerry and Lisa continued to work on basic sheds, fine tuning their skills. Jerry and his Kelpie, Jed, were pushing too hard to get the shed. Scott had Jerry relax and NOT call him in. Before you knew it, they were easily opening a hole for Jed to come through. Lisa's Hope had been rushing in the gap like a scud missile. By the time they were finished today, Hope was relaxed but still coming in with purpose, allowing him to have a strong hold because his head was cooler.
Everyone else worked on the International shed. Scott talked about us having a plan when we went out there but told us to be ready to abandon the plan if it wasn't working. He also talked about opening the "gate" and closing it but not slamming the door. That translated to the dog working his side and us working our side and opening and closing the pathway between us without getting so forceful that the sheep never wanted to drift through.

Randy Dye and Sweep close the gate on an escaping ewe

When it was Hemp's turn, I could see he wasn't really sure what I wanted him to do, but I think he will get a better idea, the more we practice it. He was confused by me asking him to stop some of the sheep that were running past, but let others go.

Hemp and I attempting to hold sheep on each of our own sides

He did a good job of not putting too much pressure on the sheep by keeping his flanks square when I asked him to. I was happy with him.
It was interesting to watch the handlers puzzle out the sheep and their intentions and as we were watching on the sidelines we found ourselves figuring it out with them.

Louanne Twa switched to her dog, Rob, for the international shed and got it done!

Each handler that went up had a clearer and clearer picture of how to get it done after watching those that came before them. It was definitely an exercise suited to a clinic format instead of a private lesson. There was too much to learn in only a half hour's worth of time. You needed the whole day to watch it unfold over and over.

Chris Jobe and Jill control a collared ewe

We were also happy to have our favorite photographer, Vickie Close offer her services with her camera AND volunteer to help hold the sloughed sheep on the field.

Vickie Close and her dog Hanna keep the sheep on the field in between photographing each run

Everyone said they were very happy and enjoyed themselves and declared that if we have another clinic next year, they will rush to sign up. We can't ask anymore than that.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Alta-Pete Shedding Clinic - Day Two

Today's weather was just as nice as yesterday. We worked on building on what we learned previously and progressed into a marked shed. In the morning session each dog worked on it's weakness so not every lesson was the same. If there was a recurring problem it would have been the tendency for the handlers to push the sheep on to the dog as they were trying to set up the shed.

Penny Ohanjanian and her dog Moss work on keeping the sheep in a line as they set up the shed

Other than that, each dog had something different to concentrate on. Some dogs were still pushing hard on the sheep and ended up too close to them and causing them to be unsettled. One dog had a problem with anticipating the call in and actually worked on not coming in when there was a gap. Most of the time it was the handlers that learned what they could do differently to get the shed done.

Shannon Fritz's dog Ben comes into the gap

I got a lot of tips on handling Lad. Just like yesterday, it wasn't about the hold, it was about coming through the gap. Several times I would get excited when taking 1 or 2 sheep off and I would forget to keep him flanking through. Instead I would give him his hold command. Scott reminded me that Lad isn't very good at holding them and pushing them away from the other sheep so I needed to manufacture the hold by not relying on him to work the sheep by himself. I needed to tell him exactly what to do. I also learned how to let/get the sheep to line out and work parallel to my dog instead of pushing the sheep into a ball and over him. By the end of the lesson, Lad was took a single better than he had ever shed before.

Lad takes his best single ever for me...

In the afternoon, we worked on a marked shed. Out of 7 sheep, two were marked. We had to shed off two unmarked, regather them and then shed one collared off. I was proud of both Lad and I for being able to get the sheds done without terrible difficulty using the tools we learned in the morning.
Tomorrow I will be switching to Hemp for the International shed since that is where he needs the most work.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Alta-Pete Shedding Clinic - Day One

We had several requests for Scott to do a shedding clinic from our fellow Albertans. I also desperately needed help after my dogs did so well in the Bluegrass but I failed them in the shed. I had been to one of Alasdair MacRae's shedding clinics but that was 9 years ago when Bob was just a young dog and now I need help with Hemp and Lad. We decided to have a clinic here at our farm and today was the first day. It was perfect weather with some sun and some clouds. It never got up to 80F degrees and the breeze kept the mosquitoes away.
We had a great turnout of old and new friends.

Handlers watching the clinic

The range of experience varied from an Open Ranch Kelpie and handler trying their first sheds

Jerry Kurbatoff and his Kelpie, Jed learn how to start a shed

to a couple of National Finals double lift competitors and their border collies.

George Stambulic and Kate shed off a couple of ewes

We learned that no matter how good we thought we were, we all had room for improvement. Scott started out by asking us one by one to go into the ring and shed off however many we wanted out of about 10 sheep.

Louanne Twa and Isla do a practice shed

It didn't go unnoticed that we all had a favorite side to shed off of and we had some difficulties when Scott asked us to switch sides. He used this time to evaluate each of us and see where the literal holes were in our sheds.
Then came the lecture and theory portion of the clinic.

Scott diagrams some basic shedding situations

On a dry erase board, Scott went over the ideas we were going to be working on and what our individual faults were. It was such an easy going and comfortable group that I don't think anyone was self conscious but rather, quite eager to hear his thoughts on the matter.
Then we all went out and Scott helped us with our changes.
On our first day we were just working on the basics of a regular shed. Even the more experienced open handlers had things they needed to work on. The theme of the day seemed to be to make sure the dogs came through the gap far enough.

Lisa Wright and Hope practice coming all the way through the gap

Many of the dogs could get a shed done if the circumstances were right but if they had dog broke sheep that liked to regather behind you, it wasn't going to work. Our sheep didn't try to regather but were helpful enough to allow us to make sure our dogs passed through far enough. For most of the dogs it wasn't about the hold yet. We had two sessions for each of the 10 dogs and you could see the progression from the morning to the afternoon.

Dogs waiting their turn

We have provided the breakfasts, lunches and dinners at this clinic and it has been a wonderful way to gather over our meals and discuss the events of the day. Many people are enjoying the evening, walking their dogs in the sunset and a few of the men have gathered by the television to watch the anniversary dvd for One Man And His Dog. I think we are all looking forward to tomorrow's next step.

Jerry and Jed contemplate their lesson