Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cleveland Sheltie Club Herding Trial

Porter & I tried Started Sheep again at the Cleveland Sheltie Club's trial in Nova, OH on June 9-10. This is the same location that was successful for us at the Cardigan Specialty back in April. We were not as successful this time!  :)


Photo from our very first herding trial: AHBA in November 2009
He looks so young!


We did only sheep this time. I had entered this trial way before the Cardigan Specialty, so I had no idea how our duck herding there was going to go. I assumed it wouldn't go well and I didn't want to repeat the performance. Oh well!

Photo from our very first herding trial: AHBA in November 2009
Porter tended to run into my stick even then...

On Saturday, I excused us. The run started bad & I knew it was only going to get worse  :)

Porter wouldn't go to the cone, then he wouldn't lie down at the cone, then he left the cone before I sent him... His outrun was terrible, obviously.

But since he left before I sent him, I was already at the B cone which gave me a little headstart on the way to the C cone. The sheep actually lifted toward me, but I made my usual rookie mistake and let them go past me as I argued with Porter to lie down.

I continue to think that if I don't get him to listen to me then, he's not going to listen for the entire run... This has been proven many times that it just doesn't matter  :)  He's not going to listen then because he needs to cover the sheep escaping. Which makes him right & me wrong.

Photo from our very first herding trial: AHBA in November 2009
He's been doing his signature "lie down" for a long time!

I went ahead and exhauseted the sheep. As I was headed toward the gate, the judge stopped me & commended me for excusing myself  :)  I'm still debating whether this is truly a compliment!

She did warn me though that it would probably be best if I just took him off the course instead of letting him exhaust the sheep. Point well taken, she was exactly right. It was kind of a reward...

Photo from our very first herding trial: AHBA in November 2009

The next day I was prepared! I had a plan, not just for the run, but leading up to the run as well. I had thought about my mental game a lot in the hotel that night  :)

And we had the best run we've ever had!

We didn't qualify, but as you see on the score sheet below, we were rocking! Until we failed...  :)

Only 1 point off on the OLF? It was the best one he's ever had :)

As my friend Lisa says, I "got into Porter's head" before we entered the gate. He marched out to the cone with me, lied down quietly, and waited for me to send him. And since he did, I was able to position myself to cue a nice wide outrun (not a "border collie" outrun by any means, but a respectable corgi outrun).

He did push the sheep past me on the way to the cone, but instead of arguing with him, I just jogged with the sheep and let him keep them to me. We lost them after our turn around the cone. But that happens almost everytime  :)

So I took that opportunity to lie him down on our way to retrieve them. After he fetched them to me, I took another moment to have him hold them to me on the fence. I made him lie down. I made him "get out." Then we headed for the Y.

The Y, Z, and Runway went great, only a couple 1/2 points off. But after the runway is where I made my fatal rookie mistake that got us disqualified...

Photo from our very first herding trial: AHBA in November 2009

We lost the sheep to the exhaust somewhere between the runway & the center panels. Did I make the "4"? I honestly don't remember. Did I send Porter to cover the escape? I really don't remember. But at that time, I thought the answer to both was "no."

So we retrieved them from the exhaust and headed back to the "4." This was actually one of the better fetches we've had, we didn't use the fence, but went across the pen. We hit the "4," turned, Porter over-flanked and we lost them to the exhaust again. We took them back up to the "5" then exhausted them.

I felt really good. So did Porter, he even went to the grain pan for a reward on our way out :)

So why does it say we were disqualified above on the sheet? Well, the judge counted our first escape  on the center panels as an attempt. So I disqualified myself by going back to redo it :(  We basically got double points off.
I was really upset with myself. Another rookie mistake. The judge even said in her briefing that we could ask her while we were on course if something counted as an attempt. But I didn't ask. Because I knew it wasn't!  :)  See, the same thing had happened to us before. But I hadn't redone the obstacle that previous time and we were disqualified because we didn't redo it.

So this time I was not going to let that happen again! But I missed one key point: this had been an attempt. Oops.
I really need some sort of herding strategy class  :)  I just keep making these dumb rookie mistakes!

Photo from our very first herding trial: AHBA in November 2009
I have learned since then that this is not the way you exhaust sheep! Another rookie mistake  :)
How did I even open that gate?

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