Friday, December 7, 2012

Porter the Ranch Dog

Last weekend, Porter & I competed in an AHBA herding trial at one of  the places where we take herding lessons.

We have had a lot of mixed results at herding trials. Wait, I take that back. We've had very poor results at herding trials, with one exception.

Anyway, I thought this would be a great test to see just where & why we fail at trials. Is it my nerves? Is it the new place? Is it the new stock? Is it Porter's amped up attitude? Is it our training? I figured half of these things would be eliminated. I mean, Porter knows the stock. He knows the location. And we even practiced certain bits of the course at our last lesson. And my nerves were considerably less due to those things  :)

But before I go on, let me state how we did: We did pretty darn good! At least results-wise  :)

Was his work up to my standards? No. Was he as good as in practice? No. Was he better than most trials? Yes!

We qualified in 3 out of 4 runs. The one we didn't qualify in we missed by a half-point.

And I even have video! My friends Megan, Matt, & Jodi came out to see Porter in action and offered to film.

They watched us do the Ranch course. This class is supposed to similate using your dog in a real working farm. We had to do a gate-sort, go through many other gates, take the sheep out to graze, push them through a footbath, and put them through the chute thing.

And Porter did it all! He earned his HRD-1 title! See the video below for a glimpse:

 Sure, it wasn't pretty in some spots. Especially by AKC standards  :)  But this organization is more concerned with getting the job done & doing it quietly & safely.
Good things in this video:
  • I actually gate-sorted! Usually Porter has them so jammed up in the corner that they rip the gate from my hands are I can't open it to let even one out  :)  And I didn't even slam a head or neck in there!  Now, I know part of the reason this worked so well is because Porter was over there eating poop (thus the giggling from the film crew). But it worked & I'll take it!
  • We never lost the sheep completely. If you've seen us trial before, you know we loose the sheep at least once to a dead run down the field to the exhaust. And I usually don't let Porter cover because I'm afraid of the outcome. But we didn't have that here, for the reasons stated above.
  • We put them through that footbath both times! In practice Porter came on too strong in the walk-up & would squirt them everywhere. Or he would over-flank & they would run back down the fence aways. But I set it up early, dropped him, positioned myself, took a deep breath, and whispered for him to "walk-up." He had to walk up a couple times, but he stopped when asked each time. And I did have to flank him a little, which he also took. Yay Porter!
  • We also succeeded in penning the sheep in the free-standing pen in the 2 HTAD runs! One was a gimmee (I don't know why those sheep wanted in there so bad, nothing else in the run went that well!) and the other run we only penned 3 out of the 5 (but I took it!). We have trouble penning due to the same over-pushes & over-flanking that kills us in everything else...
Most of our failures were the typical ones: a real lack in some of Porter's early foundation work. And the fact that he gets so excited and his adrenaline is pumping (pushing the sheep thru the footbath & chute did not help to curb that AT ALL!). And my nerves. (I was not nervous hardly at all at this trial)
So we identified some of our trialling issues. And now we go back to training!


  1. Good job, Merinda and Porter! Congratulations on all of the Q's!

  2. It was so awesome to finally get to see you and Porter in action, live. I love watching a dog (or a horse, for that matter) do what they're bred to do and love it, and he loves herding! I really would for Mesa to start herding training very soon because I can tell she'd love it. Ohhh to have more time and money... ;-)