Monday, November 22, 2010

Herding Clinics Are So Inspiring!

Reese and I are back from our 3rd herding clinic in 4 months. They are fun and a great opportunity to learn and always full of an incredible amount of information. My brain is always on information overload from the first day on...but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Reese is continuing to make great progress. She is flanking better and continuing to give the sheep space and not diving in on them even if they are standing at the fence, she will just take them off and continue working. At this point we have started working on her finding balance and getting more comfortable there. That is her most uncomfortable place and makes her nervous. She can only handle it for very short spurts before she has to be flanked out.

She made some great progress with balance and held it for the longest time yet the first day she worked.  She got to work 7 times. I am so glad I had the opportunity to have her work that many times. She makes leaps and bounds of progress with Kathy and I will take every chance I can get to have her work with Reese and I. It is going to be a slow process to get Reese comfortable at balance but hopefully once we do that she will be over a large hump of what is holding us back. For now this is where she is at and what we will work on until she is comfortable there.

I started working Reese again at this clinic and it was so fun to be back working with her. I haven't worked her since July before we went to our first clinic and the re-training began. Kathy stepped in when needed of course. My friend Loretta worked her 3 times as she understands a bit more what Kathy is looking for in the small changes we need to see in Reese to keep progressing. I worked her 4 times and I am learning to relax more, not raise my voice as that puts Reese over the top, and that if I slow down and get out of the sheep everything else will slow down and Reese relaxes even more.

Those that hadn't seen Reese since the first clinic were pretty amazed at how far she has come, and how well she is doing. Between watching her work and listening to people gasp "oh my!" but in a good way, (thanks Jeannie) at the sight of what she was now able to do, brought me to a bit of an emotional - but happy meltdown.  Yes, I cried, happy tears of course.  The progress Reese has made might seem small to some people but to those who saw what a mess she was just a few short months ago know how much change has taken place.

It just makes me so happy to see my dog actually working and really thinking when she is on stock now. She is trying so hard and that is all I can ask. As Kathy always says it is about the smallest change and the slightest try. It really applies to a dog like Reese and what we are looking for.

She didn't totally flip out when I went in the round pen to work her either. It felt like it got better each time I worked her. On one of the first runs it felt like she was starting to revert back to one of her old habits of circling and not thinking and then I started to get nervous and tense which of course just made Reese more amped. So Kathy stepped in and helped get things back in line that run. By our last run of the weekend I had much more confidence working her.
I also got the chance to take some photos.  Here are a few of them, and you can see the rest at my Flickr Photostream on the right. I only got a couple of Reese and they are a bit blurry as she still moves pretty fast in the round pen and of course you can't take pictures when you are working your own dog.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What a difference a Week Makes!

It was just a week ago that we went to our herding lesson and the weather was a balmy, I don't know what but it looked like this....

Today when we got to our lesson it looked like this...

Tonight's menu included: Squash soup - which was awesome, first time making it and boy was it the charm! Garlic roasted potatoes, pork loin with teriyaki and ginger sesame marinade and a french banquette. Oh, and homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert. I am so stuffed!  Lots of leftovers.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

To Agility and Beyond....

Okay, it just seemed like catchy title to this post.

It's been a busy weekend for Reese. Yesterday it was a Skijoring lesson where we started to learn things like "line out", "pull", and directions.  It was fun to see Reese with the other dogs and completely being a good girl keeping herself together while we watched some other dogs act up with over excitement and stimulation.  Yes, I remember those days - but I am so glad we are past them. 

Reese did great with a number of other dogs around in a strange environment and lots of weirdness going on. First there was the harness, then the rubber mats and tires that dogs were pulling around. Lots of new dogs from huskies, which for some reason she has never cared for, a lab, a golden, a couple Aussie mixes, a border collie mix, some standard poodles, GSD, and to round it all out a mastiff.

Today we had our agility lesson.  We ran the Grand Prix quarterfinals course from USDAA. It was fun, fun, fun. We are getting faster and really working as a team.  Reese is really starting to understand my body language and I am figuring out slowly but surely the little changes that I can make that will help her understand what I am asking for. was on to herding. Once again Reese did a great job.  She is really trying hard and working really well, staying off the sheep at a good distance and giving them space on her flanks. Not running tight up into their backsides and not diving in to bust them up.  Here is a short video of her working today with my trainer. She separates one at one point but then gets them back together again and keeps on working.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Reese is a Rock Star - Part 2!

Being that our next herding clinic is only a few short weeks away I wanted to spend a little time working on Reese's manners around sheep.  For those that know Reese you know that she is a gung ho girl. She doesn't do anything half a$$ if she is going to do it she will give it her all.  Insert "impulse control work" here. Reese has learned so much impulse control with agility and other dogs running etc. in the last year.  The 180 degree shift in how she is now compared to where she was is quite amazing.

But she is still very gung ho to work sheep and while she should be, she still needs to have self control. Because she sometimes forgets her sheep manners the plan was to walk Reese through the pasture on leash and work on her walking nicely in the presence of sheep and calling her off from where she was back to me while on leash etc.

Well the next thing I hear is my trainer tell Reese, "If you want to work sheep you have to listen to me..."
Um, huh??  I thought we were just going to take a walk in the pasture. 

To my surprise our trainer decided to give it a go and see how Reese would do working.

She was giving it her all and really trying.  Such a good girl.  We moved some of the sheep to the round pen to really let her work and work she did. She was amazing! She remembered all that she learned from the clinics we attended this summer. It has been awhile since she has worked stock so I wasn't sure how many steps back we would need to take, but she is back where we left off.

She did just wonderful.  She was thinking...and listening... and understanding what was being asked of her. She called off the sheep, she downed when asked.  I was so proud of her. She is such a good girlie. She tries so hard and that hard work is paying off. She is really getting it and understanding what working is. 

The new Reese....chasing = balls,   working = sheep!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reese is a Rock Star - Part 1 !

Reese is my little Rock Star! We had an awesome weekend, after a crazy week so that makes it even that much better. Nothing big last week, I was just very busy and didn't get to spend the time I wanted with my girlie walking, hiking and playing like we usually do.

But that makes Saturday's happenings that much more sweet.

We had our agility lesson on Saturday, due to the daylight slip-sliding away so fast these days. Reese did a great job. She listened, she was attentive to me, did not even look at the cars going by once. (You would have thought it was Sunday, all the drivers out for a cruise - I quickly lost count of all the vehicles.) 

We have been working on our cik/cap turns and jumps from a standstill to build her rear highness, I mean end!  She has been doing well and the cik and cap are coming along. Still working on just a low cross bar though so didn't know how much her turns would improve on a course.

We ran the Grand Prix finals course from USDAA. It was a very fun course, I am definitely getting better at remembering them and figuring out how to run them.......sometimes I have a slight delay in finding the numero uno obstacle, but after that I'm good:))

Reese ran great, and I was able to use cik and cap and I could see it made a difference. We found some things we need to work on like entering tunnels when I'm at the tunnel instead of running to it, and Reese is not completely comfortable with rear crosses so we are working on those too. But I didn't collapse out-of-breath at the end of the run this that's an improvement. 

The running we are doing must be helping!

Reese had a little photo shoot before our lesson so when I get those pictures I will post them. I think they are going to be amazing photos. It will be fun to see her in, on, over the obstacles.

You'll have to tune in tomorrow for part 2.