We get to our hotel, which, I have to say was very interesting :) I have pictures...OH YES. LOL But the room was clean as could be, and they were great with the dogs, so I can't complain too much. But they had some interesting rules like: Day 19: Thank goodness I wasn't planning on cleaning any birds...I would have been pissed! :) And um...apparently another usage for duct tape? Day 20
Wednesday am, Donna and I set off to KK's. I haven't taken a private lesson since the earlier days when Zip was younger, and well...I didn't really enjoy those. But I love working with KK, so I was ready to rock and roll.
It was 9 am, and the sun was already out, Donna made the comment it felt stronger down here, warmer, brighter. Yep...sure did. We drove the long gravel road to their place, and topped the hill...the barn where I first picked up Zip on the right, the trial field (which is GORGEOUS) on the left and down a little...where I first saw border collies working sheep...still gives me goosebumps when I get onto their farm. Just because it holds some of the first memories I ever had of Border Collies. ALL the vast land...it's a bit overwhelming at first, we don't have that where I live in MN...not like that. Hills and sheep dotted on all of them. It was 24, which is darn warm up here, and QUIET. Ahhhhhhhh....PEACE...If I could have a place like this someday, I would be in heaven...and probably a Powerball winner :) But a girl can dream right?
It was good spending a few minutes catching up with everyone...then the work began :) The plan was to get a lesson in the am, then in the afternoon and if everything cooperated, on Thursday am before we headed back. Which might seem like a lot, but with all the driving, it would be a good plan for us. First up, round pen dogs :) Even was first...3rd time on sheep, and every single time is special for me at this point :) She is very very cool. A VERY smart little girl...you correct something, she will think and fix it. IMMEDIATELY. Calculating, fast, so very very good on her feel for the sheep, covers lovely...going both directions and I was just amazed at how willing and responsive she is.
WOW...seriously...wow. Sure...as soon as the gate opened she took off without my permission :) And she dived several times, but she just read my pressure, the sheep's pressure and did it. She blew my socks off...then when she got to balance she pushed through the pressure :) Which I also like, I like pushy, what can I say? Lovely...she went in twice on Wed. She looked lovely both times, can't wait for Spring so I can really get going on her. KK thinks she will train up really fast, won't take much time and she will be right where Lynn is and then some. She has this great balance of biddable, really keen and intense and also so damn smart. It's a lot of fun. She really reminds me of Zip, but not so stubborn...and as I was working her, I was thinking...wow...if I had known more when I started Zip...would she have been stubborn...not sure.
Then Spottie :) He was in the big field a couple of times at my place and things didn't work out so well, so we were hoping to get him to a place where he could be out there...the next step of his training. He worked great for KK in the round pen...and then again for Donna. So it was decided the next lesson would be out in the field, just to see what to do. He is getting MUCH PUSHIER with Donna now...which is causing some issues out in the bigger field :) Do I love that, yes :) LOL Does Donna...well...maybe not so much :) Then...2nd time...in the field, he did great. KK worked him for a bit, and then Donna did. Spot started getting pushier as soon as Donna stepped into the picture :) So they worked on Donna making her presence known a little more...it was so much fun. Donna was BEAMING :) They are such a great pair! Donna is really improving in how she is moving and using her pressure. It's so much fun to see her improve all the time.
Day 21: Back Ends :)
I put Lynn back in for the first lesson just to make sure she had all her brains on :) At the clinic in November she wasn't covering good enough on her Come Bye side...apparently the break did her some good, she was covering VERY well...and PUSHY...seriously...wow. She matures more and more every single day. She has a bit more eye than Even (Even has her mothers eye, not lose, but just a bit more free moving than Lynn) so she can get drawn in, not sticky though, thank goodness! She had a ton more come forward and made a few messes, but I didn't mind :) During the 2nd lesson we had her out in the field, she did really well, taking pressure and covering, she has improved SO MUCH!!! Did some lovely longer outruns with her and she handled those very well, bending out, checking in and then adjusting. She is much pushier now, so they were not coming at a good pace, but I'll take it. She really wants to do the right thing MOST of the time, but she has to learn to let go of the sheep with her eye. She has a very similar eye that Klink has, so I now what I need to do now to get things cleaned up as far as her flanks.
Day 22: Klink doing what she does best :)
And then, off to the field for Klink and Gator. Klink, coming out of the pen like a crazed bull, settled down after a few corrections, I gave a wrong flank and I think I dropped the F bomb a few times, and flailed my arms...and then realized my arms were affecting my dog, so I put my hands in my pockets....and meanwhile KK is laughing at me during this production :) But, the thing I really liked was, when KK asked me a question...I knew the answer...which is not always the case :) Once Klink was getting a bit too forward on me and I stopped her, IMMEDIATELY my brain said NO!!!! Correct her pace Loretta...and like clockwork, KK asked me "Did you just stop her because she was right or because she was wrong?"...and I responded "because she was wrong, I should have just given her a verbal HEY and dealt with the issue." It felt good to just have it in my head like that, instead of having to think on it. Things are becoming automatic...FINALLY :)
Klink lifting sheep off of Kathy
We were working on some handling with Klink, and cleaning up her flanks (which, if worked often, she doesn't need, but her last time on sheep was about 2 months ago...so...). And did some long outruns to get her ready for PN/Open Ranch. She was a bit tight at the top on the first one. But after that she did a great job of bending out...just a confidence thing. I need to get her on more fields with different terrain. I can do that I think. Just more driving. What's that? :) And also some work on really solidifying her flanks, (what? I don't think I am helping that by NOT saying the correct ones....yikes)...just so she frees up a bit and listens better so I can put her where I need her. 2nd lesson we worked some outruns up hills, and off a person, she didn't notice KK OR the horse standing there...good deal. I forgot they set out on horseback at several trials...so good deal.
I did have to laugh though...it had started snowing during our 2nd lesson. There were beef cows out in the field, under a tree, black and covered in snow. They were not moving...and Klink hasn't seen beef cattle before...she didn't notice they were there UNTIL she almost ran RIGHT into them, she went HOLY SH*T!! And bent off of them, if she was 2 feet away from hitting them I would be very surprised. She even turned as she was continuing on to get the sheep to say "what the hell was THAT!?!?" We were all laughing at her :) Note to self: black cows...show them to Klink :)
It felt so good to work her again. She's trained, she knows her stuff, and it just feels so right. We have such a different connection in herding that we don't have in agility...it's just so different...Gator was up next...He doesn't have a lot of training on him...why? Because he was soft as a boy, and HORRIBLY grippy. As in, take a sheep down, grippy. And if you corrected him for gripping, he would leave. So...I decided when he was about 18 months, that agility would work out just fine for him...and we might try sheep later. But I felt we were at an impasse, he was trying to kill my sheep, and I wasn't going to let him do that. So...we ran agility as all of you know. Just this year I have started to put him back on sheep...so 3.5 years old. He is now LOVELY. Not grippy, just a lovely dog...and can move ANYTHING...what?? So I worked him, and wow, he totally blew me away. Outrunning nicely...and I was having some issues getting him to drive away from me...but KK showed me how to work with him and we got a nice drive out of him the 1st session AND even more the 2nd session. He does have a bit less confidence outrunning on his Come Bye side, that after a few times, it took care of itself. He is pushing on me, taking a good amount of correction and just letting it slide off of him. I love watching him work...so fluid. It's nice to see him confident and feeling like he can be pushy with me. KK said he was definitely worth the wait, I totally agree. I am seriously thinking of getting that boy out on the trial field now.
A great day, my brain racing about the things I COULD be doing when I got home...yeah right. This am it was -30. BUT, I was happy to see, although they were a bit fruity from excitement, my dogs didn't lose any training during their 2 months off from stock work. Lots to work on with each, but it was so neat seeing things come together.
Mother Nature decided to dump probably 8 inches of snow on us that evening and after almost getting stuck in the driveway we made our way back to the hotel...slowly. I forgot how heavy Missouri snow is, and it is slippery. Yikes...the reason why most of the pictures are dogs in the snow...
My mind was so busy that night, going through my runs, things to work on, the next step I didn't sleep very well. Caffeine was my bestest friend ever :)
Due to the snow coming, we were not sure if we could even GET to KK's place...much less work. But being the "People from Minnesota" we gave it a try and we made it :) One last private before heading home. It was 15 degrees and I am very grateful that KK was willing to come out there and work with us :)
Even was the only round pen dog, but she did great...she has such nice feel, pushy, but nice feel. She did dive in and bust up the sheep... and one sheep was by itself...instead of going all into chase mode, she stood there...looked at the ewe, moved her eye a bit to the left and then the sheep went back with the rest of them. HOLY CRAP!! I was so very impressed with that. Tough little dog, but not stupid with any of it. She is going to be so much fun!!!!! Can't wait!!! Agility may not be in her future...just herding. We will see. But she is so cool to work.... She fixed it :) Gotta love that! To the field to work Klink, who, by the third lesson was making some AMAZING changes, that last run was just Zen...she was listening, bending, thinking, I was handling...ahhhh...love that feeling. We had a hard situation at the turn around the post, there were sheep in a pen off to the side and the sheep wanted over there by the fence...I had to work with Klink to not let that happen. I kept my cool, didn't get bothered, just patiently worked through it and around the post to the drive we went. KK said I need to remember that moment, how calm and collected I was and take that to the post at a trial...I will do that...or sure as heck try :)
We did some shedding and Klink is really understanding that too...I am feeling a bit more comfortable as well. I felt my voice get tense and I was able to change it immediately to a much calmer tone...good girl Loretta :)
Gator, who has no flank commands on him, just a "get" meaning to bend out and "ssshhhhhh" to go on an outrun...did a PN novice size drive and cross drive...WOW...I was impressed. KK wasn't as excited as I was, because she knew he could have all along :) Yeah yeah...hush :) I also had to get onto him a bit more, and he would back off, and as soon as I ssshhhhh'd him on he would kick it right back in, bouncing right back from the pressure. Love it. Lynn had her turn in the field as well...and I sent her out to get the group and it was a bit longer than I have ever done with her...she came in a bit, then bent out and DA DA DA DUM...the black beef cows....SCARED the SH*T out of her :) But instead of just going back to work like Klink did, she decided to charge them and alarm bark...picture this, Lynn, BOUNDING through the snow, jumping up and down like a jack rabbit towards the cows...I was laughing so hard I was crying...we called her off of her "attack" and she went back to work...but a few times kept looking back at them...then gave up and just worked the rest of the time :) Oh Lynn...you are a special one aren't you?
In between the tears from laughter, she was doing a good job. What I DID like is...she wasn't listening! LMAO! She didn't care about the pressure I was putting on her. I had to actually really make her a believer a couple of times in this lesson. How cool is THAT?? :) My Lynn is growing up...awwwwww! Spot and Donna did great, Donna found her inner b*tch and so did Spot :) LOL He was really being a bugger with her, but she finally applied the pressure where it was needed and he was doing some lovely work. I think they will be JUST FINE now at my place. He did do some silly things that caused him to lose part of the group, but by the end he was picking all of them up and doing a nice job.
What a way to end a great few days of lessons :) They are such great people to work with and are always so generous with their time and information to help all of us who are on this crazy herding journey. I really hope we can do this again as I got a ton of stuff from the private lessons. I felt more confident from the get go, not sure WHY compared to a clinic...maybe just because it was so one on one. I must get a little self concious about being in front of a ton of people...or the time limits sent on your turn out there...who knows. But I know Donna and I both learned SOOOOO much. It was awesome!!!