Tuesday, November 2, 2010

herding isnt exactly a dog sport

I know that herding and dog sports are two different things and many people stick to one or the other. I love both for different reasons and time and money are my only constraints to being fully involved in both.

We spend the majority of our time doing flyball for several reasons. All of our dogs can participate. There is a weekly practice that is a fun social time and it only costs us $5 per dog. Indigo was fully trained before her first birthday, Epic learned and was competing 5 months after we got him, and I expect Pax to be ready sometime near his first birthday. Agility takes a bit longer, but is attainable with lots of practice at home and a good instructor.

I love herding because its relaxing and quiet. The drive to Dianes farm is lovely and being outside at the farm with all the animals doing their jobs is a major (and welcome) contrast to our everyday life. I love giving my dogs the opportunity to do what they were originally bred for. I have been wanting to enter a sheepdog trial for a long time, but the process of getting there seems close to unattainable. Herding lessons are expensive and its hard to find time to go more than once a week.

Indigo is not cut out for herding. We tried for several years with several instructors, and she did not progress. I was afraid that if she continued she would injure herself or kill a sheep. Since she is exceptional (in my opinion) at flyball and agility, we decided to retire her from her short herding career.

Epic came to us with quite a bit of training. He had a good start on his flanks and could do nice outruns. He has lots of talent and because of this, is a blast to train. I actually feel like Im learning something when I go herding with him. Anyway, Ben took him to a lesson with Scott Glen recently and it was determined that he doesnt know his flanks as well as he should. Now our new goal will be to get him doing his flanks properly without any guidance. He needs to know what the words mean. Then when he knows them very well, we will move on to driving. I need to remember to enjoy the training process and be patient about getting him into a trial.

At our last lesson we worked on having him circle the sheep and gave him the flank command when he was doing it correctly. Every few minutes I rewarded him by allowing him to fetch the sheep.

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