Monday, March 05, 2007

trialling debut

there is no knitting content in this post but lots about sheep.

as you may have noticed, i have been in training for a while to do yard dog trials with my koolie called possum. we got into this because possum was out of control and i needed to know how to handle a real working dog. so we went off to these 'herding clinics' with this guy called robert cox. both robert and his wife jenny compete in yard dog trials with their amazing kelpies and it soon became obvious that possum was a good little worker, she just needed some direction.

so we have spent the last 18 months i think learning how to get inside the head of a mad working dog, and learning all the techniques for getting your dog to move sheep for you. and finally possum and i were deemed ready and went off to bathurst this weekend for the beginner yard dog trial at the bathurst show. one of our fellow school mates, jo rainger and her pretty show kelpie del, have also been training and they entered as well. for a really great analysis, see jo's post on the coffee blog (i am stealing some of her pictures here too).

my interpretation of events is rather blurry. this is the very first time i have ever done any dog competition type thing. trent is the one who does all the flyball and agility with jem. he even took poss to obedience cos i was too self-conscious to go to a class with other people. so it has taken a lot for me to get up in public and do something with my dog. i think that the terror of this caused my brain to stop functioning. i had a plan for what i would need to do but once in the ring, things moved so fast the plan kind of went out the window!

anyway, let the pictures tell the story:

here we are walking into the ring (yard actually, it being square). in case you hadnt noticed, the event was sponsored by pedigree!

here am i shutting the first gate. i learnt that lesson at training one day, always shut gates behind you!

these are the only two pictures that my dearly beloved could manage. he said he was too busy watching after that. so the rest of the pix are courtesy of jo.

here i am thinking about what i need to do. what im thinking is, possum go up there nice and soft and bring those sheep to me nice and soft.

being a mind reader, she heard the first part and did a beautiful wide 'cast' (ie goes out wide around the sheep so she can get behind them without bothering them).

but missed the second 'nice and soft' so before i knew it the sheep were at my feet and possum was going mad running circles around them. i should have yelled at her to drop right when she got to the spot where they started to move but i was too slow and once she gets her tail up its all over. so then i fell back into what we do at training which was physically block her from working the sheep, forgetting that i was actually trialling and my job was to go open the gate so she could get them through the little force and up into the draft.

i was standing there yelling at her to get off them and im sure i heard roberts voice in my head telling me to go to the gate. and i definitely heard the judge say 'go to your gate'. thank you nice judge.

so as soon as i start moving so does poss and the sheep are at the gate practically before i get there and your dog is supposed to clear the gate for you, so i lost um, a few, points there, but she got them up the draft well.

except they were being dicky sheep and got stuck facing the wrong direction, so despite possum's best efforts, they wouldnt turn, so the judge and i turned them instead. more points lost.

so then i had to let them out of the draft and back into the main paddock - i got possum to drop while i closed the gate but then she decided she wasnt finished and ran out to start working them again.

bad possum. more points lost.

we ended up with 70 points out of a possible 100 (you start with 100 and they take them off as you go) and jo did great with del and got 79, and i didnt come last. i did get beaten twice by a twelve year old working her dad's dogs. no im not bitter about that.

i sat with robert after and we went through what i did wrong,

and i felt like i could have gone back in straight away and done a much better job, but i do need some more training to reinforce some things with possum (ie, dog works when i tell dog to work, not when dog decides to!) i did it really to learn stuff, to see where we were at and what issues we still needed to work on, and i certainly did that. i am frustrated with myself that i forgot the tools i had learnt but pleased that i had a go and learnt so much.

we had a great time at the show too, saw lots, including some old friends from 10 years ago in sydney who now live at molong! it was lovely to have other friends from herding/flyball come watch and we even managed a meeting of the coffee club there!

we drove up and back in a day so it was kind of exhausting and we tried to sleep most of yesterday but is it possible for canberra to get any hotter? i mean really, enough already.

so it was all good and if i was a little bit addicted to herding i am totally hooked now and cant wait for my next trial (probably not till the orange show at the end of april).

will post about knitting when picot sock is done (almost there).

k xx


Jo said...

a great day was had by all and it was certainly worth the trip. I can't wait to do it myself now.

You did great!

Taphophile said...

Well goodness - what a day! Sounds like you did pretty well, particularly as sheep are known to be both stupid and perverse.

Fernicle said...

Wow Kylie!! I am so proud of you, and all in my home town too! I am sure it is all just a matter of practice, for you and possom. I can so see you two at the ring at the Bathurst show, I have sat and watched so many dogs at that site that you have brought back many fond memories. Lots of love...

Jejune said...

Wow, thanks for the insight into a day in the ring (or square)... very interesting!

I think you did really well to get 70 points, and actually get up and do it - no mean feat of itself. Next time you'll know what to expect, and be more experienced, and so will Possum, and those damn sheep won't know what's hit them ;)

And - Bathurst and back in one day? You're mad lady, mad, I tell you! :)

Jejune said...

Oh. Lulu has something to say (my apologies in advance)...

Rebeeeeeel sisters! Shun the dog! Shun the dog! Shuuuuuun!