Tuesday, November 06, 2007

the events of the weekend (in relation to point five)

point five being the one about not knitting in a paddock with dust, flies, and sheep poo. warning - thats about as much knitting content as this post will contain.

i may have mentioned that we were going out to manildra for the weekend. why? i hear you ask. really, when i explain it to you you will think i have gone quite mad.

in short, miss possum and i went to practice our yard dog trialling skills at a beginners weekend organised by the yard dog association of new south wales. the workshop was run by my usual herding instructors, jenny and robert, and another trial judge, dave whitby. we stayed at the manildra royal hotel, arriving at 1030pm friday night to find the place jumping and our cute little rooms for $25 per person per night including breakfast most inviting. (i forgot to take pictures of that part). we drove through a major storm in between bathurst and orange and i thought we were in for a pretty muddy weekend but we were spared during the day.

we worked at the manildra showground.

its still pretty dry, they have only had about an inch of rain out there but maybe they got some more this week.

it was a very pretty place though.

on saturday we went through the rules of trialling, what you can and cant do, what you would and wouldnt lose points for (in a real trial you start with 100 points and lose them as you go!). then we went through all the components of a trial course, and practiced each part, and watched others practice.

saturday night we had a great meal at 'the cooked book' bistro at the pub, i ordered a rump steak not realising that this would deliver about a kilo of dead cow to my table. it was beautiful, one of the best pub steaks ever (except for the brekky creek hotel in brisvegas) but i refrained from eating it all. i think i am still digesting what i did eat.

lots of rain overnight, then more parts of the course sunday followed by a mock trial sunday afternoon. each part of the course has a name. first there is the 'cast' where you send the dog off to gather the sheep together, and then there is the pick up where she hits a spot behind them and brings them to where i want them, that is, through this gate and into this little pen (or 'force').

once in the force, she has to go round them and 'clear the gate' so that i can go over there and open that gate without having to touch any sheep (if you look closely you can just see her nose appearing in between the shoulder of the sheep and the outside fence):

then she pushes them up the race. in the race she gets up on the back of them to move them through, i dont have any pics of that.

her pick up was a bit off but she did the force and race really well. once through that race they are in another little force:

that leads to the draft, an enclosed ramp, where you usually have to manage a gate at the end of it to let some into the bigger yard and some out again, but we didnt bother with that, we just let them all up the draft and into the yard.

here we ran into trouble because she has not seen a draft like this before and she didnt know how to go backwards away from me again and she jumped out once or twice, this is no no. then we do the bit called the 'put away' where she has to gather them up again:

and move them to a spot and hold them there while i walk between her and the sheep to the gate, that i open and she has to move them through that gate and into the pens behind.

the first time round we had some issues here. my 'problem' with working possum has always been her rather, um, high, energy level (as they say in the country, 'shes got some work in her, that dog'). she is more prone to being out of control when i have not been as in control of her at home as usual, and because of some shifting circumstances, she has gotten less good attention and too much bad attention, that is, being my little princess instead of a working dog! when this happens, she tends to go out there with the sheep and act like she cant hear me, and i get cross with her, and then shes even less likely to work for me.

so, she just decided she would run amok at this point and chased the sheep into the pens behind the yard and tried to work them in there and then while im madly yelling at her to come here, she jumps in the water trough for a little lay down.

sheesh. needless to say, we didnt score too well in our little mock trial. we got to have another go and we didnt score it, just worked through some issues and she worked a bit better that time.

the really great thing was seeing jo and kobe have a go, and to see jo realise what she needed to do to get her dog to move around. i could see the light bulb go on over her head, it will be great to see where they go to now!

as much as i love doing this stuff, its really intensely frustrating. we have been working on it for such a long time, and we seem to take three steps backward for every two forward. admittedly, shes a pet dog, not a real working dog, and she gets to be around sheep once a month if lucky, but i try really hard and listen and learn, and everytime we go out there the goalposts move again. there is some new issue to work through, some new skill to learn!

i do think it will be worth it in the long run though but we have a lot of work to do in the meantime.

in other news, the pensky file is going well. i have had to finish off some marking and student administrivia, but last week i wrote 5000 words in three days. i am hoping to repeat that this week, and it looks on track to have a full product before christmas to send to supervisors to read. im quite sure i know what they are going to say, but i will deal with that when it happens. the most important thing is to get it as close to me being happy with it as possible.

or just finished.

meanwhile, its raining. i am trying to take possum for long walks in it every morning. isnt it lovely?

k xx


TinkingBell said...

You are both very clever (this said as the ex-owner of a disorganised lab!) What a fabulous weekend!

Michelle said...

Wow! That was really interesting! And so much for both you and Possum to learn!

Good luck with that pensky file.

Fernicle said...

I love reading your trial blogs Kylie - you are always hanging out in country places I know! I grew up between bathurst and orange and travelled the surrounding countryside a lot as my family was fond of camping and endurance horse riding the weekends away! With an uncle who is an experienced dog trialler I have also watched enough of them to know how they go and how hard it must be. Soooo many giggles at Possum taking a lie down in the water trough! Anyway, just wanted to say I am enjoying hearing about and seeing pics of your adventures. Hang in there and things can only get better!

Jo said...

I have never seen a bigger steak, it was at least half a cow. Fun weekend and lots of lightbulbs for me and Kobe. The puzzle pieces are coming together (or at least I think I know what bits are missing anyway.)

You forgot to tell everyone how grumpy you get when the local kids knock on your door in the pub and then run away!!

kms said...

oh those pesky little pub rats! i thought of you when i was out there fern, i did hear about your uncle trialling somewhere recently, but havent seen him...

pensky file: 1125 words yesterday.