It will probably take me a few posts to catch up, but I find myself with about 10 spare minutes and that’s not enough to do most of the things I need to do. So I’ll spend it writing here!
Very briefly, last weekend I went to a herding “fun trial” with the girls. It was about an hour away, which was amazing. So far every herding event I’ve been to has been at least 4 hours away and required an overnight stay. It was delightful to get up in a relaxed manner in the morning, go about my usual routine, and then meander to the trial at my own pace. I would have liked to have arrived there earlier so that I could have run my dogs more (it was a sign up as you arrive event), but seeing as I’d been so sick of late, I didn’t think it wise to either push myself, or to stand outside in sub-freezing weather all day!
I arrived only in time to run one dog. I chose Mira. I knew it was going to be a rodeo, but I really wanted to see how she’d do in a trial setting.
The good news is that she did not balk at the set-out person or pay any attention to the set-out dog. Once she found her sheep – which took a little effort considering it was an open outrun with some blind spots that I could not see until she was in them and got turned around – she lifted them and brought them to me just like she would at home! Of course that means at mach-10, with tails a-flyin’! But she gathered and lifted and brought them to me. GOOD GIRL!
She also, much to my astonishment, took my lie-downs on the lift. I had long since left the post and was not too far away from her, but I didn’t think she’d listen. She did, and I was pleased. I probably should have called it a run there, but I pushed on. And of course it all went downhill from there!
Brief summary: I lost my place on the course, turned the wrong way around the post and headed to the wrong drive gates. I turned the other way, and headed the correct direction, but was quickly losing control over Mira. This was an open course and the distances were HUGE, and she was getting bored with wearing. She kept bumping the sheep past me, and I would have to stop and send her to go get them. Unfortunately she opted to dive and chase after them, reverting to behaviour I haven’t seen her do in months! So I laid her down and made her collect her thoughts. Unfortunately, yet again, I took my eyes off the sheep for too long, and when I looked back, they were high-tailing it to the barn. Yikes!
I sent Mira after them, but these were fast sheep and had a very big head start. She eventually caught up with them, but not before they got to the barn and escaped to the safety of their regular pasture. How embarrassing! This is the first time we’ve ever lost our sheep, but it was entirely my poor judgement. Sorry Mira!
She didn’t seem to mind. She at that point had returned to the field and was running around with the other border collies, having a blast. I started helping take the field apart, as the trial was over. Suddenly my ear tuned into someone shouting “lie down, LIE DOWN YOU!” I looked around – hmmmm…. where was Mira? Oh dear, she had gone to the barn to help move the entire flock. OOPS. Fortunately she came back when I whistled, and I kept a closer eye on her after that.
Overall, the experience was quite a success. Mira did well and worked just like she does at home. While we performed very poorly, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that my dog was relaxed and happy in a trial setting and that bodes well for our future career. Now we just have to get that pesky herding part down… At this point, I don’t think we have next year’s competition shaking in their boots!