Thursday, December 10, 2009

Herding Class with Freckles

Here is a pic of me and Freckles in our herding class. We are learning to herd sheep. This seems so easy, but its so hard, they tell me it takes at least 5 years to learn. Sigh! Anyhow, here is how you start, with you dog on a long lead, and you walk around the outside of the sheep in the small pen, so the dog gets the idea we want to her to go around and gather up the sheep. Some dogs do this instinctively, but Aussies are driving dogs, that is their instinct is to drive the sheep or whatever, not necessarily gather them up first. So we are walking around the sheep, and practicing our terms, go bye, (as in time goes bye)that is to my left, or clockwise, and away to me, or to my right.

And this is what we do next, when she seems interested, we let the lead go, and let her herd up the sheep. I am standing next to my teacher, Shelley Wurst, in the red cap, at her farm in West Stafford, CT, and we are holding rakes, which are used as an extension of our arm, to steer the dog. You can see she is going to my right, and I am holding the rake to the left, to block her from going that way, and steer her to my right, or away to me.

And here she is "wearing" the sheep, or driving them to me, as I back up. Walking backwards, holding the rake the correct way, keeping in back of the sheep and watching your dog is HARD! Those sheep may not bite, but they are very very solid.

Here you can just see the butt of the escaping sheep, but Freckles is on the job!

Ah, sheep are all together again.

Here we are trying to do "get away", when you want the dog to stop, or back off. The sheep are in a group in the corner, so we want her to stop driving and back off and wait for a further command. So we block her left and right, and ask her to get away. Hard to do for an eager pup!
So that's all there is to it, easy huh? Freckles is shaping up well, just great. Me, not so much, as the kids say. Anyhow, its fun, and that counts for a lot these days.

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