Saturday, October 1, 2011

October 1st

October is here. It's hard to believe that the summer has flown by so fast. In my mind, it's only just past the Fourth of July. I had better catch up quickly!

In Northern California the first part of October is always so nice. And there is excitement in the sheepdog world. Our little "second season" of USBCHA trials is on the horizon. And the RESDA calendar is almost wrapped up. Tomorrow is the Harvest Fair RESDA trial (where I will be sorting the runs); the Harvest Fair is always fun with the fall decor, the wine tasting and grape stomping, and the llama show. This year I'll be looking at the llama show with more interest since we have two llamas to deal with on a weekly basis now at one of the fields that we share. Next weekend is the final RESDA trial of the year, up in Boonville and the RESDA season and the dog of the year competition will be all wrapped up. Then, the USBCHA calendar gets some activity with Pt Pleasant, Hopland, and Dunnigan trials in our (relative) neck of the woods.

Preparing for these trials with the added pressure of less and less daylight each week should put some enthusiasm into my dog work that might have been missing lately. Having a lesson last weekend certainly made us ramp up a bit already. I have been letting Rime slide on his stops and come-bye flanks. I was using two or three whistles to get Rime stopped instead of one. I knew about the stops but was letting it slide anyway - bad me. I had not "seen" the flank issue though - you would think I could notice things like that after all these years but I guess that is why we pay a trainer the big bucks (ha!) to tell us things we are not seeing. Anyway this week I have worked Rime a couple of times in the evenings and he has complied very well with me giving him clear communication. One whistle for the lie down, and if he doesn't take it, then a verbal. And if he doesn't take that, then a correction voice and take a step into him. For the most part I have not had to go beyond the verbal. He's dropping very neatly most of the time on the home sheep. On new sheep at different fields, it will be a different story but there is no excuse for me to not have a good stop on the home sheep and fields. As for the sliced flank he was cutting on the come bye - his worst side. No wonder he can buzz the sheep on that side. I have to get quicker at noticing his body language before he does things - that is MY homework assignment. I also have to correct the cut when it happens but preferably before it happens. I did this a couple of times this week during our work session and it worked like a charm. This worked great for Bid's away flank several years ago - and I just need to put the system into place for Rime.

Coal has been worked just lightly this week to keep him tuned up but with the thought of not aggravating his little injury and letting him heal. I am crossing my fingers that he will be completely sound by the time we go back to trialling. The water has been too cold in the big tub to use it for water therapy - despite some really warm days the past couple of weeks in the 90s. So we are left with light exercise, lots of rest and not too much running on the extremely hard and slick ground. If it rains a little bit next week that will be most welcome, to soften things up.

Next week is Chiefie's tenth birthday. I am still working on doggie birthday cake plans. I hope everyone reads Cold Antler today, and Carol Lea Benjamin's blog. I really liked the themes of home, and life is good. Enjoy!

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