Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What Does the Dog (Horse) Need?

I really enjoyed reading these blog posts (links below) written by a gal who took her ex-racehorse to a Buck clinic over four days. Her horse has some issues but she worked through them and not always in the manner that she thought it would play out, at first. The advice is to be adaptable and flexible to what the animal needs from us to succeed.

Part I

Part II

These blog posts are well worth the read.

On a similar topic, Ryme and I had a lesson with our trainer this past weekend. We haven't had any lessons since probably oh, October...which is not what I had planned but just the way things played out. Ryme was lame during December, January, and February. And then February and March were a blur what with lambing, work, the two big open trials, and me being sick. So here we are in April with good intentions.

What we did with Ryme was not necessarily what everyone else would do with their dog. But it worked for him and I think he gained confidence from the session. We worked a huge group of sheep - maybe close to 100 - I did not count. Those large numbers really help to keep a dog relaxed which is what Ryme needs. First I worked him close up  and showed off our skills with flanking, small gathers, and stops. The stop is critical for Ryme. Most of the time he stops pretty well. But he was showing at the lesson that he might start to slide through it - so I have to be vigilant. We took a break and Ryme got water and a little rest.

Then we were going to do a couple longer outruns. As I watched the (still large) group of sheep get pushed farther and farther away by the trainer's dog, I got a little panicky about the distance. The sheep were settled at what I would definitely call an Open trial distance. I was a little apprehensive but we started off with a come bye outrun, first. That can be Ryme's "hot" side...but I needn't have worried. He handled the whole thing beautifully. Wow!

 For the other outrun, I sent Away. Some terrain has to be negotiated on that side and it became an opportunity to stop, redirect; stop, redirect...and work on that. Ryme got around the sheep beautifully with that help even at a long distance. What did the dog need? He needed some communication, some help. It would have been neat to see him do both gathers with me silent...but that wasn't what he needed.

Ryme has needed a lot of extra time to mature. He still will never be a really thinking dog with a great feel for sheep; he just doesn't have it in him.  On the fetches and drives, I have to manage him but he allows himself to be managed. What he does have is a strong work ethic and desire to work sheep and desire to work with me. What he needs among other things is a fabric of communication with me.  I am just trying to make him into the best dog he can be, whatever that is.

As was said in the blog post about the lady's ex race horse, that horse was a gift for what he could teach his rider. A person can learn so much if they are open to it.


Kathy said...

Thanks for sharing the links to that blog. What great information that comes from a Buck clinic.

livin life said...

I'm not sure I could have left the clinic early like she did....still have work on me doing what the dogs needs!!! What an amazing journey......thanks for sharing it.