Thursday, May 26, 2016

Training Clinic Weekend at Tango Farms

The boys and I went to a great sheepdog training clinic at Tango Farms, with Bill Berhow as the instructor. I loved the cool weather that we enjoyed all weekend, and the fields and hospitality where the clinic was held, were all fabulous.

It was a weekend of productive training and learning, sharing all the amenities: good friends, delicious food, great field to work in, lovely sheep, and lots of fun.

There were ten dogs participating in the clinic with their owner/handlers. Spot was one of the ten. We each had three full-length lessons over the course of two days; Bill is just not a ten or twelve minute guy. :) We got more than enough work and there was discussion with Bill about the dog's work both before and after each run. It was truly a group participatory clinic and not just a series of private lessons with an audience, as some clinics are.

Ryme got to hold sheep for an outrun and he greatly enjoyed being useful.

The Rymon
I call this picture the Field of Dreams for obvious reasons. :)

Field of Dreams
This is a field where dreams were being made, and where things that were once thought impossible, were coming to life.

A Marnie Moment! :)

Photo by Marnie of Ryme watching the clinic with Bill and his Coal on the other side of the fence.
As for Spot, he showed some really nice work over the course of the weekend, with only one small blow up in his first session, when he had some trouble taking the working set of sheep off of the setout pen. His flanks were good all weekend, and his stops were mostly good. I was really pleased that all of his behaviors held up so well, away from home and in a large field with "real" sheep... they were lovely white commercial type ewes.... something we rarely ever get to work on.  We had good opportunities for Spot's exposure to a more trial-like setting without the pressures of a trial. The exhaust sheep in a field next door, when we have to focus on our sheep - that was a huge opportunity that I was hoping would be available, and it was. :) Also I got to practice having Spot do a couple of outruns with a stock handler and her dog holding the sheep for him, and Spot had to pass up the pipe corral full of waiting sheep and focus in on lifting his sheep, just like in a trial. I was really happy to be able to work through this scenario as well.

The overall theme was one of letting Spot work more on his own, not all the time but with corrections for being too speedy instead of always lying down (although I feel that I need the capabilities of both). We are still working on getting the driving where it needs to be and we are not there yet; I keep reminding myself that I have gifted myself with this summer to get that going! We were also working on turns, such as you would do to turn a panel on the drive. We need better stops to be able to make that turn in approximately three sections, for now. This took me back to working Bid with Bill, years ago, as we did the same thing when both Bid and I were learning to drive a course together.  Another person in the clinic was given a similar exercise to do, that Bill had advised me to work on with Chiefie, over ten years ago. Yes, I do get a little sentimental as I started to think about all the training sessions but they are all good memories.

And talk about a trip down Memory Lane! When I arrived at the farm and saw these three sheep there I laughed out loud. We sold these sheep to Tango Farm when it was first being set up. I was happy to see them still there and serving as the puppy/beginner dog training sheep (and doing a fine job of it too!).

The Super Bowl Ewe, Easter, and Corky
Thank you Tango Farms, Bill Berhow, everyone who helped, and the Northern California Working Sheepdog Association who made this clinic possible.

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