Wednesday, August 12, 2009

We're Back... For Now

Summer has seem some ups and downs with working. We have been going to Search and Rescue once a week for most of summer, but that's about to slow down now with real life kicking back in during the fall and winter. Stock work has been happening for the most part once a week, sometimes once every 10 days. Chesney's work is looking as strong as ever and I feel like we've turned a corner recently.
We've been working on building things we re-learned at Jack's clinic back in mid-May. Chesney had lost his feel for his stock because his silly handler though he needed more help with direction than he really did. The poor guy was being micro managed. After two days with Jack we were back on the road to greatness (right...). I was correcting at the right time and giving no directions, better. Jack said that it was impressive at just how far we'd come since he saw us last.

What have we been working on? Well, we have been working on getting his pace right. We had it right for a little while then I got relaxed with him and things started slipping again. I started asking for a stop at the top again and stopped using a steady whistle which I think helped a lot. Sure enough Chesney is usually on, with good pace and only rarely needs a reminder about not rushing. It's amazing how much better my little guy is reading pressure as well, now that I'm not telling him where he needs to be. He has figured it out and really enjoys being on the pressure. His fetches are straight and he's covering well!
Our last work session was exceptional. Chesney was sent to gather the flock. I wanted to test his freeness on his flanks when fetching so I as
ked him to come all the way around and drive them somewhere away from me, then I recalled him. He was sent on another gather and brought them in to me. We got the flock set up for shedding some off. They stretched out nice and we cut 6 off the group. Chesney drove them away straight and confidently. When I asked him off those he came right back to work the flock to put them up. While we were moving the whole group, the 6 he drove off started creeping back trying to get to the group. I asked Chesney for a look back. This was the first time I saw him just simply look back without taking off for an outrun after the group left behind. It was great, I could just ask him to walk up and he pushed them away again. When I asked him back to the group, he called off, seeming to totally understanding what
we were trying to accomplish, like he'd done it a million times before. Quality work.
After we put everyone up we went back to gather the 6 and work on penning. Chesney loves penning. I simply open the trailer and he will adjust accordingly to put them in without me saying so much as a little get back when he comes in a little close. Two ewes would not go in! Finally we were down to one and she ended up breaking off. Chesney went out to fetch her up and my little dog is a single working machine. He has gotten so good at holding and reading the pressure that it gives me goose bumps to watch him. When he brought her back to the trailer she decided that it was best to join the others, so in she went.
After a break I asked Chesney into the trailer to bring the group out (he's been needing work with unloading). He almost got stuck staring in the door way, I just kept asking him for his flank and around he went bringing out the group smoothly.

I look forward to the next time we get to work, he's getting really fun to work now since I don't feel like we're fumbling around anymore. We've actually gotten to a point that it feels like we're somewhere!