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TRIALING AND TRAINING
DOG FIRST AID
MADE IN THE USA
SHEEPDOG HERDING LESSONS
The ASCA Nationals were held this year in Bakersfield CA. A mere 2 1/2 hours from my place. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine recruited me to work at their trials, and set sheep for them. They wanted Border collies, at the time, because there would be no qualms about what dog or who's dog was "getting the advantage" in the back pens. Actually, was advantage that might be gained, can also be lost, by wearing out the dog prior to his run.
A few of my friends who had been told about that in the past, have now found that out for themselves. As they wore out their dogs prior to running their runs at trials, by using them for setting out or too much other sheep work right before the said trial.
Since we were going to be at the ASCA Nationals, I really want to set up my booth and sell product also. Long story short, we managed to do both, with the help of a couple of friends.
All three of the Borders came with me. Tam had come into heat, so I wasn't going to be able to use her when Kate needed a brake.
The first few days were pretty hot for November. The dogs needed rest a little more often than first thought. And since the back pens, where I was working, were small, I thought Christian might be able to be the dog to give Kate the well deserved rest breaks.
When I first started using her, I kept her leash on, just in case we had a crash and burn. But by after about 15 minutes she was working for me well enough that I was able to take off her leash and have her work like a trained dog.
Occasionally throughout the day of any of the herding events, for whatever reason, a run would retire or disqualify, and one of the girls, whoever's shift it was, would have to go into the arena and remove the sheep.
Chris was pretty good throughout the week of trials. Tam, the one in heat, was allowed to do minor stuff in the back pens at the end of each day.
About the forth day in, Tam was almost completely finished with her heat cycle. I was pottying her behind one of the barns and got asked to move the new cattle around some.
My reply was "I don't work cattle, I work sheep". I talked with them for a few minutes, and found out that these cattle were just in from the feed lot and they needed them just moved up and down the arena a couple of times so they could get used to dogs moving them.
Of all three of the Borders that I have, Tam, who was in hand, was the best one if cattle had to be worked. She has square flanks, and works from a distance well.
So, I told them that I could help them. They told me that they wanted the cattle to be kept as quiet as possible when being worked. Their prior experience from two days earlier was chaos with dogs that were too pushy.
We did as instructed and moved them in lots of 20 calmly. As we moved them back and forth, there were three lame ones that needed to be cut from the herd. That would be much more work.
After over an hour, we successfully cut the three lame ones out of the herd so they wouldn't be worked in the cattle trial.
Two things happened during this cattle venture. First, I received a very long cattle herding lesson. You know? You can't push them around like you can sheep. Second, Tam is now totally turned on to cattle.
At the end of the last day of herding trials, I was asked, with the aid of my dogs, to move the 150 head of sheep over to the cattle arena to clean up all of the left over hay. I jumped at the chance to work a group that large, as I have never done that before, and neither have the girls.
Moving a group that large was very interesting. On the way over to the cattle arena, there was no leader. Very interesting. This white swarm spiraled within itself, barely moving in forward. But the girls kept the pressure up, and the spiraling swarm inched itself into the cattle arena finally.
Just before dark, we moved the 150 head back to the sheep pen for the night, since they were not being picked up until morning. They were able to get back where they belonged flawlessly.
This week of ASCA trials taught Chris that she really had to mind me, otherwise there would be a wreck. And wrecks were not accepted, especially at a Nationals type of trial. I was taught how to work cattle properly, a cattleman I am not. And Tam really likes cattle too! Great.
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