Well it's been a while since I've updated this thread - but we did take some time off this winter due to weather.
I took Kira herding three times this week, she's doing GREAT.
She's reliable in the graze - patrols all 4 borders, although she still needs some support here and there, but that's normal at this stage of training. In the last lesson or two she's started pushing back against the sheep, so that's a good thing! Before she was not quite confident enough to do that. But she's growing up!
Here's some video of her tending the graze this evening...
Kira March 2013 - YouTube
We've started to move the flock - she's doing very well with that. She has a strong and a weak side, on her weak side she doesn't want to go back along the flock, but it's improved a lot in just a few sessions. She's very easy to control, and comes back instantly when I call, and she has a pretty good feel for the flock. She's not pushing them - yet - but that's fine at this point!
We've also started having her in a stand, while the flock moves by. It's something I've worked on at home (without sheep) for quite a while, and she is reliable, but it didn't transfer over to the farm right away. The first two sessions with the flock moving by, she didn't want to stand at all. I can't blame her - it's very hard to stand still while the whole flock moves by! But today we were able to set up two stands for her, and I think it clicked. She did try to lay down - but I just called her up a few steps and put her back into a stand, and she held it until I released her. So that's coming along really well.
She also had her first experience with the truck going by - which is an important part of the trial. You can see that in the video above. First the dogs need to get used to the truck, just sitting along the border. Then they are exposed to the moving truck while they're working the border, then they move onto a moving truck while they're moving the flock. But by that point they've seen the truck on the border so much that it's no big deal.
I've also started teaching her to jump the netting - for the trial, she'll need to jump into the pen with the sheep. But we start out without sheep, and just teach her to hop back and forth. The first session she really wanted to just run through the netting but I did get her to hop back and forth if I held it down halfway. We did another quick session tonight, and she did pretty well. She was able to hop over a few times without me holding the netting down at all. She did crash a couple of times - the netting is high, and hard to see - but I just don't make a big deal over it, and get her to do it again.
So, everything is coming along well with Kira.