I attended my first tending 2 day clinic and then a fun match today and would love to share my experiences. First some background, last year I watched while my daughter took Sin her dog, (Hellwigg's Causin'a Commotion) to one day and he was great, so great they remembered him a year later and thought he could be entered into a trial with only 1 day of lesson and a year apart. That 1 day I was in the sheep as a blocker for some Briards but that was my only interaction ever with sheep.
So Thurs morning Ty,( Hellwigg's Fear Factor) 16 months old and I and Rebecca and Sin, 4 yrs old, showed up. We did 2 'runs with sheep each which was learning borders, hopefully. Susan Sullivan was our instructor and soon discovered my incompetence with the stick, sheep and watching sheep adn dog simultaniously. Sin was his normal calm self assured dog, with flashes of brilliance, Ty showed great movement and thinking abilities. Both dogs got tons of praise from other attendees for behavior and looks and easy gliding movement.
Fri morning we learned we would each do 3 sessions, Ty remembered he should bark at me when I give dumb commands like border..OUT. and throw the stick. What a fun place and great round food pellets all over the ground. Sin felt the need to mark the field when sheep were calm, but remained always alert to movement and kept 1 eye on the sheep and the other on Rebecca. Ty knew to watch me and see what other game I wanted to play and hey is that sheep trying to come out?? he would pick up speed and cut it off and chase it back. Susan said this was bonus work but remember it cause we may loose it.
Sin did 2 sessions of walking the 'road' and penning the sheep and we did one, sort of. Sin made it look easy as the sheep respected him and he just knew where to be and when and how much pressure was needed. He wasn't entered in the trial or fun match as Rebecca needed to work but everyone agreed he was amazing. # days only and he was the best by far and many had other herding titles.
Sat morning and fun match, we were third team and we would have fresh well rested sheep, half the number as before, so 12, and Ty was well rested and fed and it was cooler in the morning. He had forgotten his stays and wait and most other commands too so after the first break I was very firm STAY, so I went and started my sheep, and with Susan's help tried to get him to join us, he held the stay, then she said get your dog, so I said his name, and he CAME fast, and the 12 sheep scattered in 12 directions and the chase was on.
He got them back together and we started again but he came up too far in front and I wasn't able to stop him and the sheep scattered again, and he chased and returned them again, and again and again, as we inched our way up the side of the field. Finally after 10 or so times Susan took the stick and took control of the sheep and Ty and somehow he knew what she wanted and those foreign words and stick movement meant something and we made it to the graze perfectly.
I forgot to watch the sheep so dumbstruck was I that he did it and the sheep bolted again. Again he rounded them up and returned them to me, Susan suggested we go the sort route to the pen and we started well, but soon the sheep bolted past me and were held in the corner by the gate. He downed and stayed while I penned them, I then asked Susan if she thought we'd have passed. She and the 2 stock helpers laughed and said we had the worst sheep in this bunch.
I was told I have a great dog, tons of instinct, he never tried to kill, but was intense and called off as soon as back together. We need lessons and practice and I need some handling classes and he needs some maturity and obedience. We loved it, had soo much fun. We will do this again hopefully in less than a year and Sin will compete next time and Ty will, maybe hold stays and I may have the stick in the right place and be where I should be.
Thanks Susan for the awesome classes and thanks Wendy for 2 awesome dogs who are willing to humour their owners mistakes. What fun, everyone should try it.