14 August, 2009

Shedding Clinic

Last weekend was spent at the Scott Glen shedding clinic at Fido's Farm. I am a complete novice to shedding. I can divide up the large farm flock at Diane's for lesson sheep if needed, but have never been taught how to shed and certainly never tried to get specific sheep. If I needed specific sheep I always gate sorted in or out of a pen.

Thanks to Scott, and to Diane for loaning Lucy to me, the days of gate-sorting-alone are behind me.

The clinic was a mixture of a little classroom/lecture/diagram work to learn the concepts and a lot of time spent in the field. At the beginning of the 3 days I couldn't even get a shed at all. This is always embarrassing when I am working a dog Scott trained and he knows darn well the dog already knows how to shed without my impedance.

The first day of the clinic was basically a disaster. I have the least stock sense of any of the handlers there and am one of very few to get zero in the way of an unassisted shed. After I learned not to be shy and go ahead to create a nice big gap in the sheep, I had much more success. We also learned the technique of calling the dog through and immediately allowing a flank to speed the dog's coming in. This was very helpful with Lucy given that she was slow to come in. She probably just didn't trust my novice, poor-handling self.

Scott showing me the ropes.

After almost 2 days of coaching, my second work on Saturday showed improvement. We divided the whole lot (20 sheep) by 2's, 3's and 5's all the way down to a single. Diane captured a few photos, here is the best one:

On the third day, Sunday, my brain was fairly well full. We each took an attempt (or several) at an international or marked shed. Though I did not complete my shed unassisted, I did get it down to only 2 unmarked sheep to slough off. I did not expect to complete a marked shed myself, and I did not disappoint. However, I was very happy with how much I learned and with Lucy's willingness to partner with me and tolerate my newness to shedding compared with her level of training.

Lucy went with Scott on Monday back to Canada so she might get a chance to run in the USBCHA National Sheepdog Finals. I hope to go to Klamath Falls, OR for a weekend during the Finals as I have never been there before and it is not often so close to home. It is a way to see the top handlers from all over North America, including the illustrious teacher of the clinic this weekend, Scott Glen (and wife, Jenny Glen!).

I hope Lucy runs well for them, but I will miss her a bunch while she is away!

Happy sheepdogging.

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