Saturday, October 18, 2008

Peekay Dawsonville Herding Practice Report

This morning Peekay, Lauda, and I were at Hubert Bailey's farm in Dawsonville, GA for a sheep herding clinic. It was a beautiful morning to be in the North Georgia countryside. Yesterday's rain gave way to a crisp and sunny morning.

When we pulled in most of the participants had already arrived. The first runs of the day had just started. The place was packed. There were people and border collies all over.

Hubert breaks people into 3 groups in accordance with their skill levels: beginners go to the round pen in the back. Peekay and I are in the intermediate group and we would work sheep in his 1+ acre front yard. Advanced runners head to his mammoth field across the street.

Peekay was the only German Shepherd in either the intermediate or advanced groups. As we were standing on the sidelines waited our turn for our first run, a lady approached us and asked if we were going to work the sheep. Yes, I replied. She was glad we were because she had never seen a German Shepherd work stock before.

Peekay did not disappoint her new fan. We had 3 runs, all were very good. The stock at Hubert's today was uncharacteristically workable. Typically the sheep are very light. The previous time we practiced at Hubert's back in the spring, when I initially sent Peekay, the sheep ran flat out across the front yard into the woods. We carefully fished them out and brought them back. On attempt number two one sheep did exactly the same thing. This time I gave Peekay the green light to run it down. The sheep ran to the woods and disappeared with Peekay in hot pursuit. I sprinted down the field wondering what I would find at the other end. When I reached the treeline, looking for away in to my amazement what pops out but the renegade sheep with Peekay on it's tail. Cool!

Today we did 3 runs. Each run we alternating doing counter-clockwise (come by) and clockwise (aaaaaaaway) outruns followed by driving the sheep along the front fence. Intermixed we worked on inside flanks. Below is a video I shot of one of Peekay's longest outrun of the day. I'm especially proud of the lack of involvement I had. I sent her off, told her to slow down a couple times, and that was about it. She did the rest on her own. It took her a real long time to reach the stock. When she got there, she didn't go in for the kill. She did what I taught her to do. She peeled them off the back fence and brought them to me nice and orderly.

I hope you enjoyed the video. Until next time!

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