Wednesday, October 2, 2013

She Gets Knocked Down

When working Raven about a month ago, a five-month-old ewe lamb stopped and looked at my 2-year-old Border collie.

Then, being a ewe lamb from a long line of stompers, the red ewe lamb approached Raven and stomped.

I cringed.

Raven turned her head.

The ewe lamb advanced and stomped. Emboldened, she head-butted Raven and knocked her over.

I went, "Oh no."

I should have told Raven to get in there and snap at that ewe lamb.

The following day, I had a dog that turned away when the sheep turned and looked at her.

Ewes being ewes, they spread the word about this fearful dog.

I wasn't sure how to handle the situation, so I called my mentors and received a packed pen lesson.

Raven had worked a packed pen -- but not with me.

So, for two weeks, I put 15 ewe lambs in a horse stall and told Raven to move those sheep. With 15 sheep, one human and one dog, there was not much room. Raven had to grip and nip to get the job done. I had to tell her to get in there and move them. When she didn't, I had to physically put her behind or even on top of the sheep.

When we emerged from the packed pen, I had changed as a handler, and she had changed as a dog.

I was more forceful in letting her know what I wanted. She had more confidence in herself and me.

When we went to our next herding clinic, it was obvious that we'd taken a giant leap forward.

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