In herding, as in life, it's best to savor those magical moments and small victories.
This winter and spring have been marked by walking with dogs, in biting winds and rain, over rough, frozen ground and through mud.
I've been walking my young dog who is recovering from a leg injury. And, I've been walking with Emma, my open trial dog, as she drives, or pushes, the sheep around the fields.
Emma is not a natural driving dog. She'd rather gather the sheep and bring them to me. But driving is a useful skill, and a necessary one in competitions.
So, I've been trying to build her confidence by walking with her, and I've been trying to make it more exciting by driving the sheep to a fence where she can hold them there.
All those hours of training and miles of walking paid off at the sheepdog trial this weekend when she brought the sheep to me, turned the post, and trotted off, pushing the sheep toward the panels.
She had more confidence, and I seemed to finally have the timing of asking for little stops, flanks and walk-ups along the way. With just little adjustments here and there, we kept those sheep walking in a straight line and through the panels. When she completed her drive, Emma and I maneuvered those sheep right into the pen.
While we bobbled on other parts of the course, and still have lots of shedding work to do, I considered the weekend a success, and savored those small victories.
I savored a big victory too. For the first time, I scored a 30-point drive.