The Uh-Oh Blog

Friday, June 12, 2009


The Big One

We are back from North Dakota. Nina Atamaniuk, who is with us for the summer, traveled with me, 4 dogs and 4 horses to "The Big One" sheep dog trial where we were part of the set out crew. We set sheep for 45 runs a day on Harry Kerr's ranch just outside Bowman. It was really good work for the horses and I got to use Wiz a little which I really love doing. Willum also showed up with Joni Swanke to help a little. He has been in training with Joni since the end of March and is doing really well. She ran him in the nursery class but only to do the first part (outrun, lift, fetch) which he did after a few redirects. He did find the sheep which was nice to see since it was a fairly long outrun for the young dogs. Being at the top of the course gives lots of opportunity to see the dogs up close and to watch how they are thinking as well as how the sheep feel about each dog. I really had fun working with Kate Broadbent and Len and of course Hummer. She has a real knack for reading the sheep and getting them out to the post without a lot of hassle.

The trial was followed by a clinic with Joni and Haley Howard. We started off getting to watch Haley work her dogs Ross and Stoney. Ross showed us what a flexible dog looks like and it is a mazing to see a dog that can be so accurately placed anywhere she desires. Stoney gave us the picture of how sharp a young dog can actually be. From there we each got to work on our dogs which were all different levels and all different problems, mostly handling issues. How you apply pressure and then the release was the story of the day. Everyone has problems with this.

Funny, how I can see it on a horse but a dog is a different deal. I am still struggling with this. It is one of those things that is easily observed but step into the pen and try it! Yikes! Joni was on the sidelines giving us a commentary about what Haley was working on so that was really helpful. They are a great teaching team. Sometimes they changed and Joni worked the human/dog while Haley helped with the discussion. The concepts they teach are easy to understand. It is black and white, never any gray area when your dealing with building a working partnership with a dog. Their expectations are very high and they expect a great deal of accuracy from the dogs. Nice to watch but hard to do!

We left the next morning after the clinic and drove through rain and snow! to Sheridan to visit Mary, Buck and Reata(Dally,Roody,Zip and Tex also). Reata and Nina immediately saddles up and went for a ride coming back right before it got dark. They had a lot of fun. The next morning Reata took Nina through the museum and King's while Mary and I went on a walk. We did all the normal shopping stops including Sheridan Leather where we visited with Don Butler and Bob Douglas and his wife. We left in the afternoon and headed home back to a full slate of horses which will be keeping us busy all summer!


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