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Improving the outrun


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#1 Maja

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Posted 19 November 2010 - 11:31 AM

Dear Bob,

Hopefully, I will post videos soon with our progress in regards to the outruns. However, for a while we seemed to be regressing instead.

1. One thing was the 'come bye', which Bonnie would do fairly nice, but more narrowly than away, causing the sheep to start moving too early towards me. To my utter dismay, the sheep would start so early on that they caused Bonnie to retrace her steps (turn around and run on away). I have now, I think, persuaded Bonnie to follow course regardless whether the sheep moved or not.

2. The second thing happened on the 'away' outrun. In a way, coming in at Mach2 speed had been (sort of) the proper way to lift the sheep. I slowed Bonnie down, and she began to slow down on her own, with disastrous results. She would get to the top, lie down, and start again slowly, with all the sheep engrossed in the munching of the grass (which was bad enough) except for the ornery ram (one of the ewes is in season, so he's ornery - ram logic, I guess). MacPherson would wait there for her and repeatedly attack her. Bonnie then instead of trying to push the sheep her usual, inelegant albeit effective, way started to go in tight circles around the sheep. I must say I had no idea how to deal with the situation.

So now I have done two things -

ad.1. Widened the come bye to match the width of 'away', plus (maybe it's daft, but I couldn't think of anything else) I crouch down so that I am less visible to the sheep. Also I tried to make sure the Bonnie knows she mustcontinue with the course.

at. 2. For away, at the top of the outrun I say "walk-walk-walk!" very quickly so that she does not lie down or slow down too much.

So now neither side looks too good, she comes in a little fast, and does not reach 12 o'clock, but at least the aforementioned disasters don't strike anymore. I also practice at small distances where the sheep never stay put, and encourage Bonnie to complete the run properly, and keep nice distance, with some improvement observed.

Sunday, we are going to practice with my teacher on his sheep, so we will see how she does in a new place. However, I would be grateful, if you have any suggestions concerning the aforementioned problems. Turning MacPherson into mutton is not an option right now. Neither is separating hims, since I usually am alone when I herd and I can't man-handle him very well.

Maja

"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#2 RMSBORDERCOLLIES

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 01:22 AM

Dear Bob,

Hopefully, I will post videos soon with our progress in regards to the outruns. However, for a while we seemed to be regressing instead.

1. One thing was the 'come bye', which Bonnie would do fairly nice, but more narrowly than away, causing the sheep to start moving too early towards me. To my utter dismay, the sheep would start so early on that they caused Bonnie to retrace her steps (turn around and run on away). I have now, I think, persuaded Bonnie to follow course regardless whether the sheep moved or not.

2. The second thing happened on the 'away' outrun. In a way, coming in at Mach2 speed had been (sort of) the proper way to lift the sheep. I slowed Bonnie down, and she began to slow down on her own, with disastrous results. She would get to the top, lie down, and start again slowly, with all the sheep engrossed in the munching of the grass (which was bad enough) except for the ornery ram (one of the ewes is in season, so he's ornery - ram logic, I guess). MacPherson would wait there for her and repeatedly attack her. Bonnie then instead of trying to push the sheep her usual, inelegant albeit effective, way started to go in tight circles around the sheep. I must say I had no idea how to deal with the situation.

So now I have done two things -

ad.1. Widened the come bye to match the width of 'away', plus (maybe it's daft, but I couldn't think of anything else) I crouch down so that I am less visible to the sheep. Also I tried to make sure the Bonnie knows she mustcontinue with the course.

at. 2. For away, at the top of the outrun I say "walk-walk-walk!" very quickly so that she does not lie down or slow down too much.

So now neither side looks too good, she comes in a little fast, and does not reach 12 o'clock, but at least the aforementioned disasters don't strike anymore. I also practice at small distances where the sheep never stay put, and encourage Bonnie to complete the run properly, and keep nice distance, with some improvement observed.

Sunday, we are going to practice with my teacher on his sheep, so we will see how she does in a new place. However, I would be grateful, if you have any suggestions concerning the aforementioned problems. Turning MacPherson into mutton is not an option right now. Neither is separating hims, since I usually am alone when I herd and I can't man-handle him very well.

Maja


I have been slow to reply to this question as I am a bit confused about what is happening on the come bye outrun. It sounds like she is going out quite tight and moving the sheep from where they are spotted and then changing her flank to the opposite flank in order to stay in contact with the sheep. You say you are making her follow her course no matter what the sheep do and I certainly wouldn't recommend this at all. Also, 12 o'clock is not usually a good place for your dog to wind up at the top. Balance is where you want her which means she needs to wind up on the pressure at the top to ensure that she comes in on her sheep on balance in order to move them straight to you..That could be somewhere between 10 and 2 o'clock and hardly ever is exactly at 12 o'clock. It would be advisable for you to set your sheep in different places around your field so that they are not running the same direction all the time or to the draw all the time. The best way is to set them so that you are fetching them to you against the draw instead of the way they want to go all the time. Sort the ram out for sure before you start working with a young dog as she may not be able to handle the pressure of working a fighting ram. That's the nature of a ram to protect and own his ewes so he is only doing what is right for him. A confident, experienced dog will be able to deal with his obstinance but a young dog shouldn't be put in that siuation until she has gained a lot of experience and confidence. Just sort the ram at the gate when you are taking the ewes out and leave him behind. Use the gate to stop him from coming out with the ewes. I very much look forward to seeing another video of your work as it sometimes is hard for you to explain exactly what is happening and for me to understand the situation. It does sound like you are having some difficulty though and we need to get that sorted out asap. So let me see the next video soon and we'll get started on solving your problems. Good luck......Bob

#3 Maja

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 06:48 AM

"I have been slow to reply to this question as I am a bit confused about what is happening on the come bye outrun. It sounds like she is going out quite tight and moving the sheep from where they are spotted and then changing her flank to the opposite flank in order to stay in contact with the sheep. You say you are making her follow her course no matter what the sheep do and I certainly wouldn't recommend this at all."

She goes a bit tighter on come-bye but I would not say itís tight. She is at about 50 yrds radius when itís time to start to turn towards the sheep on an 80-100 yrds outrun. I think I have one video where she does her turn around thing, so I will try to find it and show it. She basically turns 180 degrees and goes in the direction to head the sheep, that is to where I am and where she had started from. The reason I made her continue was that I was trying to make her trust me that I wonít let the sheep escape past me. That was my reasoning, I thought if the dog wants to head the sheep she does not trust me to hold them, and that she should, if I tell her to stay put behind the sheep. But if thatís not the way to go I will certainly change it.

"Also, 12 o'clock is not usually a good place for your dog to wind up at the top. Balance is where you want her which means she needs to wind up on the pressure at the top to ensure that she comes in on her sheep on balance in order to move them straight to you. That could be somewhere between 10 and 2 o'clock and hardly ever is exactly at 12 o'clock. It would be advisable for you to set your sheep in different places around your field so that they are not running the same direction all the time or to the draw all the time."

We have ordered a sheep trailer and I will be able to take the sheep out to our other field where we have about 5 acres of meadow surrounded by fields, so that should help. I have been unable to get a workable video of where she ends up, but this indeed has been a thing that bothers me Ė I am not able to tell when she is coming in correctly and when she is not. The fact is that when she brings the sheep they always come in a straight line to me, but I donít know if it is because they just want to come to me, or because Bonnie is bringing them to me correctly. Here is one example of what I see as a correct approach when it comes to the shape in absence of visible pressure points like fences, home, etc. Am I right?



Below is the video from my visit to our teacher. At 2í40Ē there are two very short outruns, where the first has a messy fetch, because the sheep want to follow their shepherd visible in the video. But I thought that Bonnie managed well considering her 12 months and the situation? The second one the sheep move early because they are facing their home. As you can see the outruns are so-so, but there are no disasters happening.

Soon after the outruns we are doing an exercise my teacher advised me to do in order to teach Bonnie to go deeper/farther behind the sheep. It works ok, but on his sheep itís much easier, because I can ďgiveĒ Bonnie a nice lift when she goes deeper, but with my sheep it does not always work out that way. This however is not a natural learning situation for Bonnie.




Thank you for all your help. I know itís not easy to understand descriptions, when I talk with people about herding I always use figurines to illustrate what I mean. I will try make a video as soon as the blizzard is over and some the snow goes away, which may be a while. I have all but stopped doing the outruns for except for the visit which is on the video, so that I do not wade farther into trouble.


Bob and Gloria,
Considering the ram, I agree with you fully that itís a problem. Bonnie has had to deal with him from the beginning of her training and there has been little trouble up until now. He may become mutton yet. I do wish sometimes we had a sizable flock of small woollies where I could just reach and pull out a few and go to work with them. Right now MacPerhson (named ofter the ram from ďMistĒ) behaves fairly normal. Judging from my previous ramís behavior upon being separated, I think there would be very little left of the gate should I decide to leave him behind it.

Maja

"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#4 Maja

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 10:33 AM

It turned out I do have a video of the last real outruns we did (that was Nov 23 Ė a week ago). The first is with me by the sheep, the rest are normal. I think itís my fault she wants to cut in in th first one where I stand with the sheep Ė standing with the sheep can change the balance if I step the wrong way.

The second real outrun (on comeby) shows how Bonnie goes into the forest, loses sight of the sheep comes out too close, but in the end bends out a bit.

So this is where we managed to get back to after the disasters described above.



There is no hurry now, we have a foot of snow and the white stuff keeps coming down.

Maja

"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#5 Maja

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 12:32 PM

Dear Bob,

After more than a month of doing nothing it seems the outrun improved all by itself in Bonnie's brain while she slept by my desk.

I send her on 'away!' and then say 'lie down' at the top, and that's it.



She runs the fence line which may not be apparent in the video.

Maja

"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#6 RMSBORDERCOLLIES

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 02:14 PM

Dear Bob,

After more than a month of doing nothing it seems the outrun improved all by itself in Bonnie's brain while she slept by my desk.

I send her on 'away!' and then say 'lie down' at the top, and that's it.



She runs the fence line which may not be apparent in the video.

Maja


Yes, it looks like she is understanding what must be done and she went to balance very well at the top on this outrun. I certainly would not get her any wider than she already is as she will get wider with age. She is showing a nice pear shaped outrun and her lift is a little fast but it will come under control with practise and time. I waw her looking closely at some of the sheep that were trying to go to your left as they were approaching you and that is good as she understands that they must be kept together. On the previous video I saw a lamb that was lagging behind all the time and you need to reinforce that she doesn't leave this one behind by telling her to "look" when she goes on past it. You don't want her thinking she can leave stock behind. All in all, it looks like she is progressing nicely and you can start getting a little more distance on your outruns now. Not too much at a time though. Start with 10 or 20 yards and then,as she gets better, move a little further out. Rembmer to move yourself around at the bottom so you are changing the balance point all the time so that she is always aware of where you are and will go to balance as you change it. Your sheep are pretty well dogged so you need to change things as much as possible when working her on your sheep. Good luck........Bob

#7 Maja

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 03:36 AM

Thank you for your input; I will follow your advice. Thank you for pointing out why Bonnie goes a little father in to the left - now I see she is reacting to the sheep.

As for the sheep - after saying we are not going to change the flock, we decided we are selling them. It's a fine breeding flock now, and better to sell them before they get too old to get a decent price. We are going to change to woolly sheep - the tiny ouessants, non dog broke. It will be a different challenge for Bonnie and I am looking forward to it. It will just take some time to put together a breeding flock since ouessant is a rare breed in Poland.

Thank you again for all your help.
Maja

"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23




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