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#1 Smalahundur

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Posted 16 October 2014 - 11:03 AM

The dilemma is basically to run or not to run.

 

In a few weeks the national trial of Iceland is being held. Two runs for each competing dog, on separate days (point total counts) This means two overnight stays, and the place is about 380 km from here.

 

Some of you might remember the description of Gláma´s first (and so far only) trial run, for those interested, in post 46 of this http://www.bordercol...showtopic=34746 thread there is a description of it.

 

After that experience I said to myself I would not run her again unless she showed a very marked improvement in her weak points (lack of power, inability to move stubborn sheep).

 

It is now a year later, I do see improvement, she gained experience, and has more self confidence. Also she is more willing to apply "dental diplomacy" (I think this term was used by Sue here, I think it should be adopted as an official training term...) but not always (she is not stupid, she is more likely to use this on polled sheep), and she stills backs of sheep that are not impressed by her.

So, big question, has she improved enough? I kinda doubt it.

 

Thing is in work we often meet difficult sheep (it is all range sheep we are now gathering from the hills), and if we do, our default method is, Gláma stops and holds them (sometimes with great difficulty, but she is persistent and won´t give up) until the cavalry arrives, that would be me, and indeed often on horse back.

Works fine for us, but of course not when she has to lift her sheep after a trial outrun....At this first trial I had the strong impression Gláma was waiting for me to help her.

 

So yeah, I am wondering now what to do. It is a busy time, a lot to do on the farm, This will in all take three days, I can hardly afford time wise..

Should I go, and take part, knowing I will probably need an unreasonable amount of luck (drawing light and easily spooked sheep) not to wreck immediately after the outrun (did I mention she has a great outrun? No? She has a great outrun).

Of course I would really like to go, even just as a spectator, it will probably be a lot of fun...

 

I realize no one here can answer those questions for me, but I am interested in your thoughts and opinions on the matter.


"Milli manns og hests og hunds hangir leyniþráður"


#2 Sue R

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Posted 16 October 2014 - 11:46 AM

As a spectator (or volunteer) you can all the fun and none of the anxiety. I don't trial so I'm not a good one to give advice about your question. Having way too many other things that need doing is always a good reason to stay home. You'll miss out on the trial but you'll have the satisfaction of getting stuff done that needs doing.

You choose!
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#3 Smalahundur

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Posted 16 October 2014 - 12:10 PM

As a spectator (or volunteer) you can all the fun and none of the anxiety. I don't trial so I'm not a good one to give advice about your question. Having way too many other things that need doing is always a good reason to stay home. You'll miss out on the trial but you'll have the satisfaction of getting stuff done that needs doing.

You choose!

The voice of reason, just what I am trying to ignore... :lol:

 

Thing is trials are few here, and very far in between, often no more than once a year, there is always this "national" two day event, and very rarely a smaller local trial somewhere. More often than not even further away than this year. Serves me right for choosing to live in the middle of nowhere....

 

This is the only event where a "professional" judge visits (this year Mosse Magnusson, a Swede who lives in Scotland and is part of the national Scottish team for the last four years). It will be very interesting.

 

So temptation to go, whether just as a visitor/volunteer, or competitor is very great.

 

But the voice of reason is backed by my wife, a force to be reckoned with...

 

PS. Sue, was I right in assuming it was you who first coined the term "dental diplomacy"?


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#4 TEC

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Posted 16 October 2014 - 12:56 PM

I would go to observe/volunteer, see your friends and learn -- if only for a day or two. Whittle down some of your work at home over the next two weeks and go. It is only once a year.

 

Could you teach Gla'ma a secret weapon command, that tells her it is OK to do what it takes to move sheep? It would allow her discretion to use up to moderate force, if needed, to start them moving. My Josie at times shows some of what you describe. She works upright, medium eyed, and IMO simply expects sheep to move. Most often they do, but like you say when hungry and wanting to graze, or simply not impressed it sometimes is a struggle.

 

As a first choice if a problem arises, I keep her on her feet and give numerous flanking commands. Sometimes that loosens-up the sheep. They don't like a dog moving back and forth on their flanks. Makes them a little nervous.

 

The sheep I have for practice seem to gauge the dog's approach on the lift. Josie doesn't have a low shouldered, slow, stalking walk-up. I simulate that by getting a standing stop 10-20 feet off the packet, and give her a series of "one-more-step" commands. I taught it for fun going down stairs, and she transferred it over to sheep. This maintains a very paced lift, and somehow sheep seem to respect it. Usually they turn their heads and move-off.  IMO, the exercise of occasionally approaching sheep to their heads in this way gave her added confidence on heavy sheep. Likely not enough time to teach that in two weeks, but as weird as it sounds, it works for us.

 

Now that Gla'ma is already using "dental diplomacy" (love the term) when appropriate it may be easy to put a command to it. I use "get'em up", but clearly sheepdogs do not have a common glossary. Perhaps any sharp word/sound spoken with urgency (that you can remember) and is very different from other commands. I like to think my dog understands the command means to "be assertive", so that at times she can on-cue get a difficult packet moving short of a grip. I keep "get'em up" in reserve, as I have noted recently she is becoming a little too bent-on gripping. Hey, even if Gla'ma has to grip to get a balky packet moving at the top, and the judge thinks it was unjustified, you would likely be able to fetch and get a wrap at the post before having to quit, and some judges might let you continue (on request) as a practice run.  She may lay down a good run without a DQ. That would be something, and you have a little time to work-out a command. Just some food for thought. 

 

I say, one way or the other, don't miss some part of your Nationals. -- Kind regards, TEC


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#5 Debbie Meier

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Posted 16 October 2014 - 01:19 PM

If you are pleased with how she is working at home and are not concerned with a trial set back effecting her home usefulness, I say go for it and enter up.

Yeah, it might not go as well as you envision, but then again it might go better, might get the perfect draw of sheep and dog great.
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#6 WildFlower

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Posted 16 October 2014 - 01:25 PM

I am still a relative novice - so keep that in mind... But I would go if I were you and run my dog. (Of course I would volunteer and spectate with excitement, too.)

 

Here is my reasoning:

 - You say trials are few and far in between. So when will you have the chance to "test" your dog again? Another year from now? You say you think she has improved some - maybe not as much as you would have liked her, too - but she has improved.

 - You can learn more ways to improve as a handler by watching "better" handlers run their dogs. That's one of the best parts of trials!

 - Every trial is a learning experience for your dog. Hopefully, a good one. Even bad experiences are learning experiences - not always pleasant but they are.  

 

I trial as much as I can - this year it was 6 trials. But I try to remind myself before my runs that its just me and my dog working together. Being competitive is fun but I always try to measure our success against where we started and where we've been along the way.

 

Good luck!

 

Edited to add - for my softer dog, I also have a "get 'em up" command which is the ok to use "dental diplomacy". My other dog needs no command... In fact, he needs the opposite sometimes! LOL. :)


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#7 red russel

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Posted 16 October 2014 - 01:40 PM

This doesn't sound like a training trial.  Respect the trial and respect your dog.  If you feel you and your dog are ready to perform competently at a National trial then absolutely go for it.  If not there is no value to anyone when we throw our dogs into the deep end when they are not ready.

 

dave



#8 Mark Billadeau

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Posted 16 October 2014 - 02:22 PM

If you've been able to increase the distance between you and her where she feels more confident and able to move stubborn sheep; go see how much improvement there is away from home.

 

If you still need to be right there you already know how things are likely to go if most of the sheep at this trial require more push than your dog can give with you at the post.


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#9 Smalahundur

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Posted 16 October 2014 - 02:37 PM

Yes! Encouragement to go, that´s what I like to hear ;) .

 

As for your arguments Dave, of course you are right, but this is Iceland. The stockdog world here is tiny (the reason for the few trials) . I have been to the Nationals (which is a rather big title for the event) a couple of years ago (spectating) and the atmosphere is pretty laid back, and people are very welcoming to anyone with the guts to step up to the pole.

 

Is my dog ready? Difficult to say to the point of well, just one way to find out and jump in at that deep end.

Actually not the deepest end; we would compete in the B class, no shedding, and no high expectations of the dog.

The deepest end is the A class, there is expected your dog is good. But on an international scale not so demanding; simple shed, splitting the group of 4 in 2, as you like, no double lift.

 

@Mark I already see improvement "away from home" because that is were we do most work here. All non-dogged sheep I don´t own, in the hills, no fences.

But imo there is not enough consistency , she might move them on a good day, she might not on a bad one. That´s why it is a dilemma, if she would have shown no/little improvement I would not consider it, if she would have improved a lot I would not hesitate.

And I am the last person who would enjoy a repetition of the last trial experience.


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#10 Gideon's girl

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Posted 16 October 2014 - 02:43 PM

I don't trial and I don't know if I'll ever get to, but I do know the value of going and seeing what and how others do things, so my vote is that you go, whether you enter or not.



#11 Sue R

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Posted 16 October 2014 - 03:22 PM

PS. Sue, was I right in assuming it was you who first coined the term "dental diplomacy"?

I don't know if I was first but it is Dan's trademark! His litter sister was known as "The Landshark". The ability to use teeth as a tool is a trademark of these two. In good hands, like his sister was, his dental diplomacy would probably have been more diplomatic than dental!

I know what the urge to go to a trial is like, and I rarely get to satisfy mine. Maybe someday, I will be able to get a nice retired dog and again try my hand at running a dog in a trial.

You do what works for you, the dog, the sheep, and the trial (and your wife)!
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#12 Debbie Meier

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Posted 16 October 2014 - 03:46 PM

But imo there is not enough consistency , she might move them on a good day, she might not on a bad one.

That's pretty normal, some days the dogs are rock stars and other days they need your help, especially when the daily work is different each day being at a different place or with different sheep. Even the weather conditions can play a role.

I used to think that ideal was perfection, but then you find that there is not such thing, to many unknowns. One day you might be the national champion and the next you might be carrying a ewe off the field after your dog gripped out.
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#13 Maxi

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Posted 17 October 2014 - 05:44 AM

With regard to my own dogs, I don't like setting them up in a situation which would 'overface' them.. . When I worked with a young dog who did not have a lot of power, I would do everything I could to support her so that she succeeded in turning and controlling stubborn sheep. It sounds as you do similar with Gla'ma.

 

With my own dog, there was an the odd occassion when she found herself in a situation where a bolshy ewe  confronted her and I couldn't readily get in a position to support her.  I found the event would knock her confidence significantly and set back her training.

 

Having said that, I don't trial  - though I can understand the appeal to others. However, I do like going to watch others work (and trial) and I also to like to talk to other handlers. For me, this is an important part of my own education.

 

So if you and your wife think that you are able to get away for a couple of days, then I agree with the others that it would probably be highly beneficial to attend.

 

Whether you run your dog is another matter.   I think Marc's advice is very sensible

 

If you've been able to increase the distance between you and her where she feels more confident and able to move stubborn sheep; go see how much improvement there is away from home.

 

If you still need to be right there you already know how things are likely to go if most of the sheep at this trial require more push than your dog can give with you at the post.

 

ETA. Of course if you know that the sheep at the trial are respectful of dogs, generally well behaved or very light and free moving, that would be another matter.


good luck, let us know what you (& your wife) decide.


Edited by Maxi, 17 October 2014 - 07:47 AM.


#14 Maja

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Posted 17 October 2014 - 08:44 AM

Voice of madness:

 

If it were me (which it isn't) I would go. Because

 

1) It's two days, so if there is a mess the first day, there is a chance to improve the next.

2) I don't get discouraged by a DQ.

3) It's two days, to there is a good chance to gain experience.

4) It's two days to I could to a lot of watching and run too .

5) I wouldn't go to trial so far just to watch if I could run.

7) Dogs need trial mileage.

6) I am crazy.

7) I like trials.

8) I don't have a wife.

 

 

:)


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#15 Liz P

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Posted 17 October 2014 - 08:45 AM

As a general rule, if a trial is close by, low pressure and can provide a good learning experience, I might take a dog that really isn't ready.  I see it as getting them used to the trial setting, such as lifting off a set out person.  If things start to go south I can help the dog, praise them for the good work they have done and retire.

 

If the trial is far away, high pressure or might make things a lot worse for a dog, I won't go (or won't enter that particular dog).  Some trials have reputation for high pressure fields, tough sheep or so many entries that you need to off the field the second things aren't going well.



#16 mum24dog

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Posted 19 October 2014 - 07:36 PM

As a general rule, if a trial is close by, low pressure and can provide a good learning experience, I might take a dog that really isn't ready.  I see it as getting them used to the trial setting, such as lifting off a set out person.  If things start to go south I can help the dog, praise them for the good work they have done and retire.
 
If the trial is far away, high pressure or might make things a lot worse for a dog, I won't go (or won't enter that particular dog).  Some trials have reputation for high pressure fields, tough sheep or so many entries that you need to off the field the second things aren't going well.


I have no experience in sheepdog trials but I do have experience in introducing dogs to competition in other activities and the advice you give is good.

Test your dog by all means but not if it is likely to over face her and knock back her ability to perform in real life. Judgement is all.

#17 amc

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 09:05 AM

Smalahundur, what did you decide about entering your National trial?

 

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#18 Smalahundur

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 02:55 PM

The voice of reason won... <_<

Sorry Maja, you were such a great advocate for the one of madness...

 

The decision was actually as so often here in Iceland for a large part influenced by the weather; it is rather bad; storm and a lot of sleet/snow. I would have to travel 380 km to the trial location, over mountain roads, and the official advice was "don´t travel if you can avoid it". They had an okay day today, but the forecast for tomorrow, the second runs, is very lousy.

 

There are not a lot of participants, it seems I am not the only one who gave this a pass.

Personally I think it is madness to organize the most important event of the stockwork community here in November, it is asking for trouble. Of course there are reasons (sheep availability) but it is entirely possible to solve those problems (I have visited a National couple of years ago that was held mid August).

 

Another reason was that I don´t trust Gláma to be good/confident enough. I have no worries that taking part in a difficult trial this would affect her work capacity negatively as some mentioned here.

Actually I suspect it rather to be the other way around; in work she often (certainly in the just finished fall round up) she is faced with situation that affect her confidence , and make "building her up" for trial work difficult.

The advice I got here "just stop using her for work say two years or so and just train her on easier sheep" is no doubt sound, but would in practical terms translate to "get an other dog". Actually I did start a young dog this summer, too early to tell how he is going to turn out, but one thing is for sure, no lack of grit there.

 

 

Only to watch I did not feel it was worth the difficult long journey, and the loss off time. Not to mention the cost of hotel etc.

 

There is always next year and Max, who knows, he might be ready for the "young dog" class by then.


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#19 TEC

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 03:14 PM

Good call. It was yours, and nobody else can make it. You know all the facts and considerations. Next year, maybe. 

 

I am with you questioning the soundness of a November trial in Iceland. WTH? As you say, trial committee no doubt has lots of things to take into account. Thanks for the update. -- Best wishes, TEC


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#20 Smalahundur

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 04:03 PM

Thanks TEC, by the way I plan on showing some pics and write something about the round up. You mentioned it some time ago.


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