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Debbie Meier

Arena trial Judging question

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Hi Bob, I hope you don't mind that I bounce this off of you, we had a judged arena trial a couple of weekends ago and I'm trying to figure out what the best approach would be in regard to a hitch that we had.

 

We were asked to do an OLF and then turn counter clockwise around the pen that we were standing in front of, after that was a drive panel that was offset to the right of the pen about 16 feet off of the fence and just a bit over 1/2 way down a 200' arena. When the dog brought the sheep to you they would come past you and try to hide behind the pen (the pen was about 15-20 foot off the back fence in the center of the arena, arena is about 100' wide). Should I have had my dog keep those sheep well away from the pen and wait to make the drive panel turn until he gets the sheep clear so that he can control the inside, as the sheep are drawn to other end and a bit to the left, pulling acrossed the drive panel actually past the center of the arena to the set out? When looking toward the set out, the exhaust was with the setout, to the left of center.

 

Anyway, as it was, with the sheep hiding out after the fetch, when Jake went to push them past and around they made a break, he had no room to get between them and the pen and had to come back around the pen and then could only hold them over to the drive panels, a push would have sent them to far right. Jake was pulling hard on me toward the set out trying to hold them on line and gain control and I don't think I was able to get him flanked around on the outside in enough time to catch them before they went back to the back fence. If I had flanked him from the place he was to hold them on line in time to make the catch it would have been to early and they would have come to the inside of the drive panel. I felt like I was running Jake on defense, but I'm not quite sure what I could have done different earlier on to allow him to maintain control on the sheep so that he did not end up in a defensive cover mode, which gets tough for me due to Jake getting ampy when he is not in control. Every time I enter one of these judged arena trials I end up liking point/time better...

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to change for the judge, I'm trying to figure out what the best path would be in order to allow my dog to keep everything under control in this type of situation, which unfortunatly we see a few times a year. My thought is that I messed up by not having my dog hold the sheep off of the pen, which may have set him up better for the drive panel, which would have also help him to stay in control vs. having him get nerved up when the sheep tried to break.

 

I hope I'm explaining the situation in a way the makes sense.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Deb

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Hi Bob, I hope you don't mind that I bounce this off of you, we had a judged arena trial a couple of weekends ago and I'm trying to figure out what the best approach would be in regard to a hitch that we had.

 

We were asked to do an OLF and then turn counter clockwise around the pen that we were standing in front of, after that was a drive panel that was offset to the right of the pen about 16 feet off of the fence and just a bit over 1/2 way down a 200' arena. When the dog brought the sheep to you they would come past you and try to hide behind the pen (the pen was about 15-20 foot off the back fence in the center of the arena, arena is about 100' wide). Should I have had my dog keep those sheep well away from the pen and wait to make the drive panel turn until he gets the sheep clear so that he can control the inside, as the sheep are drawn to other end and a bit to the left, pulling acrossed the drive panel actually past the center of the arena to the set out? When looking toward the set out, the exhaust was with the setout, to the left of center.

 

Anyway, as it was, with the sheep hiding out after the fetch, when Jake went to push them past and around they made a break, he had no room to get between them and the pen and had to come back around the pen and then could only hold them over to the drive panels, a push would have sent them to far right. Jake was pulling hard on me toward the set out trying to hold them on line and gain control and I don't think I was able to get him flanked around on the outside in enough time to catch them before they went back to the back fence. If I had flanked him from the place he was to hold them on line in time to make the catch it would have been to early and they would have come to the inside of the drive panel. I felt like I was running Jake on defense, but I'm not quite sure what I could have done different earlier on to allow him to maintain control on the sheep so that he did not end up in a defensive cover mode, which gets tough for me due to Jake getting ampy when he is not in control. Every time I enter one of these judged arena trials I end up liking point/time better...

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to change for the judge, I'm trying to figure out what the best path would be in order to allow my dog to keep everything under control in this type of situation, which unfortunatly we see a few times a year. My thought is that I messed up by not having my dog hold the sheep off of the pen, which may have set him up better for the drive panel, which would have also help him to stay in control vs. having him get nerved up when the sheep tried to break.

 

I hope I'm explaining the situation in a way the makes sense.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Deb

 

 

Hi Deb. I think that the problem probably lay in the fact that you might have been running a bit fast and not paying enough attention to line and turns. A judged trial is just that. You need to keep your dog off the sheep and in control so that you lay down nice straight lines and tight turns. Of course, you are right when you say you should have kept the sheep away from the pen so the dog could cover well on his counter clockwise turn around the pen. The sheep would have the upper hand if they could get in tight going around the pen as the dog would not be able to cover both sides very well. I understand that the drive panel was about half way up the arena on the far side from the pen and the draw was back to the set out. If you had kept the dog on the left side of the sheep to hold pressure and on pressure to hold the line to the drive panel, that probably would have worked well for you even if you had been tight on the pen. Time is only a tie breaker even in points and time trials so it is much better to get all the points than have a fast time without all points, timed trial or judged. Teach your dog and yourself to hold pressure and keep the sheep moving and you will find this very beneficial, especially in the arena trials. It involves very good timing and control of the dog but it is a lot of fun to watch a well trained dog keep sheep moving straight even when there is a strong draw involved. It involves a lot of finesse and control as you don't want to be starting and stopping the sheep all the time. You want to see a nice flow as the sheep quietly trot around the arena. Work on the fence and this will teach the dog to keep the sheep moving but not stop them. Just give the dog short flanks and walk ins as he brings them down the fence, then turn around and do it the other way. Try not to get the dog too far ahead of the sheep so he is stopping them. You don't want this to happen. Better to lose a little line than stop the flow. Just concentrate on not stopping the sheep and work slowly to start. After a while when you get it you will be able to speed things up a bit. It works well and the dogs love it......Good luck......Bob

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Hi Deb. I think that the problem probably lay in the fact that you might have been running a bit fast and not paying enough attention to line and turns. A judged trial is just that. You need to keep your dog off the sheep and in control so that you lay down nice straight lines and tight turns. Of course, you are right when you say you should have kept the sheep away from the pen so the dog could cover well on his counter clockwise turn around the pen. The sheep would have the upper hand if they could get in tight going around the pen as the dog would not be able to cover both sides very well. I understand that the drive panel was about half way up the arena on the far side from the pen and the draw was back to the set out. If you had kept the dog on the left side of the sheep to hold pressure and on pressure to hold the line to the drive panel, that probably would have worked well for you even if you had been tight on the pen. Time is only a tie breaker even in points and time trials so it is much better to get all the points than have a fast time without all points, timed trial or judged. Teach your dog and yourself to hold pressure and keep the sheep moving and you will find this very beneficial, especially in the arena trials. It involves very good timing and control of the dog but it is a lot of fun to watch a well trained dog keep sheep moving straight even when there is a strong draw involved. It involves a lot of finesse and control as you don't want to be starting and stopping the sheep all the time. You want to see a nice flow as the sheep quietly trot around the arena. Work on the fence and this will teach the dog to keep the sheep moving but not stop them. Just give the dog short flanks and walk ins as he brings them down the fence, then turn around and do it the other way. Try not to get the dog too far ahead of the sheep so he is stopping them. You don't want this to happen. Better to lose a little line than stop the flow. Just concentrate on not stopping the sheep and work slowly to start. After a while when you get it you will be able to speed things up a bit. It works well and the dogs love it......Good luck......Bob

 

Thanks Bob, I'll put more focus on weight holding exercises. We have two weeks until our next trial, same type of format.

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