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Penning Advice

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My name is Kristi, and I am a terrible penner. There, I said it! For the 5th year, my good dog Lou moved his sheep nicely around the Stampede course and then I messed us up at the pen. Below is the video of the tragedy that is me penning (starts at about 1:54). A couple of things:

 

  • Lou generally is very nice to his stock, and the sheep like him more than fear him.
  • Lou has slice-y flanks. I know this. He's also 10, and I don't think I'm going to get him to open them up any time soon, so we'll need to work around that.
  • He won't grip unless things go round and round and round. I can say with some confidence that I can put him just about anywhere, and he won't grip. <stares meaningfully at Rex>
  • The sheep in this trial are worked by dogs a few times a year, so they're not broke, but they're not wild either.

So there you go. Let me have it, I'm a big girl, I can take the critique. I really REALLY want to close the gate one year at the Stampede!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9JhpkCmS_M

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You had 3 actual good opportunities to put those sheep in - at 2:00, 2:47 and 3:16. Every time you stepped forward and pushed the sheep out of position to actually go in. Let your sheep get in the "pocket" more before you step in to help push them in. Additionally, at 2:45, a step back from you would have allowed the sheep to get into position to go in - your position kept them from coming towards the pocket.

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I'll venture my opinion. First, Lou's slicey flanks are killing you. Especially when you let him walk in closer to the sheep and then ask for a flank. You might do better keeping him further off and then asking for the flank.

 

Lou's sliced flank is what killed you on the first attempt. Had he been a bit more careful, they might have gone in instead of bolting past you because of his indiscretion.

 

~2:40 (second attempt): You started to crowd them when Lou wasn't in a position to block them going around the pen. So you pushed them, then you flanked Lou, who sliced (and in his defense, the proximity of the arena fence would have made it difficult from him to give more ground to stop the sheep going around to the right, BUT if he had given a little ground on the flank, he might have been able to save it for you). But it was you crowding them at the start, probably in your anxiety to hurry up and get the pen, that pushed them around to the right.

 

~3:15 (3rd attempt): You walked Lou up and then asked for the flank, which encouraged the slice. Instead of walking him up, I would have asked for a step or two (at most) to the right to see if that would have been enough to turn their heads back toward the pen without pushing them over top of you. And again you were pushing them.

 

~4:04 (4th attempt): It seemed to me that your movements were very quick, which unsettled the sheep, but of course by then they had figured out they could beat you and the dog.

 

My overall impression is that you were not playing to Lou's strengths while trying to mitigate his weakness (slicing) and that you were amped up and hurrying and so your movements were quick and unsettling to the sheep and in your hurry, you also pushed on them too much. A timed trial doesn't encourage you to take your time, but you would benefit from reminding yourself to take your time at the pen and keep things settled as much as possible. You'll have much better luck that way.

 

I watched many of the runs and it seemed to me that the people who remained calm and quiet and gave the sheep plenty of space on the gate side had better luck.

 

Lou is not too old for you to work on his flanks. He will always default to slicing in high pressure, but if you even trained a "get out" or "away back," "come out" (or similar) you could add some control to the flanks, which would help you at the pen and the shed.

 

JMO.

 

ETA: And I see while I was writing my missive, Robin was saying it in like 3 sentences. ;)

 

J.

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Hello everyone,

 

Thanks for posting this topic, Kristi! I watched the stock dog competition at the Stampede, and I really watched the penning with great interest (because I am a terrible penner, too!). I don't have any helpful input for you, but I truly appreciate reading the suggestions that you are receiving!

 

Regards,

nancy

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I'm learning from the responses, too. Thanks for posting this, Kristi, and thanks to Robin, Julie, and anyone else who offers advice.

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Go back and watch Louanne pen with Meg - when she got the sheep in the pocket, it was really obvious that she had 2 sides of it covered - one with the pen gate and one with her body/crook/the rope. Meg had the other side, leaving only one place for those sheep to go - in the pen. She didn't step forward until the sheep were closer to the pen opening so when she did step forward, they went into the opening instead of around the side. And she kept herself back so the sheep could get there before she stepped forward.

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This is so interesting. I can totally understand what y'all are saying (and I've seen Louanne's video, too). I can relate to poor Kristi, though, because even though I'm sure I'll never make it to a pen, I know I would be a total spaz out there. :)

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Kristi, your dog never had a chance to help you. Every time he came within range, you moved up, started wiggling, waved your crook around and squeezed your sheep out of the pen like toothpaste from the tube. Even with all this commotion, initially at least, the sheep would have gone in had you not left your dog completely out of position.

 

I have run at the Stampede...twice. It's nerve-racking out there, but you're just going to have to calm down. A wise, old hand told me once that while I was at the pen, to leave my crook on the ground! Open the gate as wide as possible, go to the end of my rope and stand like a statue. I had the ability to practice this in the UK where the slightest flinch at the pen would send twitchy Scotties flying in 5 different directions. That's where I truly internalized the lesson. You move, you lose.

 

Surely there are variations of this depending on sheep and any number of other circumstances, but generally speaking, this advice has served me very well over the years, and you should heed it at the pen. If it's possible, suggest you go take some lessons from Dale Montgomery. With 7 notches on his belt, he certainly seems to have it figured out.

 

This is not your dog's fault. He is well good enough to get you around, although I would avoid the bump and drift method and keep him moving.

 

Next time, be vewy, vewy quiet at the pen.

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Let your sheep get in the "pocket" more before you step in to help push them in. Additionally, at 2:45, a step back from you would have allowed the sheep to get into position to go in - your position kept them from coming towards the pocket.

An awful lot of people told me this, some as early as 15 seconds after our run. biggrin.gif I was trying to do the approach-settle-pen technique that I learned from Bill B but obviously I failed!

 

I'll venture my opinion. First, Lou's slicey flanks are killing you. Especially when you let him walk in closer to the sheep and then ask for a flank. You might do better keeping him further off and then asking for the flank.

 

You should see what they do to us in the shedding ring LOL! Way back in the day, he had clean flanks up close. Now, his flanks on the drive and stuff are fine but when we're doing at hand work, it's bad!

Lou is not too old for you to work on his flanks. He will always default to slicing in high pressure, but if you even trained a "get out" or "away back," "come out" (or similar) you could add some control to the flanks, which would help you at the pen and the shed.

 

OK, I'll work on them. Thanks!

 

Go back and watch Louanne pen with Meg - when she got the sheep in the pocket, it was really obvious that she had 2 sides of it covered - one with the pen gate and one with her body/crook/the rope.

For those of you following the thread, here's Louanne's run which earned her reserve - princess power!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yay3ecdtgbM

 

Kristi, your dog never had a chance to help you. Every time he came within range, you moved up, started wiggling, waved your crook around and squeezed your sheep out of the pen like toothpaste from the tube. Even with all this commotion, initially at least, the sheep would have gone in had you not left your dog completely out of position.

LOL!

 

I have run at the Stampede...twice. It's nerve-racking out there, but you're just going to have to calm down.

This admission will probably make my performance look even more pathetic but I'm not nervous in this or any of our runs. I absolutely love competing (in anything!) and I literally am having the time of my life out there. Walking to the post with my good dog makes me so darned happy. What you're seeing isn't nerves, it's a person with very little stock sense trying to pen sheep that don't walk in. biggrin.gif

If it's possible, suggest you go take some lessons from Dale Montgomery. With 7 notches on his belt, he certainly seems to have it figured out.

Right? He's pretty good at this. We've all nominated him to judge next year. smile.gif

 

Thanks, all, I'm finding this very helpful!

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Oh, and what the heck, here's our 2nd go. I, um, got two into the pen this time! The sheep were quite cranky on Monday (they must have heard us saying how nice they were working, and decided to put a stop to that kind of discussion). Still, the two fastest times of the trial happened on Monday, so I guess some dogs could move cranky sheep! biggrin.gif

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPenjAu7Ay4

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This admission will probably make my performance look even more pathetic but I'm not nervous in this or any of our runs. I absolutely love competing (in anything!) and I literally am having the time of my life out there. Walking to the post with my good dog makes me so darned happy. What you're seeing isn't nerves, it's a person with very little stock sense trying to pen sheep that don't walk in.

 

I love this for all kinds of reasons.

 

Thanks for starting this thread (and thanks to those who answered)--informative, interesting, fun!

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Remember the advice for Kingston Kristi!

 

Lou didn't help much on that pen after the one went in, but when they were headed in you were too anxious to move in on them...Flanking Lou to the right spot and than trying to close the gate might have been the wiser choice. Might not have changed a thing :) And then Lou thought more mayhem was better. But you managed those ewes nicely around the rest of the course.

 

Also, i don't know if the pen opened wider than 180 but that may have helped initially

 

Cynthia

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Dear Sheepdoggers,

 

When the sheep came through the chalk ring they came near enough they didn't seem terribly handler-shy. But there was entirely too much handler at the pen. First go, she literally pushed them out and they weren't coming close to that threatening creature again. After that, she could have had Wiston Cap and not pen.

 

I hadn't heard Amelia's advice before but it's a great way of remembering.

 

It helps to think of the pen as a 2-stage obstacle. First, you get them in the mouth. The dog's in place to cover his side - especially the far side - and you're covering the rest. Then, and only then do you begin the pressure to invite them into the pen.

 

You cannot force sheep into a pen, they must decide the pen is the lesser evil. They must decide that the dog has them and they can't get past the gate-rope-handler-stick.

 

"Decide" it's a mind game.

 

Donald McCaig

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does enybody have a video of the winning run i liked the way the dog tookcontroll of the sheep was abel to stay close & cotroll

Sorry, I don't have Dale's run from the finals. As a consolation prize, here's Lisa Wright and her young dog, Ben, with the run that won the first round. Ben is only 2 years old. :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kUIO05fkow

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