Sometimes, it is nice to have a breakthrough…
I have been lucky to have some amazing instructors and mentors who are always willing to talk to me about herding. My current instructor, Cathy Hartley at Bear Run Farm, has been working with me, sometimes dragging me through the same thing over and over again. I started in October, working with her, and had to change some of my fundamental ways that I actually live with my dog. Well, some of these changes have started to pan out for me.
Several people have handled Fiddle… all of them have known what they were doing. Fiddle gave them nearly instantaneous “respect”, and they were able to make the dog look pretty fantastic.
I use the word respect, but that may not be the right one. All of the people who have worked her have been fairly consistent in setting rules, and they are very experienced. I, am not that. She is pushing and challenging my rules, partly because my body language isn’t precise, and partly because she can read the stock and situation much faster than I can.
Over, and over, and over, and over again Cathy has been telling me what to do, and how to work. She is amazing about bringing out the natural talent that my dog has, but my dog just wasn’t listening to the degree that she could.
Enter the Larry Painter (a cattle dog breeder who actually bred Fiddle’s father) Clinic that my Dad got me for Christmas. I went up to Keepstone Farm in Berryville, VA Wednesday and Thursday (my only days off work). It was kind of weird… because I entered this clinic with… confidence…
Likely some hubris on my part… but I was thinking to myself… We got this!
Cathy prepped me for this… we spent a TON of time working real stock, with me kinda floundering around like a crazy person… I can handle these knee knockers (sheep that stick to the handler pretty well).
So, essentially, in one amazing, perfect storm style situation, everything that all of my teachers and mentors have been trying to get across suddenly sank in.
And THE STOCK SLOWED DOWN! (when you are new, everything goes super fast, your timing is terrible, and its like trying to juggle knives, chainsaws, and ping pong balls at one time). You have to focus on the stock, the dog, and yourself, in this awkward ballet dance of doom… and for those of you who have seen me dance… you know why this is not an easy task for me, given that I lack coordination so badly.
Anyways, here is the video. Sorry the clips were not good, as I forgot to clean the screen on the outside of case, and just cleaned the camera.
Another thing that really helped… watching other people who are at or below my relatively novice level struggle through the same things that I went through. Even though I video myself, and regularly review my videos for what I do, it is still hard, because I am not seeing things in the real time. Watching several of these students, I could hear Cathy’s voice echoing in my head from all of our past lessons in real time. It was… kinda trippy.
I was also able to confirm with Larry what I was seeing, and ask questions while someone else was climbing the same hill that I was.
I am thrilled with the distance, thrilled with having so many people who believe in me… who say the same thing again and again until it sticks, and really hope that now that this bridge has been crossed with Fiddle, that our competitive herding career is dawning to be fantastic.
I also have confidence now. I am not going to farm my foundations training out to Cathy, or Fran anymore with Uke, or any future dog. They have been working so hard to teach me, and its time we make them proud.
I GOT THIS!
Now, for the weather to cooperate so I can proof, and take on the world.