This post was published to Ziggy Stardust Sheep Tales at 12:18:35 03/10/2013
Plotting for the Next Steps
After a lovely weekend in Worcestershire in May 2012 we returned to Leicestershire with many thoughts buzzing around my head. This was partly trying to work out what had actually happened during the time in the training ring with Ziggy and partly thinking about practical ways of doing more sheepdog training. It was immediately clear to me that this was an enjoyable pastime and would be beneficial for the dogs but it was clearly not practical to attend a group lesson 1 ½ hours from home every week, even if places were available.
In my mind it was clear that we wouldn’t make any progress unless the dogs had access to sheep every few days for short training sessions as part of their regular routine. But how could this city born, modern house living numpty who had hardly touched a sheep before arrange such a thing? Frankly I had no idea, but that has never stopped me in the past on any of my other activities. I was happy to make this a long term plan but I was determined that a way would be found to progress this growing obsession.
The summer of 2012 was a busy time distracting thoughts away from sheepdog training, highlights included:
City winning the premiership:
Attending a royal garden party with my beautiful wife:
walking the 192 mile Coast to Coast with Gaz:
2 glorious weeks in France with family and dogs, a few days on a canal boat with Jackki in the August rain and a rather special dog related event up in Catterick in early September.
I’m not intending the blog to be a life story but I’ve included a few little snaps from these events and will tell more about the special Catterick event in a separate blog post shortly.
I booked another group training session for September 2012 to keep things bubbling along but didn’t actively make any other plans, a few conversations with local farmers and sheepdog handlers at our local trials provided further encouragement and motivation but no real outlet for ideas. In fact the local trials at that time of the year included many people running novice dogs so it was good to see just how much work must go into perfecting a top trials dog. Our visit to the World Trials in 2011 was impressive but the dogs were frankly so good that my untrained eye could not really spot the difference between a good and a bad run, at the local trials it was much easier to see differences and have an appreciation of the good points.
Following our second group training session with Andy at www.workingsheepdog.co.uk in September I was determined to find a way of getting my own sheep. I couldn’t possibly ask anyone else to give me access to their sheep regularly with Ziggy being as enthusiastic as he was. For the 2nd time he had been the only dog on the group course that didn’t progress to working sheep in the field outside of the confines of the training ring.
Stardust was again true to her name, a real star and she and Michael could be seen out in the field and at one point managed to get the sheep all the way back into the training ring while Andy and Carew were briefly otherwise engaged. After each session on a warm day the water trough was popular for a drink and a soak with both dogs.
Clearly I needed some land and some sheep and from September onwards this was firmly my plan and the research commenced during quiet times in the office.