This weekend I took a break from my puppy filled craziness and took a trip to Ken Mackenzie's place in Drayton Valley. From my years of riding I fully and completely understand the value of great coaching. While I'm somewhat competent working and training dogs on my own now, it's still nice every now and then to go and get a tune up. With Northlands big arena trial looming in my future and Tessa exhibiting some red flags I called up Ken and made a doggy date.
Poor Reba had to stay home and take care of her babies, but Tessa was loaded into the truck for the trip. Once there I touched base with some of my concerns and had Tessa show him. This is where the value of a great coach, that extra set of eyes, and another brain to provide training strategies is invaluable. He even stepped in and worked Tessa so I could watch him complete the exercise he thought would help us. He also validated my concerns and thoughts and gave me some feedback on her condition. (Which is awful!)
Tessa and I have until the beginning of November to get ready. So out to the field we go - every day. I'll also be making a pit stop at the vet clinic to toss some ideas around her body condition and medical issues - and how best to deal with them to help her get into shape.
On the plus side we worked last night and had a GREAT work! We've been working on short flanks and outruns. Because the trial is an arena trial we aren't looking at huge distances. Instead we're working on cleaning up her fetch - hitting the sheep dead middle and not slicing corners off. The slicing of corners is also our short flank issue. She really likes to run a straight line rather than rounding the edges. So now I work the sheep along a fence and use my body pressure to bump her out when I give the flank.
The game plan is to be nit picky and work in close until she's responsive and correct once more. Here's hoping it works - Northlands will likely be the last trial of her career.