Today I took a 1/2 day off work and drove three hours to Airdrie. Here I took a private lesson with Calvin Jones of Wales. It was well worth the time and effort. In fact, it was hands down one of the best lessons I've taken. He "got" me. And he "got" my dogs. Calvin was fresh off judging the Worlds in the UK so I'll trust he knows what he's talking about.
I worked Diva first and he gave me some positive and interesting feedback. He showed me a technique to keep her off her sheep. After he demonstrated some things, and I tried them (in teaching we call this modeling and guided practice) I went to grab Ryder. Ryder was his normal lovely little self. And Calvin was very impressed with him. So impressed he was joking about stuffing him (Ryder) in his suitcase. He also encouraged me to reconsider neutering him. He believes that Ryder has the makings of a champion.
Afterwards we chatted. Calvin's a funny man with a great sense of humor. He's the kind of person you can sit and visit with for hours. As we chatted Calvin gave me some advice/feedback around Diva. His suggestion was to either find some "good" farmer to send her to for the winter for some real work or to leave her to grow up. He feels that some of the behaviors on stock I'm seeing are immaturity. He thinks my time will be better spent with Ryder and that by January (January!!!???) Ryder should be ready to trial. He also thought that getting too rough or aggressive with Diva would only result in failure.
It was so interesting for me. I think I learned a lot and above all he gave me something to think about. I liked that his was a different take than the standard herder/stockdog manner where rough or course strategies can be common. As a matter of fact, I liked him so much that next weekend when he's back in the Airdrie area, I'll be driving down for another set of lessons.
If you ever get the chance I highly recommend him.
UPDATE: Calvin will be in the Calgary area (Airdrie) for the following week.