I had told a friend's family that I would loan them some sheep for the summer to graze down their little acreage. Today was delivery day. I hitched up the trailer, put Diva and Ryder in the run, and enlisted my mom and Tessa for some help. Dad had bought around 20 weanling lambs to graze down the "sheep" pasture. I needed to pull my six out of the flock. Using Tessa to push on them and get them shifting around the younger sheep slid into a shed. Smooth as butter. Well, until Tessa went deaf. Then not so smooth. Plan B was to encourage my three woolies to leave the shed. I brought Tessa in when they wouldn't respond to my pressure. She shot them out. I managed to cleanly pull five of my sheep out. Deciding I could leave the one hair behind, we drove them out into the field.
Next, I pulled the trailer into the field and parked it at the gate. I had grabbed Ryder. Now, mom had Tessa on a leash and I had Ryder loose. (He listens better.) I stationed mom and Tessa in a high pressure spot to help create a bit of a human wall. Ryder gathered and pushed the sheep to the edge of the trailer. He kept counter balancing them to the trailer, taking off in hot pursuit if something made a break for it. I was in awe with his manner. He is so quiet and kind to his stock. He does not dive in and grip under pressure. Watching him, my chest puffed out with pride. He is a young dog and he took his flanks relatively well, and he tried. He tried and tried to do the right thing.
Taking our time to not put too much pressure on the sheep and create a wreck or bolting situation I managed to get the Blat one of the hair sheep in. Mom ran off to grab the halter and I tied him in the trailer. While I was doing this Ryder kept the sheep at the mouth of the trailer. A lot of time had passed so I felt we should try for more pressure. I asked Ryder to put some heat on. Using my cane I began to encourage the sheep to move forward into the trailer. It was here that I encountered a major problem. Every time I lifted my arm, or took my foot into the buttocks of the sheep (relax - no beating occurred - just some good shoves) Ryder moved out of contact, creating a window for the sheep to move into. My poor gorgeous boy was afraid of the cane. Broke my heart. This is something we'll need to work through. Moving mom and Tessa to the high pressure spot - with Tessa leaning hard on her leash - my lead sheep finally hopped in. And then just like water the sheep flowed into the trailer. Closing the door, I went in and untied Blat. Ryder sat there peeking in, pleased as anything. I was so proud of him.
He hasn't done any functional work yet he handled the high pressure situation like a champion. I also enjoyed myself immensely even though I spent a good portion getting rained on. Why? I think because there was purpose to it. I sat back and thought about why I procrastinate and in some ways resist my trial training. Why I'm not motivated. I think it leaves me emotionally numb, whereas this had a reason to it. I think I may need to add in more functional activities to our training regime.
There it was pride overfloweth and an epiphany all in one damp package.