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Sunday, February 21 2016

     Mesa has just turned a year old and I'm beginning to use her for simple chores around the farm. We haven't really done a lot of schooling because the schooling sheep have been heavily pregnant or lambing, that just leaves the Navajo Churro and the Jacobs, and they are not, N-O-T, good schooling sheep. The churro are large, flighty, and apt to richochet into things, and the Jacobs will bring the fight to the dog. None of that is great for giving a baby dog confidence.

Mesa has done enough pen work on the Dorpers that she has a rudimentary knowledge of pushing sheep, giving them some distance, and bringing them to me. We haven't put any commands on it yet. Her experience with the Churro and Jacobs has been to slowly push them into the night pens. This isn't so much herding, as guiding them into good choices.

Mesa is supposed to begin formal herding lessons in March but Spring grazing pasture opportunities require Mesa to start getting a handle on these sheep as soon as possible. So this evening we moved the sheep into the pen and let Mesa get a feel for them.

The sheep are light and have never really been schooled by dogs, and so flocking toward the human is not even in their databanks. Today we just worked with picking the sheep up and moving them around the pen, predictably the Jacobs were quick to complicate things by bringing the fight to the dog.

It was irritating but at the same time, if Mesa can't work a bossy sheep, she can't work a cow, so there is no time like the present to start building her confidence.

Since we have no aspirations toward trial work, gripping the sheep is not discouraged as long as it's justified and fair. The problem with gripping sheep with horns is that if you don't do it right, it hurts. Mesa and the bossiest ewe had a few go-rounds before Mesa got her confidence and found a way to address the problem that she was comfortable with. I didn't put too much pressure on her, and we quit as soon as she'd had enough success that I felt her confidence was growing.

Not only did Mesa learn she could control the sheep, more importantly, the sheep learned that Mesa could control them, and that's just one baby step closer to being a cow dog.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 05:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  3 Comments  |  Email
Good girl!!
Posted by Patty on 02/21/2016 - 05:48 PM
Well done Mesa!
Posted by Terry on 02/21/2016 - 11:17 PM
Thanks guys. She is growing up to be just what I wanted. :)
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 02/23/2016 - 05:01 PM

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