Watching a Sheepdog Trial

Last week a few of us went to Rio Vista to watch the third day of the McCormack Ranch Sheepdog Trials.

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The ranch is located in the Montezuma Hills, just north and west of the Sacramento River. The most striking feature of the modern landscape is the huge wind turbines scattered throughout the hills. This landscape is immense. It’s hard to put the size of the wind turbines (and the sheepdog course) in perspective. There is a group of sheep and a handler on the hill that is just in front of the only trees. The handler and his dog put a group of sheep on that hill and keep them there until the competing dog begins his run, coming from near where we were watching, about 650 yards away.DSC_9116

You lose sight of the dog while he makes an outrun that comes up behind the sheep. The dog brings the sheep toward the handler and is supposed to get them through the first set of gates in the center of the course. Then the dog brings the sheep to the pole where the handler is standing, around that pole and drives them through a set of gates to the west and a set to the east.

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After that the dog brings the sheep towards the handler. Once the sheep are past the marked mounds of dirt (red in the background of this photo) the handler can leave the post and help the dog to sort out three of the six sheep. This is by far easier said than done. Besides the fact that the sheep don’t want to be split up, it has to be the right sheep. Two of the sheep have red marks on their heads and they have to be part of the three that are split off to then be put into the pen. Not very many dogs and handlers that we watched accomplished this in the given time.

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I felt kind of out-classed watching these photographers. Not only had I left my longer lens (still much shorter than this one) at my brother’s house, I had to substitute a plastic bag for my lens cap that I lost in the pasture last week. I definitely did not get close-ups of dogs working sheep out on the course.

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This is another dog bringing sheep to the first set of gates…

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…and splitting the six sheep into two groups.

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Once the handler has opened the gate he/she  can’t get any farther away than the end of the rope that is attached to the gate.DSC_9166

I don’t remember but I think that this dog didn’t quite make the time limit.

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After the sheep are in the pen or the horn blows the dogs make a beeline for the black tub full of water. That dog waits there until the next competitor is finished and moves those sheep to a holding pen out of site and sound of the competitors while the last dog takes over the spot in the water tub.

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There was a break in the trial to award prizes for the previous two days’ winners.

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Scores are kept on a board where everyone can keep track of the progress. Some of the competitors:

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Notice the platform built onto the four-wheeler.

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After the awards we watched a few more dogs.  This dog was so close to getting the sheep in the pen but they weren’t cooperating. It was getting hot in the afternoon and at one point the dog broke from the sheep and ran to lie down in the water tub. You know a dog is hot when he leaves his sheep to do that, but this isn’t something that you can do with a dog that doesn’t love to work. A quick cool-down and the dog was back.

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This photo was taken from where we parked. You can see the river in the background. The canopies and trucks are at the top of the hill where the course started and the outrun was made towards the river. The sheep in this photo are the ones who were already used for one run and brought to the back to be out of sight and earshot of the other sheep and the dogs.

I sort of feel bad that my dogs will never have a chance to work sheep on this scale. If Ginny had to run that far to get her sheep she probably wouldn’t be so wound up we were trying to do the close-up work.

She’s Two Today!

So many cute photos. I may have to do more than one post.

I can use more photos if I make a mosaic. A lot of firsts for Ginny at two months old. First meet-up with the big dogs. First Christmas tree. First time in the barn. First visit to the vet.

Still two months old. Running in the fog. Spending time in the shop with spinners. Playing with Rusty and Maggie and conquering branches.

ginny-2-5-months-1Ginny and her lamb.

ginny-2-5-months-3Ginny and her moose.

ginny-7-months-1Ginny at 7 months with the favorite Toy.ginny-7-months-2

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ginny-7-5-months-1Ginny not so happy after her little operation so that I wouldn’t have to worry about what might happen while I was going to be gone for two weeks.ginny-10-months-1At 10 months Ginny discovered that she wasn’t a big fan of drones.ginny-11-monthsFirst herding lesson at Sheepdog Debbie’s place (Herding-4-Ewe) just down the road.

ginny-1-year-2Ginny’s first birthday.dsc_3301

Ginny at two years old. Rusty will post some photos in his blog post of Ginny’s recent lesson at Sheepdog Debbie’s.

 

Ginny Across the Road

Have you seen Rusty’s blog with photos of Ginny and Maggie playing? They look fierce there. That’s a different kind of play than when they go for walks. This is the third successful trip Across the Road With Three Dogs. I think we’ve got it down now that Ginny will walk on a leash without trying to play with the others. Once we’re to the dirt road along the canal I can let her go and all three dogs run free. I don’t worry about Ginny as long as she is with Rusty and Maggie. She stays right with them.DSC_2013DSC_2015DSC_2011

  DSC_2034DSC_2003When I take my camera Across the Road my walk could not be considered a workout. It turns into a pretty leisurely walk because I get easily distracted by envisioning things in photos. I guess the dogs like that because we’re out longer.DSC_2007DSC_2008

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GinnyCan you believe this blue sky? What a day for January! But it’s very troubling that we haven’t had any rain since December. Another thing about a blue sky–it shows up the slightest dirt on my lens or in my camera. But I’m too tired to fix it now.

Ginny – 3 months old

Ginny has been here a month and will be 3 months old on Monday. I still feel this pressure to turn her into a Well-Mannered Dog, but I think we are doing OK. I have decided that puppyhood is like condensing the childhood years from 0 to 15 into about 8 months. That’s how much time I have to get it right.Ginny-3 months She has a smudged face from rough-housing with Rusty. He is still stand-offish a lot of the time but he has his moments. In the early morning I can see Rusty playing with Ginny in the yard but I think he doesn’t want me to know. After doing chores Ginny and Maggie play (me bribing Maggie with treats) and Rusty will chase, but not get involved in the actual tussling. When I am finished at the computer it’s Rusty’s turn for a blog post and he’ll show the photos of this morning’s play time.Three DogsHere is the doorway. Rusty is in his regular spot at the backdoor. Maggie has the mat to the right and Ginny has a couple of towels…and a stick. It’s a good thing that when Dan built this back porch  he used two doors. We are now using the door to the right that leads directly to the laundry room because if you go in the usual door you have to climb a puppy fence. When we all go in I open that door for Ginny and the other door for the rest of us.

IMG_0958 Yesterday I tried to take all three dogs for a walk Across the Road. That was a mistake. Ginny was way too excited and distracted and trying to play with Maggie and pull on the leash. Today I took her on her own walk and she did very well. IMG_0960 IMG_0968This is the latest photo while I’m at my desk.

Maggie the Babysitter

All three dogs come to the barn when I do chores.DSC_0788So that I can keep track of her Ginny is on a chain while I’m cleaning the barn and putting out hay.

After chores it is play time.DSC_0801Maggie has only rarely shown an inclination to play and maybe that’s because Rusty doesn’t either. Once in awhile she will show the “play-bow” move and run off in what I think of as the cartoon-dog run. Ginny, of course, is desperate to play with anyone who shows the least interest. I have figured out that I can bribe Maggie into playing with Ginny–at least for awhile. When she responds to Ginny’s play attempts I have given Maggie a treat and said “play with the puppy”. It seems to be working because I can prolong playtime that way. The longer the better to wear out that puppy.DSC_0837 That doesn’t look like play, but it is.DSC_0839 DSC_0845 Rusty just watches, wanting nothing to do with them.DSC_0848 DSC_0853 DSC_0856 DSC_0857 DSC_0859 Maggie coming back to me for another treat before she goes another round with Ginny.DSC_0877 DSC_0889

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Ginny Gets Around

Ginny has been here a week and a half. I have been taking her with me on errands so that she’ll be used to going in the car and to help get her socialized.Ginny-Clayground Her first trip to the big city was when I delivered woven pieces to The ClayGround in Winters for a holiday sale. IMG_0656 Ginny’s selfie when choosing a Christmas tree.IMG_0676 Ginny at her first visit to the veterinarian.IMG_0686

Socializing at home with some of the spinners. IMG_0697 Christmas shopping in Vacaville. We’re watching cars go by.IMG_0707 More Christmas shopping. I learned that it’s best to go during times of heavy rain because most people stay home (or maybe they are at the malls instead of walking to stores).IMG_0710 Even in  town you can get off the cement.IMG_0580Back home at the shop. Rusty is fairly tolerant but not always happy about having Ginny around.IMG_0725View from inside looking out.