Well I finally decided to write an update on Christian's maturing. Being late in her maturation, she was just too young in her head to be able to handle too much strict training and trialing to be a nursery dog.
With that said, I trialed her in ProNovice this last spring in two trials, a couple months before her two year mark. She would work close at hand, but the trials were pretty much a mess in the outwork. That is frustrating for me, being a control freak.
In May, I hosted a Jack Knox clinic, which was the turning point for me with understanding Chris and her development. Jack told me to quit working her like a trial dog, practicing the course. I knew better, and had herd that before. But we humans are so prone to repeat old behaviors when not looked at by a third party-trainer.
So it was back to "playing" with her on sheep. She had been showing me some avoidance behaviors while training her, and that showed me she was having too much stress while working sheep. The sheep were put on the fence again, along with Chris being fired up again. And I would add "commands" intermittently, but making sure that she was having fun, and keeping really fired up.
I do know that if I slow, or 'break' a young dog too early in their training, that as they age, they will naturally get slower, and they will become too slow when they work. I also have and still do to a certain extent, remind myself that I am after a good open dog and not a good nursery or pronovice dog. So I am training her with less stress for her, and I think it makes me a better trainer also. I have to wait for them.
I did not trial her for about six months, except I was allowed to enter her in the Scottish games in Plesanton on just Sunday. They had enough dogs scratch, that they allowed a third dog to enter.
I was very grateful for it. I always thought it a good way to desentize a dog to trialing pressures, to be trialed in an arena, where all things are closer. And she was pretty good! I kept a firm verbal leash on her, so not to get a sheep injured, but most of all, she had to mind me. She ended up placing in the driving course sixth place combined. I couldn't believe it.
At the end of October we went to a trial down south of us in Valley Center CA. I entered her in the two ProNovice trials offered on Sunday.
Her first run was great! She was her normal tight outrun-away, but had nice lines and a nice pen. She placed forth in that trial.
The second run went south. I sent her away again, and the set out was on the left. This was probably not the best senerio for a young dog. I think I should have sent her come-bye, as her presence could have stopped what happened next. When she got to the top, the sheep broke back to the set out, and she just followed, not covering. I gave her some noises to fire her up and get her to want to cover. But she didn't. So I just called her off.
Two runs for her right now is one too many. I think she can only handle the stress of one run per day.
Yesterday, she was also entered in a ProNovice class at a trial up in Hopland CA. This is a challenging field, and hard to duplicate for practice. So when I saw the outrun was pretty far, I pretty much knew that I was going to have to walk away from the post to help her.
I sent her come-bye, as the away side- supposed her better side, had a large area where she would not be able to see the sheep. I have not worked that senerio yet, so chose the more visible side for the outrun.
She started tight as usual, and at about halfway, I lied her down and redirected her. She took the redirect. Toward the top, I blew another redirect, as she seemed tight at the top. She did not take it, and stopped by herself, at about 11o'clock.
I decided to simple walk her up, trusting that she was correct, and she was. Long story short, she had a pretty nice run. There was a little mess up at the first panel, but she made the fetch, and both drive panels, with fairly straight lines, and a nice pen. All of this was with range ewes.
She ended up placing third place in thirty runs. I was quite pleased with her.