Bringing Them Home

Bringing them across the pasture.



Turning them in the yards to head to the barn paddock where they’ll stay overnight.  There are two kelpies just outside the photo, bottom left.  I’m about to send them along the fence line while I head off to the right to lead the ewes along a narrow trail between trees and toward the next paddock.  For the stock dogs going along the fence there is a lot of sheep pressure to work through given the length of it and the number of sheep. With a few head of sheep the sheep quickly peel off a fence and the dog gets relief of pressure (the sheep move away) but in this case the sheep cannot move away quickly given the close proximity of their neighbour.  It’s a lot of pressure for a dog to handle. 


Between large flock work and three sheep work the basic principles of work are the same, which is why we can do well starting dogs on a few head of sheep.  Yet because of these common and tough scenarios throughout moving a large flock that you can never practice for on small groups, the two working scenarios are vastly different for the dogs.  Many dogs who shine on three sheep struggle working large flocks until they gain the same experience that dogs who work large flocks have. And vice versa, dogs who work large flocks all the time have adjustments to make for precision when only working a few head.  Neither one better or worse, both in their element.  

This third photo is only a few moments after the second.  Can you see the two guardian dogs? Wren is pretty easy to spot moving against the grain as she is, Zeus is a little harder to find but he’s right near Wren.  Look closely.  Flat lighting as it is, I love this photo. 


It was a lovely evening of bringing the flock home. This morning we rose and the dogs and I headed out to move the sheep into the handling area and Allen and I commenced with a full day of weighing lambs. Kelpies are good and tired as are we.  


Comments

  1. Found Zeus. Why is it a lot of pressure on the dogs with the large flock and a fence?

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    1. Stock dog work is all about pressure and release, just like with horses. There is all types of pressure - too much to explain in this reply. The best comparable I can think to give is imagine stepping into an elevator car full of people and moving around the perimeter of it. A certain amount of pressure is felt and if you are to successfully stay in the elevator others must yield space. How you enter and ask for others to yield is one part of the equation and how the others take your intention is another. Some will yield willingly, some will glare at you, some may refuse to move - same with sheep. So the dog is dealing with this animal after animal after animal as he works his way down the fence line.

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  2. Took me a while, but finally found them. How exciting! What great dogs. I can see that Wren has become a good LGD?

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    1. She is doing okay and is playing a role for sure. She's not confident enough to be out with the flock all the time so she comes and goes between them and the smaller group of dog training sheep. She and Birdie are vying for status beneath Lily. Wren is losing so she's pretty uncomfortable in the pack right now.

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  3. Took me a bit to find the second dog. Great shots!

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