Today I worked Pat in P*Trick's field, which has fetch panels and one set of drive panels set up, plus the pen. It was a closer simulation of an actual trial field than the 2 buckets and wheel line we used the other day at Dianne's. I'm getting closer to determining with a fair degree of accuracy just how bad I will suck a mere few weeks from now. On a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being End Times Suckage, where the Good ascend to a white soft fluffy cloud of happiness forever and leave behind me rear-ending their minivan, and 1 being The AntiSuck, where I don't suck at all, infact we finish the course with straight lines, hit all panels, pen and dance an amazing tango that we've actually never been exposed to but suddenly just comes together for us, ending with a flourish where Pat dips me and then, though it looks like a hump, it's actually a bow, to the judge, who is weeping from the sheer beauty of a dog doing what he was bred to do, plus a tango ….I'd give us, at this point….a 7. Medium High suck: my pants fall down at the post and Pat brings me the sheep who get tangled up in them, and drag me through the first set of panels and deposit me midway to the second, which the sheep miss…but, because I'm fast, even on my knees, crawling, dragging a ewe, who, frankly, looks better in my jeans… we make our pen. We'll see.
Our first run went badly for a few reasons, but I think the most important one was that Pat needs to be stopped. Alot. I forget this. Alot. Pat has power and can move sheep. He doesn't have a great deal of variation in how fast. If he isn't stopped and made to listen early, then it gets progressively worse for the rest of the run. By then he is making mistakes and enduring correction, and this makes him edgy, which translates to losing his head…and me mine.
Sadly, or romantically, I am very similar to Pat and this compounds our problem. I tend to do everything fast. This has helped me in other sports and at work, giving birth,marriage, divorce…writing, which I love and need- my biggest struggle is that I spew shit out on paper (or screen) and can't force myself to rewrite or edit. This is just how I've always been. I only move forward and usually fast. This is one more way that stockdog work is forcing me to be a better person. Or so I believe at this moment in time.
So, our second run went really well. I stopped Pat, he listened, neither of us gave, or took, a wrong flank. We made our panels, mostly…and we penned. Both times, actually. We're much better with close work than the far away depth perception stuff. It felt good and Pat and I do work pretty well together when I'm paying attention to the details. Slowly.
And I wrote this quickly and I'm not going to edit because I'm tired and haven't learned nearly as much as I like to pretend. Thus…the 7.
More practice tomorrow. Might be our last opportunity. I'm hoping to knock it back to a 5. I like that number.