Although I'm usually certain that EVERYTHING I say is original and thought provoking….we novices, apparently, all say the same things.  Do the same things.  (Except Derek Fisher who was born whistling LIE DOWN with his little bitty fingers)….And they are wrong.  Or they are would look better on a t-shirt than in your head on the trial field:

Send left or right? Which way did you (or are you going to) send your dog? – Novices

"What is more important is that you have a plan. Put a plan in your head and stick with it. If you have a plan in your head, your dog can get it…" – Patrick

Sometimes my plan is to wait until I finish my run to drink liberally.  Or weep.  This is a good PERSONAL plan, but it's not especially useful information for my dog on the field.  Sometimes my plan includes blaming setout if things go badly, but it lacks authority since things usually go badly closer to MY sphere of influence than SETOUT'S. I was unable last year, for instance, at Kelley Creek, to successfully blame setout for my attempt to pen 3 of the 5 sheep at the end of a profoundly wince-worthy run.  Patrick likes to use this as an example NOT of Setout Failure, but Novice Ignorance. 

Lately my plan has been to slap my leg less and try to not say any derivative of Dammit or Fuck on the field. THIS is helpful, but only slightly.

Where does the drive end?

"Be in the moment – don't think ahead to the shed or the pen, and do not go back (or stay) stalled on something bad that happened before (during the run)." – Patrick

NOW my plan will be to limit my planning to focus on the field, the obstacle, my dog, the sheep and Right Now.  DD last year told me to think of the field in 10 – 20 foot increments.  Only worry about that next 20 feet at a time.  Pat could, and can (HE'S BACK!) cover 20 feet in less time than it takes for me to fantasize about whistling a down, which is really all I was capable of, seemingly, last year.

There is often not enough time to play all the scenarios swinging from Grandious Delusion (SHE WON!! EVERYTHING!! SOMEONE SHOULD BREED THAT DOG! AND THE WOMAN!! BUT NOT TO EACHOTHER!)  to Sheep Armeggedon (All of them, even the one's at setout. Dead. Mangled and run into fences…bent like spoons or dropped over from fear and screeching)  that tend to play out in my head during those ten minutes. I can go back to an incident in childhood involving a willful scratchy sweater that ruined my 12th year or the fact that I'm pretty sure my  pants are unzipped and have been for an hour or more..but I don't want to look because who looks at their crotch at the post?  It's small wonder my whistles are late or nonexistant and that sometimes my only input to the dog during the latter part of our run is a sob.  

This is changing though.  I have two good dogs who are getting better and dragging me with them.  Actually Pat has always been good, and Jai is certainly good and getting better every day…but my power of suck has in the past tended to overpower this Goodness. 

Pat worked REALLY WELL for me this weekend, and has since I got him back. DD says this is because I have improved as a handler; Jai has helped me tremendously. Pat trusts me to help him, rather than hinder him.  He's calmer and I'm calmer. Our moments of defining new lows are seemingly decreasing. 

The clinic was really helpful and fun. I learned new things and old things took root.  Some things DD will have to continue to beat out of me,

"What's with the leg slapping? Why not just ask her to 'walk up'? Do you have to slap your leg?" – Dianne

Yes. I do.  FOR NOW.

 



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