Howdy Ho Everybodies, and what an exciting time we've been having lately!
Normally in the summers, we just lounge around and wait for it to snow, but now with a house full of Coolies, the Musher has a warm weather thing to do! Herding Trials!!!
Oh no! Not that kind of herding trials, although those baa baa sheepy things do deserve to be put away for good.
I'm talking about the Herding Trials where we Coolies go out and make the baa baa sheepie things go where we tell them to go. Full disclosure: after the movie "Babe" the baa baa sheepy things changed their stupid secret code, so that doesn't work any more... stupid movie.
Anyhoooo, where was I... oh yes, the herdie trials!
The Musher took Zac to a herdie trials thingamabob the other week.
Ok, I must admit that calling her "The Musher" when she's herdy herding is a bit weird, so maybe the Merder... um... that sounds oogie. The Husher!
Ok, so the Husher took Zac to the herdie trials doohickey the other week, and since she's never done herdity herdy herding trials, she should have started out at the 'Novice' level, but Zac is a professional herdie herder Coolie, and he's been trialed at a higher level with his previous owner, Noelle Williams. That means that they had to compete at the 'Pro Novice' level. Wow! No pressure there at all.
Zac assured the Husher that he had her back, and he sure did!
This is how the herdity herdy herding trials work: You start off with 90 points (you may want to go get a calculator now), and if you make mistakes, they take points off. The judge assigns an allowed time to get through the course.
Everybodies starts at the post.
|Probably not what it looks like|
The handler must stay at the post until the sheep have negotiated the second set of drive panels, after which time they need to move to the pen.
I have no idea what all that means, so let's take a look at the professional Husher drawing of the course, which I'm sure will make everything crystal clear.
Umm... are those rabbits?
Ok, how about a drawing with subtitles:
I'm pretty sure those are rabbits, but whatever...
Ok, so the first part is the "OutRun", where the Coolie runs out to the rabbits... I mean sheepie things. The goal is to have the coolie run around and behind the sheeps without disturbing them. Disturbed sheeps tend to flee willy nilly.
The goal of the "OutRun" is to run out, but not too far bendy and wasting time (lose points), and not too straight and freaking out the sheeps (lose points and sheep poo all over). The Coolie has to do the outrun all by themselves, if the handler has to correct them... yep, they lose points.
The Lift is where the Coolie makes contact with the sheeps and begins to move them. This is supposed to look like the sheeps up and decided to move on their own, perhaps a group decision to go get some coffee and croissant (as sheep like to do).
The lines that the sheeps move in is very important. They need to move in a direct line between each obstacle. Points are taken off for being off-line or if all sheep don't negotiate an obstacle.
After the lift, the Coolie needs to move the sheeps (with direction if needed) in a straight line to the handler, moving the sheeps through the Fetch panels.
The sheeps then need to 'Turn the post' going around the handler and in a straight line to the first set of Drive panels
Note - a sheepdog's instinct is to bring the sheep to the handler, so 'driving' the sheep away from the handler - or cross the field is a trained skill.
The sheeps go through first set of drive panels, across to the second set and then to the pen, where the handler will have opened the gate and waiting.
The sheep are driven in the pen and the handler closes the gate.
There are commands for each of those maneuvers, either by voice or a whistle.
So, the voice commands for all of that are:
"Away to me" - Circle counter clockwise
"Come By" - Circle Clockwise
"Walk Up" - Move straight on the sheeps
"Lie Down" - take a load off, hang out
"Time" - take your time or slow down
"That'll do" - basically a recall, stop herdy herding
The commands can be nuanced for more detailed instruction, like Awaaaaaay to me means wider circle, and bring me a laaaaaaaate means go get her a latte.
There are other types of trials that include a shed
Ok, not that kind of shed, a shed is where the Coolie has to peel off a certain number of sheep from the herdy herd that they're herdy herding.
A Double Lift is when the Coolie has to run out and get one group of sheeps and then go back and get another group of sheeps.
So, how did they do???
Very well actually for the Husher's first herding herdy herdity herd trial!
They did FANTASTICAL!!!!
And now for my favorite command: Bucket!!