Monday, October 8, 2012

MacRae clinic and lesson

First disclaimer is you are not going to get much until my laptop is fixed and my fractures are healed more. The laptop is good for about ten minutes, then overheats and shuts down. Tomorrow after 2:00, the Dell guy is supposed to show up with my new hard drive. I asked them to transfer my data but they didn't too incline even though I bought the extended s/w warranty. I will keep you posted. Plus it hurts when I type more than 15 minutes.
Alasdair and Patricia came up to Susan Crocker's farm to have a two day clinic and private lessons this last weekend. Sue MacDonald set this all up months ago and I jumped on it. I had heard great feedback on a clinic that he did in CA and decided to try it out. I had no idea what to expect.
I was pleasantly surprised. In fact, everyone was very happy with the clinic. We had 15 students and auditors. I took Maid to be the one I needed to work with. In hindsight, I probably should have taken Rainey as well. I also brought Wynn but didn't run him. Instead, we spent a lot of together time together, hanging out and playing, Wynn is a very sweet dog and his head reminds me of my old Tait. Big, blocky head with loving eyes. I have had him for a week and get along fine with him. I worked him once and we just felt at ease with each other.
The October weekend was cold to start by mid day it was warm, so the jackets were off and cold drinks came out. The fat, healthy sheep were provided by Joe and Heather Haynes. They were very nice to have for the clinic. Hot lunches were provided by Allison and Susan.
My issue with Maid was at the panel turn; she ignores me and makes her own line. Most of the time, it was not the line I needed for the drive. This would cost us time and time again. Then other time, she would be great. I also had this issue with Nan but not as bad. Well, it turns out that my dogs thought they know what to do and chose to ignore my stops and flanks.

Alasdair was warm, funny and broke everything down  to small steps. You had no idea that you were chatting with a multi champ but instead felt like you were talking to your brother. You were felt at ease and never felt like a fool. Alasdair quickly identified the issue, gave you hints then worked with you so you got it down properly before moving on. He is a quick wit and you would be wise not to give him a hole to poke you as Brian did. In fact, friendly banter was the norm for the day. Everyone felt at ease and you had no issus asking that "dumb" question. You were not put off and your questions were answered. if you didn't understand it, he would explain it another way. I am a visual person so was drawing pictures all the time so I would have reference. Patricia did not laugh at my chicken scrawl drawing either.
Of course, I demonstrated this selective panel hearing and Maid did just that. We worked on her listening and then did figure 8 so she would have no idea that she had to turn at the panel. We drove panels that were in line with each other than 90 degrees. Maid sure had a lot to think about but by the end, she was much better.
They offered a ton of exercises for people and what may work for one dog may not work for another. Each exercise is tailored for each dog and by doing the wrong exercise you can do more damage. I am not going to publish what exercise went to each dog but a general idea. For more details, I would suggest talking to Alasdair or Patricia. Second disclaimer is what works for one dog will not work for another dog so do not use these exercises based on what you read here.
In Maid's case (and for her and not your dog), I had to stop her and make her realize panels were not to be turned at or have her think she knew what to do. We mixed it up so she had no idea what to expect. She would think right but we would go left. We did the figure 8 exercises and by the end, she was a lot freer on her flanks and better on her downs.
Other dogs had straight lines issues so the exercises were tailored for them. Other had flanking issues so the exercises were done for them. Each dog got a thorough evaluation and the appropriate exercise.
My opinion is my dogs had their version of a stop, sometimes good and sometimes a lot slower. Freeing up on the flank is another. We also worked on the three point short flank drive than my one short point flank, long flank drive. Looking at the dog and sheep than just the sheep. Oh, that was really tough for me! Alasdair worked on my post turn so I could exactly how I was step off. We did a long drive with him whispering in my ear and by the end, I got a better grasp. We worked on the fetch, one short flank, turn in (time) and Maid and I got the connection. We have come a long way together and it was the precision part that I needed.
My mind was open at this time to absorb more information. Right after my run at the Finals, I was pretty depressed and was thinking about quitting for a while. Alasdair must have seen my "I am bummed" bubble and came over and had a long chat with me. He talked about my run, what went good, what went bad and how I should have let Nan feel her sheep more and use the three short point flanks than my one short then long flank. He talked about how the style I ran her on works for other sheep but not for the Finals sheep. By the time he was done and gave me more feedback, I felt a lot better and my mind was ok again. I really appreciate that he took the time to talk to me as I needed some mental help.
So by the time this clinic came about my mind was refreshed and I was ready to work on me. Maid was probably not happy to be able to run the style had wanted but by the end she was running quite well for me.
The first day, Alasdair had worked on the issues, worked on exercises and on the second day, we saw the fruits of our labors. Audrey had taken my Sunday spot as she needed it and I gave it to her. I had lessons on Monday. On Sunday, the folks and their dogs had an improvement and you could see a better connection between them. One dog was flipping behind the sheep on the day before and not pushing but on the second day, she was leaning into the sheep and there was no flip flop. I took tons of notes and asked lots of questions. There was a lot of information there!
Everyone had a great time and we all asked when they would come back. Alasdair said 2018 and we all made sad eyes. He got the hint. Patricia was awesome at the clinic, answering question, filling us in on the exercise and what was going on out on the field when we could not hear them. Of course, we teased Alasdair about being married to the "Champ" and we all quickly defended Patricia when he would tease her. We all laughed pretty hard and the mood was very enjoyable.
I highly recommend the clinic and would attend another one. Or private lessons. I had my private lesson and we expanded on the panels, stops and turning. We got Maid to listen to me on the fetch and do a short flank, time and walk slow. It was great to see my little dog do so well. I appreciate that Scott sold me this talented dog! We are getting along well as a team.
We also did a long drive and worked hard on the stop, small flank and by the end we got it. I wanted to do a jig but I was afraid that Alasdair would run away in terror. Then again, if I sang for joy, his ear drums would pop and he would never come up this way again. So instead, I shook his hand with my left hand told him how much I appreciated how he shed some insight on me and how to handle my dogs better. It was a fine week, with fine friend, fine clinicians, fine sheep, fine farm and last night some fine strawberry cheesecake.
Highly recommend and I am in the zone again. Thanks Alasdair and Patricia!


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