Tuesday, July 12, 2011

On the Road - Day 5

The work: Tina LePlatt

Tina LePlatt is Seamus's breeder. She and her husband Terry live in Monte Vista, Colorado, in a charming 100 year old home on a lovely ranch. They raise cattle, and usually have some sheep as well.

The creek.

I was so excited to meet Tina on Saturday, and to get to see many of Seamus's family work; Tess, off Seamus's dam Bree and by a dog related to Seamus's sire Newby; Seamus's littermates Nick and Sandy (just home from being started by Michele McGuire); and of course Bree herself.

Tess bringing the sheep to the big field.

Tina worked Tess, then Nick and Sandy. Tess is her open dog and works like a dream. The two youngsters are looking good and doing really well for her, and especially so considering Tina had only brought them home a week or so before. Nick is very fast and very enthusiastic, but is a good listener. Sandy works nicely too, but is a more independent dog. Tina worked Nick and Sandy in the large trial field, but kept Sandy on a long line, as she's not entirely partnered up with Tina again yet.

Nick on an outrun.

Sandy fetching.

After Tina worked her dogs, I brought out Seamus, and first worked him a little bit in a small pen to assess his attitude. I felt comfortable with how he was listening to me, so we moved out to her smaller field (a few acres?), where he worked reasonably well for me. The sheep wanted to run and it was very challenging for me to position him properly to cover the heavy pressure without turning them.

Next, I worked Dare out in the same field. She worked okay for me, but we once again struggled to get a rapport with the sheep and they never quite got settled, with Dare chasing and buzzing them several times, which is frustrating because things are supposed to be improving with the work we've been doing. She's not being terrible, but neither is she being good. Grrr...!

After Dare, I worked Bran. Since Bran hadn't been working much, and based on the sheep, I decided I'd just work her in the small pen. She worked basically the same as always; not trying to make a mess, not trying to work WITH me, either. I'm looking forward to working her with Dan Keeton on Thursday, as he has a younger full sister to Bran.

I brought out Seamus to work again, and we worked in the big trial field this time. I really made the connection that a growling voice correction--usually an attempt to make him stop when I see things are about to become a mess because he's already ignoring me--immediately speeds him up. When I mentioned this to Tina, she said that his dam Bree does exactly the same thing. So, I have to think more on how to approach the issue. He's a young dog; I'm a novice handler. I don't always see things far enough in advance to prevent a mess, and sometimes when I do see it before it happens and try to fix it, he doesn't always listen. Though he had a moment or two of being naughty, I was very happy with how he worked in the big field. He is such a nice dog. :)

Seamus fetching them to me in the big field. Photo by Tina LePlatt.

Seamus widening out to give them room and fix the line. Photo by Tina.

Seamus covering the heavy pressure and holding the line beautifully. Photo by Tina.


The route: Monte Vista to Carbondale
Mileage: 193.5
Time: About 4 - 4.5 hours

The drive to Carbondale was pretty, though mostly uneventful.

Historic marker and mountain view.

For Beth. Do you see what I see?

Going through Independence Pass more than made up for the quiet rest of the drive. The pass is over 12,000 feet up, and the road is steep and narrow, with very tight switchbacks and no guard rail on the south side of the pass. It was raining most of the way, and 43 degrees at the summit. Snow was still present in many places. If the weather is better on the way back, I will try to get a few photos from the summit.

Approaching the summit of the pass.
Next: Visiting family in Aspen