Dancing Hearts Holistic Learning Center

Herding Class

Monday, November 9th, 2009 | Indigo, Random Stuff | Comments Off

Indy and I had a wonderful time this past weekend. The weather was absolutely gorgeous (sunny and 70 in November?), which means we spent a lot of time outside. In particular, we had our first ever herding class at Dancing Hearts Holistic Learning Center about an hour south of my area.

Dancing Hearts offers more than just herding, but everything they offer is focused on positive training and feedback, not correction. Our friend David booked an Introductory class for he and Vasey plus Indy and I. The instructor, Kathy, was very easy going and calm, and Indy seemed to take to her right away. (Always a plus in my book.) Actually, we were there a little early to let the sisters play and get rid of the extra energy, but of course they didn’t. We met Kathy’s husband while she was finishing off another class, and he was pretty darn good with the dogs. He just ignored Indy, which made her extremely interested. Go figure…

Our class started by discussing our objectives in the pen. Kathy explained how we would go in with the leashed dog and maneuver around to control where the sheep would go. We also touched on staying calm and focused and how it would affect the dog’s emotions as well. Not a new concept for me having gone through handling classes for the show ring, but it served as a great reminder to get my excitement in check to help Indy calm down. If the dog goes in the pen lunging and barking, they are not going to be able to learn very much.

David and Vasey went in for the first try.

Since we both came with leashes, Kathy suggested we loop the leash just behind the front legs on the chest for a makeshift halter. It allows the handler to apply a little squeeze to the dog, which may help them focus and calm down a bit.

Sheep on the move as Vasey starts to herd.

Moving along.

Vasey really seemed to enjoy herself.

Then Indy and I went in for a turn. As you can see, Indy was also very excited and was pulling. It took me about 5 minutes to get her calm-ish. My forearms are tired.

Indy was happy to move the sheep around while Kathy instructed.

More sheep herding. :-)

While you’re in the intro stages, you want to keep yourself between the dog and the sheep. It’s less stressful for everyone. But I am not used to walking with Indy on my right side.

Each of the teams had two turns in the pen. I think both girl dogs did pretty well. I wasn’t sure if they would at first since they were both very excited to see the sheep. But they both calmed down after a few minutes and got to work.

I definitely think we will be doing it again. And I would very much recommend Dancing Hearts to someone in this area.

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