I love the outdoors and it seems I just don't do enough hiking. Its about a 1.5-2 hour drive for me to get to the Ouachita mountains in Arkansas, so that kind of puts me off a little. A couple weeks ago we went to let the dogs swim in the river and enjoy a trip away from home. I mentioned to Travis that I still want to do more hiking and possibly an over night hike. While on the way home we stopped into some gas stations and picked up some maps of hiking trails and stuff.
Last week I kept looking at the maps, and online and searching for a good hike, just to get back into it. I chose an equestrian trail, and figured if we came up to the trail head and saw a bunch of horse trailers I'd hike a different trail. Well, it was clear, I was the only car in the lot, I took all 4 dogs with me. We had a great time! The actual trail I think was 13 mile out and back, but we walked about 2.5-3 miles in and came back. I didn't want to push it too far, and as it was, when I got home I realized Gus had torn pads on both front feet, and one of Zen's was slightly cracked. The two girls were fine. No limping on the trail though.
It was 95 degrees outside, and I'd heard on the radio that the heat index was 112, well, it wasn't quite that bad. There was good cloud coverage, and the trail was shaded almost the entire way, with lots of creeks to stop and wade in for the dogs.
A few days ago I built a new y-chute at the entrance/exit of our "front pasture". We have been keeping the lambs up there overnight and letting them out during the day to graze. When we need to corral them up for worming or inspections, weighing, etc they get super suspicious and do not want to cooperate. So, my idea was, build a semi-permanent y-chute to the entrance exit of the field, then run them in and out of it every day so they get used to it. Then, when we need to look at them or grab one of them, we just corral them in there, do the quick and dirty, and let them out, just like normal. So I built it, and they followed a grain bucket into the field, then the next day I go to let them out, and they could not figure out how to get out. By evening time when it was time for them to get put up none of them had ever figured out how to get out.... (what the heck?!?! They are normally escape artists)
I told Travis to just leave them in and lock them up and Zen and I would use it as a challenge to try to show them they could in fact, run through the y-chute in the other direction.
So yesterday morning, I go out and open the gate to give them free access to the rest of the property, and Zen and I go in with intentions of bringing them out. This field is much bigger than the two practice fields I have been working Zen in, so I knew it'd be a bit of a challenge. The sheep were in the back corner (If I was guessing, a two acre field, with lots of trees, and a creek). They were up on a hill, so I feel like Zen had a decent visual of them when I sent him, and he did fairly well, needed some initial correcting on staying out wide, but I figured he would. Staying wide in a small field is important, and staying wide in a larger field is even more important. We spent some time on that, just getting him to "out" while moving, and taking flanks while he was already moving. Also, tightened up some on his "there" commands. He's (mostly) checking up and changing pace now when I give the "there" command, instead of having to stop him every time. I'm also noticing, he doesn't always feel the need to bring the sheep to me, which is great. So I can send him, tell him "there" and have him turn in, slow up, and walk the sheep in a line from that point. We worked those sheep for probably 30 minutes. Not hard, obviously, the sheep had the advantage in that large field. They only ran if they wanted to. Every time Zen had control of the group we were walking them. He got to cover a few times, and I still want him to push out a little more on his cover, but over all I was really impressed that he seems to know his job is to get to the head and turn the whole group, no just single one out. So we would drive the sheep to the front, and my goal was to just walk them down the fence line and then push them through the chute, but that never happened. They would get to the opening of the chute and then take off, so those were the times Zen had to cover, then that would open up the other side, and they'd dart that way, and he'd cover, and we'd be in the same position again. I tried walking in front of them, like a fetch, same thing. They'd follow me for a bit, then see the chute and thought "not going through there", so while we never accomplished the goal, I still felt he did some awesome work out there. All of the elements are coming together. Since I was wanting the task done, but went out there to train, I was pretty much focused on making sure Zen was right, so if his flank was a little flat, or tight, we fixed it. Even if the sheep left and I had to send him again. I am glad for the training we got done.
Reese and I attended the Longview Kennel Club dog show. Not as participators, mainly just as spectators, and spectate we did! Two days of ringside sitting, and watching, and trick dogging. Reese was happy because apparently more people want to pet her at conformation than they do at agility or the pet store. There were quite a few spectator kids and she likes kids. So every time I saw one looking at her I made sure to tell them "you can pet her", then made sure she kept all 4 feet on the ground. :)
At first Reese was a little .... worried about the building. This isn't a big show, but its a small building, so everyone is crowded inside. Then, I forgot how conformation dogs often bark and lunge at the crates, much more than we are used to seeing. So she was a little put off by that. True to personality, she warmed up quickly, and while I can't say she got over the barking/rude dogs (can't say I blame her), she wasn't nearly as weirded out by them.
Reese showed in her first fun match Saturday evening and did fabulous! She let the judge look in her mouth, no problem, and she loved every minute of it. She did a few bouncy bounces on the go-round, and needs work on gaiting behind another dog, but it'll come. No need to rush, I just want her having fun for now.
So, yet another hotel stay under Reese's belt! This time we stayed with a friend and her sheltie, so that was a little different. All good things.
At home we have been doing regular walks and conditioning, keeping me and the dogs in shape for fall agility. We have done a little herding, but it's been so hot I haven't done much. This weekend we may do a hike in some mountains nearby.