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Well despite it still being winter I got in some training time with Gláma.


I use the yearlings that I did not breed this year, for training purposes. This is a group of ten young Icelandic ewes, undogged and pretty flighty.


Some of you might have read my earlier posts regarding Gláma; She is as far as I can assess a rather nervous dog with low self confidence (the word "coward" does come to mind...).

She also has her good points, she is (very) fast, keen, has a good outrun, is very biddable, and good at in bye work (she draws confidence from my near presence).


But when a ewe decide to stand up to her she immediately backs down. And man, I mean any ewe.

In the present training group there is one frisky one that has decided she does not have to move for this dog. And she disrupts training completely. I first thought I would use this as a training oppertunity for Gláma (this is just a yearling we are talking about, not a wily old ewe). But it just worsened over a couple of sessions,. I tried what I could, encouraging Gláma, help her with my presence, even, at the stable, held the difficult one, and let Gláma grip her nose ( astonishingly she did this, a clean fast grip, no hanging on, and soft, did not mark the nose in any way). To no avail.


I started to notice my own frustration at this, and it is not helping letting irritation seep in your communication with the dog.

So I kinda gave up on this particular sheep, and removed her from the group. Now I can train again without problems. There are enough other things to work on than her grit (especially pace, keeping a better working distance, and last but not least, my timing).


The rest of the group is getting nicely dogged, part of training is also grooming these sheep for Max´s start.


Thing is , It kinda feels like giving up. At present age (she will be four this June) I would like her to be able to move also sheep that show a bit of resistance (and I don´t think I am that demanding, I understand she might not be able to move the very stubborn ones).


So what do you think, a right decision to remove the uncooperative one?


I feel this lack of grit is a reason not to try and trial with her again. I tried that once, last autumn, and we crashed as I had feared beforehand (description here http://www.bordercollie.org/boards/index.php?showtopic=34746&page=3&do=findComment&comment=452549 )


The next trial I might be able to attend is the Icelandic national (not as ambitious as it sounds :lol: ). That is planned somewhere at the of the summer. But I would not like to have to give up again mid course because things have come to a grinding hold. A bit embarrassing when someone else has to exhaust the sheep for you....


But I do have this tendency to see things a bit negative, "if it does not work now, it will never ever work ;) )" .

So I am also wondering if you people have seen big changes in the self confidence of dogs in Gláma´s age category?


Another thing is, trialling is not that important to me. Trials are few and far in between; there have been years with no opportunity to attend anything. But they sure are fun...


Gláma is at the moment my main working dog, and she is of great value in the autumn round up. Yes, more grit would be in many situations practical, and wished for, but it is not essential, and her lack of it does not make her useless. She never gives up.

It might be part of the problem that this hill work means that she encounters sheep that are tough, and problematic for any dog (probably enforcing her low self esteem).

But that is not a reason to put her up and leave her at home.


So yeah, sorry for the rambling, long post.

Your thoughts would be appreciated, what do you think, will I be able to clear a course with this dog some time in the future?

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I am recovering from the dang flu- so thought I might put in my two cents worth-

I can't remember how old Glama is?

One thing that helped when training my young dogs first year calving or lambing was to work alongside their Ma or Gunny. And I would not hesitate in training a young dog to go into with her to work a ewe/cow right beside her to help her with confidence.


You can't put something there that isn't there. However you can teach a dog that you will never let them down, and will always help them. This will help.


The pure icelandics I have worked at lambing are pretty dang tough- If she did grip a nose, keep going, that may be the start. You can't get through something unless you work your way through. And if she is your only dog- well.....There you are.


With the trialing at the entry levels people are pretty kind. You can always retire and just use it as a learning curve- that really is what it is for. But you will want to train her up so you are working above the level you are entering. Keep going!!

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She is four, but you have not had her very long, have you?


I would say - it's good you took that sheep out. The thing is whether you like to trial or not, it is good to have a more confident dog. If the autumn gather is so hard, I would concentrate on building up her confidence earlier with easier sheep and introduce challenges gradually in a controlled way.


As Tea says, you can't put in the dog what is not there, but, I also think you should also bring out of the dog all there is there, whether for trial or farm work.

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Dear Fellow Sheepdoggers,

If you want to win sheepdog trials, your best bet is to buy a dog that has already won sheepdog trials and work with it frequently. If you have other goals, proceed accordingly but realize that at trials you will be competing against those who've made decisions based on winning and, so long as your goals are met, you mustn't get too discouraged.


Sheepdog trials are fun- win or lose. You will have moments where it comes together.


I'd never give up on a dog that "never gives up".


Donald McCaig

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Thanks for the encouragement, I probably need it as much as my Gláma ( ;) ).


I think you are right, it is probably a matter of hanging on in there. I have a bit of a tendency to take the goals reached for granted. I have come a long way with this dog, no reason to believe she wouldn´t improve more (though this particular problem has always been her achilles heel).

She also has to suffer through my learning curve...


I will keep your advice in mind about letting her work alongside a tougher dog.


And you are right about the friendly atmosphere at entry levels, maybe I just shouldn´t be too embarrassed about having to retire halfway the course, we all have to start somewhere.



You are right, she is almost four, got her when she was just over a year old, a kennel dog that had hardly learned her name, let alone anything else.


The frisky one will not be used for now. Who knows maybe later with Max. He makes a tougher impression (hope he takes after his father in this respect).


@ mr. McCaig

I´d like to partake in sheepdog trials, preferably without embarrassing myself. The winning part is not that important (that does not mean I would not like it... :D ). Trialing is usually free here, and the prices don´t exceed a 15 kg bag of dog food (and that is only at the nationals), so there is no financial pressure to win either.


You write: "I´d never give up on a dog that never gives up". Me neither, this a trait in her I value a lot; she might back up facing a stubborn ewe, they might run "through" her, she might not be able to turn or move them, but she is always willing to try and fetch them again.

In the fall gather this means I don´t loose these sheep, because her actions make sure they are slowed down or even stopped so they don´t manage to escape. I will in situation like that always ride to the rescue.


The only thing I was contemplating is not trialing with her, at least not without a clear consistent improvement in the confidence department. But that would not mean I would stop training or working her. She is a way too valuable partner for that.

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How time files, I thought you had her less than two years. Your young fdog will soon grow up enough and then you might use them derogate on ornery sheep.


If I were you - having two dogs now I would organize a clinic in Iceland and invite a very good teacher :D . I did that with Bonnie having been advised by a kind person to invite Derek Scrimgeour. It sounded crazy, but I did it and it worked.

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Hm, that would be an interesting idea Maja.

What has been done in the past here is getting someone like him to judge the national trial, and combine that with a clinic.


I had a bit of a deja-vu feeling posting the OP, and went to have a look at the question I asked in the "expert forum" about Gláma´s lack of power .

She was 2,5 year old at the time. A bit discouraging actually, the dog I am describing in that post fits her very well today, almost one and a half year later. Not much progress, and not for lack of trying.

The answer Amanda gave me was probably more accurate than I would have liked.

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Yes, we had a trial too with Derek :D . The three days of clinic was very, very helpful for months afterward - and that was with my brain fired with a migraine and one day without actual herding due to a..blizzard.


I am not trying to tell you that a good teacher will work miracles with Glama. I think he or she may help some, but if you get a nice forward boost with Max - this will help you a lot. Trialling is not about winning, but it is about success. Different things are a success for different people. For me just qualifying for trials with Bonnie was a huge success. My first BC never made it to trial, and even though she is a really good farm dog, I wish I could have trialled with Kelly. But Bonnie's success in trials made it better for the other dog.

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