Racing for Rosettes

I am a title whore. I like the pretty shiny ribbons. But the longer I train the more I discover I want those titles to come from my dogs freedom to think while at work and my ability to be a real partner to my dog whatever the sport, if we are herding, running an agility course or doing obedience. The more I train with my own dogs the more I am learning to ask questions and then be quiet and listen.
Herding is the one sport where Roy is utterly willing to work no matter what, he is unaffected by other dogs, unlike with obedience or agility where he is afraid to train with other dogs present. He has been frustrated and pushed to the edge by my heavy handed reliance on pressure and attempts to smother and control him, but he never quits. No matter how ugly, sloppy or shitty it gets, he lives to do the work. He is all drive and natural talent but he’s too much dog for my herding training skills and I was ruining our relationship because I didn’t know how to show him what was right.
I want to pay tribute to my dog, his breed and the beauty of herding not because of the titles we win but by the teamwork we create. Roy has more instinct, drive and intelligence then I could have ever hoped for. He’s 10 times more dog then I have the talent to work with. So my job is to stop trying to bring him down to my level and to step up, shut up and learn to be the working partner that he deserves. 
So as much as it pains me I’m slowing down. I’m going for the real deal. Im going to let my dog & I really learn how to herd without thinking about when I can enter us in the next trial. I’m branching out and working with other trainers even if it means I have to drive even further. Im going to get us into some clinics and be the odd dog out (not a border collie, LOL).
I even took a full 2 months off from herding. Then we went to see a serious big time border collie trainer. Not an all breed person at all, which means we are starting off on the wrong foot before we even start. She was (and is) horrified by Roy. He’s not a border collie. He’s terribly uncouth and too wild. He listens but only just enough to get mad and scream back. He’s easily frustrated by a handler, any handler.
But he’s got great flanks and balance. Every-time it all looks like chaos he suddenly glides into something ancient and beautiful. Thats what I wanted to show him, thats what I want to give him.

“They are not remote control vehicles. They have the seemingly magical ability to see, process information, understand it and react to something that we can only imagine. The job of trials, if we will utilize them, is to truly SEE this magical ability and to understand it so we can preserve, and in some cases improve, our breed. How can this purpose be fulfilled without SEEING true instinct?
We need to stop thinking we know so much. Most of us have little if any instinct. This doesn’t mean we can’t learn, we MUST.
But we can learn a lot from our dogs if we will just be quiet long enough for them to show us.”

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