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Ducks = Cattle not Sheep

Ginger and I have started herding again. Well, actually, we started up last fall and have reached the winter months where we work indoors (riding arena) rather than outside. Even when the day is nice...sunny and in the 30s or 40s...the footing outside in the pens/fields is too iffy to be safe. Sometimes, though, the arena is much colder than outside.

Anyway, we are working with ducks now as our trainer calls them "real" stock. Unlike the heavy (dog broke) sheep that beginning herders work with, ducks don't want to stick with the handler, which works for me as I have been stepped on plenty by sheep who basically want to sit in my lap!

Ginger has come a long way in the time we've been herding. In the beginning, she was a wild woman....sometimes barely recognizing that I was on the other end of the line. Not good...and a little scary for me. Looking back, I can see how that came about and now, I know what I should have done about it. I'll do a much better job with the next doubt.

At any rate, we work off line all the time, now....she shows good discipline. She really is a great girl....listens and wants to please. Our goal at this point is working on pace and distance. With ducks, especially call ducks with short legs, her pace almost always has to be at a walk, unless she is putting them back where they belong. She is good at moving them along a fence, taking them off the wall, covering when in the middle of the arena, stopping when I stop the stock. Right now, the only thing I'd like her to do is learn to really recognize the "bubble"...sometimes she's too close to the stock and I don't always see it in time. We're both learning although Ginger has an pretty big advantage over me and that's instinct.

Not that I think we'll ever work cattle (although maybe!), our trainer says that working with ducks, especially the little ones, is more like working with cattle, in that the stock doesn't want to be near you (the handler) or the dog and doesn't necessarily need to stay in a group (like sheep). It's hard for me to envision my little girl being in charge of cattle but she does have a certain energy and presence so maybe, some day, we'll try it.

I like herding....I'm learning bunches and so is my dog. If we had our own stock, we could work and learn together as a team much faster but, that's not the case. So, we travel and pay to use someone else's stock. It is what it is.

(Pic is of an earlier lesson, also in the arena...with sheep. I don't have many pictures of us herding...too much to do and think about without whipping out my phone!)

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