Let me introduce you to one of my BIGGEST PEEVES!!
STUPID HANDLER POINT LOSSES.
This occurs when the handler messes up something so incredibly EASY, that points are taken off their score. Where does this occur the most often?
I can’t believe the number of competitors who act like they are wearing cement overshoes at the post. They are frozen, afraid to move, in fear they will docked for handler assistance. They make their bodies the obstacle, not the post. One or two sheep go around correctly, one or two go the wrong way, all why the person is standing there observing. DUMB, DUMB, DUMB!!
The POST is the obstacle, not YOU! Take a position on whatever side is necessary to facilitate the sheep going the correct way. Block the wrong side w/ your stick or body! Don’t make your poor, little dog be at two places at once. The post needs to be “set up” before the sheep get there, ensuring the completion of the task smoothly. Don’t let the sheep think you are a “blob” of inadequacy, allowing them to rub up against you on the their blissful way to the wrong side. Let them know you are as powerful as your dog so they move AROUND the post, not coming to you.
Another important reason for this is found more often in USBCHA trials than AKC or AHBA. Just as in the “lift” the dog introduces himself to the sheep and sets the tone of the run, the POST is where the handler makes an impression on the sheep. If you take an authoritative pose, not allowing them to run past you the wrong way it tells the sheep you cannot be overrun. Guess where that pays off…..The PEN.
I have been renting sheep from commercial sheep operations for years and those sheep are flighty! Frequently they were more afraid of people than of our dogs. While practicing for trials, I found that the first encounter they made of me, carried w/ them for good or bad. I once had a student stand perfectly still at the post and make the dog take them around him. They went wide around the person and bolted for the field. When it came time to pen, they went wildly around the person and took off. Next time, I had the handler stop the sheep as they tried to bolt past at the post and steady them around, using himself and his dog as equal partners on the pressure. The turn was smooth but the REAL pay-off was what happened at the pen. When the sheep saw they handler, they stopped instead of running around him and the pen. Using the same equal pressure/partnership as the post, the sheep were placed quietly in the pen.
Now I know it’s not the same when using our dog-broke, knee-hugging sheep in the the AKC/AHBA trials but it isn’t that much different. As those sheep go breaking to ME, I drive them away enough to make a nice pass around the post. This allows my dog to get to the other side enough to make a quiet turn.
Stupid Handler point losses: don’t let this happen to YOU