I just wanted to tell you that I really appreciated your help adjusting my set out pen for my sheepdog trial. (I had sent you the drawing and you returned it with the gates and pens in the right places.) We couldn’t get it exactly but were able to set it up close enough to make the gates and pens work the way you suggested.
We are very fortunate in that the sheep arrive 2 days before the trial and can graze the field while we are busy setting up. They get their scent on the field and get used to all the commotion. Usually they sleep in the penning and shedding area, not normally an area associated with relaxation. Anyway, we were able to train the sheep through the set out pens two days before the trial, with no time deadline and no spectators. We then ran them through one more time the day before with the set out crew on their horses. We were able to train 3 new people to your methods and the response was fantastic (in both the helpers and the sheep!). Set-out during the trial went smooth as silk and this year our sheep were probably the best we’d ever run.
But the highlight of the weekend was when I was all by myself, clearing the sheep off the field to put them away for the night. No one was around, the sky was absolutely spectacular with clouds and the sun’s rays lighting up the sheep. I sent my dog (who isn’t a very good trial dog -she really doesn’t like it) and she did the most beautiful outrun around the whole field, started her sheep at the top and brought all 280 in a perfect line to me without saying a word, no whirling, no worrying, no nothing but a nice steady walk in. There is no better reward for all the work than to see your dog do a perfect job all by herself.
So, thank you for answering an email from a perfect stranger. I am sure it helped make the days a little less stressful for the sheep and the crew!