Tuesday, September 20, 2011

the book of job

Slept in this morning. No yoga, or meditation, or coffee on the stove. In the rush to get to the office on time I just brushed my teeth and packed a bag for the locker room. No point in getting ready on a rainy morning just to show up to the office with wet hair and mascara bruising under my eyes. I threw clean clothes and a towel in a totebag and called Gibson into the truck. I ran around in the rain getting everyone hay and water, and then we left for work just a half-hour after waking up together. I'm used to 3 hours of morning before I leave for the World. This morning was a hot mess.

In the shower I saw my new bruises, nothing drastic. It was more of a morale blow than anything else. I had a rough day and the sheep knock down was the breaking point. The Book of Job starts by explaining he farmed 7,000 sheep. Soaping up in the shower over my new Calico thighs I had a new respect for the man. No wonder he could handle the rest.

But despite the bad day and rushed morning, I am in better spirits. A hot cup of tea after a warm meal and some reading under the blankets had me in a better frame of mind. I spent the night reading from Heike Bean's Carriage Driving and Derek Scrimgeours' Talking Sheepdogs. Both address the novice trainer, and begin with the animal's mind. It occurred to me last night how I am simultaneously trying to understand the minds of prey and predators, sometimes in the same hour. I don't think I ever trained an herbivore before, and assumed my canine mind would translate. It was my second hit in the gut for the night: I'd been talking to the horse as if it had sharp teeth. Then I laughed, realizing Jasper does have his fighting canines, sharp little fangs, where his bit rests. He needs them removed when the equine dentist comes. The appointment was made, and the dental work should make training easier on us both.

One thing I am learning about the Dog and Pony Show is that I expect too much/too fast, and it is crippling our progress. I need to walk out on the field with one, simple, specific goal and leave on a good note. This is something we all know (we being those who train dogs and horses), but in the frustrations of real-time field work I lose this wisdom. I get caught up in the fray, the moment. I have the ability to know this is wrong, but keep making the same mistakes. But I am working on it. Always, working on it.

By the time this horse and dog can work this farm I will be the one changed.

20 Comments:

Blogger georgie said...

I'm always learning more about dog training and dog psychology. It is hard to be patient some times when the dogs try to drag me down the street or steal food or refuse to come when called. You can do anything you set your mind to, Jenna.

September 20, 2011 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger MIB said...

I totally know what you mean; I was always able to instinctively know how to relate to dogs, and horses always sort of intimidated me because they were so big and I had no idea what they were thinking. Being taught to understand equine body language and thinking, even on a really basic level, was like taking Swahili after years of French (that's not an idle metaphor--I really did that). The basic rules of communication are so different.

September 20, 2011 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

I think this lesson applies accross the board. Wanting too much too soon is a defeating habit that kills everything from good ideas to promising businesses to gardens and everything in between. I should know, I'm culprit number one. I am using my current endeavors to teach myself patience. Perhaps even to relish the wait and enjoy the process. It seems to be related closely with thinking that the sky is falling. Actually, everything is ok, at least in this moment, everything is ok.

September 20, 2011 at 11:19 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

"One simple, specific goal" is a good thing to keep in mind! It focuses the session, expectations, and what you want to teach (or learn)!


I read your whole post, honest, and really like that you know how many sheep Job had; I never noticed that detail. It's just that the goal thing is what leaped out at me.

September 20, 2011 at 11:24 AM  
OpenID barntalkblog said...

I'm not a dog person, but I have always thought that the psychology of dogs is very interesting, especially because dogs can be so receptive at times.

On a side note, by what you have described, I've had some pretty similar bruises, except mine came from the sharp horns of a goat and not five ewes... and gosh do they hurt, but they make you stronger by and by.

-Autumn

September 20, 2011 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

I find working with my goats very humbling, and completely alien to what I'm used to (dogs). I constantly have to remind myself of all the things they're fearful of, where an animal with greater defenses wouldn't be. I tried once to move the milkstand about five feet from its present position. The does would have NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with it, and wouldn't get near it. I did this even though I knew how much routine disruptions make them nervous. It really does take a completely foreign mindset.

September 20, 2011 at 1:04 PM  
Blogger Jimmie said...

I think it's the Chinese who say that you have to keep coming back to earth until you learn certain lessons. For me, the lesson I keep trying to learn is patience...I have perseverance down pretty well...but patience is another story. Good luck with your training, both yours and your animals, LOL.

Diane in North Carolina

September 20, 2011 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger Lilly said...

I've been working with horses on an almost daily basis for 21 years and I still learn something new every day and also continue to be shocked at how rapidly things can spiral out of control. The few times I've had bad experiences with horses was when I got impatient. Just keep plugging away. If the animal does just one thing right, then stop for the day and consider that you've made progress. Don't continue to work yourself and the animal into a mistake and reward small victories.

September 20, 2011 at 2:23 PM  
OpenID kragore said...

Two years ago I took up a new sport. It's a full contact, full speed, combat sport in which I put on a rig of armor (al la King Arthur) and beat up/get beaten up by *other* people in armor. For fun.
For the longest time I was VERY hard on myself - Felt like a clumsy idiot, wasn't getting it, thought the people instructing me were disappointed and embarrassed by my (lack) of progress. It took a minor injury sidelining me to realize that I *was* making progress, it was just slower than I thought.
I realized I couldn't measure myself next to these giants of the sport who were helping me, many of whom have been at this for more than 10, 15, 20 years or more.
Now that I've relaxed into learning, and ending my practices on a positive note, I've felt like I've made more positive, sustainable progress.

Good luck! I know a thing or two about bruises, and they really aren't any fun.
But they heal, and the learning remains.
- K.

September 20, 2011 at 3:19 PM  
Blogger Jess said...

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.
C. S. Lewis

You're a hatcher, or is it hatchee, Jenna.

September 20, 2011 at 3:36 PM  
Blogger karental said...

I volunteer with Great Dane Rescue. We always encourage adoptors to attend training. Some ask, "does the dog need training?" Our stock answer is, "no, no, the person does." I'm very happy you weren't hurt more - on your body or in your psyche. Congratulations for getting back up.

September 20, 2011 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger Niki said...

Yep, you definitely want to have those wolf teeth pulled! Most horses will be much better with a bit without them in the way. Persistence is the key in horse training and always leaving things on a good note, as you mentioned. I'm sure you'll do great! If you need a pick me up, I just made a post today about my naughty horse :) www.originalcountrygirl.com

September 20, 2011 at 4:36 PM  
Blogger Kimberlie Ott said...

Your body knew just what it needed today, hope the bruising is minimal and the pain gone soon, along with that memory! The visual I drew on your words was very powerful, am so sorry that happened to you~

September 20, 2011 at 5:08 PM  
Blogger MB said...

If I may suggest: If Gibson isn't listening to your commands the first time you give them "Down" "Wait" etc - maybe work on those first without the excitement of sheep. If the dog doesn't respond instantly it will be harder to move the sheep with the dog. My 2 cents. (keep in mind I know little beyond basic dog training and nothing of sheep but I have trained horses)

September 20, 2011 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Jenna you are an incredible inspiration-glad to know you're not just hanging in there, but making positive strides!

September 20, 2011 at 5:21 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

I run a 7 acre organic veg farm. I am always so burned out by this time of year - I envy the bears who can just hole up & hibernate for the winter. I get it: being so burned out, wiped out, dog-tired & empty there's nothing to do but cry at the end of the day (sometimes in the middle of the day). Thanks a million for sharing, & letting other wiped-out farmers they are not alone. And slowly, eventually, it does get better, and things come around again.
Thanks Jenna.

September 20, 2011 at 6:23 PM  
Blogger deodar said...

On this day of your life I believe that God wants you to know that progress is not measured in miles, it is measured in inches.
Don't wonder why things are taking so long. In fact everything is rolling out exactly as it needs to, using not a minute more than perfection requires.
Rest easy and be at peace. Life is working its magic even as you take your very next breath.
Neale Donald Walsch

September 20, 2011 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger beccaWA said...

Try to watch "Dogs Decoded: Nova", (a Nova documentary). You can find it on Netflix. Amazing info about canines.

September 20, 2011 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

One of the things you learn when training an animal than you've never trained before is that you have to be trained too.

September 20, 2011 at 10:11 PM  
Blogger Billy said...

Derek's book is the absolute best book you could be reading! Great choice IMO! My copy is all marked up with post-its and written notes all thru it that I have made thru the years. As I learn more, then more of it makes sense. But it's really a book for every level.

September 20, 2011 at 10:29 PM  

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