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Milestones Sequel's Story By Noreen Bennett for colliesonline.com

Sequel

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Sequel and I reached a HUGE milestone this year, earning our Herding Championship. She is the third dog that I have trained in herding. Previously, I made it through the intermediate level.

Not only is herding a complicated, frustrating and awe inspiring sport, it’s difficult to improve if you don’t own stock or live near a training facility or have a good instructor. How do you get better? Why persevere in a sport that often had me in tears and covered with mud and sheep poo? How can I improve when I am lucky to attend 4-5 trials a year? How can I herd ducks when I am bird-phobic? (Yup -14 years of herding and still haven’t touched a duck!) It is difficult to comprehend the skills needed for the advanced level if you’ve never been there. I didn’t even THINK about the advanced level when I began herding with Sequel. I was in awe of her natural ability to herd. I saw things that came instinctively to her that were extremely difficult for my other dogs. I had to take in all of her talent and drive and figure out what the heck to do with it, in a sport that I still did not understand.

Sequel and Noreen at the 2018 Eastern Herding Regionals.

My goal for 2018 was to enter as many trials so I could get more comfortable in the ring and figure out what I didn’t know. Stars were aligned and we made it to the Advanced level in May. I wasn’t ready - I didn’t know what to do and each time I walked into the ring, I was filled with anxiety. Some of it due to my lack of experience but most of it due to wanting to be the best partner for Sequel. My dog, who was incredibly talented, deserved a handler that didn’t shriek when a duck made contact.

I had to take in all of her talent and drive and figure out what the heck to do with it, in a sport that I still did not understand.

I entered a trial on Labor Day weekend. We practice on ducks MUCH more than on sheep and we had a good run in ducks. You can usually see your score, before the end of the class, but I chose not to look at it. I don’t want to get caught up in the score and have that impact how I felt about my run. I felt we did a good job so I took her for a little walk and then came back to watch. I was approached by a fellow competitor who asked me if I was going for championship points. I hesitated and said, "Yeah, I guess I am." My brain hadn’t caught up yet with the possibility. She told me I got first place with a 4-point major and a score of 95. I didn’t really know what I needed for a herding champion so the magnitude of the win didn’t really hit me. For an HC, you need 15 points, including two first places. One of the first places must be a major. With 15 dogs entered, I had earned a 4-point major combined with the elusive first place win. The rest of the weekend went as well, leaving me only four more points to finish. Luckily, two weeks later we held the CCA Eastern Regional Herding Trial. We earned the remaining four points in front of my friends, who have been with me all the way.

This may be the only Herding Championship I earn. Sequel is the right dog at the right time in my life.

Sequel at the 2018 Eastern Herding Regionals.

This may be the only Herding Championship I earn. Sequel is the right dog at the right time in my life. I am indebted to the herding community for getting me to this point. I am indebted to all of my dogs, who have also earned a part of that title, starting in 1990 when I took my first two collies to an instinct test. I would not be where I am without the good and bad experiences of the past. That’s just the way it goes.

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