Monday, January 5, 2009

Whidbey Island Trial!!!

Janet and I drove up to the Whidbey Island Trial. Janet got here at 6:30 a.m. and we loaded up Scott, Tess and Nan. It had snowed and it was about ½ inch as we left. As we continued north, it was still snowing and it was very quiet that Saturday morning. We drove up to the ferry and got right on. There was snow on Whidbey Island and the roads were clear. We were hoping the side roads would be clear. I am not fond of driving in snow.

We turned on Thompson road and it was clear and we parked the truck and slowly got out. It was cold and I wore the huge parka that my brother gave me. The wind was very nippy and it was overcast. It had quit snowing but was very cold.

The Guard Donkey at Susan's
Susan's beautiful Fjords.

Here I am all bundled up!!

The trial was held at Susan’s place with a large rolling field for the trial. The sheep were very touchy and light Katahdins. They either ran at the sight or your dogs or stood their ground and refused to move.
Our warm-up routine!!

Open was the first class and my luck has been at the last trials that I am first up with Tess. Tess scanned the field for the sheep and saw them and began to quiver. I looked at her eyes and she gazed into my eyes and I felt a deep connection with her at that moment. Time held still, like a fog over the valley and it was eerily quiet. She gave a small wag with her tail and there was a sudden flash of the many trials in my mind. We have been to many trials and we learned the ropes together. She has suffered through my bumbling at the trials and carried me on her strong shoulders and never complained. Tess’s muzzle is mostly white now and there is some gray clouds in her eyes but her mind is sharp and her body is strong. She turned her head away from me and leaned more forward towards the sheep and I gave her a ssssh.

She leapt forward like a greyhound after a rabbit, her strong body digging into the grass, sending like tufts into the air. Her tail was tucked low and her head was down. She slowed down at the top and took a cautious and methodical approach, feeling the sheep and had a perfect lift. She came hard on the fetch and I flanked her and she ripped on the flanks at warp speed and her quickness spooked the sheep and we missed the fetch panels. The ewes arrived at the handler’s post, their nostrils flaring and their heads held high. We had a good turn around the post and the first leg she was right on. The sheep sauntered through at the panels and she had a nice turn on the drive. She got on the muscle and was leaning hard into the sheep and her flanks was tight and the sheep took a bobble on the crossdrive and we missed the second panel. The missed panels were my fault and cost us about 6 points.

The shedding ring was the next part of the course and the sheep wanted no part of Tess. She came up quietly and close but they stayed bunched together and we timed out. I was very pleased with her run and she danced with delight too. We didn't get the shed or pen.

Patience in the sheeding ring...but no shed ;-(

Several runs later, I was on deck with Nan. Nan and I have bonded very closely and we have been working on opening up her inside flanks. Nan has a tendency to slice and lean into the sheep on her flanks and she will spook them with her sudden movements. I have been working on her to open up and be square. It’s been a struggle as she has had the slicey flanks for so long and most of her life. But, she wants so hard to please me and we have been working hard on squaring her flanks the last couple of months.

Nan on her fetch.
Nan ran out fast and wide and came in deep behind the sheep and stopped when I gave her the down whistle. She was thoughtful on her lift and on her fetch was a fireball so I had to slow her down. I still need to get a steady on her so that is our next homework. Nan took every command and I was pleased when she brought the sheep to my feet. We did the turn and the first leg was nice, the turn square and then we started the cross drive. This was the point to see if your training paid off. The sheep were hair trigger light and had some draws and were looking to bolt. Nan took all the flanks and they were beautiful square flanks and my heart leaped for joy. She had a nice turn at the cross drive panel and brought the sheep true to the shedding ring.

Nan took her keep and out commands at the shedding ring and we had the sheep almost ready to single but they would bunch together at the last moment. Nan sometimes loses her cool in the ring and gets wired but today, she was very responsive and kept her cool. We timed out and as the exhaust dog took the sheep away, I leaned down and gave her a big pet and praised her. Her eyes began to glow as she knew that I was very happy and she began to bounce up and down with joy. She can be such a silly dog sometimes and just wants to please me. I was very pleased with her run and how well she tried and how square her flanks were. We had only lost nine points until the shedding ring. Nan lost five on her drive and four on her fetch. Then we didn't get the shed or pen. I was very happy that we only had lost nine points until the shed!!

I was very happy with both of my dogs. Tess and Nan are completely opposite in their working each other but yet, they are both loving and wanting to please.

Open Placings:1. Diane Pagel and Nan - 71
2. Diane Pagel and Tess - 61
3. Lynne Green and Kurt - 53
4. Heidi Hanson and Pete - 51
5. Dirk Vansant and Skipp - 51
6. Bob Hickman and Mojo - 48
7. George MacDonald and Huck.-.46
8. Sue MacDonald and Jan - 44
9. George MacDonald and Chris - 37
10. Maggi McClure and Lill - 35
11.Sue MacDonald and Skye - 31
12-14 RT/DQ

Lunch was in Susan’s warm barn with tasty chili and all sorts of goodies. We all laughed and ate and warmed up. The wind had picked up and it was very chilly. The temperature had dropped and everyone started to put more layers on. Again, I thanked my brother for the warm parka as I was warm. If I had wore my normal coat, I would have been much colder. I put on my wool hat and my ski pants and boots and I waddled about like an Eskimo but was warm.

The ProNovice sheep was set closer. The dogs had a hard time with the sheep as they getting wise to the dogs. The younger dogs didn’t have the seasoning the Open dogs did and it was a struggle on some of the runs. However, some PN dogs handled the sheep quite well.

Janet and Scott on the fetch

Turning the post

First leg of the drive

The drive panels
I was feeling well enough to so setout and Tess and I went up the field with Lynn and Zap. We did the first half and Sue and George did the rest as well as Ranch and Novice. There were some really nice runs and I see a fresh crop of talented dogs that will be good Open dogs in the future.

Janet has taken Scott to be her trial dog. She has been working very hard and comes down and works twice a week with Scott. Her dedication ahs paid off. She is calm at the post and did well. She needs more seasoning and timing work but considering she just got Scott a couple of week ago, I say she did darn good. I think Scott enjoys being the center of attention and helping a new handler learn the ropes.

ProNovice Placings:
1. Maggie and Betty - 72
2. Pam and Caymus - 61
3. Janet and Scott - 49
4. Susan and Zen - 49
5. Dave and Cap - 44
6.Gael and Sweet - 41
7. Connie and Tay - 40
8. Maggie and Johnny - 39
9. Dave and Russell - 38
10. Dirk and Cap - 13
Gael and Chip - RT
Dick and Rhett - RT

Ranch was set close and the wind decided to aid by being very brisk and cold. I hung out and took pictures and enjoyed myself. Janet went out determined this time to get the pen and she got a flawless pen. Kathleen and Emma showed that a home trained dog can rock the trial field. Emma has great sheep sense out on the field and those many long hours that Kathleen has put into Emma certainly has paid off. We were all beaming after her run.

The lift.

Kathleen and Emma on the fetch.

First leg of the drive.
Walking up slow to pen

Patiently waiting and they got the pen.

Ranch Placings:1. Janet and Scott - 57
2. Maggie and Gwen - 54
3. Dave and Cap - 51
4. Kathleen and Emma - 43
5. Maggi and Johnny - 37
6. Dick and Raygan - 35
7. Susan and Rani - 21
8. Bob and Trooper - RT

The last run was Novice. Kathleen laid a smoking run with Emma and had a perfect lift. I am very proud of Kathleen and Emma. She picked Emma when she was a pup at the farm and carefully nurtured her to a superstar.

Novice Placings:
1. Kathleen and Emma - 43
2. Dick and Raygan - 39
3. Dave and Annie - RT

The trial was over and Janet and I headed out. I was exhausted and starting to get chilled. I don’t have my stamina up yet and when I get tire, I crash hard. It was a long day and we got back to the farm in the dark. We lets the dogs run and feed the sheep and then Janet headed home. I enjoyed going to the trial with Janet and I had a blast. The dog did everything I asked of them and I didn’t let them down. It’s been a long time for me to get healed but now I am on the mend and doing one of the things that I love. I was especially happy with Janet and Kathleen. They have worked hard and it paid off. I am proud of them!!


sheepkelpie said...

Excellent commentary. Hurray! for Nan :) She sounds very much like Lucy in her temperament. Gotta love that joie de vivre!

DeltaBluez Tess said...

Nan is a super dog. I am blessed to have Nan and Tess as my Open dogs. I enjoy both of them!!