This was my tenth Anniversary of my FIRST TRIAL with Tess. It’s hard to believe that we first stepped out on this field ten years ago. Both of us were wet behind the ears and just had out first real sheepdog lesson the day before. Needless to say, we did retire on both of our Novice runs and the Judge, who also gave us our first lesson, was kind to me the entire time at the trial and to this day, he still is a very nice person. Scott Glen went out of his way to make me feel welcome and later the fall; Tess went to him for training. I know I must have called him at least every other day to see how my precious baby was doing. And as you, the rest is history!!
Saturday came too early as it normally does but the redeeming feature was that I was not first or second dog on the field as it usually seems. Instead, the honor of second dog on the field went to Jenny Glen and Lad. I drew up 10th with Nan, 40th with Tess and 58 with Lucy. Cyril Roberts was the judge and he just had judge us at Whidbey. He had judged a few years ago and remembered Roo. Yep, big, red male, pushy and not much of a stop. However, I love him anyways and beside, he is a son of Tess.
For the sheep, they had brought in Barbados, which were not used to being worked by Border Collies and not in large fields and were not afraid of people. One dog or two was run off at the lift and if they didn’t think your dog had power, they just didn’t move. I mean they had feet of concrete. There was an outrun, lift and fetch and the Maltese Cross. It was the same setup as the Key Pen trial. You got one attempt and if the sheep broke the plane, you sent on to the second half of the cross. You were suick in the one quadrant and could not move out of it and the rope was not long enough so you could cover the opening. This made for some very entertaining handling. In addition, you wanted to slow your dog way down so the sheep would go into the opening and if they came too fast down the fetch, they simply just blew past the cross. Once you did both crosses, you did the drive and the dog had to slither into or next to the cross to do the leg proper and not veer off the course. Part of the drive was up a long hill and the sheep bolted up the hill, usually to one side of the cross. There was no shed but you went to the pen. Now the problem was the sheep had no intentions of going into the pen, for anyone, all day. They stood next to you and stared at your dog. They didn’t care if you moved or not, they didn’t have any pressure off people and they just invited dogs to grip.
Nan went up wonderful on her outrun, had a nice lift, and was pushy on the fetch. She lost zero on outrun, one of lift and four on the fetch. She had a hesitation at the first cross (-2) but got them in and turned then sharply and got the second cross for no point loss. The drive was tough, we missed gates due to handler errors, and we timed out on the pen. She did quite well considering the sheep didn’t want to move. Her score was 75. Tough sheep like these two years ago, had ran her off the course but now she has gotten stronger and has a lot more push. She was on the muscle and listened well. She got a 75 and 16th place.
Tess was next and ran in the heat of the day. We did our country western dance and she was pumped. She ran out and was tight so I redirected her and true to form, she didn’t listen and I lost four for the effort. She came in on the sheep like a freight train and they bolted down the field. She was hard on them on the fetch and we lost three for the lift and five for the fetch. I finally got her to slow down and she marched them through both crosses for no point loss. She leaned on them on the drive and it was almost flawless, a beautiful drive and we lost three for a little dip on the crossdrive. They turned to face her at the pen, she backed them in, one-step at a time, and we lost four at the pen. She ran very well, abet a wee bit pushy in the beginning but the sheep never challenged her. Her score was 91 and I about fell on the ground in shock when I saw it. I knew it was a good score! She held on to 2nd place for most of the day and landed fourth. She maynot be the most stylish dog on the field but she gets the job done.
Lucy was at the end of the day and the sheep were very cranky. They had been run a couple of times and decided their union cards were punched out for the day. She had a nice outrun, lift and fetch and is like her grandmother, Tess on the fetch. Pushy!! She lost two on her outrun, zero off her lift and six on her fetch. The sheep were coming fast so we only got half of them n the first cross and none in the second. She was tight and took a couple of wrong flanks, which scooted the sheep past the plane. Her drive was nice and we missed a gate, skimmed it, on the crossdrive took another wrong flank, and was off the sheep. She wasn’t holding the pressure and that cost us. We lost 13 on the drive and we timed out at the pen. I was not too happy but she is a softer dog than I am used to running. It seems on the first day, she fades a bit and on the second day, she really pulls it together. Part of it is that we are still learning to work with each other too. There is a nice dog in her, she is young, and we are getting better and better at each trial. She tries so hard to please and sometimes second-guesses the commands. She is only four at this time and needs seasoning. Her score was 64.
Sunday’s run was flipped. The handler post was at the other end and you still had the Maltese Cross. You had a shed (single) and no pen. We ran on the Scotties, Coops and hair sheep. The last half of the first leg of the drive was blind as well as the first half of the crossdrive. If your sheep were in the gully, they ran up the field but it was offline so you had to be careful of that.
Lucy was the first dog (6th in the run order) and she ran out strong. We connected better on this day too. She stopped at the top, I had to whistle her to move, and then she had a nice lift. She was pushy on her fetch but I was happy. She lost seven for the outrun, one for the lift and four for the fetch. I was happy on how pushy she was and how she listened better. The sheep ran past the cross so we just went for the second cross. Part of the sheep tried to escape through a wrong section and I leaned over to try to stop them. My foot hit the bottom panel and I tripped into the cross. Lucky for me, I was still clutching the rope and didn’t manage to fall completely in and to add insult to the injury, the two sheep that I tried to block slipped out on the wrong side anyways! Therefore, we lost 10 for the first cross and 5 for the second and then we did the drive. She was straight on the drive and did the blind driving great and I gave her a flank too soon on the last part of the crossdrive, which cost us 6 points, and the rest was just fine. I was very happy on well she held the line and did on the drive. We didn’t get the single and I called her in but she flew around to the front of the sheep than through them. She got a 67 and I was quite happy as she tried very hard and was holding the pressure.
Tess was 20th to run and it was hot so we did our dance before the run. It was out last dance we would do together as a team on the USBCHA course. This would be her last run and she would be retiring. I didn’t have the heart to tell her but I felt the lump in my throat. Tess was tight (again) and she roared on the sheep. They had their faces buried in the grain bucket and she came onto them hard. Her fetch was fast, no surprise there and she brought straight to me. She lost five on the outrun, two on the lift and five on the fetch. They had a brief stop before they went into the cross for a loss of one and on the second cross, she marched them in and then right out. She lined them out perfect on the drive and did the blind drive quite well and had a great drive overall and only lost six. She timed out on the single. Her score was 81.
Nan was last and she was amped. She had been tied up all day and could hear me work Lucy and Tess. She is very devoted to me and by the time we got to the field, she was hot, hot!! She was at 51 place. She ran out fast like a bat out of hell and I couldn’t see the sheep, as they were n a draw. I could see her behind the sheep so I let her figure it out. Then I saw sheep popcorn into the air and I was thinking “OH, OH”…maybe a grip? The Judge was able to see all of this and he told me later that the sheep were eating and didn’t see her come up as their noses were buried in the grain. Then she was there and they jumped because they were startled. She had some sheep that didn’t want to play and were crazy the entire course. They ran down the field at a high rate of speed and I got her to slow them down as well as here. She lost zero on her outrun, two on the lift and three on the fetch. The sheep were too spooked to go into the first cross so we had to go onto the second cross and she got that. She was on the muscle on the drive but the lines were straight for the most part. We missed a gate, had one big bobble, and lost 16 for the drive. On the single, I called her in twice and she didn’t hold the singe and we time out. The score was 69.
Overall, I was very happy with my dogs. They did some very nice work and I found some glaring holes which I need to work on. The dogs are all completely different style to run which make it a challenge. Steady Tess, Ferrari Nan and Eager to Please Lucy.
To see the placings again: