Thursday, July 23, 2009

Skagit Valley Highland Games results

For the last few years, I have been going to the Skagit Valley Highland Games. Last year, I missed it since it was the weekend before my heart surgery and the Doctor suggest that I relax. The year before, Tess won the trail with well over a minute before anyone else. It is a time and point trial in a baseball field. You have tons of spectators and sheep are very light and can be wild. We have done well over the year, often placing in the Finals and it seemed like for years, we held onto the 3rd spot. When we won it two years ago, Tess got a beautiful plaque and some cash!!

So this year, even though Tess is retired from USBCHA trials, I entered her in the trial. It’s short and she enjoys it. Each year, she goes around the fair to the booths and often get part of my shepherd’s pie as well lots of attention from fair goers. I entered Lucy as she can settle the sheep quite easily and in the small arena, the sheep are very reactive. Running Nan would cause my blood pressure to rise so she stayed home to keep an eye on Getty and the farm.

Janet signed up Scott. Scott has run at this trial several times and has been in the Finals a few times so she is an old hand at this trial. However, it was Janet’s first time to run in an arena trial. Janet was before my runs and she missed one obstacle so all the other obstacles after that one did not count so she got a score of 9 point out of 28.

Tess was midpack to out and she was her good consistent self. We went through the course will full points and used up all of our time. I wanted to do a good clean run with full points to make sure we would have a good chance at making the top ten on Sunday. You got a run on Saturday and then one on Sunday and the top ten would advance to the Finals. If you qualified with two dogs, then you cold only pick one to run. Tess got all of her points.

Lucy was towards the end and she was pumped up. The sheep put a lot of pressure on her and she was not tucking in at the corners tight enough so we had to work to get through the course. She was wide on the pen so we did not get the pen. Her score was 24. For her to advance in the finals, she would have to get a perfect run on Sunday. At the end of the day, there was a six way time for First Place and Tess was one of the six.

Sunday, I was first with Tess. The sheep were very flighty and we managed the course but we could not get the pen. So we had 24 points which gave us a total of 52 for the combined. Lucy ran second and was much better, having figured out the sheep. She was very consistent and did the course quite handily, her score was 24 and her time was 3:28, one of the fastest. The total time allotted was 4:30 minutes.

Janet ran Scott and used a different strategy and did quite well and got 27 points. She just was out of the Finals but I expect next year, she will be in the Finals. She ran Scott well and her timing was good.

So I had Tess and Lucy both qualified fore the Finals. I went with Tess was she won it last time she ran and placed in the top ten consistently. I drew up halfway in the run order.

Tess was keen to go into the arena on her run. Her snout was quivering and she scanned the arena for the sheep. They popped out of the setout and ran to the exhaust. I sent her and she walked them off the exhaust to the first obstacle. It was on the other side of the arena and you had to push the sheep through a panel and the arena fence. Then they had a 30 degree line to the second obstacle. The draw was not through the panel but just below it. I stooped her just short of the first panel and then the sheep went through it and looked like they wanted to skim past the second panel. I moved on step to the side of the post and gave Tess a hard stop and they bolted through the second panel. That panel was the undoing of a few runs. She had the sheep turn tightly around the post and marched them through the next two obstacles, both were driveways panels and then a tight turn and through another panel and then to the pen. We had the fastest chute time in the Finals. I had them lined up at the pen and one ewe was content to stand next to me. She was not afraid of people at all and not matter how much movement I did, she stood there. She pooped out with a buddy when Tess leaned in and Tess quickly scooped them up and after a bit of finagling they went in. Had they went in the first time we would have won but we placed fourth due to time. We made all the panels so had full points. I was very happy with Tess’s run. She ran hard and fast when they broke and yet around the course was quiet and methodical. For an old, retired dog, she sure knows her stuff and ran like a top.

Janet taped the run and you can see it here. The course is tiny, the draw is heavy and sheep are light.

RUN click to see the video

All in all, we had a blast and next year, we will go back. If Tess is up to it, she will run. She really enjoys this trial and all the goodies she gets at it. If not, she will be my lap warmer.

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