I left to go to the Fire Ridge Sheepdog Trial right after work on Wednesday. I got to Pete and Theresa’s house in the dark but thank goodness for my GPS. Although it took me on a extended convoluted route to their place. Ron and Hope were already there and Ron carried my gear into the house. Which is great as my right arm still is funky after the heart surgery. I can’t lift very much and have to close the tailgate with my shoulder than using my arms. And I have learned to ask people for help in setting up my trailer such as pulling out the bed, putting up the awning and so forth since I have limited use of my right arm. However, everyone is cool about helping me and I have learned to ask for help than trying to struggle.
The trial started bright and early on Thursday and I was to run Roo and Nan in Open and Rainey in ProNovice. It would be the same on Friday as I was going to judge all day on Saturday. The first Open round was over all of Thursday and then half of Friday. Then the second round began at lunchtime on Friday and finished up on Saturday. There were 54 dogs entered in the Open class.
The field was the same setup as last year. The sheep were set on the far hill, with a huge bowl in between you and the sheep with a few small knolls for good measure. Sending to the away side might cause your dog to swing too wide and to the come bye side, the dog might pull up short below the sheep due to a gully. However, the sheep were drawn to the come-bye side as their night pen was just over the hill. So most of the people sent to the come-bye side.
Roo was up early and I sent him on the come-bye side. He ran out, then went out wider for a fast lift. He decided to wear them back and forth on the sheep butts before the fetch panels, but then heard the edge in my voice then settle down for a nice last of the fetch. He had a nice drive but missed on panels, I think, then got a shed. The pen was decent but the sheep had to be convinced to be put in and tried to cut back to the exhaust. I was happy with his run, aside from the lift and first half of the fetch.
Nan ran later in the day, redirect on the outrun and had a thoughtful lift. Much better than the special lift that she had at Vashon. No teeth were involved in this lift. We had a very nice fetch and then at the turn the sheep spun to the other side of the post. As I was lining them up for the post turnI saw a dog on a long leash that was in the face of the sheep that caused them to cut back. (meaning that dog was in the trial field and affected the turn at the post- I wasn’t the only one that had this happen). We did fix the turn at the post and had a very nice drive with a couple of minor bobbles. She tucked the ewes into the pen then shed them smartly in the ring. We set up the shed and she came in clean. I was very pleased with her run and she got an 83 for her efforts. She did great on these range ewes, aside from being pushy.
Rainey ran on the ProNovice field which was a couple miles away. The sheep were a farm flock, well feed hair sheep that were heavy. Since Rainey is not the pushiest dog, she really struggled with the sheep. Her eye caught her up at the top and she was slow to walk in. She had to hock the sheep several times to get them moving since they felt she wasn’t too much of a threat but she finally got them going on the drive when we timed out at the last leg. Her low score did not reflect her try and willingness and I was happy that she never gave up and did her best. Since driving is not her forte and the sheep were heavy, she rallied and kept putting one foot in front of the other and not stalling. She only had lost 11 points on her drive as she was bring the sheep on the last leg to the pen.
We decided to get to the field very early on Friday since Ron was going to run Tigr. We arrived at 6:30 for a 7:15 handler’s meeting and it was dark and cold. I spied that Karen Mahoney’s trailer light were on so I dashed in for some hot coffee. Karen and Meredith are the hard working score keepers for the trial and worked until 10 or 11 each night, double checking the scores so we could see the results. It is the behind the scene tireless work that we take for granted.
Ray ran Jill for the first dog out and it was s stunning run. It was pretty close to flawless. Ron ran Tigr and she went too deep, was near the setout pen, and didn’t come down the hill to get the sheep so Ron left the post to help her.
I had to run to the PN field to run Rainey as she was first dog up. I sent her on the away side and she cast out nice, then her eye caught her. I whistled her out after realizing she was walking up very slowly and need some prompting to go faster. She had a nice lift then a dead on fetch. She lost four for her outrun, two on the lift and one for her fetch. She had to push the ewes on the last leg of the drive and part of it was in the gully and the ewes could see the exhaust and would try to break for it but she convinced them to rethink that idea. She made her panel and lost seven on her drive. At the pen, she marched them in for a perfect score. She got 76 for her score for a 4th place out of about 30 dogs. I was very happy with her work and you could she was a lot more confident on the same ewes that she had to struggle with on the day before.
I then ran back to the Open field just to see them reset the course for the second go round of Open. I was up in 6th spot with Roo. The sheep were set on the other field, to the left of the first go round. The handers post was pretty much in the same location but you rotated about 180 degrees to pick up the sheep. Roo kept looking at the first setout and refuse to listen, even though I kept turning him away form it. Finally I pointed him way off to the away side, hoping he would kick out but he ran about 50 yards and tried to cross. I whistle the hell out of him and he would go a few more yards then try to cross. I would tell him to look and he seemed like he would see the sheep but flipping back. Finally, he went the direction then came up fast on the sheep. I hit him with a HARD DOWN to settle him and the sheep. He had a nice lift then suddenly busted in the middle of the sheep, causing one to break back and he went after that so we got a DQ. Needless to say, I was not happy with him.
Nan ran towards the end of the day. She scanned the field for the sheep, spied them, tremble with excitement, had a nice outrun and came up nice behind the sheep for a two point loss on the lift and none on the outrun. The fetch was a dogleg fetch and we settle everyone down and she had a nice fetch and turn at the post for a three point loss. She was edgy on the drive, we missed the panel, and she wouldn’t release the pressure on the last turn, which killed us on the points for nineteen points. She tucked them in the pen in short order and we had to do a single. As they walked into the ring, she got her single in record time for none points loss for her pen or shed. We did miss the Double Lift by four points and had we gotten the last panel, we would have been in. Still I was happy with her work and efforts to please me. Therefore, my homework with Nan is releasing the pressure and for Rainey is having her not eye up so much on the lift. If a dog tries I am happy but if they think, they can have fun and misbehave, then I am not happy.
Part Two tomorrow....