Again, I got up before the crack of day and headed Big bertha (truck) on the northern journey to the first trial hosted by Lynne Green. I had entered Nan and Maid in Open and Rainey in PN. Hope and Lori came over the night before so we caravanned to the trial. As we exited the valley of fog, we saw a hint of a possible beautiful day and it did end up bright and sunny for us.
The Open sheep were Scotties, one ewe crowned with a bow of bright red and two lambs. The lambs stuck together like glue and you had to single one of the lambs. The outrun was about 350 yards with a hourglass neck in the middle. The top left on the backside of the fetch panel, were a stack of fresh cut firewood, stacked like sheep in the shade and it drew many dog for a cross. At the post, if looked like five ewes that had hunkered down in the shade but the real sheep were about 100 yards further down the field. If you sent to the come-by side, your dog had to go through the woods or be tight up the middle and hopefully cast out. To the away side they could cast out too far and if they went proper, they had to slide hard along the tree line to get proper behind the sheep. That way would suck dogs in for a tight lift or slicing. The fetch was over a ditch, to the left drive. The middle half of the first leg was over a hump, then down in a gully, which the sheep had to jump over a small creek then to the panel. The sheep, once they would go through the panel would break and the natural cover would be on the away flank that would be a cross of the course. Or if your dog was slow, they would also bolt into the thicket. The drive looked easy but was on a ridge, which sucked the sheep high then low. The second panel was a panel and a tree and then to the white post area for your single It was in plain sight of the exhaust and so you had to be careful. The ewes had no desire to pen and would rather dance around the pen than go inside.
Nan was early up, the frost still clung to the grass tops and as she ran over them, small diamonds exploded from the grass tops as her paws broke them loose. I sent her on the away side and she came in proper but then rushed them to bobble for a brief moment then settled,. She was on the muscle so I had to ratcheted her down and we got on the edge of the bubble of the sheep. Her fetch was nice and she had a nice turn at the post. An excellent drive until the last half of the crossdrive when I eased up on the reins and she bumped the bubble. So, the sheep went jagged until I got it smoothed out and a nice turn to the ring. We lined the sheep up, I called her through and she briefly turned on the wrong group but quickly turned and held the single. The other two went to the exhaust so she had to march into their faces and I wasn’t certain if she would grip. One broke and she went after it, I called her name to settle her and she turned it sharply but did not grip it. They fought her but came together to the pen. One ewe slipped around the pen, the same one that she had issues at the exhaust but she kept her cool and slowly worked them in and was quite proud of herself. I was very happy that she kept her cool and did not grip the ewe and did as I asked and put her trust in my handling. She got an 82 and placed second out of 23 or so dogs.(outrun 0, lift 1, fetch 4, drive 7, single 3, pen 3)
Maid was one of the last dogs to run. She looked at my face intensely, her eyes fastened upon mine and leaned forward, ready to go. I sent her on the away and she ran like a gazelle up the field. She spied the fresh cut logs in the shade and mistook them for the sheep so she crossed to cover the back. I saw her shift her lead to cross and blew out a down but she was determined and did not stop. Once she realize the logs were not the sheep, she was open for suggestions. At that point, I gave her an come-bye and she cast out nice. She skidded across a sheet of ice, face planted but picked herself up and went behind the sheep and took my down. She lifted nice and was a little offline but listened to my voice commands and got them online. She had a perfect lift and five off on her fetch.She began to push hard so I hit her with a hard down and she took it. She really was not slowing much on her steadies but close at hand, she relaxed and listened well. We had a nice turn at the post and I could see she was relaxed and pliable for me. It took a bit to line the sheep up but once we did, she held the line as true as a love arrow to the heart. As the sheep burst through the panel, they made a break to the top and she crossed on the away to stop them, thus ignoring my come-bye. The sheep turned and one busted into the thicket. She went after it and I left the post. I called her back and she came out willing. I flanked her out to get the two to put them into the bushes to get the runaway. She trotted them in the bushes and brought everyone kindly to me. She was trying hard to work well and the draw was tremendous. I walked back to the exhaust with her and made her do the inside flanks that were against the draw and she did. She worked well and tried and I enjoyed that she was relaxed. We still have a long ways to go and she never tried to be bad. I have to get my whistles down and make her realize even though she does know better on the trial field, she still has to listen to me. I loved running her as she is pliable, willing and trying to partner up. After the run, she was pleased with herself and leaned into my leg for head rubs. It’s nice to have another top Open trial dog that I enjoy running. I was pleased with the fact that I only had her for nine days and she tried to do right by me and when it went south, kept her cool and asked for help. I was beaming with delight with her for the rest of the day.
For the PN class, the set was two yearlings and two lambs. The groups tended to split so you had to work to keep them together. Too much pressure and they burst like popcorn over a hot stove and too little and they would slowly drift apart and then race away. The pickup point was moved in closer but the drive was same and the line was to the pen from the crossdrive panel. You could leave the post when the sheep cleared the ditch which as about halfway to the pen.
I ram Emma first and she decided the sheep in the exhaust were the sheep that need to be picked up. She ran about 100 yards out and then tried to turn back. I made her look up the field, she wanted to go back and when she did go up the field, she crossed. She did get her lift but was fast and I think the redirects made her brain get frazzled. The lift was a bit off but we got it under control. At the turn, the two lambs tried to break but she stood her ground. The first drive was nice and at the drive panel, she flipped on the away side. The cross drive was very jagged as she was pushing the bubble and hard to stop. By this time, this was a training session and I made her finish the drive and not fade. It was tough but she finally settled down and had a nice last leg. However, this packet of sheep had no intentions of splitting up as she did have them under control.
Rainey was my last dog to run end in PN. I wanted to send her on the come-bye side but she kept looking at the away side so I placed her on that side. She cast out nice and wide and at the top, eyed up. I whistled and then shouted her out and she was cautious on the lift. The sheep had their heads buried in alfalfa and she was slow to lift them but got them dead on line. Her fetch was a tad bit off and I forced her to put them back on line. She wanted to unwind but I would not let her. You could tell she was uncomfortable about holding that pressure but she did it. The last trial she did not hold the pressure and it cost us dearly. This time it only cost us three on the fetch. She lost six on the sticky outrun and two on the lift. The sheep tried to spilt on the turn at the post and they stood in her face. She lined them up for a nice first leg and got them through the first panels. You could tell she wanted to cover them on the away but took my come-bye and turned them smartly for the crossdrive. She did quite well, with a few bobbles and missed two at the second panels. Her turn was super tight and the last leg was pushy to the pen. I raced to the pen and she got them in but one fat ewe stood at the hinge part and refused to move. As I was closing the gate, the timer went off and she got 63 for her efforts. She lost six for her drive and obviously all of her pen points. Nevertheless, I was pleased on how hard she tried and did hold the pressure. She placed second for her run without a pen and she was quite ecstatic with her run as she made a point of going to the handlers under tent for her congratulatory pets. She jumped on my legs, her tail wagging and her face bright eyed with happiness and I praised her. She is my special journey as she is far different than my Open dogs but gives me her heart. She loves to work for me and I enjoy running her. I have to command her more than I am used to, as she prefers to be told what to do so, my homework is to free her eye up at the top and have her take more incentive. But it is journey we will take together and I enjoy it with her.
I don't have the scores for Novice or ProNovice. When I get the official scores I will post them. I took some photos and will also post them this week.