The weekend for the sheepdog trial was like any other sheepdog trial, except that I was judging. I still worked my dogs during the week, read the rules and went to bed early. Ron came over and drove us to the trial. He had entered Kiki in Open and Chavo in Nursery. There were close to 70 runs and daylight was limited. The Novice and ranch runs were first and the course had been shifted well away from the exhaust to a part of the field that sheep were not familiar with. The sheep were light hair sheep that tested the dogs; push hard and you pay the price; push soft and they stood so they needed to be handled right. I want to point out my two Open dogs lean too hard on these sheep.
I gave a quick speech to the Novice and Ranch and gave them some pointers. I remember when I was a Novice and how hard it was for me. The classes were large and eager eyes looked back at me. I told them the pen was teamwork and they need to use their dog as well how to handle this light sheep.. They heeded my advice and there were some outstanding runs in Novice and ranch. There was a tie for first place in Novice with only two points off and second place had only four point loss. The Foster family snagged the two top spots in Novice, followed closed by Jacoby who is a youngest in the sport. Paul and his new dog Lexy was in fourth. Cindy won Ranch with Britt and that was a nice run to watch. Judy and Bert were hot on her heels in second. The setout crew was one of the best that I had ever seen, settling down the sheep so the dogs were able to get a hold of the sheep at the top. Kudos to them!
ProNovice was next and the first drive panel was closer to the exhaust and the dogs who couldn’t hold the pressure had issues. The sheep took advantage of anything, anyone and any misstep. To the away side on the outrun was a deep pond so most dog went left. They had to go deep or the sheep would bolt. The drive was tough and the first leg proved to be the undoing of a few. The crossdrive were nice but a few missed the second cones that were used in lieu of panels. The lines was to the pen and most of the people got the pen. Bob with his striking Ryder laid down a picture perfect run to get a score of 87. Not much was taken off aside from a few tiny bobbles. Nora had fire in her eye and with her Joe, dog had a smooth quiet run to secure second place. Kathleen had a nice run for third with a bit of a scenic route on the drive. Janet with Sava placed fourth. Sava decided to be a powerhouse much to Janet’s demise and at the post turn, Sava took the flank she wanted which was not what Jane wanted and had the turn at the judge’s van but she quickly fixed that to pull up the run for fourth place. Quite a few of PN runs had to retire to the sheep being strong to the draw.
Nursery was the same as PN. Ron ran a very nice run with Chavo who held the pressure quite well. Corrine and Bea placed second and this team is looking well.
Open was a blind about halfway up, then a dog leg fetch which you lost sight of the sheep and dog for about 15 feet to make the panel then a turn at the post. Since we didn’t have a shedding ring, I made the pen, post and a cone the far end of the ring. The cone was place about ten feet to the right of the post and it was mentioned if you were to the right of the cone, you were wide at the turn. It was suggested that a neat, tidy turn and tuck to the left of the cone would be dead on for the first leg of the drive. That way the sheep were straight on for the drive and your dog was in proper position to hold the draw. As the handlers did the turn at the post, you could see them, think, then set their dog proper to tuck the sheep in for the drive, thus saving two points. The first leg was a long drive then to the cross drive panels, then to the pen. The pen was a open pen and the handler had to stay at the post and then a single. There were three sheep.
Wow, some of the dog refused to listen to the handler and had straight lines and missed most of the fetch. We did this same course a few months ago and Roo closed his ears and did a straight fetch. But some of the dogs ran the dog leg fetch pretty much dead on, and looked quite nice. Monique was first with Lucy and had a smooth dog leg fetch and a quiet run but didn’t get the single. It was a good way to start the Open runs. Sue and Jackie nailed the dog leg fetch and Jackie was her usual pushy self and I thought on the first leg of the drive that Sue was going use up her quota of downs but Jackie listened to her and had her under control. She got the pen and the first single of the day and went into the ring with four minutes left. Sandy and Joe had a sweet run and that dog is one nice dog. Their fetch was also very elegant. Karen and Grit also had one of the nicest dog leg fetches of the day as well as Maggi and Rob. Maggi and Kep had pretty much a flawless drive, losing only three points. Bob and Mojo stepped up to the post towards the end (and she can go home with me, anytime!) and it was a stunning run. She keyed onto the sheep, cast out nice, went deep and lost only four points on the fetch. She had a sweet turn at the post and was one of the best first leg drive and a nice turn for the crossdrive. She was a wee bit offline for the pen and then sauntered into the shedding ring, all stood looking calm, then boom, a gorgeous single. She won the class with 87, followed by Monique and Lucy and Sue and Jackie with 81, broken by outwork, placing Monique in second and Sue in third. Sandy and Joe were in fourth with 80 then Maggi and Lil for fifth place. Bob placed sixth with Trooper and Ron with Kiki, in their first Open run snagged seventh. He was one of the five who got a single.
I got a new Gerbing heated vest and wore it all day. It kept my core warm and it made a huge difference. By the time I was done judging the 68 or so runs, I was tired but warm. The wind and rain had kicked up but luckily I was in Ron’s van. Cindy was the course director and she kept me full of hot coffee, tea and food. It was an enjoyable day with some fine dogs running. Ron and I stopped at a seafood buffet on the way home and it was quite good. We stuffed ourselves and waddled back to the car. Then homeward bound and little did we know, our adventure was not over. Stay tuned for tomorrow for the runaway sheep that waited for us as we were going down the road to my farm.