Bevis Jordan, from Northumberland, England, was the judge for the Whidbey and Eweful Acres and he is a fine judge. His canny eyes never missed a beat and should you slip slideways on the drive as many did, you gave up some points. He was a fair and very consistent judge and the consensus under the handler’s tent, was “a darn good judge.” I enjoyed his wit and good humor and hope he comes back again as he is an excellent judge.
The Open course was switched on the second day to have a Maltese Cross as first part of the drive,. You had to do one leg of the cross, then turn 90 degrees and then do another leg, then start your drive. The draw was hard to the exhaust but if you placed your dog in the right place and settled the sheep on the fetch, it was a lot easier. The drive was a right hand drive up a hill, then it slid sideways into a flat area that caught many handlers on the low side. The a pen which the sheep could hear the exhaust sheep, however, if you worked the sheep proper and had your dog in the right place, it was doable. Bevis was kept busy with 57 Open runs and 14 Nursery runs.
Four hair sheep were set on a knoll and the outrun was about 350 yards, a nice sweeping slope then the last third, up a steep hill. Most people sent to the come-bye side.
Nan was hyped up so we sat side by side and watched the run before our. I stroked her head and plotted my run. We strolled up to the post and she gave me a soft look in her eyes and somehow I knew we were in harmony.
She cast out, then flared out again at the last third and came out deep behind the sheep. I stopped her and asked her softy for a walk-up. The sheep began to bolt to the right so I flanked her and she turned them back online. I slowed her down, giving her small flanks to keep the sheep online and slow down the field. They walked up to the mouth of the cross and we waited, I gave her a small flank and they went in. They came out quickly on the other side and I let them burst out about 20 feet so I would have a nice turn to the second leg of the cross. Nan flanked wide and we held them at the mouth and they marched in. Luckily for me, I was clutching my crook or I would have fallen down in shock at this point.
She had to wear around the cross to line them up and she got a nice line. She held the pressure on the should and had a nice turn and then down the crossdrive. The line was good and I thought at the last part I was a wee bit off so I gave her a small flank, realized it was in error, then got them back online. The spectators said I had a dead on crossdrive until I blew the misguided flank. (Ok, so I hit myself on the head for that dumb flank!). That error cost me four points and we only had lost one point to that time!
She got them through the panels and then to the pen where they stalled in the mouth. Time stood still, I patiently worked them in, and we lost one point. The run just felt great and we were working as a team. I haven’t had this feeling since running Tess and it’s nice to be in tune with Nan. She works her heart out for me and it was a wonderful feeling. She got 104 out of 110 and I have never been so happy in my life.
Part of this was also that I finally recovered (mostly) from the last two heart surgeries. The heart rate doubled and having oxygen to the brain is amazing. Having normal blood pressure is a great feeling too. I can see and think a lot clearer on the field and all I can I say is “WOW”
Maid was my second dog to run. She cast out nice and went wide then landed squarely behind the sheep. She stopped as I asked and had a gentle lift and her fetch was amazing. She was soft, supple and just willing to please. She brought the sheep strait to the cross and they ambled in. We had the turn for the second cross but one ewe decided she wanted to be next to me and not in the cross. I got the other three in the cross and one wanted to slip out the side near me.
So I am standing there, thinking, three in the cross and one wants to bolt out to my side and one ewe next to me…what is the plan? So I slowly gave Maid small comebye flanks until the one in the cross had turned back in correctly, then had Maid do some more small flank and inch the ewe off my leg, then around to the mouth of the cross. I got her tucked in and then pushed them all through. It was one of the toughest maneuvers that I have ever done and Maid was willing and soft and kept the sheep calm.
She had a nice first leg, holding the should pressure and I steadied her as needed and she had the sheep turn so tight, they scraped the side of the panel. She only lost a couple of points on the drive up to this point. As we approached the crossdrive panel, I saw we were low so I tried to call her off the pressure to do a big comebye to tuck them high. She did not, we slipped past the panel, and she was on the “drive mode”. I had to scold her to get her to do an away and I could see some tension in her body. We marched them back online and then did the last leg to the pen. He held the pressure at the pen like a champion and they went in. The extra long leg and missed panel cost us about 12 point or so and kicked us down to 12th place with a score of 93. Regardless of the error, she worked her heart out and was soft and willing for me. This partnership is going great and I just love this dog. Thanks again to Scott and Jenn Glen for selling this superstar to me.
The top two dogs of each day got to run in the Double Lift at the end of the day. Since Nan had won on this day, she was in. We drew up 2ndspot out of four dogs. Ian and Kate, me, Noelle and Lad and then Bob and Mojo.
Nan cast out o the comebye side and got the first set, a wee bit off at the first part but we got them through the panel at the drop point. I gave her a turn back and she turned back to go to the same spot. She crossed but did not go on the outrun. It was a long minute or so, until I was able to get her to look in the proper way, as she was sure the sheep were in the trailer area on the hill. Once I got her going the correct direction, she cast out properly on the away side and got behind the sheep. Meanwhile the first set had drifted to the away side, well past the drop point. The second sheep saw the first set and came down the hill and I was unable to do the dog leg to the fetch panels and so missed them.
We had four sheep per set so then Nan began to drive the flock of eight up the hill to the panel. She had a tidy drive, nice turn and excellent drive and I was determined not to miss the panels low as I did with Maid. So guess what I did? Yep, missed them high!
Putting the negative thought away, we had a nice line to the shed ring. We were to spilt the back half and then take the last four to the pen. Well, the eight sheep were a lot tougher to shed that the four sheep we had on Saturday. I tried to line them up….no success. I tried to move them about to make a hole…..no success. I tried to have Nan push on them to make a hole, again, no success. Then, I stood and waited until I saw a tiny hole, called Nan in and she came in like a jet. The sheep had no idea, the two sets split and the set she held, was so surprised that one ewe fell. She held the group and we worked them to the pen. We had pushed the other set towards the first drive panel but they decided to meander back and I saw a flash of brown out of my right eye.
This could be bad if they both joined them, my set saw them and wanted to go and I waggled the rope in their face to stop them. I got them to turn into the pen and we worked our hearts out and got them penned. It was one of the toughest runs and certainly one of the toughest shed that I ever have done. We landed in second place, only nine points behind Noelle and Lad. I was very happy with Nan and guess I will be working on the proper turn back for her. She usually does a great turn back but today she left it back at the farm
Ron had left earlier with the trailer and so I got a ride back with Janet. She had run Jude in Nursery where had struggled at the top. She was very patient with him and got the sheep to her feet, then had a drive and timed out at the pen. Jude is still young and needs more miles but he ran his heart out for her and soon he will be a fine trial dog. He trusted her when he could not see his sheep which is huge and she helped him when he needed help. This team will be a good team so be on the look out for them