Sunday's arlam rang and jolted me awake but I took my time getting up. I ran Jude in the Nursery as it was the first class and we had a harder time but worked through it. Janet will post about him in her blog as he belongs to her. The weather was hit and miss but generally was cool, perfect for sheep work but horrible for summer.
The Open course was a dog leg to a big tree, around it then back cockeyed to the fetch panels, and the drive was left but as the sheep approached the panel, they went out of sight and you hoped when they came out of the gulley, they were on. You could see them for the turn but they disappeared for half of the drive and if your lines were right, they passed through the middle of the fetch panels. Then you had to push the stubborn sheep up a steep hill to the last panels, a tight turn and then to a chute. It had one wing and you had one shot at it and then into the ring for a single.
Bevis Jordan was still judging and it would be his last day, and the last part of the day would be the Double Lift, which were the top two teams from each day. He did an excellent job again and was consistent all day.
Nan was my first dog and she ran out quickly and as she approached the top, I hit her with a log down so she stopped short. I walked her in for a point loss and I am sure she thought I was nuts but did it as the first dog leg was pretty much 90 degree away. She started them fine but the ewes began to trot down so a short come bye flank stopped that and cost us two points and she marched them to the tree and a very tight turn and when they got below the tree, they swung underneath it and then marched them down the line to my feet. We lost six for the bobble. She was on the muscle but had a fast but good turn, a slight wobble to the first panel, but made it through and she was really on the muscle then. I really had to rein her in but she marched them up the line, was a bit off and we didn’t march them through the fetch panels and lost time points here and there for the wobbles, for seven point loss. Her turn was fine and she marched them to the chute and I didn’t’ want to swung below the chute so I angled it so they would hit it dead on and turn inside as she was covering the backside. Nice in theory, but they jumped to one side, slithered by, I called her to cover to push them back but we missed it so had to go to the shed. The lower half of the ring was in direct line of the exhaust and if you tried to shed there, it would be fruitless as the sheep would run over your dog to the gate. I eased the ewes to the top side and set up the shed and the speed demon came in at the speed of light and soon, one surprised ewe was standing by herself. Nan and I have been really clicking the last two months since my heart surgeries and we just seem to be as one on the field. I am really enjoying running her, although most of the times, she is a powerhouse but has made realize what I desire in a trial dog. She seems to live to make me happy at trials and I swear he goal is to try to win for me. She was very pleased with herself after her run and soon, she got her belly rubs and words of happiness. After her run, she slept soundly next to me under the handler’s tent and she knew her job for the day was done!!
We had a short lunch break and back for the last half of Open. Maid ran second to last and she was wired. I think hearing me run other dogs made her antsy and she ran out all wired! I blew a hard down to stop her short and she sort of took it, got the lift to the side so I could start the dog leg drive then she decided that I was in the wrong and refused to listen to my big come bye flanks but gave me a bunch of short ones. I went to voice and drew out the “Cooooooommmmmmeee Bye” but to no avail and we missed the tree panel but I got the sheep near the base of the tree for the last half of the fetch. However, she did listen although a bit on the muscle. Nice turn and we got smoothed out on the drive, hit the panels and I gave her a come bye to start the drive. Her line and my line were obviously not in synch as she came out high out of the hollow and I had to scold her to stop and listen. I couldn’t get her to release to make the cross drive panel so we missed them. She was very pliable on the last leg, aside from her taking one wrong flank. I lined up the sheep better this time and missed one sneaky ewe. She trotted them smartly to shed ring but was tight as she prepared them to single so I shouted her out and the release of pressure settled the ewes in the upper part of the ring, and she came in crisp for a tidy shed. This run was one of the worse one we had in a long time so we will be working on communication and releasing the pressure as well as her trusting me. In time, we will have this to be a non-issue as the other components, we are tight as a team. I only had her for seven months and three of those months I was out for surgery or out of town for work, so in reality, I only have been working with her for three to four months. We are so close and soon we will be really clicking as a team. I enjoy running her as she does try hard for me and is a great dog that I adore.
I am really enjoying running my two Open dogs. They are powerhouses and made me step up on my handling skills and showing that the last cross drive panel is an area, that I need to figure out what I am doing wrong. Our shed and singles have been tough but doable and the outwork on my part, is mainly slowing them down, once they get a line. On the drives, I try only to give steadies and flanks only if needed, so setting up the line properly at first is key. Once I get the line at the post turn, it is mostly steady commands and using a lot less commands than before. Both girls have been very patient with me and very soft sometimes to run. People have commented since my heart surgeries that my whistles are a lot clearer and stronger (which makes me even appreciate my dogs more when they ran well when my whistles were horrible prior to the surgery). Handlers also commented how much more improved my handling has gotten, which is true since my heart rate and blood pressure were doubled! I have a lot more energy too!
After Maid’s run, I packed up my trailer as it was a long drive home on a Sunday evening and I was very tired form running three dogs and lack of sleep from the low battery incident. I got caught in a traffic jam but got home at a decent hour. Getty unpacked the trailer while I sat on the couch for a few minutes and next thing I knew, I was dead asleep at 8:00. He woke me up for dinner but I was too tired to eat. I was glad that I left when I did as if I had waited longer, I would be too tired to drive. I still have some limitations so have to be aware and getting too tired was one of them I felt bad that I could stay to help with the Double Lift but that would have put me over the edge.
It was a fantastic but tough trail hosted by George and Sue MacDonald. The field may not be huge but the layout is challenging and will humble the best handlers. The potluck is superb and the comrade is great.
Thirteen years ago, I stepped out on this field running Tess in Novice with Scott Glen as the judge. Sue convinced me to take a lesson from Scott the day prior and I realized that I was nowhere ready to run. My two runs, I retired Tess but I was hooked on trials. Over the course of that summer, Sue took me under her wing, taught me the basics, was my local mentor and got me hooked. Scott kept in touch with me and loved how Tess worked so she went to him for winter training. I owe my success to Sue/George and Scott and want to thank them for all they have done. This trial is my favorite trial and will always have a special spot in my heart. Thanks for being my friend and believing in me.