The trial was a success yesterday. The weather was not dumping rain, in fact, it was sunny and not windy, aside only during the lunch break. A couple of small rain showers during a couple of runs, but chilly but the weather held out. It's nice to be at a December trial and have no snow, dumping rain or gale force winds. The sheep were nice as they added more Katahdins and most of the runs were good. The handlers kept the dogs (for the most part) well off the sheep and the sheep trotted a nice pace through the course. Open was first, with a 350 yard outrun, and left hand drive and then pen and spilt. Since these sheep are hard to shed, I let the handlers take any two and it proved a lot more doable. I enjoy judging this trial and seeing how much better everyone gets from the last time I judged. I will talk about some of the runs but not all of them so if you don't see your name mention, don't take it personally. I will mention you next time!
Cindy Baker with her rescue, Brill, went out and laid down a screaming run. Not much to take off as she held a nice steady pace and got the shed just like a pro. She took a scared wee rescue Border Collie and turned him into a top Open dog. What a great story!
Brian Ricard with his new dog, Cody (Norm and Vicki Close) decided to show how you can take a pushy dog and gently guide the hair trigger ewes through the course. As I was talking to my scribe, saying if anyone can get a split, it would be Brian, then he waved his hand and had a text book split. I smiled like I planned it to happen that way. Thanks Brian for making me look good. His one set of missed panels was his only downfall to an otherwise perfect run. You could tell that Cody had tons of power but kept himself in check under Brian's guidance.
Tim and Nell sure can run a darn nice course and at the last second his sheep slid beside the fetch panels. Darn ewes! Linda and Pooka ran quite well and she can shed. She did the shed three times and finally Pooka held the shed but the fact, anyone can do three sheds is a miracle on these sheep. Pooka has a sweet way with her sheep and her sheep really like her. Again the missed panels didn't help. It seemed like the sheep would go through the panel, then at the last minutes scoot by on the side. No reason that I could see! Linda skillfully handled Pooka and made the run look easy. Another nice run to watch was Ursula and Pete. She got a hold of him on the fetch and he is a big, powerful dog and he handled him quite nicely throughout the course. Her drive was very nice, aside from the dratted missed panels, and she had one of the best post turns. Marched the sheep into the pen like a pro and was working on the shed when time ran out. I think she would have gotten the shed too! They are a nice team!
Jim with Amos and Sweep, had pretty much the same run and both of his dogs can be on the muscle but he handled them well. Jim is a quiet handler and if you don't watch out, he will kick your ass! He did his magic shed also! He loves his dogs and his dogs adore him! Zot worships the ground he walks on!
Bonnie and her Bob had a nice run. Again those missed panels cost her! her outwork was tremendous and he can work the sheep! This team is one dynamic team and one to watch for when she moves up to Open. Ron and Kass had a nice run and she is fairly new to PN. She is a young dog and ran quite well. Kathleen with Gael and Josh, decided to cinch down third and fourth place. She is a top contender in PN and you will see that she is always near the top, if not at the top in PN. She runs her dogs well and trained her Kelpie, Josh by herself and he is one nice kelpie with good feel to the sheep. Vicki with Skye and Blitz, ran quite well and placed back to back. Again the darned panels cost her! Carolyn and Brynn did quite well with nice outwork. The sheep started to fuss on the second drive panel. so she let everyone settle, then got it all back together again and marched them down the last leg and popped them into the pen. Bryn had her idea of what she wanted to do but Carolyn was patient and insisted she did as she was told and then it was nice recovery. A lot of dogs had issues in that area as the sheep wanted to break to the exhaust and a few went way offline, but Carolyn got it under control and prevented that. Judy and Britt had nice outwork and she is one pushy dog but quite nice. Again those missed panels cost her! She is a very nice dog. Nora ran Joe and Gin. Joe is very nice to the sheep and she had a bit of trouble at the darn second panels but otherwise, he was one of the dogs that the sheep really liked. Gin is her new dog and they are so close to making it as a team. This is a good match!
The ranch class had a decent outrun and a first leg then pen. By this time, the sheep were not happy and didn't want to play but these handlers stepped up to the plate and ran well. Cynthia Mills and Folly (kelpie) on a rerun, (the first run the setout dog "helped"), laid down a near perfect run. The sheep were really pulling on the drive but she was patient and held it and then stuffed them into the pen. Very excellent work and look for these two to be making future statements on the trial field. Cindy Baker, again with another rescue dog, Rook, laid down a nice run. Cynthia ran her kelpie, Krayken in Novice and had an assisted drive and got a score of 62 (?).
It was a nice day to be judging. There were a lot of good, controlled runs and you could see some of the top scores were only a 1/2 point spread. I did a non-compete run with Maid and she did quite well. She wanted to go on the away side on the first time than my come-bye at the turn at the first crossdrive panel but she did go the way I wanted her to go. On the turn at the cross panels, she wanted to go away as the sheep were starting to break and it would be the easy catch but she easily took the come-bye flank and tucked them in line and had a stunning shed. I gave her a wide comebye flank and she went like a champ. She settled the sheep in the ring and waited for me to set up the split. She flew in like Superman and before the sheep knew it was was a hold. They saw her and decided they should listen to her! She really tried hard for me and took the downs well especially on the outwork. We are getting better on each run. She tried hard for me at this trial and I was very happy with her.
We finished before dark and then they had fun runs. My brain was tired and soon I passed out at home, snuggled with my dogs.