Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Key Pen Sheepdog Trial on Memorial Day weekend

I was saddened to hear that this would be the last Key Pen trial for Ewefull Acres. I started at Sue and George’s fifteen years ago with Tess and their trial hold a special place in my heart. This was the first trial I ran at, the last trial for Tess and Scott and the start of many trials for my other dogs. Sue and George have the biggest hearts and go out of their way to make the new handlers feel wanted and are the biggest advocates for the new handlers. Plus their course may not have the biggest outrun certainly makes up for it in a very challenging course and wily sheep. Bind drives, chute on the last leg of the drive, two maltese cross at the end of the fetch and rolls and dips throughout the course to make the draw very tricky. Take anything for granted and you will get a spanking! You and your dog have to be working in a true partnership as well. One step off and you will miss something (how well do I know this!). They have been putting on trial for twenty five years!
I was going to pull my trailer but do to a bruised sternum and lack of parking, opted to take up the generous offer of staying in their spare trailer. It was close to the field, porta potty and had heat and electricity and I could bring the girls inside as well. So I loaded up the truck with Nan, Maid and Nikki, food and other items and went to work for half a day on Friday and then down to the trial. Traffic was typical for everyone and their brother who wanted to head out of town for the holiday so I cranked the country western on loud and sang off key the entire way down. Nan and Maid hid their head in the back passenger cab. Janet had pulled her new trailer and we hung out for most of the weekend. We went out for dinner and had fish sandwiches at a café on a dock and had a lovely view of the ocean.
Saturday came early and Maid was the first to run. The end of the fetch you had to put one or more of your three sheep through a Maltese Cross and then the drive was three panels, set in a box formation and then a single. Two fat ewes and a lamb were the guest for your nine minutes. The sheep had NO interest in going through the cross and you had to really work at that. Quite a few dogs did not get that or if they did, it was after many iterations of going around the cross. The sheep also had no desire to single and stuck together like teenagers on a first date. Norm Close was the judge and did a great job in sorting it all out.
Maid ran out well but was two steps extra on her down so that cost us and was not holing her flank on the fetch. She really sliced on the cross work but she soon saw the error of her ways and completed it. Drive was nice, wobbly in a few bits and missed a couple sheep on the panels and we timed out on the single. She was a bit too pushy so I resolved to fix her lax down on Sunday. She placed 17th out of about 53 dogs. But she has been trying to work with me and I have been lax about her downs and flanks so that is my homework with her.
Nan was super hyped up and ran out like a bullet. Nice outwork for a loss of 5 points and was really listening well. She slowed the sheep down at the cross and nailed both side for no points off and then marched them on the drive. She began to slice a little so we knocked a few point off for that. I had to take the sheep through the course very slow as a lamb had a bloody nose and dripping and he would not split in the ring. I did get a gap and called Nan in but she didn’t hold the lamb so we timed out. But I was happy with her and she placed 7th and got point for the Finals. She worked the group quite well and was patient with the lamb.
Later that day, Nikki, Nan and Maid got to play fetch and had a grand time. Nikki is fitting into the pack quite well and is very intense. She is super sweet and quite social as I found out as she visited most of the trailer folks in the arena and then went for a jaunt for the other camping folks in the woods. Sheesh!
Janet and I had the “first dinner” in her trailer and christened it with glasses of wine. Yummy dinner and it was nice to hang out with a good person. She is all class and loves her dogs. She ran Jude and Sava and held her own.
Sunday, they ran Nursery first so I slept in until 7:30 and that felt great. The open course was set up so that the drive was two panels but half of the first leg was blind and then you could see the sheep, they would be (hopefully) in the center of the panel and then a turn, then blind drive for half of the crossdrive. On the last half of the third leg you had to put the three sheep through a chute, one panel on one side and two on the other. The last leg was facing the exhaust so the ewes wanted to blow past the chute and go to the exhaust. Not to mention you had to get all of the sheep through the panels and most were willing to have two go through while the third one slipped to the side (how well do I know this!). Finally a single and to be done in nine minutes.
Nan was first up and ran out brilliantly, getting a perfect outrun, lift and fetch. Nice turn and held the line and little wobble on the drive but only lost 8 and then the chute. We kept getting two through the chute and the third ewe managed to slip past the opening every time. Finally the torture ended and we timed out. I was happy as she had a brilliant run up to that point. She got a 72, and we had lost 20 at the end due to me not getting the sheep through the chute. She was pretty tired by the end as she was sure we could go on and I kept insisting we go back to the darn chute.
I had a long break before Maid’s run as she was one of the last dogs to run. I hung out and got to chat with Anne Devine, who was the breeder of Sleat. She ran some nice dogs and did quite well. It rained off and on, got windy, then sunny and the weather god couldn’t make up their minds at all.
Then it decided to have dump rain during Maid’s run and I got totally soaked. I used mostly verbal downs for Maid and insisted she stop right then and there for this run. She listened quite well and on her drive, if she walked slow behind the sheep, I let her be and when she began to trot the sheep, I made her walk so by the end of the drive, she was doing well. She ran out deep, lifted nice, a bit of a bobble and only lost one point on her outwork. I held the rein on her drive and on the first turn, she swung them out a bit high and we corrected and help a nice line to the last panel and she put them through nicely and slowed way down to hit the chute dead on for a perfect score. She strolled them into the ring and we settled them and she came in like a rocket for her single. She lost 7 on her drive and lost a total of nine points for a score of 91.
I was so happy with her work and she came bouncing up to me with a huge grin and tail wagging. I knew we had a good score but didn’t know how good it was as Vicki Close was right after me and had a stunning run.
As the results lined up, we landed in first place in a 53 dog class and I was so happy. This was our first time we won and got some major points towards the Finals.
The top two runs from each day were to be in a Double Lift and we drew up third. You had two packets of sheep, with three in each packet and a standard Double Lift but in the shed, had to take three and put those in the pen and leave the other three out.
She ran out nice for her first set and dropped them off nicely at the drop point, only losing one point on her outrun. I hadn’t set her far enough to the side when I turned her back so she crossed so we lost 18 right there but she quickly did get the sheep and lost two on her fetch. Her drive was very nice and we only lost 8 for a slightly high, then correction. We fiddled in the shed as I was able to get 4 and 2 split so it took a bit before I got a three hold. She was getting tighter in the ring so I had to kick her out. Eight point and then as I was walking to the pen, the three ewes passed me and since I didn’t have the gate open, they slipped past it and we finally got them in the pen. We landed in third and I just have to work on my double lift with her.
All in all, I was quite happy how well she ran and how much she partnered up with me. Maid was exhausted that night and slept next to me and snored loudly all night. Nan was tired as well but Maid sure earned her spot on the bed. I was quite happy with them and just need to work on a few areas for homework.
I was tired as well and we went out for Mexican food and it was all I could do to stay awake during dinner. Normally I read when I go to bed but that night, we all crawled into bed and fell asleep within minutes. Monday was the Nursery, PN, Ranch and Novice runs.
I had entered Nikki in PN and it would be out first outing. I had gotten her in late November from Scott and we have been working to team up. Her whistles are the opposite of Maid and he style is zippy quick. I figured this would be a good training trial for us. The PN course was a standard course and you had five minutes.
Nikki ran out like a gazelle and went wide and deep. I hit her with a down at the top and she took it then wouldn’t take a flank on the first part of the fetch so I had to remind her to do that. Luckily for me, the sheep were still on the line so we only lost one point on the fetch and two for her outrun. She had a nice turn at the post and held a nice line. I used half whistles and voice on her. I soon learned that her flanks were at warp speed and I better be sure I was on. She tried to slice but a correction got her going proper again for the rest of the run. We just slipped a couple past the panel on the drive but other than that, it was very nice. She brought them to the pen and then covered her side to march them in and got none off for her efforts.
I was very happy on her run and by the end of the day, she landed in first place. I was happy as I had no idea on how well we would do. I did figure out that her flanks were quick and I had to be quick with a steady or down right after that. She was very happy after her run and gazed into my face with her big, gentle eyes and broad head and I told her that she was a good girl and she wanted to crawl in my lap for a snuggle. I got her to take over Nan’s spot when she retires and this looks like it will work out just fine.
I stuck around to watch Audrey’s and Diane Mitchell’s run. Both did well and Audrey got fourth place in ranch with Cate. Diane Mitchell ran Rob and Teine in Novice and got 48 points for each dog and did quite well. Her many hours of hard work has paid off. I think she is hooked now! I took my time in getting out as the traffic earlier was horrible due to everyone trying to get back early from vacation. It wasn’t that bad and I got home in daylight to play with all the dogs and have a root beer and watch the sunset. What a great way to end a fun weekend
Maid's First Place Towels

Nikki's First Place Towels
Nan on the fetch
 Nan doing the cross

Pretty purple flower in the field

Donna and Kate (11.5 yrs old and a Tess daughter)

The assistant Chief, Jack Russell Terriers

close up of Kate



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