Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Whistle for a Cure SDT Recap
This past weekend was one of new beginnings for the dogs and I. Nick and I both had a first - our first Open trial together, and it was Nick's Open debut! It was Linc's trialing debut in Pro-Novice. Surprisingly the fact that I was busier than a one-armed paper hanger working maybe accounted for the fact that I never even thought of throwing up on my shoes. I know, another first, right?
The trial field was great - Robin has spent weeks clearing out trees and brush, and has made it much more open and easier to see. The course wasn't terribly long - but it was challenging. The first day of Open a good bit of the fetch was blind, which was rather cool. The sheep were very good I thought - and though it was quite a mixture of hair sheep and wool sheep from two flocks, they worked pretty well for the most part while being a challenge as well. Nick and I traded off with Julie setting out and doing penwork along with the help from Denise, Peggy, Sandy and Dan. They were AWESOME - thank you guys! I think maybe I even prefer working up top - it's fun for me. It keeps me from obsessing and worrying, and it makes Nick happy.
We raised almost as much money this year as we did last year for Ovarian Cancer research as part of our friend Joan's team. She is such a special person that it's an honor to be a part of this and support not only the research but her too.
I'm not going to give a blow by blow of every step that was taken (I'm still too tired for that), but I'll give a decent recount if I can. Nick's first Open run he did everything I EVER asked of him and then some. He was sharp, thoughtful, listening well, and held it together really well. I was pleased to see him holding some of the lines on his own. His drive was a thing of beauty - only losing two points. Going into the shedding ring we'd only lost 12 or 13 pts. Unfortunately we wound up losing a ewe to the exhaust on a missed shed (totally my fault - I turned my back on her and she was GONE), and I retired because I couldn't see what was going on.
Dang. Shedding sure is a lot harder when you're doing it than when you're watching it. Oh yeah baby, I'm a darned good armchair shedder. In real time? Not so much. Yet. It's a lot harder to do the first time under the gun than it is just out in a pasture alone. When it's just me, my dog, the sheep, and no pressure we're like shedding fools. In the ring? Hah. For that matter there's a lot more pressure in general - there's a lot more to think about running in Open. There's a lot more that's expected and needed from the dog, and I cannot imagine how anyone could make breeding decisions when they've never gotten out of the novice classes. Open is a whole new ballgame. But really, that's another discussion. We're just at the beginning of our journey.
Our second run wasn't nearly as pretty - it took me until partly through the drive away to get ahold of Nick. By that point he had been setting out and pushing out the day before - and was quite full of himself. He buggered the sheep a bit starting his drive (and OK, on the fetch too) and was overflanking and winging around. I finally got his attention, and after that his drive was good. Fortunately the sheep were forgiving of his buggering and settled right down. I made a few novice flubs also - but we got around. We timed out in the shedding ring this time. Denise had given me some much appreciated advice (thank you Denise) after our shed the day before, so I was considering this as I went into the ring this time. I was disappointed to not have time to put it into action, but at least I was *thinking* about it. We got a score though! It wasn't a great score, but it WAS a score.
So YAY! We got a score at our first Open trial. That's not what I aspire to forever, but for the first one - with my first dog... I'm happy. Satisfied? No. Happy? Yes. I won't be satisfied to *just* get a score forever. But for today I'm floating.
Linc's Pro-Novice run was better than I expected. He gave me far more than I expected him to. I've been having a little trouble of late with him hesitating on his outruns. I was worried that this would be an issue... or that I might possibly find him hanging off a sheep on the way down the field. When he feels pressure from me he gets a little wiggy at the moment. I set him up to go left, and to my surprise he went like a champ.
He was a *tad* tight going out, but he kicked out and landed beautifully behind the sheep. He took his down whistle - dropped like a stone. The fetch was a tad off line (just barely missing the panels) but I finally convinced him to fix it after the panels. After the turn at the post there were two sheep bound and determined to head off towards the left. Two sheep were online going where I wanted, but I think he was afraid if he let off the pressure they would bolt up the hill. The two determined to go towards the goat yard were *really* determined, and I could see Linc getting wound tighter and tighter. I retired at that point - I felt like he was in way over his head. All in all I was more than pleased with him.
So it might not have been the most successful trial ever as far as scores go, but dang if my dogs and I didn't learn a lot. I was awful proud of both of them. Nick worked literally *all* weekend up top, and he held up physically and mentally - and still he wanted more.
Now we look ahead to the Lexington SDT in October. I missed the opening date of Jan Thompson's trial so won't be heading up there unfortunately. I'm disappointed, but maybe I should try paying attention. I'm tossing around the possibility of seeing if we can get in to run at Rural Hill since it's so close. That will probably be it for us and trials this year.
Later on I'll have a list of "Things I Learned Last Weekend".