We're back home, and I had a ball in Lexington. Cheryl and David put on a really nice trial. I don't know if they read blogs or whatnot, but if so Thank You both so much. I felt very welcomed and comfortable, and I'm glad I went. The field and sheep were challenging, the food was stupid good, and it was a good trial. I got to scribe for Barbara Ray for a while - and she is an absolute blast. I learned a lot, and enjoyed my time with her. Oh, and my toes were infinitely happy to be in the truck too.
It was a good weekend. Nothing froze, I didn't throw up on my shoes, and we somehow managed to not completely humiliate ourselves. Completely being the operative term. Dan and Julie kept me fed, Robin kept me showered, and dang if there wasn't actually room in front of my crates for me to sleep - and I stayed warm and dry. I did try letting Ginger sleep with me the first night but there just wasn't room. She got exiled the second night and all was good.
I decided to go on and run Linc in Nursery on Friday. I managed to get him out there on his first run, but once he got there he was a bit in over his head. He got the sheep covered and down the field, and we retired. However, I was really pleased with his attitude and the fact that he trusted me to get him up there. I'd say the outrun was about 3x anything he'd ever done. Second run his outrun was better, but he came in tight and pushed the sheep backwards. He flopped around them but as he'd rattled them one was trying to break back off to the back of beyond. To make a long story short she ran way way way back into the woods and tall grass. I had a hard time calling Linc off - he was very serious about bringing her back.
They got her back. Eventually. I was somewhat mortified, but to his credit he was trying very hard. She had other ideas. Yeah, OK, so it wasn't exactly our shining moment. Debbie Crowder Pen Goddess was up in the pens and Shay McMullen was setting out - and they were both very kind about it. Sorry y'all.
Nick's runs were better than I expected. I had to give him a lot of redirects to get him out there the first day but he too trusted me to get him out there. I sent him right the first day and it was completely blind. About halfway around he stopped and looked at me like I'd lost my mind. I just kept nudging... and though he crossed over he got there. He lifted his sheep nice and straight actually. He just rolled them gently off, and fetched them nicely making the fetch panels after a few wiggles. We did struggle around the post... gotta work on that. Our fetches are losing points as we turn the post.
His drive away was good but things got a tad squirrelly on the cross drive as they bolted at the turn. He hesitated on the inside flank there and though he gave it to me it was a situation of trying to catch them at that point. We missed the cross drive panels, and brought them back to the pen. The pen was set up so that the human was on the pressure side, so we really struggled to get them in. Apparently we got them in the pen right as time ran out and didn't get our pen points. But he treated the sheep well... they liked him, and dang if he didn't trust me to get him out there.
The second day I sent him left and gave him one redirect (and he was going to get there I thought but I was hoping to kick him out a tad... that didn't work though because my perception was WAY off). Because he came in tight he bumped the sheep, who bolted up the hill. He got on his horse and caught them though - I have to give him credit. He's struggled with running sheep in the past, and I kept calling him in, and we finished the last 1/3 of the fetch nicely. As we turned the post, however, they started turning and fighting.
Nick's never really had experience with sheep facing him off, and I was pleased to see him trying to figure it out. He tried standing his ground (they'd bolt around him as the pressure was behind him). He tried flanking and flopping... that didn't work. He tried walking in... and that worked pretty well. After a hard fought battle we got them going on their drive.... and made the drive away panels. After the turn he refused my inside flank and yet again it was bolt time. We managed to catch them and bring them to the pen. During the fight back down the hill, though, I somehow managed to forget where the pen was.
I turned around and said, "Hey. Where's the pen??". I didn't think anyone heard me, actually, but I was told later that the peanut gallery was howling. Evidently I said it with a Short-Bus look on my face. What can I say? I was concentrating on getting the sheep TO the pen... wherever it was. LOL! Anyway, we timed out before we could get them in the pen.
Our scores sucked. They deserved to suck. Nonetheless I have to have goals... and perspective, right? There were so many things I was happy with - for my dogs AND myself. I feel like I'm growing as a handler, and I think my dogs are progressing too. Besides...we didn't have the lowest score either day (yeah, OK, so it was the best I could come up with). Lofty aspirations, right? Hah! I was happy - Nick made some panels here and there, and there was some really good work in there. Nick did everything I asked of him and he really, really tried for me. I think this trial will have stretched him and taught him that when I send him for sheep... no matter where we are they'll be there.
I may be somewhat incommunicado (blog-wise) over the next few weeks. Thursday I'm heading up to Jan Thompson's trial, and at some point over the next few weeks there'll be some lessons in there. I'm planning to run Linc at Rural Hill in PN on the 6th of November, and I may see if I can get on the Open waiting list depending on what happens with lessons. Mid-November the Crazies and I will be farm-sitting, and then I'm planning to get to the VBCA winter trial at Tom Forrester's place in December.