This past weekend we went to Jan Thompson's place in Limestone, TN. It was absolutely gorgeous - the mountains were spectacular, and the view on her farm took my breath away. The trial was really nice -the food fabulous, and everything ran very smoothly.
Friday Nick and I set out for Ranch. The sheep were a bit challenging to hold, but we had a ball. He is SO in his element setting out, pushing out, and working the pens. Anything that involves us getting in there and bossing sheep around makes him ridiculously happy.
Then I ran Linc in Pro-Novice. What can I say? He ran out pretty well. He stopped once, I redirected him, and he landed beautifully behind his sheep. He then commenced to do... nothing. He was just in over his head - he had no idea what to do with sheep that didn't run in abject terror due to his mere presence. I finally managed to jigger him around enough to budge them, and they bolted to the set out, where he again couldn't figure out how to lift them. I think we'll spend some time just picking up sheep here and there and moving them around. I think we'll also spend some time just letting him grow up a bit more.
Saturday morning Nick and I rolled out of bed to run second. He laid down a beautiful run - better than I would have ever expected in just his third open trial. We had *really* nice lines, and got our first shed in a trial. It wasn't a perfect shed (he took a hard look at the wrong set of sheep), but it was a shed. The sheep liked him, and though he was a bit on his horse until about 1/3 of the way through his fetch he was listening well, and did absolutely everything I asked of him. The sheep were very hard to shed all weekend, so we wasted a bit of time in the shedding ring. When he came through and the judge called it I almost did "The Charleston" in the shedding ring. For reals.
We timed out, unfortunately, as the sheep were about halfway in the pen. That's what I get for not wearing a watch, eh? I was just sort of out there tiptoeing through the tulips (I was all la la la la la in my head). Hah! I'm told that with the pen points we would probably have placed. Anyway, we made all of our panels nicely, and it felt really nice. I was pleased to see Nick holding the pressure nicely - I actually didn't say too terribly much to him.
Sunday we ran next to last. We scored better this run than Saturday's actually, but it didn't feel very good. By this time the sheep were *very* heavy. It was a strange combination because they varied from either bolting or being heavy (within the same run). Anyway, on the cross-drive he showed some stress, but he dealt with it anyway. His normal tactic to deal with heavy sheep is to flop back and forth goosing and nudging as he goes. I was pleased to see him just hunker down and keep pushing (albeit somewhat slowly). We only missed the cross-drive panels, we got our pen, and then timed out as we were trying to shed a single. We got the last one on the head but couldn't hold her.
The course and sheep were challenging, and I am pretty happy with both of us. Nicky boy was pleased with himself. Then again he's *always* pleased with himself. Several people commented about how I "kept my cool" so well, and I was so relaxed (hahahahahaha) and level headed. All I could think was, "Does this mean things were going to hell in a hand basket and I didn't notice?" and "Me? Relaxed? If they only knew." Queen of throwing up on shoes = ME.
Now that THAT is out of the way, lets talk about careening down a mountain. CAREENING I'm telling you. Julie swears up and down that it's not careening if there's four lanes of highway and the speed limit is 65, but I swear on Zippy's bloomers that we were freaking CAREENING down the mountains at dusk in a stoopid minivan. So what happens when one is careening down a mountain at dusk in a minivan? All of one's friend's seem to want to call. All I could do was screech out "I CAN'T TALK I'M CAREEEEEEEENNNNNIIIIIING!!!!!". When I got home I had to beat the pucker marks out of my seat with a rubber hammer. From here on out I'm just going to close my eyes coming down the mountain. I might be dead but at least I won't see it coming.
Photo by Dan King