Thursday, July 16, 2009

Calgary Stampede

July 5 & 6, 2009 - Calgary, Alberta. The Calgary Stampede is known for being a cowboy extravaganza. They do everything big there and the purses in the competitions reflect it. In the dog trial, the winner gets $10,000. The whole $10,000. However, it isn't a field trial, but an arena time and points trial. (fastest dog to complete the course wins) The only other time I had been to the Calgary Stampede Stockdog Championships was in 2004. I had been told that better handlers than me had tried it and failed, but I was pretty sure that with my five year old Bob-dog, I could get it done. Almost did too. In the first round, we played it safe and just made sure we finished, but in the second round we sped it up and ended up with the fastest qualifying time ever. In the final round, with the crowd cheering in the Saddledome,Bob made one mistake and it cost us the 3 seconds we needed to win. Still, we got $4,000 for reserve champion, plus the $500 we made for winning the second round, and two new jackets.
I hadn't been back to the Stampede until this year. Bob is retired now and at ten, he moves alot slower than he did when he was a five year old. Pulling him out of retirement didn't seem wise, but his cousin Lad is only 4. Lad doesn't have the experience in an arena like Bob did. In fact, he's only been in one arena trial and he didn't find the sheep. However, I thought it might be fun to try it again. So I dusted off the old buckle Bob won me years ago in a different arena trial, and put it on my belt for good luck. Lad and I hitched a ride with Louanne Twa and Lisa Wright who were competing in their first Stampede.

Me and Lad, Louanne and Isla, and Lisa and Hope
Scott is a definite threat at the Stampede having won it the first two years they had it, but he stayed home this year. There is no parking on the grounds and that means there is no place for all our dogs - we live too far to commute each day so he stayed home and continued training his dogs for the National Finals.
With one exception, (the last time I was there) the sheep at the Stampede have a reputation for being no fun to play with. They are not dog broke and have never seen the inside of an arena. They can be very cranky and take it out on the dogs. However, even if they attack your dog, it is not allowed to grip. The Stampede committee has discussed this every year, and with the amount of people that watch this competition, they don't want them to witness a dog hanging off a sheep's nose. So, if you get a grumpy sheep, even if it is no fault of your dog's, you will likely be called off.
This year the sheep were just as angry to be there as usual. I drew up at the end of the day which was fortunate for me, because Louanne noticed how the dogs who were careful and tried to walk the sheep around the course of figure eight barrels, Y chute and pen, were rewarded with a head butt from the sheep and a whistle from the grip judge as the dog bit one back. The dogs who came in a little fast and kept the sheep moving, got more respect from them.
Lisa and Hope tried this method out early in the day, and although the sheep had no interest in challenging him, Hope got a little too excited and gripped anyway.

Lisa and Hope wait for the sheep to be put in the arena.
A couple of practices the week before with Lad had convinced me this might be my fate too.
Soon enough, it was time for us. We set up in the chalk circle and I sent him as soon as the sheep entered the arena. The jumbo-tron, flashed our names and the camera men stayed focused on Lad as he streaked down to the sheep.

Our names on the jumbo-tron while they filmed Laddie.
Lad took every whistle and the sheep obeyed his every move. It was almost like I was working old Bob again. When he got to the Y chute, I stopped whistling and started talking to him. This was where the sheep gave the dogs the most trouble but a few adjustments and Lad had them through. As he stood in the chute, pushing the sheep through, I flanked him to hurry them to the pen, but with the cheers and the announcer on the loudspeaker, he couldn't hear me. I asked him 3 times as loud as I could but he didn't move until I whistled to him. I ran to the pen and we stopped them in the mouth. I slowed everything down then and eased them in. At the close of the pen gate, our time was 2 minutes, 27 seconds.

Lad and I working the sheep into the pen
Good for second place behind Randy Dye and Sweep (a grandson of Scott's old Dan - who had won it once before). Donna Smith filmed the whole thing and put it on her blog.
Louanne and Isla ran shortly after and although she didn't get a pen, her dog listened as well as Lad and she had no trouble with the sheep.

Isla and the sheep make the turn around Louanne
They were tricky to get in that pen and there were only 19 who did on the first day. The next day there were even fewer pens. Anyone who got a second one was guaranteed to make the final round.
Lisa slowed it down in the second round and was rewarded with no grip from Hope, however, with no score the first day, she couldn't make it to the last round. Louanne had another good go and even tho Isla has a reputation for reprimanding sheep in an arena trial, she kept her mouth shut and made it to the pen. Disappointingly, time ran out before she could finish and two days without a pen kept her from moving on. By this time, I was convinced Lad wasn't going to get that pen. Perhaps there is something to positive and negative thinking because that is exactly what happened. However, he was once again good around the course and we were one of the fastest runs of those who didn't get a pen. They based it on what your time was as you completed the Y chute. With no mistakes, his chute time earned us a chance to play in the finals.

Lad's chute time advanced him to the finals
They took 15 dogs to the final round that night. The slowest dog ran first and the fastest ran last. Lad and I were 6th up to make our attempt. I could see from his first contact with the sheep, we were in trouble. All they wanted to do was run to the exhaust and every time he tried to stop them, they gave him dirty looks. As he was taking them around the barrels, you could tell that these sheep had obviously attacked a dog in a previous round and figured they could do it again. They turned to look at Lad but since he kept walking forward, they thought better of doing anything about it. He got them to the chute but he'd had enough with the challenging sheep and the excitement of the day. He launched one of his patented "chest bumps" and got called for a grip. Although Lad loves a fight and will grip if a sheep turns on him, when they are just hard to move he will throw himself at them with his mouth shut. Sometimes we get away with it, but this time we were called off.
We had done better than I expected and came away with $400 for our first round 2nd place and a new jacket for making it in the finals. Not bad. The winner was Pam Boring from Pink Mountain, BC who had the most exciting run. She and her dog, Mirk, ran last and moved those sheep so pretty. They closed the gate one second faster than the previous leader. The crowd and I went wild. Pam had the biggest grin on her face.

Pam Boring and Mirk enjoy their win at the Stampede -photo by Lisa Wright
Her first comment when she realized she had won was,
"This is so fun!"
Well said, Pam.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

One Tree Stockdog Trial

July 1 & 2, 2009 Brooks, Alberta: Ian and Jo Ann Zoerb hosted this trial to help with the complaints that, "There aren't enough trials in Alberta for us to qualify for the finals". Many thanks to them for doing it. It was a no frills trial with cheap entries, but still a little payback. It was well attended thanks to the dates - right in front of the Hilltop Trial and the Calgary Stampede and had 44 dogs in open each day. It was a tricky field with a dip parallel and just high of the crossdrive line that caused the fetch to be out of sight for a good 10 seconds plus. Randy Dye did the judging honors on the first day and Ian took over on the second. Once again, I'm sorry for the lack of photos (I took some, really I did but they were erased) but I will be back at this trial at the end of July and I will get some photos of the course then.
It's been so long since the trial, you will have to forgive my memory and I just have notes. I am working on a way to use my lap top in Canada - right now it is only set up to use in the US and when I am in Canada, I have to wait until I get back to my home computer to do updates - I know, excuses and no pictures, what's next?
On day one, Lad was 9th up. Scott had told me to give him a redirect on his outrun if he entered the coolie too straight. He ignored my whistle and when he came out of the dip, he was in danger of crossing over. Fortunately, he took my stop whistle immediately and bent out on the redirect to get behind the sheep correctly. He had a nice fetch and had no problems with the out of sight time. He did have a bad leader sheep and it gave us trouble on the crossdrive which was just on the edge of the dip. He worked his butt off keeping her in line but she was one of those that will keep you from winning. Lad himself helped us not win by not coming in on the shed when I first called him (the sheep wrapped around me and he's not one to save you). We timed out on the pen and ended up with a horrible 56.
Scott ran Drift next and had a really nice run with a final score of 83. I can't remember exact details but my notes say "Good run" He ended up 5th overall.
I know I'm awful but my notes on Maid say the same thing. Her score was a 91 and she finished in third place.
Roo was back to his old tricks and crossed over at the top so Scott used the opportunity to remind him that he wasn't tied to the post and ran down the field to emphasise the fact.
Hemp's outrun and lift were his usual success but the trouble I'd been having on the down was still plaguing us. He had no trouble being out of sight on the fetch, and he did manage to get a 75 which was good for 9th place and a half of a USBCHA point.
There were 19 dogs in the nursery class and they had 3 days of nursery.
Scott and Sleat battled on the outrun all three days but she was driving with alot more power. Don looked good every time he went to the post and took home a 3rd, and two firsts.
The second day of Open Maid had the difficult sheep. (we all have to take our turns) She actually handled them really well but took out her frustration when she goosed them on the third leg of the drive and was pointed for it. Her shed looked really nice and her final score was a 72.
Hemp was better the second day and although he scored only a little higher at a 78 - it helped him land a 6th place which gave him a few more points. He's up to 9 points now and I don't think it will be enough yet to get him into the national finals. He has two more times to the post at the end of July - so hopefully that will give him the remaining points he needs. He has, however, now qualified for the Canadian and Western Canadian Championships.
Roo's second run was considerably better. He needed some redirects on the outrun but then showed how good he could be around the course and how sheep really like him if he'd just settle down. His final score was a 76 which was good enough for 8th place.
Lad didn't need any help on his second outrun but did pull up a little short. Since I had sent him to the left (the right had a big pile of dirt that I decided would be better to avoid) and the sheep were pulling to the right it caused his lift to be off and he continued off line into the coolie and out of it. We fixed the line after that and he had a decent drive and a good shed. The sheep went once around the pen but then we got them in. His final score was a 79 and he pulled off a 5th place.
Drift had a good run around the course, perhaps even the winning run despite missing the drive panel just short on the turn but when he came in on the shed, he held the sheep but faded back. The judge didn't call it and when Scott went to reshed, he gripped and was called off.

Open Day One: (44 dogs)
1. Ian Zoerb and Peg
2. George Stambulic and Kate
3. Scott Glen and Maid
4. Bob Stephens and RMS Pat
5. Scott Glen and Drift
6. George Stambulic and Gyp
7., 8. Danae Frew and Pace
Pam Boring and Mirk (tie not broken)
9. Jennifer Glen and Hemp
10. Ian Zoerb and Sam

Open Day Two: (43 dogs)
1. Jo Ann Zoerb and Bryn
2. Norm Sommer and Jed
3. George Stambulic and Kate
4. Wendy Schmaltz and Fly
5. Jennifer Glen and Lad
6. Jennifer Glen and Hemp
7. Carol Nelson and Jess
8. Scott Glen and Roo
9. Randy Dye and Sweep
10. Thad Buckler and Cora

Nursery Day One: (19 dogs)
1. Danae Frew and Ross
2. Pam Boring and Ben
3. Scott Glen and Don
4. Jo Ann Zoerb and Soot

Nursery Day Two:
1. Scott Glen and Don
2. Ian Zoerb and Lexi
3. Norm Sommer and Tic
4. Jo Ann Zoerb and Soot

Nursery Day Three:
1. Scott Glen and Don
2. Ian Zoerb and Lexi
3. Norm Sommer and Tic
4. Ken Price and Bud

Monday, July 13, 2009

MacDonalds Ewesful Acres

June 27, 28, Longbranch, Washington
George and Sue MacDonald always put on a fun trial, loaded with hospitality. Their welcome to everyone was evident with the flag display of each country, state and province from all of the handler's and the judge's homes. The local handlers have a potluck dinner every year and include everyone. The food is beyond good and if you are a clam or oyster fan, you better put this trial on your calender next year. Unfortunately, through a series of errors most of the pictures on my camera from this trial and all of them from the next two were erased.
The MacDonalds often bring over judges from the UK and this year it was a pleasure to meet Cyril Roberts from Wales. He was enjoyable company and a competent judge.
This is a fun trial to go to but for some reason, I never seem to do any good there. It's very tricky and differs from the standard open trials. The first day had an outrun and lift and fetch on sheep set on grain. At the end of your fetch, there was a Maltese cross. To add to the trickiness of the cross, there was a rope attached to the center of the handler's quadrant and you were required to hold it while you maneuvered your sheep into the alley. However, the rope only extended to the end of the panels and no farther so the usual rules about moving out from your quadrant did not apply. Fortunately, Cyril did not leave you hanging about trying and trying to get your sheep through and running out your time. He gave you one attempt and if you missed it, you were to go on to the next leg and then on to your drive. He scored you similar to a panel and took points for the sheep missing the alley or escaping down each side. The drive was normal but the pen had a solid back side, making it difficult to convince the sheep to enter.
The sheep on the first day were brought in from an outside farm and were Barbados who were use to being handled by loose eyed dogs and not border collies. Many people felt that made them difficult and they did indeed chase off some dogs at the top as the afternoon wore on and they became grumpier. My dogs had no difficulty handling the sheep, in fact they handled them better than me. The problem I had with the sheep was that they were so indifferent to people that there was no way for you to help your dog at all. I have never met sheep so dead to people. No matter what you did, jumped or screamed at them, they didn't move unless the dog made them. Lad and I ran second on the first day and his outrun needed one redirect when he lost sight of them behind a small hill but he found them after that and had a beautiful lift and fetch. I kept him off of them not realizing that I couldn't help him when they got to the cross. Since I couldn't block my side, they just walked around me and Cyril told me to move on to the next leg. The situation repeated itself and I had to move on to the drive. Our drive was good but when we tried to get a pen, we ran into the same problems again. Lad put them in the mouth of the pen and when they tried to escape on my side, I blocked them with the door and that is where they sat for the rest of the run, wedged against the door of the pen. No amount of pleading from me would move them in. Lad had his side covered and when I tried to move him to my side, since it was the only way to convince the sheep to move, they would squirt around his other side. So no pen. Each leg of the Maltese cross was worth 10 points and I lost them all plus my pen points so I was down 30 points plus whatever I lost on the rest of the course.
Hemp's run went slightly better since he almost always has a perfect outrun and lift, but I continued my bad handling on the first leg of the cross. However, we did manage to get the sheep through the second leg. Hemp had never seen sheep go through an obstacle before so he quickly ran around to the other side and pushed them back the way they came. Fortunately, I stopped him and sent him back, just as they were trying to escape through the side and put them back the correct way. We lost some for the retreat but at least we had a few more points than zero. When we got to the pen, we repeated the same problems I had with Lad. Hemp had been listening so well around the course but when I got to that pen I was irritated with the sheep so I sped him up and tried to stuff them in. Trouble is, if you speed Hemp up, you lose the stop and we still didn't get them in the pen but I did manage to screw up his stop and it punished me in the next few runs I had with him. Just a note, the Maltese cross and pen WERE doable and several people did them, I just wasn't one of those who figured it out. Hemp's first run was a 72 and ended up in 19th place and Lad's run was a 66 in 29th place. There were 56 dogs to the post.
The second day of open switched sheep and courses. The sheep were the farm flock from Ewesful Acres and were Scottish Blackface and some Katahdin, Dorper crosses. They certainly knew the field but moved off people and I found it to be a pleasant change. The outrun was run diagonally on the field and the Maltese cross was still at the end of the fetch. The trick on this day was the crossdrive. It was pretty much blind. I never did get it right. Hemp had his usual perfect outrun and lift but since I had lost my stop, I fought with him the rest of the way. I made my sheep through the first leg of the cross
Hemp and I starting the Maltese Cross
but a brain fade made me give him the wrong flank to turn them through the second leg. I apparently thought I was doing the cross from the day before and didn't notice my mistake until I realized that there was no way for me to help him get the sheep through since I was in the correct quadrant but I had put him to the wrong leg of the cross. More points off. I sure did think I had that crossdrive until I got near the fetch panels and realized I was in front of them and I had seen earlier that the line went behind them.
I was more awake for Lad's run and I got both legs of the cross (finally!),

Lad and I getting the Maltese cross
but I still couldn't get that crossdrive. I moved my line back farther, which made the drive entirely blind but I still wasn't in the right place. Very frustrating.
Lad at the beginning of the difficult drive
In the end, Lad placed 6th with an 85 and Hemp was19th with a 77.
Many of the handlers were regular students of Scott's and many of the dogs were pups out of his Pleat and they all looked good, so I had a silver lining to my bad runs at this trial.
My traveling partners also did well. Lisa Wright and her young Hope (a son of Alasdair MacRae's Sweep) placed in the first half of the first day and almost made it to the top half on the second day.

Lisa and Hope correct a missed second leg of the Maltese cross
This was their first Open trial and they handled it like old hands. Louanne Twa and her little blue merle, Isla (a daughter of Bobby Dalziel's Spot) were 9th the first day and WON the second day! I was so proud of her, and not just a little glad that we have a young pup out of her and Lisa's Hope to train. (Syn)
Open Day One:
1. Maggi McClure WA Kep 95
2. Karen Child OR Rock 95 (ties broken on OLF)
3. Martha McHardy BC Rhaq 94
4. Diane Pagel WA Tess 91
5. Sandy Johnson WA Nan 89
6. Ken Johnson WA Joe 88
7. Karen Child OR Jim 85
8. Martha McHardy BC Ceri 83
9. Louanne Twa ALB Isla 81
10. Donna Donahue WA Kate 80 (a Pleat daughter)

Open Day Two:
1. Louanne Twa ALB Isla 92
2. Brian Nelson BC Pleat 92 tie broken by outwork (a son of Scott's Pleat)
3. Noelle Williams WA Gael 91
4. Noelle Williams WA Nap 88
5. Ruedi Birendheide BC Teak 86
6. Jenny Glen ALB Lad 85
7. Laura Vishoot OR Ripley 85
8. Karen Child OR Rock 83
9. Bob Hickman WA Mojo 83
10. Patricia Pedersen WA Jenny 82

Pro Novice: (42 to the post)
1. Karen Mohney WA Grit 81
2. Pamela Harding WA Caymus 80
3. Ruedi Birendheide BC Scot 70
4. Noelle Williams WA Max 65
5. Maggi McClure WA Johnny 64
6. Jim Cooper WA Amos 63
7. Becki Maloney WA Kirby 60 (a Pleat grandson)
8. Gael Gann WA Sweet 60
9. Karen Combs WA Buddy 55
10. Becki Maloney WA Yank 55

Ranch: (20 to the post)
1. Kent Bradley WA Ming 75
2. Bob Hickman WA Trooper 63
3. Jorgen Perrson OR Merckx 60
4. Suzanne Anaya CA Yoko 60 (great grandaughter of Scott's old Sweep!)
5. Josie Cowan BC Tib 60
6. Dallas Carbaugh WA Drift 58
7. John Hellemand BC Annie 58
8. Jeff Marroni WA Boots 57
9. Judy Norris WA Abby 56
10. Ruedi Birendheide BC Nel 56

Nursery 1: (14 dogs)
1. Noelle Williams WA Max 65
2. Jim Cooper WA Amos 63
3. Patricia Pedersen WA Tessa 53
4. Maggi McClure WA Gwen 50
5. Dee Marroni WA Q 49
6. Laura Vishoot OR Tucker 43
7. Becki Maloney WA Finn 43 (grandson of Pleat)
8. Jorgen Persson OR Merckx 35
9. Linda DeJong WA Pooka 33 (granddaughter of Pleat)
10. Jeff Marroni WA Carmen 31

Nursery 2: (15 dogs)
1. Jorgen Perrson OR Merckx 74
2. Patricia Pedersen WA Tessa 70
3. Jeff Marroni WA Carmen 67
4. Linda DeJong WA Pooka 59
5. Jim Cooper WA Amos 58
6. Laura Vishoot OR Tucker 50
7. Maggi McClure WA Gwen 26
8. Donna Donahue WA Taff 18
9. Kathleen Torkelson WA Emma RT
10. Karen Child OR Chance RT