August 8 & 9, 2009 Shaunavon Sask. Scott is away teaching a clinic in Washington this weekend so I decided to drive over to Saskatchewan and go to Jamie Florence's new trial. It's only about 5 hours away and since my buddy Louanne Twa was also going, I could stay in her big camper. It's a nice course with about a 400 yard outrun and although the handler turnout was small, I'm sure it will build. It is first class all the way because it had a nice amount of spectators with an announcer and many prizes for the winners. So all the dogs and I headed over yesterday in the nice cool weather. It threatened to rain all through the drive but never did so it was comfortable weather for traveling with the dogs. Today's weather started out cool but it cleared in the afternoon and warmed up quite a bit. The judge today was Louise Libenberg and her husband, Erik Versappen will judge tomorrow. The field is flat as a pancake and the sheep are range ewes from Dale Montgomery. I had been informed that they were from the same flock as they always use for the Maple Creek trial and they liked to run. I didn't mind that since Lad is good with running sheep, but we soon found out that these sheep didn't like to run at all. This morning's sheep were especially heavy but they got only a little bit better as the day progressed. Milton Scott started the day but when his young dog, Ben, tried to goose the sheep to speed them up at the fetch panels, he was called for a grip. Lad was next. I sent him to the left and he pulled up just a tad short. I whistled him over and he lifted them nicely. I had a hard time lining these sheep out on the fetch. He had them moving at a not so bad pace but they were tricky. You had to really get the dog up in their eye to have an influence on them but then it was inevitably too far and they would turn the other way. We did make the fetch panels but then I was stupid and turned the wrong way around the post. My only excuse was that both drive panels looked like the drive away panels and neither looked like a cross drive. I knew which way we were supposed to go (left) but we'd all been joking about the other way and obviously it got in my head. (thanks alot Norm Sommer!) I unwound the post and did a not so bad drive away, making the panels but the crossdrive was tricky and Lad wouldn't let go of the pressure to take my flanks (he was among many) so we were way high on the crossdrive and started for the shed. The judge wasn't going to call the shed or the single but she said she would tell you if it wasn't good enough and she wanted you to reshed. Lad didn't come in on my first call in and then had a weak hold on my second. I started for the pen but the judge wanted us to reshed. I decided it wasn't going to get any better and I retired.
My travel buddy, Louanne did not have an easy time of it with her Isla. She had a good outrun but pulled up short and her fetch line was way off to her left. Eventually, Isla decided she had had enough of these sheep and gripped and was called off.
Hemp ran later in the day when it was starting to get hot, however, I had never had him run so well! We have been working on improving and getting our act together and for today at least, it worked. I sent him to the left but he had seen something off to my right. I thought he'd kick out since he's usually a great outrunner but this time he didn't so I stopped him before he crossed over and gave him a redirect. (we lost 3 points for that) He had a perfect lift and I left him mostly alone on his fetch because he had ahold of them really well. There was a little bobble right in front of the panels but we still made them. He was really pacing himself well and stopping himself if he thought it was a little fast. He only lost 2 on the fetch. I never once had to tell him to slow down. Around the post and a nice drive line making the first panel. He had to fight with them a little but kept his cool (both of us did) and I didn't start panicking in front of the panel so we were able to fix it and make the turn. His crossdrive was a banana I'm afraid to say, but we did make the panels and turned to go to the shedding ring. We had one missed attempt that wasn't really a missed attempt. I had a leader shoot away and I thought I'd have one more follow her but she didn't and the leader ran out of the ring and Hemp came in thinking he should. I had to regroup and then had a nice shed but we lost 3 points. We then headed to the pen. Now, I have to say that Hemp and I have really been working on the shape of the pen flanks. He usually slices them and dashes in. This time, I took the time to warn him, and then give him the flanks, "NOW YOU! Come bye" He took them all perfectly but a little slow. Between the two of us, we once almost had them in but not quite. Speeding the flanks up would only have caused him to start slashing again and we wouldn't have made them anyway, so I took my time and made sure he did it right and we didn't get the pen but I think we did better for our long run. Obviously, we didn't get the single either. We ended up with a 75 which was very respectable. I was overjoyed with the way he worked! I think we are headed in the right direction.
I ran Tuque in the pro-novice for the first time today. I was a little worried that these sheep would be too heavy for her. She's not a weak dog but she and I are still getting used to eachother and she doesn't have alot of trial experience so I was afraid she might stall out. I'm happy to say she did not. I was also worried that she might not stop for me and I was prepared to enforce that by leaving the post but she didn't need it. She had a great outrun, a decent fetch (I only gave her a steady because I was afraid of her having trouble lifting the sheep so the lift was just a little rough) and then took every stop I gave her on the fetch. We had a little trouble figuring out where to be and missed the fetch panels by a hair. When we turned the post, I had a leader try to run to the exhaust and the other 3 hang back. Tuque was very good and listened to me while I helped her sort this out. We had a very wobbly drive away. It was all within a hair of the line but we had a difficult time lining them out. She also gave into the pressure right infront of the panels and took a wrong flank. She doesn't like to go comebye infront of the panels and tries to head the sheep. We got it fixed and made the panels. The crossdrive was difficult because of that leader sheep who tried to run away and leave the other's behind. Tuque did her best to stop her and then get the others and we made the panels but on the third leg, she was tired of this running leader and tried to let her go. She needed to open up her flank to include the bad ewe but she kept tightening up instead. I decided that it had gone on too long and I retired so I could show her how to handle the situation. I was very happy with her and how well she is listening (stopping) I have some things to work on this week but I now know what they are. We'll see if we can handle tomorrow any better but I will be prepared again to leave the post if she needs help or discipline.
The class was won by Peter Gonnet and his young Taff who was also a high placing dog in the open and is only 2years old. I'm sure he'll be a challenge to beat for quite some time.
I will probably not be able to post tomorrow since I will be driving home after the trial and will likely be quite late. I will get the posts up on Monday and try to get some pictures taken too.
Open: Day one 26 dogs (unofficial)
1. Dale Montgomery and Jill
2. Ian Zoerb and Peg
3. Ian Zoerb and Freckles
4., 5. Randy Dye and Sweep
Peter Gonnet and Taff (tie not broken)
6. Jennifer Glen and Hemp
7. Joanne Zoerb and Mik
8. 9. Dale Montgomery and Ben
Joanne Zoerb and Brynn (tie not broken)
10. Milton Scott and Moss
Pro-Novice- 21 dogs (unnofficial)
1. Peter Gonnet and Taff
2. Dale Montgomery and Ben
3. Dale Montgomery and Jill
4. Dirk Vansant
5. Peter Gonnet and Meg