Monday, August 10, 2009

Shaunavon Trial Day Two

The second day started out cool but you could feel the heat coming. The first class was Pro-Novice. Tuque gave her usual good outrun and came in deep behind the sheep. Yesterday I didn't want to stop her on her lift because I wasn't sure if she'd lift the very heavy sheep. She had proved that to be no problem so I decided that today we would make sure we had enough control to practice the stop at the end of her outrun. She did it beautifully but still lifted a little rough. I decided to enforce a pace instead of worrying about her line since we were not trying to win this trial but rather get her ready for the Nationals. We missed the fetch panels but for the greater good since she slowed her pace and allowed me to use less stops. Her speed was helpful around the post since the pull to the exhaust had become very strong.

Tuque turning the post
Our line to the first drive panel was off but we didn't have any of the back and forth weaving that we had to do the day before to line them out. They did line out but pushed hard to the left and got ahead of us just enough that we couldn't get them exactly on line. Tuque again felt the pressure of the panels and took a wrong flank but we sorted it out and still made it through. We took the crossdrive more carefully and I was able to keep her taking the right flanks all the way through the crossdrive panels. She took the turn flank tighter than I wanted (something to work on) but didn't cause too much damage. The third leg of the drive was to the shedding ring where the judge had asked us to settle the sheep and then bring them into the pen. The sheep took off running through the ring and towards the exhaust. Tuque took a wrong flank to stop them and I made her take the right one. Unfortunately this made her have to run as fast as possible to catch them before they left the field. When she got behind them I gave her a hard stop and she took it. The well meaning farm owner raced off on his quad to stop the sheep or exhaust them, I don't know, but he stopped right behind Tuque who was behind me about 30 yrds. I turned to face her and noticed the wind was in my face. I whistled to her to walk up but with the quad motor and the breeze going the wrong way, she couldn't hear me. I was afraid that the sheep were going to get around her because they were really leaning on her. The last thing she had heard was a hard stop so she stayed put. Fortunately,on my 3rd whistle she heard me and brought the sheep to the pen. We had a little struggle with them but she did a good job and got them in.

Tuque and I penning
It wasn't the best score in the world a 58, and she was a little bit pushier than the day before but she did alot of things well and I was happy with her. We know what we have to work on and we'll try to improve before next weekend's trial.
Louanne and Isla had a much better run in the Pro-Novice this time around and even without a pen and many stops on their outrun, they managed to pull off a 4th place.
By the time Hemp ran the heat had come up.

Notice the heat waves in the distance behind Hemp
Hemp made all his panels and was still working really well but it just didn't go in our favor. His shed was quick and good and we got to the pen but weren't able to finish it.

Hemp setting up the shed
His flanks were good and I didn't have to warn him about them so they were faster but his stops were not good enough. He would take an extra step and that would mess it up the pen. I was watching him in the heat and he seemed to be doing ok so I kept at it until he decided that he'd had enough of the lead sheep and cut her out. I was mad at him then because it is becoming a habit for him to ignore a sheep he doesn't like so I dropped the rope and made him get around her and then retired. He was still working better than he ever has so I wasn't all that upset.
Lad's run was ultimately a retire also. He was so good and worked his butt off for me. He didn't have any of the troubles of flanking on the sheep that he did the day before but he had a lead sheep that took him out of it. Around the course he showed her who was boss and even gave a good shed but at the pen she continuously left the group to jump over my rope. Lad listened and when I told him to go wide behind the pen to bring her back but not disturb the other 3 in the mouth, he did it. He also had to run around that pen several times and every time took his flank the way I asked and with plenty of energy so I was pleased that he was tolerating the heat too. Finally, we had 3 minutes left and I could see she wasn't going in. Lad had been so good and I didn't want to punish him by making him continuously regather her so I called him off and told him what a good boy he was.
It was a very difficult trial because of the sheep but an enjoyable one. I was proud of the dogs for giving it their all and in the end, the handlers that were doing the best were the ones who had the most experience with good dogs. Just what should win. I will get the open placings up when they are sent to me this week. I left before it was finished but I would be surprised if anyone beat Jo Anne Zoerb and her seasoned Brynn who is having a good year. They were in the lead with a 92.

Pro-Novice (unofficial) 17 dogs
1. Dale Montgomery and Jill
2. Peter Gonnet and Taff
3. Dale Montgomery and Ben
4. Louanne Twa and Isla
5. Peter Gonnet and Meg
6. Jennifer Glen and Tuque

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