Friday, May 14, 2010

Bluegrass '10 Day Two

Sorry I didn't update last night. We went out to dinner and there was alot going on here at the trial so it got late.
Yesterday was a weird weather day. It was cool in the morning for quite a while but then got hot, very hot. Then a HUGE storm came in and poured crazy hard rain but cleared out about 20 minutes later and then it got humid and hot. If you look at the scores on the bluegrass website you will see the trend because the sheep reflected the weather.
Maid ran when it was still cool but the sheep are crazy in the morning (don't know which is worse, the crazy sheep in the morning or the heavy ones in the afternoon). Her lines weren't very good and the judges called a missed attempt as a shed. If you are not familiar with scoring, a missed attempt is usually 5 off your 10 point shed. If you then shed a good one on your next try, you will get away with a 5 point shed -as opposed to getting your missed attempt called as an actual shed and pointed as a bad one. Then you get only 1 point because it was so bad, even though it was actually a missed attempt. So that was what happened to Maid. Her shed got one point and they timed out on the pen. Their score was a 49 so they won't make it to the double lift on Sunday but their next run today could still give them a chance for day money.
Hemp ran after the storm in the heat. The sheep did not want to move. The 4 runs before us (with the exception of one older dog who got them off the top but didn't finish the drive) couldn't move them and the 3 runs behind me couldn't move them either. It was not a good time to run. Hemp had a good outrun and lift and then started to fly about behind his sheep so I gave him a steady and he laid down. (note to self and note to anyone else - DO NOT try to fix problems by training the day before a big trial - Hemp was running through his "there" at the last trial so I tried to fix it and ended up making him stop instead of "steady") This was a big mistake because once you have them moving you want to keep them moving. I was afraid he'd tire himself out before he got down the fetch so I thought I'd just settle him behind them but when he laid down the sheep started to graze and they didn't want to move again. I started out by whistling him up. After a few minutes, when that didn't work, I tried voice, asking him up. That didn't work so I finally started getting grumpy with him. I stressed that if he didn't get up he was going to get in alot of trouble. I thought about walking off but I've never made the walk of shame and I didn't plan on doing it on my strongest dog. We were losing ALOT of time trying to get the sheep re-lifted. One scribe told me that the Welsh judge, Hefin Jones, thought about calling me off, but when Hemp finally got them moving, he was impressed. As soon as I saw him shift them a little bit I started telling him what a good boy he was and kept him coming. I could NEVER do this with Hemp usually - he would lose his mind and race the sheep or attack them if I talked to him that much. It was dangerous but I couldn't let him lay down again. Just before the fetch panels I went back into regular mode with him and slowed him up and made the panels. The sheep like to jump over the fence to the handler's right and join the crowd for some reason so the first drive leg is dangerous. I chose to start the drive leg a little high so we could drift down onto the line and not get too close to the fence. It worked and Hemp had a great drive. He lost only 4 points from one judge and 3 points from the other. It was a very different Hemp though. He was a little fried mentally by that difficult fetch and he was actually very smooth and quiet through the drive. It allowed me to make tight turns and have good lines. When I got to the shedding ring, I knew I was about out of dog and didn't want to risk him in the heat. I decided to lay him down and see if I could maneuver a shed without having to move him much but I wasn't going to try to hard and if it didn't happen then so be it. We timed out in the shed. I was very happy with his try. It took alot of heart to move those sheep after he had stopped. (I wish he hadn't stopped in the first place but most dogs weren't moving them at that time of day anyway) He got a 64.
Kuro was the star of the day - he won the nursery class with an 84! He is now qualified for the national finals. He made all of his panels and his only problem was being a little low on the crossdrive but he did very well. We are proud of him! He definitely gets the "Most Improved" title from our kennel. I can't say enough about how good he was.
Jr. needed some help on his outrun and didn't do that well. He got a 50.
Rock, in the Pro-Novice class, retired on the drive but did fine leading up to it. We found out that the day before he had gotten a 7th place! Not bad for a dog who wasn't planning on going to the post at the start of this trip.
Lad ran early today. The sheep are very jumpy this morning and have been very difficult. I didn't think it would be too bad for us but we had a bad fetch line and although our drive lines were very good, the sheep were running and just when we thought we had the panel, they would jump around it. We missed both our drive panels and then in the shedding ring, they wouldn't let me or Lad near them. I had a big hole and called Lad in but he didn't come in fast enough and we had a missed attempt. I decided to call the run and retire. The score wasn't competitive anymore and the judges have 134 runs plus a double lift (plus they have been judging on the nursery field for 2 days) - I didn't want to waste any one's time. He had given his best shed in his last run and the judges didn't like it well enough to call it so I figured this wasn't getting any better. We are very sad as he likely doesn't have enough points to make it to the nationals this year either.
Maid runs later today, and Hemp has about a 10:30 draw tomorrow which is a good time to run. The sheep will be a little more settled than first thing in the morning and it should still be coolish. I will try to refocus and shake off the doldrums so that Hemp will have his best shot.