Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dawson Creek

July 23, 24, 25, 2010- Dawson Creek, British Colombia.
Dennis and Jean Gellings host a trial every year. However, this is the first time I have been, and if I can at all manage it, it won't be the last. Scott decided to stay home and help our young guardian dog watch the place and protect it from an ill behaved neighbor dog who did alot of damage to our flock while we were away on our spring trip. So I jumped in with Louanne Twa and Lisa Wright and we drove North. Very North. More North than I have ever been. Dawson Creek, BC has the distinction of being the start of the Alaska highway. The Mile zero marker is right down town.

Lisa and I brave the traffic to get a picture in front of Mile zero of the Alaska highway
The Gellings live only a couple of miles out of town but it seems farther with their cute house tucked away in the woods and the beautiful view of the trial from their back deck. The handler's dinner on Friday night was courtesy of Dennis and Jan and in addition to the wild boar their son smoked for us, there was also plenty of side dishes and at least 5 desserts! After the dinner they lit the fire pit and we all enjoyed the guitar and banjo picking accompanied by Jean's singing.
OK - now the trial it's self. Difficult. Especially since I have been going through a slump this year. The dogs seem to be running well enough but we either aren't gelling or are getting bad breaks. Either way, we haven't been winning or getting points this year. Scott and I decided that other than Soldier Hollow, which it's too late to draw out of, that this would be my last trial for the year. I need to shake this monkey off my back. So I didn't expect much fromme and the dogs this trial, and on the first day, I didn't get it. The field is a dramatic Y with a dugout with water in it breaking the field up. There were also lots of trees which drew hard for the sheep. They had learned that if they got to the trees, they would lose the dogs and since they were still feeding their lambs, they wanted very badly to get the day over so they could get back to them. Bobby Henderson from Scotland was our judge and got the runs sorted each day. The first day we sent to the left of the Y. The dogs could not see their sheep from the post and Hemp went wide. Very wide to the right of the Y. He was not going to get to the sheep if he went that way because of the dugout. I called him back as far as I could without getting a DQ for bringing him to my feet, and then hit him with a lie down to see if he'd look in the right direction. He looked behind him when I stopped him so I called him off.
Lad drew one of the uncooperative ewes. There were about 4 or 5 sets that had a Suffolk ewe that just didn't want to be there and would lag and lean to the side while her other 3 companions kept running for the trees. Lad was very flexible and went back and forth between her and her running friends to put them all together but he often had to head the three to get them back to the lagger. We got around and penned them but the most important part of the run was that Laddie got the shed! We have been struggling with it because he has been getting worse and worse. He starts to come in and then just regathers. We have been working on it since the shedding clinic and I'm proud to say it paid off. Unfortunately, we lost alot of points with the difficult ewe and only got a 64 for our trouble.
Lisa's Hope also drew a problem ewe who made a mad dash for perceived freedom at the dugout and got them no score. She also ran her young Kate dog in her first nursery and the run started out decent. When Kate hesitated on a flank as the sheep were turning the post, they took advantage of that small misstep and reached the trees and the end of the run leaving Kate with no score. Happily, Louanne carried the banner for our little group and got a 71 with Isla with no shed and took 5th place with Rob with a 77!
The next morning they changed the course and put our outrun to the right of the Y. There was a small band of trees to the right but if the dogs got around them they were doing fine. Laddie needed one redirect and didn't take it on the fly so I had to stop him and give him another. He bent fine then and got to his sheep. There was a moment where he was pushing a little hard on the fetch and might have started a problem with another ewe but I backed him off and we treated her well around the rest of the course and she behaved. I missed the crossdrive high but we again penned and had another good shed! Yea, Laddie! This day we earned a much more respectable 81 which put him in 5th place for the day (no points, which we needed for the finals- oh, well) and only 2 points out of the double lift.
Hemp's day went much better. He also needed a redirect but he took it on the fly and listened on the fetch and drive so we made all our panels. Hemp's albatross has always been his penning but right now his at hand work is particularly bad. We have been working on it and at the pen I saw improvements but still, he made it harder then it should have been and in the shed, it is hard to maneuver the sheep around with him slicing but we got it done. He got an 84 which put him in second place right behind Kenny Price and Creed (a dog that I raised and Scott started and sold to Ken). The top 3 each day went to the double lift so we were going to get to play the next day!
Unfortunately, Louanne's two dogs both did not agree with the lift on the new outrun and lost them in the trees. Lisa managed to draw another difficult ewe again with Hope and didn't get a score but in the Nursery/ProNovice, Kate laid down a quiet run that the sheep relaxed into and they won the class!
The next morning I looked at the turn back and thought "Uh, Oh" Too much of a bend for Hemp's experience. They had one set at each end of the top of the Y. I really didn't think I was going to be able to bend him enough, especially since the turn back was on the blind side that I was unable to get him to the first day. He did well on the right side first outrun but overran at the top. Then it became the fetch of no downs. I missed the fetch gates because of this but still managed to get him in a good spot for a turn back. His first turn back he went out but came in about 100yrds later because he couldn't see the sheep. He crossed over but went back again and this time although he didn't bend at first, he did go out to the left and got to his sheep. The second fetch of no stops continued but I managed to make the panels this time.

Hemp rapidly bringing in his second set
Because the trees were close to the post, they had us turn a different post a few yards in front of us. Hemp's pushiness made this a little difficult as I was unable to ease the sheep around and I lost one around the front post.

Not a neat turn around the post
We carried on to the drive with no stops. Hemp was having a wonderful time and the little bit of heat in the air was not bothering him at all We made the panels but I won't vouch for the lines.

Hemp pushing hard on the drive away
We had a super neat turn around the crossdrive panels but I have to give that to Providence as I was about to flank Hemp when I saw them go through the panels at this tight angle and thought "Neat turn!". So now we were in the shedding ring and Hemp still had plenty left. He had one double lift last year where he had no idea what we were doing in the International shed so that is why I used him in the shedding clinic on his only other International shed. This was still pretty new to him. I figured I use it as a practice, right? This time though, I understood alot more about what I was doing. Hemp made it difficult by not staying out so whenever I flanked him to hold the sheep he pushed on them.

Hemp "helping" me on the International shed
I started laying him down and using him very little. When he did stay off, we had a nice flow. I'm afraid our first attempt was a little wild but after the regather, our second one went much better. We got close and Hemp made some smart saves which showed me that if we could get this at hand work under control, we might actually be able to do this.

A good save by Hemp
I got down to 3 sheep and saw the shed but with Hemp working against me, it didn't happen.

Keeping Hemp laying down so I could keep the sheep calm and still
Still, I was pleased with myself and I am more determined to get Hemp's problems fixed.
Congratulations to Ken Price and Creed - the winners!

Open Day One
1. Dennis Gellings and Jake 88
2. Jean Gellings and Star 84
3. Dennis Gellings and Jan 83
4. Carol Nelson and Jess 79
5. Louanne Twa and Rob 77
6. Bob Stephens and Pete 77
7. Ken Price and Creed 72
8. Louanne Twa and Isla 71
9. Wendy Schmaltz and Fly 65
10. Jennifer Glen and Lad 64

Open Day Two
1. Ken Price and Creed 85
2. Jennifer Glen and Hemp 84
3. Bob Stephens and Pat 83
4. Wendy Schmaltz and Fly 82
5. Jennifer Glen and Lad 81
6. Dennis Gellings and Jake 79
7. Jennifer L'Arrivee and Spot 75
8. Bob Stephens and Pete 73
9. Wendy Schmaltz and Gin 70
10. Dennis Gellings and Jan 70

Double Lift
1. Ken Price and Creed
2. Carol Nelson and Jess
3. Bob Stephens and Pat
4. Jean Gellings and Star
5. Dennis Gellings and Jake
6. Jennifer Glen and Hemp

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