Monday, July 30, 2012

Hilltop Trial 2012 Day Four!

Set out crew and hosts, Chris, Wendy Schmaltz and employees
Oh, boy we are just wiped out! But no matter how exhausted I feel, it can't be anything compared to how Wendy and Chris Schmaltz feel!  They have worked so hard and were wonderful hosts.  People should really think about coming to this trial next year.  It was a blast!
We started the morning with a nice breeze and the nursery classes, although now down to 7 dogs, did well.  Norm Close won the day with Craig.  Craig got better every day and should look to be a contender at the Nationals this year.  Overall nursery was won by Scott and Bliss (who was the only nursery dog to get 4 scores)  and reserve was Norm and Craig.
We had a little bit of cool left over for the double lift but it didn't last long.
Chis Jobe started our day off with a very nice turn back and a great shed.  However, when she got down to one sheep, her dog Fly gripped off.
Next up was Laddie and I.  Laddie moved just a little bit on his turn back instead of going straight back and ended up with a little crossover before going back nicely.  I was quite proud of how he handled the sheep around the course.  It was getting a little warm and normally the double lift drives are difficult for him but he pushed them so easily and flanked so agreeably that I enjoyed going around the course.  Our shed was a little close to the edge of the ring but I thought I had a plan and it didn't pay off.  I got down to 2 sheep before my time ran out.
Joanne Zoerb ran after me with her just turned 4 year old Brae.  It was rough but they were getting it done (nice turnback though) until Brae gripped off.
Dale Montgomery had a winner going until he gripped off and Norm Sommer was having trouble pushing the hot and heavy sheep around before he gripped off.
It was beginning to look like we weren't going to have anymore scores when Peter Gonnett and Taff walked up to the post.  Taff kept the sheep moving and never gave them a chance to think about slowing down.  They had a great shed but just couldn't get the ewes to look in the pen even though they had over 6 minutes to get it done.  In the end they had to go off with no pen.
That run was followed up by Ian and and his white headed Sam.  Sam doesn't grip and so Ian didn't have to guard against it and just let Sam plow on.  The sheep moved well off of him as the temperature climbed into the 90F area.  Ian and Sam got a rough shed and proudly got the pen.
Scott then ran Don.  Donnie had sheep running off line at the start of his fetch but then got them back on and did a fancy swallow tail turn back for his second set.  His crossdrive got a little low at one point but then looked good going into the shed.  His shed was quick and clean and they had a good pen.
Hemp ran next but the heat got to him.  His turn back wasn't clean but he did make all his panels which was getting hard for me because he was sliding through his stops like he has been known to do in the heat.  In the shedding ring, I got quite a few sheep off but then because of the heat, he just wouldn't back off the sheep and the remaining few just didn't feel like they had enough open space to leave the group.  We had time called with no shed.
June ran last but she gripped off shortly after her lift.
In the end  Scott and Don took home first with Peter and Taff in second.  Ian and Sam were third and me and Laddie were fourth with Hemp in fifth.  The other five dogs gripped off.
We held a driving competition after the double lift and Norm Sommer and Lexi won it with  Wendy and Floss in second with a very nice line.
We will definitely be coming back to this trial next year!
The end!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hilltop trial Day 3

Today's weather was much nicer.  It was warm but a breeze kept it comfortable.  The breeze did cause a little bit of trouble on the course but it wasn't too bad. They moved the course around so we could run it from a different angle and have a right hand outrun today.  Oddly, it made the drive away almost as difficult as the previous day's crossdrive especially in the nursery classes.
The sheep had improved alot by today so there were many more finished runs.
Scott was judging the open today so Don and June got the day off.
Lad and Hemp performed admirably and although they both missed their fetch panels, they did both get their shed and pen.  Yes, you heard me, Hemp got another pen!  He ran well today but was a little pushy on the outwork.   The boys performed well enough that they both will be running in the double lift tomorrow!
Wynn had a good run again but didn't get his pen.
Bliss did get her pen and should be near the top of her class but they won't be posting the scores until tomorrow.
Bliss is still in first for the overall nursery with Louanne and Mack right behind her.
We also had a silent gather today. Scott and Don won it.  Although Hemp's line was the best of everyone's, he brought them too fast for the judge's taste.
Double lift tomorrow judged by Norm Close and a driving competition
I am off to the potluck!

Open 3 (26 dogs)
1. Dale Montgomery and Ben 82
2. Peter Gonnett and Taff 80
3. Chris Jobe and Gwen 78
4.Jennifer Glen and Hemp 77
5. Joanne Zoerb and Brae 77
6. Jennifer Glen and Lad 77
7. Randy Dye and Tuck 77
8. Randy Dye and Sweep 74
9. Norm Sommer and Lexie 72
10. Joanne Zoerb and Soot 72

Double lift qualifiers (not a running order)
1. Scott Glen and Don
2. Norm Sommer and Lexie
3. Ian Zoerb and Sam
4. Scott Glen and June
5. Dale Montgomery and Ben
6. Peter Gonnett and Taff
7. Jennifer Glen and Hemp
8. Chris Jobe and Fly
9. Jennifer Glen and Lad
10. Joanne Zoerb and Brae

A very helpful guardian dog pointed the way to the drive panels. (photo by Louanne Twa)

Hemp coming through in the shed (photo by Louanne Twa)
HEMP PENS!! (photo by Louanne Twa)
Scott prepares to send Wynn in the nursery
Wynn on the fetch
Local farm kids help in set out (photo by Louanne Twa)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hilltop Trial 2012 - day two

Ugg.  Today was hot.  We were melting. 90F but thankgoodness not much humidity.  I couldn't even summon the energy to take pictures (especially since someone's dog kept me up last night and I was sleepy).
The sheep were better today but that's comparative to yesterday and no one was done any favors by running in the evening.  They added a minute to the time and more pens were made today but there was only one person to make the dreaded crossdrive panel and that was Wendy Schmaltz. (I'm sure she cheated).  Peter welched on his pay out and Wendy went home with no extra money.
Scott and Donnie looked good again today and again won it.
Norm Sommer and Lexi looked good again today and again got second place.
This meant that whoever was third and fourth today were going to qualify for the double lift since Lexi and Don qualified on the first day too.
Third place went to Ian and Sam.  Sam kept things very quiet today and looked really good going around the course.
Fourth place went to June and Scott (they tied Dale Montgomery and Ben but won on outwork).  June had a nice run but no pen- very close though.
Hemp ran in the windy time of day and although his outrun, lift and the start of his fetch were good, the bottom of his fetch and his drive were pretty bad. Although his pace was good, he kept looking at me for direction but didn't hear most of what I told him.  However, he had a good shed and most importantly A GOOD PEN!!!  If you have been following Hemp's progress you will know that the only time he gets a pen is if the sheep run right into it. Today, it was a hard pen but he had nice flanks and was very calm and his run was even when it was hot out which is usually when he can't remember how to stop.  I was blown away by him and so proud.  Right now he is in second place in the cumulative scores for the double lift.  They only take your top 2 scores so he has a good chance if no one blows him out of the water tomorrow. (top 4 cumulative go to the double lift)
Laddie ran 3rd to last and had a terrible draw.  There wasn't much good left in that set out pen by the time he ran so the run was pretty bad.  He drew a skinny old running ewe and a dopey, ears hanging down, old lagging ewe who would often just wander off away from the others.  Lad had to move back and forth between the two the whole run. He did a nice job of handling it even so and barely managed to get his shed before his time was called.
Wynn ran in the morning and had a very nice run winning both the nursery and pro novice (a class within a class) and Bliss was second in the nursery and third in the pro novice.  Those two are unlikely to have to face anything this difficult in the Nursery Nationals so it's nice that they proved that they could do it on these sheep.
Tomorrow Scott judges so pray for me!

Open 2 (26 dogs)
1. Scott Glen and Don 79
2. Norm Sommer and Lexi 74
3. Ian Zoerb and Sam 73
4. Scott Glen and June 70
5. Dale Montgomery and Ben 70
6. Chris Jobe and Fly 69
7. Joanne Zoerb and Soot 64
8. Jennifer Glen and Hemp 63
9., 10. (tie not broken)
Joanne Zoerb and Mick 62
Jennifer Glen and Lad 62

Pro Novice 1 (12 dogs)
1. Stormy Winters and Kate 51
2. Scott Glen and Nan 44

 Pro Novice 2 (12 dogs)
1. Scott Glen and Wynn 59
2. Ian Zoerb and Zen 59
3. Scott Glen and Bliss 55
4. Chris Jobe and Gwen 54
5. Stormy Winters and Kate 51
Overall Pro Novice winner: Stormy Winters and Kate

Nursery 1 (11 dogs)
1. Scott Glen and Bliss 33
2. Louanne Twa and Mack 26

Nursery 2 (12 dogs)
1. Scott Glen and Wynn 59
2. Scott Glen and Bliss 55
3. George Stambulic and Nan 50

Friday, July 27, 2012

Hilltop Trial 2012

We are now in the deep dark prairies of Saskatchewan at Wendy and Chris Schmaltz's Hilltop trial.  In the past, the trial was held in Alberta but after the Schmaltzs moved, they decided to take the trial with them.  I suppose you could have sat home and waited for a glimpse of the border collies that were promised to be in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, but you would have missed out on a trial full of chaos that descended into a madness that was actually quite fun.
The Hilltop trial has never been known for easy sheep but this year "tops" them all.  Range sheep of a Rambouilett type ate us for lunch.  There was not a single dog to handle them with finesse although, Donnie managed to win it, it wasn't his prettiest run.  Dog after dog missed the crossdrive panels so a couple of people offered Peter Gonnett's money as a bounty on the dog who could get the sheep through them.  In the nursery, Wendy Schmaltz did manage it, but it was determined that there was a loophole in the fine print that declared that Peter did not have to pay out his $50 if the run did not end up with a score.  And indeed, shortly after making the panels, Wendy's nursery dog gripped off.
The other difficulty in a trial full of difficulties, was the pen.  Not a single open dog made the pen.  Wendy's $50 was now offered up (it really didn't matter if the owner of the money agreed) to whoever could get the sheep in the  pen.  Nicknamed "The Pen Of Death" (there was also a "valley of death") because of the cow skull tied to the side, dog after dog could not get them in, UNTIL, Ian Zoerb defied death and put those sheep in (with maybe a one point pen - but damn it!  he did it).  Wendy has been informed that she now owes Ian $50.  As you can tell, by late afternoon we had all become quite slap-happy and there wasn't even any alcohol involved!
June did a nice job and kept her teeth to herself which wasn't easy with these sheep.  She made her fetch and drive away panels, but no shed and ended up in 6th place.
Laddie had one of the worst runs of his career, but did get a nice shed and to be fair to Lad, it was my handling that messed up most of it. (but it was his bad outrunning on the difficult hills that started it)
As I said, Donnie handled the sheep the best but it was no walk in the park.
Hemp had one of his nicest runs.  A perfect outrun that I lost sight of him on, but no worries, he came up in the right place and lifted them just fine.  When he went into the valley of death, I just kept blowing the occasional walk up and he ended up only slightly off line - a rarity in this trial.  He made 2 of the 3 panels and stupid me did not take a cheap shed.  I waited on a good one, ran out of time and ended up in 5th place.
Top 2 each day go to the finals on monday and then top 4 cumulative. We are also having a driving competition and a silent gather on monday.
The poor nursery dogs ran at the end of the day when the dregs of the sheep were all that was left.  It was a slaughter.  Wynn was doing a nice job and I thought he had it in the bag until he got frustrated and gripped on the crossdrive.
Bliss had to fight for her life from the very beginning.  You know you are in trouble when a sheep leaves the flock to attack your dog on the lift.  It was very confusing for Bliss but she battled on even though the ewe never gave up.  They ran out of time on the third leg of the drive and after the previous dog was unable to exhaust Bliss' sheep, they called in an open dog who battled the ewe for a good 15 minutes while she continued to slam the dog into the ground as her 3 friends cheered her on.  It was determined to mark her to prevent anyone from being cursed by her tomorrow.
There were no nursery scores posted on the score board  today and I couldn't even begin to guess who the winners were.  It had alot to do with the last man standing but other than that I have no idea. (a personal note, Louanne Twa and Mack hung in there long enough to get Louanne's hand on the pen rope)
So you are sitting at home, saying to yourself, "I'm glad I didn't go."  But I say, are you glad that you didn't stand with the brave and fight the enemy that is the sheep at this trial?  Next time, come.  Be counted and prove yourself.
Today's judge was Dale Montgomery - tomorrow is Corey Perry - Sunday will be Scott, ugg (that's not the advantage you might think it will be for me) and Monday's double lift will be Norm Close.

Open 1 (27 dogs)
1. Scott Glen and Don
2. Norm Sommer and Lexi
3. George Stambulic and Kate
4. Wendy Schmaltz and Gin
5. Jennifer Glen and Hemp

Scott prepares to send Donnie
Don quelling a rebellion on the turn onto the crossdrive

Wynn controlling a difficult ewe on the fetch
Wynn making his drive panels shortly before the "incident"
All I can say is thank goodness Wendy didn't find a real gun laying out in that field
Miss Bliss being pummelled on the fetch
Bliss - happy to have made it out alive

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wild Rose 2012

It's been a week since we went to the Wild Rose trial up in Bowden, Alberta.  With this trial being the last stop before we got home (after an absence of almost 10 weeks),  the head cold I brought home with me, and compounded by not getting any good pictures, I neglected to report on it.  I didn't want to let it go without remarking upon it because this is a great trial.  It's one of my favorites and anyone, planning on attending the Calgary Stampede immediately following, should make a point to get to this trial.
This year, the setting was done on horseback and the sheep were provided by Louanne Twa.  Other than one evil black ewe (who I seriously believe is the same one who attacked my young Ford a couple of months ago) that tried to chase an open dog off and succeeded with a nursery dog, the sheep were good.
Loren Landry from BC was the judge for the pro novice, open and nursery, and Wendy Schmaltz did the novice and intermediate classes.  The weather stayed perfect for a dog trial - a little sun, but not too hot.  The sheep were Dorper/Katahdin crosses and were set by horseback, all weekend, by the hard working Chris Schmaltz. 
Jimmy Walker's dog Soot kicked all our butts both days in the nursery classes.  Scott was second on the first day with Bliss, and 4th with Wynn but neither dog placed on the second day.  We were looking forward to seeing Lisa Wright's Ben.  Ben is a son of Scott's Don and a grandson of his Pleat.  He is also a littermate to our Bliss.  (bred by George Stambulic - who was 4th on the second day with his own littermate, Nan)  We had heard alot of good things about Ben and with the recent, tragic loss of Lisa's Open dog, Kate, we were really hoping that Ben could step up to be her next good dog.  Ben did not disappoint. He placed 5th the first day and 3rd on the second day, earning the Nursery overall reserve champion! Side note: Ben followed this trial up by winning the first round at the Calgary Stampede too!
In the open, the first day was won by Scott and June(that's my girl!) and Don was 3rd. On the second day, Scott was second with Don (beat by a good run of Norm Sommer and Lexi) and 5th with June.  Donnie won the overall open championship and June was 3rd!
Laddie ran fine both days but just didn't do well enough to place.  Both of my dogs had a little trouble releasing the pressure on the top half of the fetch and missed the fetch panels both days.  Hemp had some things go wrong on the first day but on the second day, after the fetch panels he was outstanding. I had never had him work so well.  Our score did not reflect how he worked but if he could do that all the time, we might actually win a trial one day!
Please check out the scores HERE and come up to this trial next year!
Diane Pagel's Wynn fetches in the nursery
Scott runs Bliss in the Nursery
June won day one of the open
Wendy Schmaltz's Kelly, littermate to our Alice and daughter of Wendy's Gin and our Don