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


Shmoo said...

Attack sheep? I'm pretty sure Bet was right about herding :)

Monique said... ;)