Sunday, September 30, 2012

2012 USBCHA National Finals

Whew!  Well I'm glad that's over.  We had a wonderful time and the local trial hosts were great! But that is no surprise to anyone who has been to a finals at Klamath Falls.  The biggest thanks go to the woman at the top, Geri Byrne, who picks good people to help, and her right hand gal, Lana Rowley who never stops working and her whole family - right down to her young son James who sorted sheep at the top all week (really, James?  That's the set you gave Scott this afternoon? Remember we talked about putting the collars on the lazy sheep?  What did I pay you for?)
The double lift this year was broadcast on a live streaming so I hoped you watched.  I always think it is important that everyone have a chance to see what is happening at a finals and how the dogs perform even if you are too far to go.  Just looking at stats on a page doesn't always tell you the real story.
In the double lift, it was very important to draw up early.  It was so dramatically cooler in the morning and that affected everything - how the sheep behaved, how the sound traveled and how much you could ask your dog to do.  I'd like to say that since June drew one of those coveted spots, that she won the trial but she didn't.  It was a little over her 3 year old head, but she behaved admirably.  June's sheep (and a few other runs had the same problem) drifted so far away while she was busy picking up her second set of sheep, that when she was ready to pick them up again, she had another 300 yard outrun to do so.  While she was regathering her first set, (on her third outrun) her second set found the water by the judges tent.  June got them all together and slid into the water, right under their noses to get a dip.
June politely tells the sheep that she's the only one allowed to have water
Several sheep tried to join her and I have to say I am proud of her for not gripping them and getting called off.  When Scott asked her to get out of the water and move the sheep along, she did with no fear or temper grips. 
June gets on with the job and moves the sheep away from the water
June moves the sheep around the post
Unfortunately, that restraint wasn't rewarded when she was called off in the shedding ring for defending herself when a grumpy ewe tried to hit her.  One judge felt it was good dog work and did leave her on but the other three judges quit scoring her so the points were only a  lowly 93.  That's why the live streaming video was so good to have.  Without it, you only see a 93.  With it, you saw heart and drive that you can't see in her score.  We are proud of her and she can certainly chalk this trial up to a learning experience.
If only... If only... Donnie had drawn up in the morning.  But that's dog trialing.  Donnie's experience would have really helped him do well if he hadn't had to run in the heat.  It wasn't that Don got overly hot.  Quite the opposite actually, his stamina was far better than I ever knew. 
Donnie making the fetch panels and approaching the turnback post
It was that the hearing on the field with the second set of sheep just went to pot in the afternoon.  More than one dog was lost and straining to hear their handler's commands to no avail. This happened to Don also.  Scott set him up for a wonderful swallow tail turnback that he took like a good thing, and he bent hard to the left the way he should.  But going back blind, he needed just one directional bend and when it was time to get it, he was already too far into the no sound zone for him to hear it.  Scott spent alot of time and points trying to communicate to him where they were.  He finally found them but when they pulled hard to the handler's left (they were very determined to get to the nursery exhaust which was in the same field and where alot of them had already been - knowing it was a place of water, shade and no dogs) he couldn't hear Scott well enough to get where he needed to be to make that dog leg fetch.  The line was terrible but he did his job and got them to Scott anyway.  The drive was amazing.  Donnie never took a break to go to water during the entire run, even after all of that but never looked too winded on the drive.  It was smooth and they were quiet and calm sheep that walked into the shedding ring, with less than 3 minutes to get the shed.  That's just not enough time and so that was all she wrote.  I have to say, I'm Donnie's biggest fan and with the obvious exception of Scott, I know him better than anyone, and he impressed me even more by how deep he dug within himself to do his job today.
I hope Klamath Falls invites us all back in a few years when they have recovered from this one and we'll now be setting our sights on Virginia for the 2013 Nationals!
See ya next year!


Nancy said...

Impossible to tell on the live streaming, but was there a significant dip in the greener alfalfa, 100 or more yards from the set out? It looked like the dogs who started in or were stopped and redirected in that section really could not see the sheep above the view from their height was blind? With the foreshortened view given by telephoto lens, it was really difficult to understand the undulations in the field etc. Could you describe? I got a ribbing for noting that both your runs in semifinals, I thought, had less trouble with the sheep because the dogs exerted consistent pressure from a distance noticeably greater than some other dogs all the wat round. Is that observatipn not right? I've just started watching trials again after a decade just getting the work done at home. I wanted to let you know that I really appreciated the super handling both days...and the way June worked from inside and while getting out of the tub was super...brought a true smile.

Donna Brinkworth said...

Amazing photos of June at the tub and great work by her at such a young age! I was so rooting and hoping for Don this year. All i can say is, it gives me something to root for all of next year! Don is a great dog and we all know it. Thanks for the updates.

Jenny Glen said...

I didn't walk up there but the dogs clearly couldn't see the sheep. I'm not exactly sure why but if you saw Amanda's Roz, who looked to be stopped right in front of the sheep, you could see that not only could she not hear but she couldn't see the sheep right behind her. It baffles the mind but I can tell you that Amanda's dogs listen 99% of the time and just wouldn't sit there looking around if they could see the sheep.

I think what you were seeing with Don and June was the smooth and direct movements that Scott had been working on. Donnie is naturally smooth and he passed on the ability to June (who is very direct), however on the other side of her family, are some wilder dogs so Scott had to actually work on bringing that out of her. Donnie had another daughter in the nursery class that Scott ran, and it was the same with her. She's younger so her first run on the nursery field, wasn't as nice but her second run was very smooth. She'll get better this Winter as Scott continues to work on that.

Kelpie and Collie said...

That course was impossible. The second gather, they could not see the sheep, so yes they could have been handled up to the sheep- IF they could hear. It was just depressing to watch dog after SUPERB dog fail. I hope everyone goes home knowing that they were up against it and their dogs rocked no matter what.

Unknown said...

Hi! I watched the entire livestream this weekend and it's amazing how you could feel the energy remotely! Everyone one the chat was routing hard for June and Don. I'm amazed at how well these dogs worked under those conditions, and also impressed by how professionally Scott handled them. Truly inspirational for those of us new to this sport.