Wednesday, September 26, 2012

USBCHA National Finals - First Round

The Klamath Falls crew always puts on a great show.  There are more vendors coming all the time (it's all about the vendors isn't it?), and the hospitality is genuine. In the past, there had been complaints from handlers about the dust, so they have a water truck spraying down the isles between the rows of campers.  There had been complaints about the mosquitoes, so this year they actually sprayed for them.  And, there had been complaints about the smoke from local fires so they made sure they got them extinguished in time for our arrival. The weather gets down right cold every evening so that your camper never gets too hot, and it warms up every day so you don't have to watch the runs all bundled up and shivering.  They thought of everything.
For me it has been like old home week - reconnecting with friends from my California past. (hey, Sarah and Michelle!)
Yesterday was the first day of running and I think we all realized that it wasn't going to be that easy.  It's not that the sheep are belligerent or heavy.  Its just that they aren't going to run around the course in a straight line for you and the judges in the open (Alasdair MacRae and Michael Gallager) are going to make you work for a good score.
Yesterday the top score was a 150 by Erin O'brien layed down by her at the end of the day.  I missed it but I hear it was a beautiful run.  The other two big scores were a tied 148 with Amanda Milliken and Roz and Don Helsely and Ash.
This morning, Scott ran June and she didn't disappoint.  Her outrun was a tad big and the sheep were quite a ways off the set out spot by the time she got there.  She didn't help her lift when she came in short but Scott put her over and all went well after that.  The sheep can be touchy at the panels and Scott had to do a couple of quick flanks to make sure he got the fetch gates but June's speed came in handy.
June holds her line to make the fetch panels
 They had a tight turn around the post and started off on a good drive.
Scott and June turn the sheep around the post
 They made the panels with not too big of a turn and marched across the crossdrive.  June looked good, confident and smooth.  They were a little tiny bit high in front of the crossdrive panels but a small movement put them through.  Unfortunately, it was a deep turn and they had to work to get them back on the line.  When they got into the shedding ring, Scott lined up the sheep, and when he saw a gap, he stepped in and called in June, keeping everything calm and not taking any chances.  Instead of taking a point or two for what maybe was considered too much man (that's the only thing we could see wrong with the shed) the judges didn't like it and called for Scott to reshed.
The first shed
 Very quickly and efficiently, he and June put the sheep back together and did it again.  This time the judges accepted it. ( I really really fear my shed with Lad now) Scott and June did a very nice pen, making it look easy.
Scott and June work the pen
  Several people came up to me and told me what a beautiful run it was.  They scored a 148.  It should take them to the semi finals.
Miss Bliss had her run on the nursery field today.  The field is deceptive in that it seems like it should be pretty easy because it's not that big but it is actually difficult!  It has a slight hill
Bliss lifting off of the hill on the nursery field
and that is where it gets a little tricky when, after the drive panels, the sheep want to bolt to the set out.  The dog's need to make an away flank to catch them and put them on line to drive to the crossdrive panels on our left.  However, the dogs believe it would be faster to go downhill to catch them instead of up hill and they end up taking and incorrect comebye and crossing their course.  Bliss tried very hard to get in the favor of these sheep but they felt she was too quick on her movements.  She stayed way back on the fetch but it still didn't make them happy.  After making that drive away panel and doing as many others had by crossing her course, she struggled to get them back on the crossdrive line and didn't have a very good crossdrive.
Bliss on the crossdrive
 When they approached the pen, Bliss had to be on the handler's side to turn them into the mouth.  Fortunately, she has a deep, fast flank that got her to the other side when it was time for her to work her own side. After convincing one particularly jumpy black faced sheep that she had no choice but to go in, they closed the gate with a score of 128.
Bliss works for her pen
 It put her in 8th place for the time being but they will finish up the class tomorrow.  No one knows how many will be going back for a second run but Lyle Lad is the clear leader with a 163.  The winner will have a cumulative score for both rounds so Lyle will be difficult to catch.
From a personal point of view, I was rooting for Ron Enzeroth and his young Pete dog who is a half brother of my Ford (from Tom Forrester's Pete).  They ended the day in 4th!
Laddie and I run in open tomorrow, 4th up in the morning.  It's a very good time to run.  I really hope I can keep from wasting it.
Scott and Wynn run tomorrow in nursery and Donnie will finish up the open on Friday afternoon.
The best place to catch the scores is on the USBCHA page here:
They are also on facebook with scores and info about the runs:
and Diane Pagel is giving short summaries of the runs on her blog:

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