Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Plans...

2013 is here and with it, we set our sights on our next trial season.  However, before we can look forward, we need to look backward.  Don was a strong number one dog for Scott last year and will continue to be his main dog this year.
Donnie holding his own with difficult ewes at an arena trial in Northern California
Don won several trials last year including the Happy Hollow Trial in Missouri, the Wild Rose Trial in Alberta and the double lift of the Hilltop Trial in Saskatchewan.  In addition, he won a day at Soldier Hollow, took home the silver medal in the double lift, and won the Alberta Finals.  Although, Don has won several double lift trials, he often struggles with his turn back.  This winter, Scott has been concentrating on teaching Don to enjoy it and has seen some positive changes in his attitude about it.
June had a great first year in open in 2012.  In her first open, at Heppner, Oregon, she won the overall, and went on to make the double lifts at the Kentucky Bluegrass and the North Carolina Championships.
June at the Bluegrass
 She finished her year by winning the semi finals at the USBCHA Nationals, beating her father by a half of a point.  This winter, June hasn't been working much because she had a litter of pups.  She just started back a couple of weeks ago and seems to be picking up where she left off.  Getting her fit will be Scott's biggest challenge before he heads down south to Heppner again for their St. Patrick's day trial in a couple of weeks.
Scott has a few nursery dogs that I will profile in the next few weeks with our Skip likely being one of the main ones for this year.  The other three, our Alice, Diane Pagel's Ben and Cy Peterson's Erin are all two year nursery dogs, with this being their first year.  At this point, Alice is probably in second spot but that can change as we get closer to trial time.
Lad and I had a decent year last year, but our sheds hurt us the most.  He had a winning run going in the second round of the Bluegrass and was poised to make the double lift when I called him in and he took a little too long to lock onto his single, which in turn allowed us to get in a bad situation that ended up with sheep in the spectators laps and no score.  It happened again at Soldier Hollow, with another huge run, although this time, it was my fault for putting too much pressure on the sheep in the shed and ending up losing them again over the fence.  He managed to be 4th in the Hilltop Classic Double lift but with an incomplete international shed. At the nationals, he had a nice first round and made it into the semi's but we were prevented in advancing by Laddie getting lost on the outrun and his refusal to hold a single.
Lad and I close the pen in the semi finals of the Nationals - by Kristi Oikawa
So you say, obviously, our homework for this winter would be to work on our shedding.  I agree with you but we have been battling a shoulder lameness for the last month, that seems to be aggravated by shedding.  With only about 6 weeks left before his first trial, it is hard to not only practice his sheds, but keep him in shape.  Slight panic is setting in as he is now 8 yrs old and it is more important than ever to have him in top shape before competing.
Hemp had a great year last year whenever we didn't have bitches in heat.  He started the season strong by getting a perfect outrun, lift and fetch at the Happy Hollow trial but things went down hill from there as the girls started to cycle.  By the time we got to the Bluegrass, he was just horrible and I retired his runs both days.  Towards the end of the summer, he again settled down and was 5th in the double lift of the Hilltop classic.
Hemp
 He was invited to compete at Soldier Hollow, but unfortunately, broke one of his front feet, chipping off 3 pieces of bone.  Shortly after that had healed, I neutered him in the hopes of having a better season in 2013, and things were looking really good when he again broke a foot, this time in the rear and again had to be laid up.  After almost 6 months of bed rest with  both feet being broken and a neuter recovery, Hemp was horribly out of shape.  BUT, just as things were looking up, they started to go bad again with a lameness in his rear leg, that seems to be a tightening of a muscle after work.  He is not on total bed rest as he doesn't see it to be a problem and walks it out within a few minutes.  Strength building and short runs are the plan and continuing to help with lambing is keeping his working skills sharp.
So with no open dogs this year (to speak of) one would think that Ford, my nursery dog, would be the man, but Ford and I have had many battles this winter.  It's been a long time since I have had a nursery dog and I forget that the struggles that seem to be impossible to overcome, end up as distant memories when the dog reaches the ripe old age of 4.  For right now though, they are ever present.
Ford at the North Carolina State Championships in nursery
 Scott has helped me alot this winter and the mantra he has repeated to me often seems to be the phrase I need to remember.  He has told me, "Ford may not be your best nursery dog, but he is your best dog."  I feel so not ready going into this nursery year with a dog that isn't as broke as Lad and Hemp were at that age.  However, I see a light at the end of the tunnel, and I feel we are just around the corner from getting it right.
So, where are we going this year?
First, Scott will be off to the Heppner, St. Patrick's day trial while I hold down the fort and finish lambing.  This is a tough little trial in Oregon with challenging sheep and usually challenging Spring weather.  This year they will be on a different field so even the newcomers will have it even. Scott has only a few points right now, and I have none.  With the finals in the East this year, it is expected that we will need to do well at every trial in order to make it in.  With my open dog's lamnesses holding them back from preparation, I'm going to try and trial for the fun of it.  A novel idea for me.  Lets see if I can keep my chin up.  If I can get Ford qualified for the nurseries, we can concentrate on training and preparing him for his first finals.
Next, we hope to get into Lee Lumb's Stirling Acres trial in BC the last weekend of April.  This is a little trial (distance wise) with a 300 yrd outrun in open, but the competition should be difficult since it is a popular trial with a farm flock of hair sheep.  Scores should be high and we will have to be on our toes to get points.  This will be an important trial for us to see where the nursery dog's heads are at. It will be a first trial for most of them and we will be able to see their holes that need repairing.
We were thinking of rushing off to a trial in Utah next but we have decided to stick with what worked for us last year. We will instead high tail it off to Thad Flemming's in Missouri to clean up any mistakes the dogs, especially the nursery dogs, are doing after their first trial.  We'll spend about 5 days there on a private field getting the dogs re ready for the next trial.  Conveniently, we will be there at the same time as the Cattle Dog Nationals are being held at the Flemming's family farm and we will get to see some of that competition for the first time.
After Missouri, we will head down to Pennsylvania and hopefully, catch a day of training with Lori Cunningham, before heading to Dave Fetterman's trial a half hour away.  This trial is alot of fun and Dave is planning on accepting more entries this year so it will be an important place to pick up some more points.
Immediately after Pennsylvania we will hit the Bluegrass.  This is the place to showcase the nursery dogs and really get points on the open dogs.  (Scott get points - I'm just having fun, right?)  I'm a little nervous about Ford since I had to pull him last year after the sheep were too much for him.  I'm hoping his new found confidence continues through the trial.  We both have to learn to trust each other.
We will move on to Dr. Ben Ousley's trial after that and have some fun on a smaller field. This is a good family trial with  lots of entries, but it is often very hot and presents challenges because.
After, we continue on the road, Scott will be mostly teaching clinic's for the next month with the exception of a 3 day nursery trial in NY at Fetch Gate Farm.
On our way home, we will be attending the Jim Bridger trial in Wyoming before landing at the Wild Rose Trial in Alberta, about 4 hours from home in July.  We haven't decided if we are going to go point hunting at any other trials in July yet.  It will depend on how many we (Scott) have.
August starts the points for next year, but there is no pause for us so it still feels like a continuation.  We plan to hit Jamie VanRhyn's trial in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan and the Canadians at Wendy Schmaltz's a few hours from there.  Then we make a quick trip down to Soldier Hollow, before returning home to prepare for the finals.
So that is the plan. 

1 comment:

Terry Sheaffer said...

What do you plan to do with all your spare time? lol

Terry