Friday, March 14, 2014

A New Season - 2014

I guess it's time for me to stop being lazy and get started on our 2014 Trial Blog!  Our trial season has passed from "rapidly approaching" to "here" and I haven't even mentioned our plans or any of the new dogs we are running this season.
Last year was an amazing year and I don't know how we could top it.  Early on, some of the dogs started to show promise.  Young Alice qualified quickly in her first trial at Lee Lumb's Coldstream trial.  After that, Scott didn't worry too much about finishing his courses with her and spent more time using the trials as training sessions.  It all paid off when Alice ran well in both rounds of the Nursery National finals and won it before she had even turned 2 years old.  We are pretty proud of this young daughter of Scott's Don and Wendy Schmaltz's Gin, and we are glad we have a couple more of them in our kennel.  Alice will again be running in the nursery classes in 2014 but might start running some open classes towards the end of the Summer.
Scott's June was another one of Don's daughters that did well last season.  Her biggest achievements were taking 4th place at Soldier Hollow, and the reserve champion (by a half point) at Meeker.  I think Meeker was our biggest surprise!  After the Nationals, June was sold to Frank Smith of Georgia. They are starting to get each other figured out and we are expecting a great partnership there.
Scott and June in the awards ceremony at Meeker
  Young Skip was also a big boon to Scott's nursery successes last year.  Skip was a started dog that we bought off of Bobby Ford and consistently performed well in his nursery classes.  We were so pleased when he and Scott took the Nursery Reserve Championship at the National finals.  After the Nationals, we had a very special spot for Skippy to go and we are happy to say that Cheryl Necochea, of Idaho and sometimes, California, is his new owner.  I would expect we'll be seeing them in trials pretty soon.
Don, of course, topped them all.  He not only won the Bluegrass Championship, but he also won the National Finals in 2013 and we are so pleased that we have him representing our kennel.  He is a one in a million dog.

Scott at the National Finals with Skip-the reserve champion nursery, Don- the National Champion and Alice the Nursery Champion
 So with June sold, you might wonder who her replacement is?  Scott decided on another Don daughter (I know, we're not very original here), Bliss.  Bliss has shown to have a steady head when working and trialing.  She won the overall Open Ranch class at the Bluegrass last year and in her first open trial at the Wild Rose Classic in Alberta, she won the overall open in a runoff.   Bliss is a granddaughter of Scott's 2004 National Champion, Pleat, and after losing him this year at age 15, we are hoping Bliss will keep his success alive.
We were sorry to lose Pleat this past Fall at 15 years old
 To a lesser extent, I also had a good year.  Well, the start was good.  Ok, really just one month but it was a big month for me.  Lad and Hemp had been injured most of last Winter and went to the post in May, terribly out of shape.  Although sound, Lad did not really get any better trialing until late June and seemed to be missing a step. Fortunately, towards the end of the Summer he started to improve.  This month he has turned 9 and I find myself wondering if this will be his last year trialing.  Right now, other than some stiffness in his wrists that we are working on, he seems to be back to his old self.  He is sharp and keen to work so I will continue to run him in open this year, and I'll let him make his own decision next year as to whether he wants to keep trialing as a 10 year old.
Hemp was the dog I really didn't expect last year.  I had neutered him the previous Fall after his disastrous and humiliating (for me- he had no problem with it!) attempt to breed the set out dog at the previous Bluegrass.  Shortly after his neuter he broke his second foot of the year and pulled both groin muscles.  Needless to say, he didn't get that much activity until right before our Spring trials.  However, the new and improved Hemp with the calmer more focused mind, didn't need to be in as good of shape.  He got points in his first couple trials and by the time he was at the Bluegrass, on his first fetch, I had the urge to turn around at the post, find Scott in the crowd and ask him who in the world this good dog was!  He was 10th in the first round and 5th overall going into the double lift where he struggled moving the 20 sheep in the heat and ended up gripping off. He also won the "Top End Award" voted on by the set out people who pick the dog they felt was the best at the top.  I guess there was no question that a neuter was needed to improve his performance!  In his next trial at the North Carolina State Championships (otherwise known as Dr. Ben's) he continued to work well and made it in the top 3, which put him in the double lift.  He ended up the 2013 North Carolina State Reserve Champion!  After that, Hemp broke another foot (he has had one too many arguments with my picket fence) and although sound by the time the Fall trials rolled around, he wasn't at his best and didn't do much after that. He's still working on getting back in shape after his lay off last year (they don't come back at 8 like they did at 3), but his feet don't seem to be bothering him, his groin isn't affecting him too badly, and he's currently my right arm in lambing, which should keep him tuned up in his real job and thinking practically.
Hemp and I preparing for the Bluegrass double lift - photo by Alice Urquart
 My young Ford did not have a very good nursery year.  In fact, it was a horrible nursery year, but by the time Fall came around, he was improving daily.  He still has a long way to go but I am looking forward to using his new tools in a trial and I will keep him running in Open Ranch/Pro Novice this year.
Ford, my continuing work in progress, at Lee Lumb's - photo by Lee Lumb
 This year's young dogs?  Well,  I will start profiling them this week.  Scott has a nice bunch of youngsters that he's going to school through their first few trials before returning them to their owners.  Scott Johnson's Tap and Scott Kelso's Joe, will be around for the first few trials, as well as Cy Peterson's Erin, who Scott trialed a little bit in Nursery last year.  His main nursery dogs, other than Alice will be Diane Pagel's Ben, who he also trialed a little bit last year, and a littermate to Alice, Jeanne Boudrieau's Flint.  Towards the end of the season, he might also throw his own Queen in for a few runs.
My two newbies are Mike and Try. Mikey, another Don/Gin, missed out on his nursery year by 4 months because of a knee injury last year, but I am excited to run him in Open Ranch/Pro Novice this year. Mikey is totally above my pay grade and I hope to just keep up with him so he can show off his talent. Try (aka Try-Baby or The Sweet-Baby), who's father is a Don/Gin (I said we weren't original!) is the dog I find the most fun to train.  His main nursery year will be next year so we will take it easy this season and do only a few of the easier Nursery classes and mostly stick to the Eastern Pro-Novice classes. I will let him dictate how much I can expect from him this year based on how confident he is.  If I bring him along right, and don't rush him, he should make me a very nice dog that really suits my style and takes care of me.
The trials we are hoping to make it to this year are mostly the same as last year. Scott has Don and Bliss down at Heppner, Oregon as we speak, but since it is an open only trial, I don't really think of it as our first trial.  Our first one, starting on April 25th, will be the WRONG WAY as Scott repeatedly calls it.  When we are planning most of our trip to be in the East, it seems silly to go 10 hours the opposite direction to start, but we enjoyed ourselves so much at Lee Lumb's Stirling Acres trial in BC, last year that we decided to repeat our back track.   This trial has farm flock Katahdins and is the perfect place for our babies to be introduced to trialing.  After Lee's we will head out to Leeton, Missouri where we will get a week of training on the dogs and watch a little bit of the Cattle Dog Nationals.  Hopefully there will be no surprise snow storms like last year!
Try and I visiting the cold, snowy and muddy 2013 Cattle Dog Nationals - photo by Cathy Scott
 We will then head off to Dave Fetterman's trial in Pennsylvania and then down to Kentucky for the Bluegrass.  We don't like to miss Dr. Ben's so we'll go down to North Carolina, before heading to NY State for a the start of our month of clinics and a small nursery trial at Fetch Gate Farm.  We'll get home in late June and we'll have some fun local trials at Louanne Twa's, Chris Jobe's and Wendy Schmaltz's before we head down to Soldier Hollow over Labor Day.  We have entered Meeker and we'll see how we fare in that draw and then we'll jump over to Carbondale, Colorado for the Nationals.
And that, Folks, is it!

1 comment:

DeltaBluez Tess said...

Maid says have a happy road trip. she is keeping me in line and a great snuggler. wonderful lambing dog! still the perfect trial dog for me!