17 June, 2010
Dirt Blowing Trial
Photo provided by Diane Pagel
Well, our first time on range ewes went just great.
Aside from some handler errors (I am still learning what kind of flanks to use in what situations, and was getting a crash course in range sheep) I was very happy with our run.
Lucy cast out wide and very deep, lifting her sheep cleanly. Full points for her outrun and lift. About 10 yards after the lift, the sheep broke hard toward the set-out trailer. The sheep were tricky because the dog had to be kept way off, but still have plenty of authority. A difficult combination. We cleaned up the break-away to the set-out, skimming the fetch panels.
A tight turn at the post followed by making all of our drive panels (WOW). We had a nice pace going. Many runs the sheep would go through the panels at a good clip and then RACE for the set out. We tried to gear down the sheep a bit before pushing them through the panels. I stopped Lucy on her feet to let the sheep consider the panels and we were able to get tight turns after our panels. The sheep were walking or trotting for the first 2 legs of the drive. I was very happy with the pace and the line.
On the return leg of the drive, the sheep tried to break to the exhaust. REALLY tried. I could have helped Lucy with a wide flank there, and didn't. Live and learn. She got the sheep to me fine, but they were a bit low - to the edge of the shedding ring instead of the center. We lost 10 points on the drive and I figure they were likely all on that return leg.
We got a shed accomplished, last 2 sheep on the head. The sheep were squirelly and Lucy was wound up after the fight on the return leg. We had a near grip (or maybe a full grip, I couldn't see what happened and we didn't get thanked so not sure) keeping the sheep in the ring and were hit hard on points for the shed. I did get her settled quickly, and the sheep also, and then the shed was very straightforward. How different these sheep were than our "home" trial sheep!
After that we made a valiant effort at the pen and had plenty of time. We got 4 sheep into the pen but one was insistent on trying to stand down the dog in the mouth. When I would push a little to try and help, that ewe would try to bolt. If I held off the dog a bit to give her a chance to turn, she would just gain ground on the dog. Tricky situation. We kept backing her in and backing her in but never got the job completed so timed out at the pen. Another 10 seconds or so may have gotten it done.
It was a great learning experience. I am still very excited we went, even for one day. I was bummed to have to come back home for work and miss the second day, I really wanted another try! It was a pleasure meeting so many of the other handlers and getting to know folks better. Everyone was very nice to me after my run and said lovely things about my dog. (Fine dog, shame about the handler...)
11 hours of driving, rain, hail, mud, dirt, dust, sunburn and stepping in a pile of dog poop are a SMALL price to have paid to realize how much more my dog and I are capable of. We are really partnering up and it was a great experience.