29 May, 2011

Key Pen Trial - Day 2

Well, the weather held again. No rain and even a little sunburn. I am a bit worried about how my sunburn and my CPAP will get along tonight. I'll write more about the CPAP tomorrow. I got it on Friday.

Here are the Open score sheets:

I was very happy with Lucy all weekend. The only trouble we had either day really was at the blind drive panel. There were 3 drive panels, for a semi-square drive all weekend. Yesterday it was the first drive-away panel, today it was the panel turn for the final leg. With the terrain between the post and the panel, and a gully just past the panel, both sheep and dog are invisible in this area. It is a send-your-dog-and-hope type situation. Today, there was not a SINGLE run where all drive panels were made. Everyone (myself included) missed at least one. Lucy and I got the others, but missed the blind one today. Yesterday we hit them all but were off line in the blind area.

It was interesting to see how the dogs handled the blind area. If you closed your eyes as a spectator, you could tell from the handler's whistles when they could no longer see the sheep or the dog. There was either total silence, or frantic stops... little in between. I blew a flank and a couple steadies, and we just missed them to the inside. Most of the dogs refused to take flanks in that area due to a strong conflicting draw combined with the fact that we handlers were blind and could not correct if the dog failed to flank, since we didn't know it had happened! It was a very tricky test.

Of course, Judge Norman got to stand up in the truck bed on a hill behind us and got to see it all. I wished I was 7' tall today... just sayin'.

Overall the running was good. The sheep were honest but required a dog who is capable of gearing down appropriately to avoid startling hair sheep. For the dogs and hands who were able to accomplish this, good runs were to be had.

Instead of a pen and shed today, we had a maltese cross. Trying to shed these farm flock katahdins all day would have worn out the sheep to no good use, making them not as uniform for later runs and they had to be run for the whole day. Hence, the cross. With the cross, all 4 sheep had to be taken through the cross the first direction correctly before the 2nd direction could be attempted. Each direction was worth 10 points. In the underclasses, only the first direction was required for 10 points, instead of a pen.

I am very lucky to have such a good dog. Thanks again Diane, for selling her to me and trusting me with her. I feel like we are really starting to come into our own as a team this year.

I want to thank my friends and mentors (especially Scott Glen) for helping me along this journey. Without the help of good friends and mentors I would never be enjoying this dog or this degree of success. Words can not express how much I appreciate each of you.

After this weekend we have 13.6 finals points. How exciting!

Happy trails, everyone.

28 May, 2011

Key Pen Trial - Day 1

* Reverse the 5th and 6th place Lucy and Kep tied with 85 points each, but the tie was broken incorrectly on this sheet.

I was very happy with Lucy's run today. In the morning, there were not many good runs to be had. We were 5th to the post. The sheep were swift and liked to split, as well as giving the set-out crew quite a bit of trouble holding them. The judge warned me while I was waiting to send my dog as soon as it seemed the sheep were even somewhat set as they would not stay put.

I am not sure why she was hit on her outrun/lift as it looked ok from the post but I didn't have the awesome elevated judging platform to watch from. :)

We had a missed attempt on the shed (I called her in when I should not have) but when we finally did shed, it was very nice with Lucy doing some fancy footwork to make a gap between two recalcitrant ewes.

Today was our first ever perfect-scoring fetch. It was quite a lovely fetch! We had a lot of fun today hanging out with the sheepdog crowd and shooting the breeze. The sun came out and I even had to use sunscreen for the 2nd time all year. Many thanks to Sue and George MacDonald for putting on a great trial. Today was also the debut of my new crook from George (I figured no better place) and for my new whistle lanyard I made.

Off to bed now for more fun tomorrow!