The trial this weekend was very nice. The field was excellent, very large and rolling. The texel sheep were challenging and the judging fair and consistent. The set out crew had a tough job holding the sheep at the top end but did a good job. Steve and Shelly Godfrey were gracious hosts. The weather was very cold but at least it stayed dry.
Four sheep were set something like 400-450 yards out, then fetched to about 50 yards past the fetch gates. At that point, we were to turn the sheep around a round bale of hay (probably 150 yards or so from the handler's post) and start the drive. The pen and a split followed. The sheep were very difficult to split as they didn't react to handlers at all and were quick to break around the handler and rejoin behind his/her back. On Sunday, the course was reversed and the pen and split were replaced by a maltese cross.
Both of my dogs managed to grip out on saturday, which might be a first for me and my team! Jet ran first and was really on the muscle and pushing, which these sheep did not appreciate much. We just couldn't get a good hold on them, not with Jet being so forceful, and the lines weren't very good. I managed to get a very small gap between the sheep on the split and called Jet through, and she flew in there, but unfortunately it was just too exciting and she grabbed one of the sheep under the ear. She can do that kind of spectacular shed properly but i need to have been practicing shedding a bit with her before the trial. Otherwise her excitement level gets the best of her. Zac ran really well, except for pulling up short on his outrun. He would have placed with a clean shed. I got another small gap on his split and called him through but he grabbed one of the sheep as it was moving off. He was pretty bad about that back when i first moved him to Open and we worked through it then. I guess with the lay off (6 months since his last trial) it's just reared its head again but i'm sure it'll go away again with some more work. It was really hard to get a gap at all with those sheep and i'm sure i probably was a little too excited calling both dogs into such a small hole, but it took a very assertive move on the dog's part to get the shed and holes were hard to come by at all. In hindsight, i'd try calling them through a little more calmly.
On sunday, Zac ran first. He worked pretty well but had a group of sheep that just wouldn't settle to him at all. They took off before he was able to get to the top and begin his lift properly, and never did really settle and relax. We got the group through the first half of the maltese cross but ran out of time before getting through the second half. Again, with a clean finish, he'd have placed. Jet ran reasonably well though her drive was really rough - we were all over the place on at the drive away panel. The maltese cross was beautiful with her, very clean, and she ended up in the money for the day.
All in all, it was a good trial weekend. It was wonderful to finally be running Zac again. The crowd was nice and it was good to see and spend time with friends again. And to top it all off, two very good friends ran in Open for their very first times and both did a great job! Way to go Peggy and Laura, i'm really proud of both of you!!!
In other news, i'm definitely breeding Gael and Zac. We're in waiting mode here now, just waiting on Gael to be ready. I can't wait to have baby Gaels and baby Zacs!