The Edgeworth trial was great, as usual. We ran on 4 yearling cheviots, which were very light and tested the dogs well. They were set about 350-400 yards out and broke hard to the left after lifting. There were very few straight, online fetches all day. After the fetch panels, there was a Y chute set up, good for an extra 5 points if it could be managed. I only saw it done twice all day and one of those cost the handler pretty dearly as it took so much time that the clock ran out before the pen and shed. The other completed chute that i saw happened so quickly, i'm not sure the sheep even noticed they'd gone through! On the first leg of the drive, the sheep could be a little heavy because of the exhaust off to that side. The turn at the first drive panel was tricky as the draw on the sheep changed near it, from a heavy pull back to a pull upfield causing the sheep to bolt, with the dogs out of position to hit the panels or fix the crossdrive line many times. The remainder of the drive was pretty straightforward. Penning was a real trick - the pen is fairly small and the sheep twitchy. Shedding (for those that got there) didn't seem too difficult. Kelly Bradley won it with her young dog Jim in his first Open trial, and Carla King was second with her Emma.
My dogs were good and bad. Jet started out and just didn't run well at all. Her outrun was good but when the sheep bolted off to the left, she couldn't seem to catch them to fix the line. We turned the post the wrong way because she wasn't covering the sheep and they beat her. The first leg of the drive was nice but when the sheep bolted up the field after the panel, she again wouldn't quite cover on the away flank to catch them. I guess it wasn't her day. I walked off and retired at that point. Zac ran extremely well. His outrun was a little tight across the top but the fetch was beautiful, very controlled and straight, with him having a lovely hold on his sheep. Turn and drive were also very good, as nice as any i saw all day. We came up to the pen with 4 minutes to pen and shed, and i was feeling pretty good about our chances to win or at least place high. Unfortunately one of the yearlings decided it wasn't going to be our day. I felt like Zac and i were working really well together but the one lamb just wouldn't give up and decide to go in. She finally broke off hard and Zac wanted to grab her, but i kept him from it with a stern reminder to behave. We got them all lined up to go in the pen when she broke again and Zac couldn't stand it, and ran her down and grabbed her. Rats! When Zac was first running Open, he had these same two problems, being a little flat on his left hand outrun, and not being able to stand a sheep racing off like that without him chasing it down and grabbing it. I think the long layoff with the pulled muscle probably brought them back up so i'll have to work on it again. He really ran beautifully though. It made for a nice birthday, for sure.
I didn't go to the novice day on sunday at the trial but heard it was very well attended, and the sheep continued to be very testing, especially at the pen. I spent sunday doing a bunch of lessons, with a couple of new dogs and people in the mix. It was a long fun day, with another birthday cake thrown in too. Thanks Becky!
I decided to run up on Monday for the funday at Edgeworth. It's so nice of the Wilson's to open up their farm and provide such wonderful sheep, and i wanted to be supportive as well as get my dogs out for some practice runs. I ended up setting sheep for a couple of hours, which was good fun and good for the dogs. It's always interesting to see things from the far end of the field. Almost all of the attendees were novice (or non-Open anyway) handlers and many of the dogs did very well, handling the sheep nicely. Some of course didn't, but many did. Zac was skipping a bit on his leg when setting out in the lumpy grass and i decided to not push it by running him when we got back down to the bottom of the field (he seems fine today) but i did run Jet. She ended up doing a double lift when she ran across some extra sheep hidden over the hill out at the side of the field on her outrun (an oops by the setout crew), going back nicely for the ones that were actually set on the field, good practice going back blind to about 400 yards. At the end of the day, i pulled Bill out and worked him on about a dozen of the yearlings and he was really spectacular, strong and smooth and confident, driving very well, walking smartly onto sheep challenging him, really just wonderful. Tommy and a couple of other folks i respect were very complimentary, which was sure nice. I was so pleased with him and it was just a great way to top off a good, long weekend.
Tomorrow is the big day - Gael's ultrasound!