Trials season is sneaking up quickly. There are a couple of early season trials the next two weekends that i'm planning to attend. I hope to use these trials to guage where the dogs are in training and conditioning as we look ahead to the larger May trials in Kentucky. April will bring lambing at Shoofly, so travel will be more limited but there should be some practical dog work to do.
I'm starting to work and train the dogs on a more regular basis after a winter of off and on training (mostly off!). Spring conditioning is starting as well, with consistent sessions of running along to the ATV, gradually building up muscle and stamina. All of the dogs are a little soft physically, as the sudden warm temperatures this week served to point out. They're getting hot much faster than they should but we have time to get in shape before May. The dogs seem pretty sharp mentally with their work and are enjoying getting out. I'll be trying to haul them around as much as i can to new fields and sheep to challenge them. It'll be good for sharpening up the Open dogs, Zac and Jet, and seeing where they are needing a little extra attention as we tune up for the big trials. I expect that'll mostly be shedding work, as that's where they were both being a bit too rambunctious at our last trials. Bill needs lots of "miles" on new fields and sheep, just expanding his repertoire and confidence. I'm quite pleased with where he is right now, he's right on schedule for a good spring and will hopefully be ready to move on to Open late this summer and into the fall.
I'm trying to plan out trial trips for the coming year. I may decide to just stay in Kentucky for the whole 2.5 weeks from the Shaker Village trial to the Chinquapinwood trial and finish up at the Bluegrass (assuming i get into the Chinquapinwood trial, still waiting to hear on that one). I need to line up some training opportunities during the week between SV and Chinquapinwood, and if i can do that i'll just stick around. It doesn't make much sense to drive home 10 hours the monday after SV and turn around and drive straight back on friday. Also on the calendar will be a trip to Ontario this august for a series of trials, taking in about 10-12 days and finishing with the Kingston SDT. I went up there a few years ago and it was great trialing so i'm looking forward to that, especially with 2 Open dogs in their prime and a youngster that should be really ready for the challenge and aged to run the Nurseries. If everyone stays healthy, it should be a fun spring and summer of travels with the dogs.