(Part 2 of the trip blog - see below for the first section on Chinquapinwood SDT) Okay, so we're at the Bluegrass finally. When we left home, i still had Zac on the waiting list to get into the trial, but as of Monday morning, he was in. Neither of my Open dogs ran the first day, Wednesday, so it was all Billy's day. And a good day it ended up being. He was to run Nursery and ProNovice, with Nursery first up. The sheep were set about 275 yards out, with the field rising and falling all the way out. I sent Bill to the right since that's his naturally better side. As he was running out, i gave him a little whistle to keep him out. It would have been nice if i hadn't messed up and given the come bye whistle by mistake, but he took my intent and stayed out nicely. Lift and fetch were decent, as was the drive, and the pen was perfect (Billy is becoming a pen specialist!). Breakdown was 16-8-16-20-10 for a total of 70 and a 12th place finish out of 42 dogs. I was pleased with this considering his grip off in the second run at Hanley's, and also considering he's my Nursery dog for *next* year. The work at Vergil's had stuck, as Bill was listening nicely.
Next up was ProNovice and Bill ran early in the class. I was feeling pretty confident with the small course and Bill and i worked together very well for this run. It was very sharp and smooth, with beautiful lines. Bill left my feet a little too square and ducked around the pen, costing a couple of points right off the top, but otherwise, there wasn't much to pick on. He lost one on his lift, one on the fetch, one on the drive and nothing on the pen, for a total of 5 points off and a 75 out of 80. At the end of the day, we were tied with Scott Glen and Whiskey (a dog i nearly bought 2 years ago as a half grown pup, who would have taken Bill's "spot" before he was even born - funny how things work out!) and ended up in a run off. Judge Bruce Fogt asked for a silent gather to break the tie. It was just a short outrun and judging stopped when the sheep reached your feet. Scott went first and Whiskey ran out well but got a little confused at his very quiet handler. The sheep leaned offline to the right side of the course and ended up at the exhaust, and then jumped the fence, ending the run. Next up was Bill and i was feeling a bit powerless to stop him from his inclination to bust in after the lift. But he ran out well, lifted nicely, started the sheep straight to me, then wondered why i was being so quiet and slipped left off the pressure, allowing the sheep to start towards that exhaust pen to my right. Feeling them slip away, he made a dramatic flank over to cover and brought the sheep dead to my feet, winning the day! I know the silent gather isn't popular with many people, but i have to admit it was very interesting. It was a big first day for Bill and a very good start for the week.