...or, Billy is a Big Dog. :-)
(photos by Denise Wall)It was a really good weekend at the Rural Hill SDT in Huntersville, NC. I skipped this trial last year since Zac was hurt and didn't decide to go this year until the last minute, and i'm glad i did. I decided to just run the boy dogs since Jet has never run well at this trial. Actually, that's putting it mildly. Her worst runs ever have come at this particular trial, with some pretty spectacular wrecks in my memory. Some trials just don't suit some dogs, and past weekends at this one with speedy hair sheep, a flat field, and a strong draw to the set out pen have brought out the worst in Jet. I felt like it would be better to run Bill in the Open and get experience for him than to cross fingers and hope for less than ugly with Jet. She probably would have been okay this year since the sheep were very good and the draw not so bad, but Bill needs the time on the trial field.
Friday started with the first of two Nursery classes. Bill ran reasonably well. I sent him right and he was a little tight but okay. Before lifting, he took in a big sniff at the top, earning a good screech from me for it. It's that time of year, when it seems 90% of bitches are in heat. And 100% of two year old males are definitely in heat! He sniffed again going around the course but his lines were good and we ended up with an 82, one point behind the two dogs tied for 1st and 2nd at 83. It's aggravating seeing him sniff out there but i try to remind myself that he's young and full of hormones, and should mature out of it. Zac did for the most part and he was quite bad about it. After the Ranch and ProNovice classes ran, we did another Nursery class. Bill won handily by 6 or 7 points. I sent him left this time and he ran out beautifully. I'm continuing to run him in the Nursery even though he's qualified for the Finals so he can get more trial experience. One thing i plan to do as much as possible is to send him once each direction when we have two runs at a trial. I'm glad i did this weekend since it changed my mind on which way to send him in the Open. It seems Bill has switched from being better on the right to going better on the left. I'll be curious to see if the right gets better again. He did take one quick sniff on the second Nursery run, but seemed to get it out of his system as he didn't do it on his Open runs.
Zac ran in the Open early on saturday morning and laid down a really nice run. I thought he was a little tight at the top end, but otherwise the rest of the run was really good. We lost 1 on the outrun, 1 on the lift, 0 on the fetch, 5 on the drive, 2 on the shed (he looked back at the wrong group as he came through) and none on the pen, for a 91. At the end of the day we ended up 3rd. 3 seems to be Zac's number, as we've finished 3rd several times this year. Bill ran near the end of the day and did a great job. I sent him left and he ran out wide and deep and landed perfectly. Fetch and drive were clean. We had some trouble shedding since the sheep were hard to split and Bill's still not really strong on it yet. But we did get it done, then ran out of time as we got to the pen. Final score was a 78. If we'd had time to pen (the sheep were very easy to pen, walking right in), he'd have been well into the placings. As it was, he was just out.
On Sunday, Bill ran mid-morning and did a beautiful job. Outrun was again perfect to the left, lift and fetch very good with Bill doing an excellent job settling the sheep on the fetch. Drive clean, and then a very, very nice shed and clean pen. Final score was an 89 which held up in the placings for a 7th place. Zac ran in the heat of the day and was just too on the muscle for the sheep he'd drawn, upsetting them and not having very good lines around the course. After 5 good runs at the trial, i was a little disappointed to not finish on a better note with Zac but that's dog trialin', as they say!
All in all, it was a good trial and a good weekend. I was very happy to see Bill improving with each run and being so consistent in his work. I hope it's a harbinger of good things to come! Next up will be the Broken Back Ranch trial in SC in December.