The trial started Friday with the novice classes and two Nursery classes. It was a gorgeous day, sunny and pleasant and just nearly perfect. I ran Dot in PN and she did reasonably well. She was a little hesitant on her outrun, perhaps because the field is steep and rough with brushy growth. But she took her redirects, lifted well, nice straight fetch taking all the small flanks i was giving her. Turn was around a post set in front of the handler's post and was nice. Drive out was good but ended a bit to the right of the panels, and Dot decided she just couldn't take any away flanks there. She finally ran clockwise around the sheep and brought them back to me, and we penned easily. Even with the very costly missed panel and circling the sheep, she ended up 6th of 19 dogs. I was pretty pleased with her but won't be running her at the Bluegrass. She was still on the waiting list but i don't think she's quite ready for trials just yet.
Bill ran two Nursery classes. His 1st run was going extremely well though he had a difficult group of sheep. One kept lagging behind and trying to fade off and it cost us quite a bit of time on the fetch and drive out. I tried making up some time on the crossdrive by having Bill flank and bump her to speed the group along, and the one cranky ewe decided she had enough and bolted up the hill. Bill couldn't catch her, i think because his leg is still not 100%, and we retired. His second run wasn't nearly as clean and i missed the driveaway panels, which landed us 5th of 15 dogs.
Saturday morning the thunder and lightning began about 5am and the weather was the major focus of the rest of the weekend. Jet ran 5th and we were somewhat lucky on the weather. It wasn't raining when we began, but by the end of our run, the sky had gotten so dark i could hardly see, and it just opened up as soon as we came off and the trial was halted for a long break. Jet didn't run out well, pulling up well short, pushing the sheep off sideways. She didn't want to give up the pressure point and it took some doing to get her to put the sheep back online, but we got there fairly soon after the lift point. The rest of the run was very clean but the top end killed our score and we were out of the placings. Zac ran in the rain later on. He also pulled up quite short, as many dogs were doing. And he pushed the sheep hard off sideways and just wouldn't take my away flank to fix it. I couldn't get the sheep back online until the fetch panels and he just kept flipping back to overwork the draw. We got around the drive okay but were called on standard before shedding. I was very pleased with how well Zac moved these heavy sheep, lambing seems to have been very good for him.
Sunday brought more, you guessed it, heavy rain. I decided to run Bill in Jet's spot since she'd pulled up so short. It was hard to tell exactly what happened up top, but it looked like Bill pulled up short and the sheep ran back to the set out, without him even trying to stop them. I don't know if he was in front of them or just short off to the side, but either way, he did nothing to try to stop them. I wish i knew what happened because it wasn't very Bill-like, to my eye. He's not run out with any enthusiasm this weekend and i think his leg must be bothering him. It seems to bother him the most when he goes uphill, and this field is sharply steep to the top. He's definitely off somehow, either physically or mentally. I'll see how he does this week with some work and have to decide if he's really ready for trialing. Zac ran later and we got around without being called to the standard but i doubt we placed. I haven't seen scores yet. He ran out a bit better than saturday, finishing better, but still pushed the sheep off to the side and gave me a big fight about putting them back online. We got there sooner than yesterday but he sure didn't want to take those flanks again. Drive was clean, pen clean, then i took the front sheep on the single since we were about out of time and it kept presenting.
All in all, it's not been the start i was hoping for with this long trial trip. I'm going to try to work the Open dogs some this week, at some distance, to see if i can get a little more compliance out of them. It's a problem we run into too frequently as a result of working mostly in small fields.
Oh, have i mentioned how happy i am to have my own ark, a.k.a. camper here?!