Six weeks. Six weeks from today, the dogs and i leave on our big spring trip. It feels like it's racing up on me! We'll leave May 17 and head to KY for the Bluegrass, then go from there to Colorado Springs, CO for the Tabletop trial May 23-27. After that, we head to Bowman, ND for the Big One and Slash J trials from June 1-7. And from June 8-12 we'll attend and help out at lessons and clinics with Aled Owen at Joni Swanke's place in Bowman. June 13 we start the long trek home and should arrive here June 15th. Probably on our hands and knees after all of that travel!
There is so much to be done and so many things to fret over with such an extended trip looming. I've always felt like us sheepdog handlers are nearly as obsessive-compulsive as our border collies, and a big trip sure brings it out in me. I try to remember that the dogs are the biggest thing i need to concentrate on though, and to that end conditioning and training are foremost in my mind at the moment. I'd have liked to have started running them more for fitness a bit sooner, but our weather was just lousy last week so i've started this week. Last night was our first serious fitness run, a solid 30 minutes behind the ATV, up and down hills, at a good constant jog. Zac, Zeke and Moon all flit along, bouncing and racing and having a grand time on these runs, but they're more that type of dog and tend to keep pretty fit for shorter bursts like this with just their approaches to life in general. Bill on the other hand, is Mr Steady and very conservative with his energy in general, so he settles in to a pace and jogs right beside me. I'll have to work harder to condition him but he'll also make up for it on the trial field where he controls himself and doesn't waste a lot of energy. The other three are more likely to "hit the wall" so i'll have to work on stamina with them, and that'll come as i extend run times.
I'm searching out larger fields for the dogs to work on, as well as just different fields for the youngsters, small or large. That's part 2 of the dog prep. Part 3 will be nutrition but i haven't quite decided what i'll be doing along those lines just yet. All 3 dogs are healthy and young, so hopefully it won't be as big of an issue as when running an older dog.
So, other than obsessing about the more mundane things (ever tried to pack for a month on the road?!), that's the big focus right now. Dogs, dogs, dogs. I'm going to try to keep a conditioning and training log and will post it here maybe once a week or so if it seems interesting at all.