A couple of weeks ago, the dogs and i went to the first Belle Grove SDT at the site of last year's Finals. It was a terrific trial, hosted by David Clark and Cheryl Branibar. The field was different than the field used for the Finals but plenty challenging. The sheep were David and Cheryl's home flock of Montadales and were very fit and up to the challenge of 3 days of Open runs. The novice and nursery classes were held on yet another field, which was quite "interesting" - steep hills on the left and right, with a narrow valley between, where the sheep were set and the fetch was to be. The sheep were Barbara Ray's dorper/katahdin crosses. It wasn't a long course but the terrain sure bamboozled some of the young dogs.
I was very happy with the dogs' performances. Bill and Zac both ran very well both times out. I think i was more rusty than either of them! In spite of me, they both placed well. Bill was 3rd the first day and 4th the second. Zac was 7th the first day, and i think he was just out of the placings on the second (haven't seen the final results yet). He had a rough group the second go and i was thrilled with how well he handled them. It was a chore just keeping them on the field, much less getting around as well as he did.
Zeke started off well with a reasonably good run in Nursery, just out of the qualifying spots. Next he ran in PN and i felt like he was stiffening up on his flanks and getting a bit sticky. So in his next Nursery run, i got after him a bit to get him listening better and especially getting on him for not taking his stops. At this stage of his training, i think it's way more important to get good experience and training in than it is to worry about placing. We had the chance to try a 3rd Nursery run and i was happy to see the training paying off, as Zeke was pretty good. I also ran Moon in her first ever trial and she did pretty well! I was mostly happy with her PN run. It wasn't stellar but she got out nice enough to her sheep and kept her head, and finished the course. Since she'd done pretty okay, i put her in that 3rd Nursery class and i was just thrilled with her. She had a decent outrun and a very nice fetch (few and far between on that course), and was listening pretty well. She had a really lousy draw of sheep and at the turn around the post they started splitting and breaking back on her towards the exhaust. She didn't have a clue how to handle it but trusted me to help her as much as i could, and kept her head really well. I fiddled with it a little bit for the sake of getting some training in with her, and when i felt she'd had enough, we walked off. But i was just so pleased with her. I still think i'll be selling her if i find the right fit, but she's coming along.
So that's the quick trial report. Life is crazy hectic with trying to get ready to leave next week. I hope to have lots of good news to report from the Bluegrass. Zac and Bill will be running in the Open (Bill's first time there) and Zeke is entered in the PN and Nursery. It'll be a busy week!