Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bluegrass and TableTop Day 1

So i guess i should do some catching up. I'm sitting in the camper at the TableTop SDT near Colorado Springs with a cold blustery wind ripping away outside, so it seems a good time to do it!

The Bluegrass was well run and well organized as usual but it just wasn't my week there. I was very pleased with the dogs, and felt like Zeke and Bill both learned a good deal from the sheep but we were well out of the placings with every run. Bill had never run at the BG before and never been on that sort of sheep, and i was pleased with the huge improvement from his first to his second run. By the end of his first run, his eyes were all lit up and i could see he was having a ball working the difficult lambs. On his second run he really mastered them quite well but with 2 lambs breaking different directions, a high score just wasn't meant to be. Zac ran quite well. His first lot of sheep had a real rotten one in it and i was very proud of the job he did with it. Unfortunately containing it meant we were short on time so no shed or pen. Even without, he was in the running for the double lift with a 63. His second run was at the very end of the day in difficult light, and he had trouble with the sheep stalling out on the fetch due to their empty bellies and some poor handling on my part, so the DL was not meant to be. Zeke was quite full of himself on the novice field but was running out very well and showing good confidence on his driving. We have much work still to do on his fetch as he was bullying the sheep at the top end of it. It probably was a bit soon for him to be running really, as i feel he needs to be a little further along in his training. I may hold off on running him again until we can get home and get him evened out, perhaps by the fall.

We bugged out of the BG late morning on Saturday and started pounding pavement west. After 22 hours of driving and one nasty thunderstorm spent overnighting in a Walmart parking lot, we pulled in here at the TableTop SDT. It's a big, beautiful field with Pike's Peak in the background, with fresh range sheep. There are 4 Open trials across the week with 4 different courses. The weather has been interesting to say the least. The first day started nice but by the end of the day we'd seen about all the types of weather you could think of. Well, until the next morning when we awoke to rain followed by about 2 inches of hail! And the wind, wow. This morning is blustery but the sun is peaking out.

On Monday Zac was quite perplexed by the range sheep, which were more than happy to come out of their neat group of five and smash into a dog that didn't show authority. The outrun was about 500 yards and he ran out reasonably well and lifted the sheep, but lost his confidence and blasted through the group for a DQ. I think he just didn't know what do to move them, and when he ran out of options, he lost his head. Bill was quite spectacular on these range sheep though. I could see that the lessons he'd picked up at the Bluegrass would hold. Outrun and lift were perfect. When he arrived at the top end, the sheep were split and he just neatly tucked the single into the group and motored them right on down the field. Fetch was straight with a narrow miss on the fetch gates. When these sheep would get up on the ridges running through the field, they'd spin around and test the dogs, feeling confidence from being higher than the dogs. This happened not too far from the handlers post and Bill showed great poise in working his way through it. The turn around the post was difficult as the sheep would stall out and fight, not wanting to go downhill on the first leg of the drive. With 3 big sheep facing him off, Bill kept his cool and turned them down the field. First leg was good with a little stall on a ridge but about half way across the crossdrive the sheep stalled out badly. They weren't fighting any more but put their heads down in a green patch of grass and just refused to move. It took a long time but Bill finally took a good bite and got them moving but unfortunately all the stalling ate up our time and we timed out just before entering the shedding ring. Unfortunate since we didn't get our drive points and would have placed. The going was very tough on the first day.

I'll post something about Day 2 later on….

No comments: