Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Big One

Wow, what a spectacular trial. 900 yards up a North Dakota butte to 4 undogged yearlings. Incredible setting for a trial, sheep everywhere, wide wide wide open spaces. And talk about a silent gather - i'm sure it's nearly impossible for the dogs to hear at 900 yards anyway, but then add in winds that ranged from light to blow-you-over. It just amazes me what these dogs can do.

Bill was my first dog up, running in the one evening when the wind was actually at our backs, helping the whistles get out to the dogs just a bit. His outrun and lift were spot on. You can't imagine the feeling when your dog disappears over a ridge 1/2 a mile away and you stand there waiting to see where (and if!) he'll reappear. Somehow, some way, he knew exactly where he was going as he popped over the ridge directly behind the sheep, very deep, and came on with authority. The fetch was pretty wobbly and ragged, as he was learning his way on yet another type of sheep he'd not encountered, and without my help and he wasn't hearing my whistles. Once within range, he popped them right back online but it was about 100 yards too late to hit the fetch gates. Turn and drive were wiggly and wobbly, shed good, ran out of time at the pen, score was a 50. Zac ran the next day and put his own twist on the outrun, running very directly at the sheep rather than casting out, for oh, 700 yards or so. But then he broke strongly sideways and cast around beautifully, landing very nicely. Lift was good, fetch a little offline but pretty straight considering he was flanking around like mad trying to figure out how to handle the sheep. Drive was pretty good, shed good and again we ran out of time at the pen, score 60. The running was very tough. At the end of the round, Zac's score held up and we finished 8th. I think Bill ended up 18th, so just out of the top 20%.

On to the second round - Bill was again my first dog. The course was the same as the first round. Bill again ran out and lifted perfectly. After the lift, it was apparent he'd figured out the sheep a bit, as the first half of his fetch was beautiful, very straight and even, without a single whistle from me. The sheep ducked around the fetch gates and the bottom half of the fetch was more wiggly. The drive was pretty wobbly as the sheep were fighting hard to get back to the exhaust, one in particular. She proved our undoing at the single. I pulled one off and she broke hard, and though Bill caught her and her friends handily near the judge's trailer, it was called off course. I was very disappointed as i'd not heard about that line in the sand and had taken a calculated risk on the shed, counting on my dog to do just what he did - catch them and calmly return them to me. But that's how it goes sometimes. Zac's run was again pretty good though it feels like Mr Toad's Wild Ride with him on these sheep. He's supercharged and very, very hard to hold. But supercharged or not, he ran well and placed in the top 20% again, finishing 11th.

The Big One truly is a BIG one, and i'm so thrilled to have been able to run in such a super trial. And so very proud of my two dogs for running so very well. I'm still just in awe of what they can do!

No comments: