I should have written this post sooner as i'm having a devil of a time remembering my runs from the second day at the trial. Zac had a pretty decent run yet again and finished with a 79, good for 12th place and qualifying for a spot in the Top 15 Finals. Bill went into the second day with a good score to go on, but we had a terrible time in the shedding ring and fell 4 points short of making the Finals.
The Finals was great fun, probably more so for me since i ran first in the day, before the strong winds really got wound up. I'd have liked a run to watch before ours, but it was a good time to run. The first outrun ended up being a bit of a problem for several teams later in the day but Zac ran out pretty well. I thought he might be running deep enough to miss the sheep over a hill so i gave him a small call in whistle but i think he'd have landed fine without it. Fetch was a little wobbly but we hit the gates. Turn back was good but he ran very directly at the sheep and i couldn't get him to bend quite enough. He didn't cross but it wasn't very pretty since he was quite close to the sheep before seeing them and kicking out. Second fetch was pretty good and we hit the fetch gates. Turn around the post was good and our drive was very good, nice and clean with only a small bobble at the cross drive gates. We had plenty of time for the international shed but i couldn't seem to get the sheep to flow though i certainly tried. I'd get a few cut off and moved away, return to the ones i needed to work on, and the ones i'd shoved off kept coming back. I tried three different areas to park them and none were good enough as they wouldn't settle and eat. I didn't want to get too aggressive in the ring since Zac can get grippy there. So we ran out of time on the shed. All in all, it was a decent enough run though the second outrun cost a lot of points. I was really pleased with how nicely Zac moved the 16 sheep around and how soft and easy he was to handle, where he'd been running like a freight train. We ended up 6th.So that's the end of the ND trials for us. It was an amazing experience and i'm so proud of my dogs. It was a thrill watching them learning so much and being so brave and so game for it. They both worked extremely well. Bill ended up with a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place over the trip, and Zac finished in the top 20% for HA points at 5 of the 8 trials, including all 4 ND trials. I'm pretty sure that had there been an award for high points across all 4 trials, he'd have won it (I can't find anyone who was higher). I really was looking at this trip as a learning experience for the dogs and myself as we'd never worked range sheep before, and jokingly remarked that we were coming out here to get our butts kicked while we learned some things. It seems Bill and Zac had other plans!
I've been enjoying clinics and lessons with Aled Owen here at Joni's place the last few days but tomorrow will be our last day here. We'll pull out first thing monday morning and i guess it'll be time to put away the winter coat and sweatshirts as we head east. I'm already looking forward to coming back next year.