This past weekend was our annual fall trip to the Edgeworth Open SDT in Gordonsville, VA, hosted by Tom and Florence Wilson. I love this trial, it's right at the top of my "must attend" list every year. The field is big and beautiful and it's a great challenge. This year our judge was Alasdair Lyttle and i thought he did a nice job of it. The field had a lot of very thick grass on it and it seemed to give the dogs and sheep some trouble as scores were generally lower than usual. There were lots of good parts to the runs, but no one seemed to lay down a really stellar run from start to finish.
I had 2 Open spots in the trial and my plan was to run Zac and Bill in the first round, then if Zac wasn't staying sound i'd perhaps sub Zeke in for him in the second round. Truthfully, i was just itching to give it a shot with Zeke to see what he'd do with that 600 yard outrun, one of the most difficult we'll ever run into at a trial. Given that I don't have a turnback on Zeke and only the sketchiest of redirects, i was trying to be sensible and not throw him in the mix but i sure wanted to try it. He's got a good head so i felt that even if he wasn't successful, it wouldn't cause any harm to his training. But i resisted for the first round and stuck to just running the 2 experienced dogs. Zac was my first up and had a pretty decent run around the course. I missed the crossdrive gates and thought the run was sloppy enough to keep us out of contention but in the end, Zac ended up placing 13th out of the 67 dogs. Bill had a very good run but troubles at the pen cost us several points and he finished 9th.
So you know what's coming, right? Of course, i put Zeke in for the second round! It was one of those years where lots of dogs were crossing over or not finding the sheep, but i just couldn't stand it so put him in as my 3rd dog. He was definitely seeing the sheep at the top, and left my feet nice and wide. I thought he was on a really correct path but gave him a little verbal "out" reminder just after he left, just for insurance, and out and out he sailed for a perfect outrun. I was dying to do a little happy dance standing at the post! He landed nicely, lifted a bit hard, and the sheep broke hard to the right down the hill, as they'd been doing all weekend. Zeke didn't quite know what to do about that and got them about half way to me before i managed to get him around to stop them. Back online and around the course, a little too pushy but not horrible, off to the pen, where the sheep decided they wanted nothing to do with being trapped in that small space. A bit of round and round but we did get them in, then off to the shedding ring where they were stuck together as if glued. No time to finish the shed but all in all, a great first time out at Edgeworth for young Zeke. What a good boy!
Zac was my next one up and again had what i thought was just an okay run around the course. I couldn't get anything close to a shed as the sheep were feeling very friendly with each other, stuck in a clump, and Zac couldn't get within 15 yards without them bolting around me. So with no shed i thought we were out of luck, but in the end we had held onto a 3rd place, Zac's highest ever finish at Edgeworth. He was really working well, especially with having been laid up with the injury. Bill ran towards the end of the round and was good around the course but for some reason decided he just wasn't going to shed and wouldn't come through for me. That was unfortunate as he had a high placing run up to that point.
So another Edgeworth is done, another great weekend passed on that beautiful field. The picture above of the field was taken last year, looking through Zeke's ears. I'd only had him a few weeks and he had the best time watching the trial and being around all the people and dogs. If you've met Zeke, you know he's a real "life is good!" kind of dog, all the time. He was just starting his sheepdog education then. I think it's pretty cool that he got up that field just a short year later. I'm just a little proud of him! :-)