Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Watercress SDT

 View from the top end of the field, looking down field and over the campers. 
(Photos by Julie Poudrier)
Click on a picture to enlarge it.
 Jan's home and the view
The trial field, again from the top end.

Along the fall trial circuit we go, this time landing at Jan Thompson's Watercress SDT in Limestone, TN. This is one of the prettiest, if not THE prettiest trial locations we go to all year. Jan's perfectly maintained farm sits among the mountains and the view is beautiful, with the leaves changing colors all around. The trial is set on a large hayfield with little rolls and dips. Lots of folks pitch in to keep the trial running smoothly all 3 days, and the handlers dinner on Saturday evening is to die for, gourmet all the way featuring lamb raised right there on the farm. Setout was very capably handled (as usual!) by Julie Poudrier and this year's judge Scott Glen was imported from the faraway land of Alberta, Canada. The sheep were very fit and fat katahdin ewes and their lambs from this past spring, and the weather was perfect with cold nights and bright, sunny days in the 60s.

The trial began on Friday with the novice classes. We began the day with Nursery 1 and a reasonably sized (smallish) course for so early in the Nursery season. The dogs seemed to all handle it pretty well. Zeke ran very well, winning the class and securing his second qualifying leg for next year's Nursery Finals. Next up was Open Ranch 1, on the same course, won by Sally Glei with Lena. ProNovice followed, won by Chuck Dimit and Chad. Then came a course change that left those waiting to run Nursery 2 and Open Ranch 2 (running together) feeling a tad nervous. The setout and all panels were moved back to the spots they'd be for the first Open trial the next day, and it was a huge course for the youngsters. Actually, it was a pretty darned long drive even for the Open dogs! It was a fun challenge for the young dogs and made for interesting spectating as we watched the different dogs trying to master it. Zeke was the first dog up on the course and i was very happy with his performance. He had a little trouble with the outrun but his fetch and drive (the longest he's ever attempted) were very good and the pen quick and easy. His score held up at the top of the long list of Nursery and Ranch dogs running until right at the end when Chuck Dimit and Chad came along and laid down a beautiful run to win both Ranch and Nursery.

Saturday morning dawned cold but clear and Bill was my first dog up in the Open. He had a decent enough run but not his best by a long shot. Not sure what was up but he just seemed a little distracted. At the end of the day he finished just out of the placings. Zac was up mid-afternoon and had a great run going, with only a couple of points gone as we approached the shedding ring. Unfortunately he lost his patience with the sluggish pace of the sheep and decided a good goosing was in order to speed things up, resulting in a grip call and DQ. I was less than happy with the rotten beast giving away a potential win! Saturday's winner was Victoria Wilcox with a beautiful run with her Pat dog.  Sunday went quite a lot better for my guys. Zac was up very early, at a time when the sheep were acting pretty touchy, but managed a pretty nice run that held for a 10th place finish. After a very long day of waiting, Bill was the last dog of the day to run. The sheep had gotten very good at the end of the first day, so i was anxious to see what we'd get. As i'd hoped, the sheep got pretty sweet at the end and Bill had a smoker of a run. He'd hardly lost a point up to the crossdrive panel, where i carefully drove the sheep high and around the panel, grrrrr. It was a difficult one to see for sure. With a clean finish, about the only points Bill lost were on the crossdrive. But that was enough with the good running to put us 3rd for the day behind Chuck Dimit and Bob Washer. All in all, i was very happy with all 3 dogs. Especially gratifying were the 2 perfect sheds by Bill after having trouble at some of the trials this fall. I think i finally puzzled out the problem and hopefully the bit of quick training we did last week was the thing that helped.

So that's the play by play for this week's trial. Now we're home for our first weekend since August, and then we'll be off again to the Broken Back Ranch SDT the first weekend in November.

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