Tuesday, September 4, 2012

And Still Another Post! Sunview Trial

I decided to pack up the pack and try a new trial this past weekend, the Sunview Trial in Quakertown, PA. Hosted by Maggie Chambers and Jim Strohecker, this was the inaugural for a lovely little trial that hopefully will become annual. The field was on the smaller side, outrun maybe 200-250 yards i'd guess, fairly flat with a slight rise in the middle falling off to the sides. Dogs running out properly wide dropped out of sight, and it was difficult for the "vertically challenged" (read that, short like me!) to see the dogs behind the sheep at the lift. The sheep were a commercial whitefaced wool cross, provided by Sharon Nunan. They were healthy, fit and pretty opinionated about where they did and did not want to go. Being a smaller field, the pressure/draw could be pretty strong with some packets of sheep really bolting back to the setout or to the exhaust, especially on the driveaway and first turn. The first day, we had a chute with a bend in it to negotiate rather than a pen, and the sheep wanted no part of going into what looked like a closed box to them. I think the chute was completed successfully only twice all day, along with only one partial (2 of the 3 sheep going through). With the shed following the chute, and sheep that were very difficult to split, there was only one shed all day. For the second day, the chute was shortened and widened, with no bend so the sheep could see daylight at the end, and it became much easier to accomplish. Alas, shedding was still very difficult, with only 5 sheds out of 53 runs.

With a two dog limit for the Open class, i decided to run Bill and Zac. Since this was a NEBCA trial, and under NEBCA rules dogs are allowed to run both Ranch and Open until they have placed in an Open trial, i put Zeke in the Ranch so he could run as well. Zac was up first and had a decent enough run. I didn't care for the way he ran out very much, tight and not bending out as he should have. I think perhaps the flat field threw him a bit but he should know better with his experience and age. He had a difficult ewe in his group and we did our best but it wasn't a winning type of group or run. Bill was up later and had a good go around the course. I decided to change things up at the chute and set myself up on the other side from what everyone was choosing, and that worked out well, as we got the first completed chute of the day. I had plenty of time for the shed but just couldn't get any kind of split at all. At the end of the day, the run held up for a win for Bill. Zeke was up in the Ranch at the very end of the day and had a truly terrible group of sheep to try to negotiate. You know it's tough when both the judge and the setout person go out of their way to offer sympathies! But i was thrilled with how Zeke worked. He ran out very nice, wide and deep. The sheep bolted as he got to the top and i had to flank him hard right back the way he'd come. He caught them at a dead run halfway down the field and all the way over at the driveaway gate, but he stopped them cold and brought them back onto the fetch line. Unfortunately, the first leg of the drive was right back in the direction they wanted to bolt, so that was tough. But Zeke kept his head and his flanks and attitude stayed really good through it all. I decided he'd held it together long enough and walked off before we got around the whole course, but i was really happy with Zeke.

Sunday Bill was up early on and had another nice run, pretty good lines even when good lines were hard to come by. Got the chute and I got the shed but unfortunately Bill didn't. I was jumping around and into the sheep like a crazy woman, getting them to split and holes to open up, but Bill decided i'd lost my mind and wouldn't come in to help me out or hold it. I can't really say i blame him, but it was the only thing i hadn't seen tried yet, as team after team failed to get the shed. (Note to self: practice crazy woman sheds with Bill....! ) At the end of the day, he was tied for 6th/7th.  Zac was up at the end of the class and had a decent run but i mucked up the chute and again, no shed, so finished in the middle of the pack. Zeke ran again in the Ranch and was very good at the top end but he got very stiff on his flanks after the running mess from the first day, and i decided to walk off again.

All in all, it was a lot of fun. The sheep were a big challenge and it was good for the dogs to get out there and try to work it out. The trial atmosphere was great and it was nice to see some of the northern folks that i don't get to see often enough. And on top of all that, we were invited to stay with friends for the weekend who spoiled us with wonderful meals and hospitality. It was a great weekend!

1 comment:

James said...

Hi – Will you please post a link to your Blog at The Border Collie Community at vorts.com? Our members will appreciate it.
Members include: Border Collie Owners, Breeders, Trainers, and Lovers.
It's easy to do, just cut and paste the link and it automatically links back to your website...
You can also add Photos, Videos, Rescues and Classifieds if you like.
Email me if you need any help or would like me to do it for you.
The Border Collie Community: http://www.vorts.com/border_collies/
James Kaufman, Editor