Monday, December 29, 2008

Holiday Weekend in Pescadero

The historical little town of Pescadero, CA was the scene of our latest weekend (between Christmas and New Years) adventures in sheepdog trials. The fabulous Willowside Goose Wranglers team put on an AHBA trial that was not to be missed. Not only did they offer the ranch (HRD) course, opportunities on geese and the test classes for those who are just getting started, they made the rare opportunity available for us to run in HTD (Herding Trial Dog--the "border collie course") in the large open field!

The weather cooperated beautifully with sunny, cool days and no rain or wind. Coal was entered both days in both HRD III and HTD III, with all the big boys and girls who are either HTCH dogs or HTCH-pointed dogs. Bid was entered only in HTD III so that we could practice our skills on the big driving course.

Coal qualified in both of his ranch course runs, with a fourth place on Sunday; this is not too shabby considering the competition. We have some skills to work on for that type of work, of course, but overall he was pretty reliable since I use him for ranch chores all the time.

Coal in HRD III (photo credit L. Allen-Byrd)

For HTD we had about a 125 to 150 yard outrun (seemed longer!) and long crossdrive, and a shed in addition to the outwork, driving, and penning. I'm really glad I have been practicing our shedding, although usually I have not been working on small groups of sheep yet for this at home. Both boys, however, stepped up to the plate on their trial sheds on five head.

On Saturday Bid took High in Trial on the HTD III course! This was very exciting. His outrun was gorgeous and his shed was textbook.

Bid shedding on Saturday (photo credit L. Allen-Byrd)

On Sunday our work was a bit more ragged and he ended up in third place. Overall though this was great and a boost to the confidence level. He also helped to set sheep to help finish up the trial after our runs on Sunday. Bid is a good little worker with a ton of heart.

Coal was second to Bid in HTD III on Saturday, and amazingly won the class on Sunday. Coal was able to shed better than Bid on Sunday. Coal and I have lots to work on, including improving his outruns and driving. My timing on the handling has got to motor up the learning curve, too, as I feel I am really making judgemental errors out there, especially on our cross drives, which gets my boys in trouble.

A wonderful dinner at the historic Duarte's Tavern (do not miss the artichoke soup) and staying over at the ranch in the bunkhouse completed the experience. A good time was had by all in the company of good friends, lively conversations, and lots of folks pitching in to help run the trial. Thanks to all who helped and participated!

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