Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Endings and Beginnings

With a great deal of pride and a huge dose of relief, I can now say that Coal's nursery year is over. While we didn't qualify to run at the nationals, we came very close, and we did have an amazing time and we both learned a lot. Many of the trials we ran in were dog trials (not handler trials) -- due to the nature of the course, the field, the sheep, and usually all three -- and while we may not have won the trial, Coal always won over the sheep. It has been an incredible experience but I'm relieved that it's over. We have run in some of the toughest nursery trials on the west coast - Zamora, Porterville, Sonoma Wine Country, Is-It-Worth-It and several others. We've run on range ewes, commercial ewes, hair sheep, wool sheep, and combinations of all of the above. In all cases Coal handled the sheep and we never lost our sheep and were never DQed in sometimes very difficult circumstances.

I think had we qualified for nationals, it would have been a great deal of pressure for Coal and me, and perhaps too much pressure for both of us. So now we can continue to train and Coal can mature a bit (he is still not even three years old). Our goal is still Open USBCHA trialling and when we can demonstrate some greater flexibility and confidence on a pro-novice course, we'll get there.

The new beginning of course is that Rime is about ready to start some light sheep dog training at eight months of age. He got to work with about 40 head tonight and showed that he is willing to put me into the picture, and would run both ways and come off the sheep when requested (sort of!). We even accomplished a few steps of a fetch.

Thanks to all - you know who you are!

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