Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NCWSA Fun Trial at Willowside Ranch

We had a great, if somewhat wet, weekend just past, at the Willowside Ranch just outside the tiny town of Pescadero, CA. The ranch is one of our favorite places and it was a real treat to be able to go back and trial there. NCWSA put on a fun trial including Open Ranch, Pro-Novice, and Novice-Novice classes for handlers and sheepdogs on the Willowside farm flock. The sheep were great, moving well off the dogs, but not running too much, providing a good challenge for all. The weather smiled on Saturday which was our longer day with all three classes, plus fun runs added in the afternoon. Sunday's storm made things a bit more difficult (we couldn't post scores and a few handlers did not show up for their runs) but we managed to do all the trial runs, and got things cleaned up by mid-day.

I ran Coal in Open Ranch, non-compete, as this class was for Open handlers but not Open dogs. I just wanted a chance to get out there and practice on an ISDS-style course which we have not done in a trial since April! I was really pleased as Coal was in fine form, and ran like a little top. On Saturday we missed our second drive panels (operator error) but had a nice pen and shed. On Sunday our drive was much better, had a good pen, and had just started setting up the shed when time was called. Overall they were two nice runs and Coal did everything that was asked of him in fine style. It was a real confidence builder for both of us!

Rime ran non-compete in Nov-Nov as that was the outrun length and class that suited his current training level. His outrun the first day was shaky as he didn't know what to make of the settling-vee. He has taken sheep off of a stock handler many times in practice but has never seen a funnel-chute such as was used to keep sheep contained until they were lifted. But I urged him on and after some hesitation he went 'round and picked up his sheep just fine. I was really pleased with the degree that he listened to me and while we weren't able to drive and I had to fetch the drive and cross drive, overall Rime was in good control with only a few bobbles here and there. I retired at the pen on Saturday as he was getting a bit hyped up with the close at hand work. On Sunday Rime's outrun was great, and with no hesitation. However once the sheep were out of the vee, he decided it was a tail-in-the-air moment, but soon he calmed back down and we finished the course including the pen. By this time the ground was quite muddy around the pen from the storm, so part of the challenge was staying on one's feet!

Once again I was fortunate that our friend Teri took some wonderful photos of Rime's Saturday work. A few of them are shown below but the rest are in a Picasa album, here.  I am extremely grateful to have all these fabulous photos!


Thanks to the NCWSA and everyone who worked so hard to put on this fun trial. It seemed like everyone had a good time and found the experience very useful, whether it was to step to the post for the very first time, or to season a new dog for an experienced handler. I know I was thrilled to be able to get my boys out somewhere different, challenging, and fun for all of us. The cream of artichoke soup at Duarte's doesn't suck either!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Photos from RESDA 2010 Fall Trial

Our friend Teri was kind enough to take a series of photos of the dogs at last weekend's RESDA Fall Trial. Here is a sample each of Coal's and Rime's photos. Click on the photo to see the whole album in Picasa.



Sunday, October 10, 2010

RESDA Fall Trial 2010

Yesterday was the final RESDA trial of the 2010 season, the traditional-course Fall Trial. Held at the Johnson Ranch in Mendocino County, and run on the ranch ewes, the Fall Trial is always a test of the best dog and handler teams in the RESDA style.

I got some pictures of some, but not all, of the dog and handler teams. They are in a Picasa album, here. The winner was Patti Sowell with her experienced Del, followed closely in second place (I believe only one point difference) by Darrell Duncan and Nell (a team which has won this trial before). Both had beautiful runs. The rest of the placings, which I won't try to quote from memory, will be posted on the RESDA website.

Creekbed behind the trial field
The day turned out to be sunny and beautiful, but was quite hot even by mid-morning, which was the undoing of Coal's Open run. He handled the ranch ewes well, which was a plus, but he got too hot so we retired at the pen. I decided it was best to save him for another day.

By afternoon while it was still hot, a bit of a breeze came up when we went to run the Pro-Novice dogs, making things a bit more tolerable. Rime was up first. We got five ewes instead of the Open three. I moved up quite a ways, leaving Rime behind the pen. He cast out nicely but when he got close to the sheep, was in for a huge surprise in that these big ewes did not just move neatly off of sight of a dog like he is used to with our dog-broke sheep. He looked at me and I urged him on around and he finally lifted them correctly and thoughtfully. This made my day! Those ewes taught him so much just in that one moment. The rest of his run was quiet and composed and we even penned. Needless to say I was quite pleased with the baby dog. Rime will turn two years old in early December and we still have a long way to go, but this was a very good experience for him. I am thankful that RESDA has a program for upcoming dogs as well as upcoming handlers.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chiefie Birthday and Carmel

Chiefie on the beach in Carmel
Today is Chiefie's birthday; he is nine years old. We have had a wonderful vacation in the past week that included a couple of nights spent in Carmel, CA with our dear friend, Lisa. The dogs and we greatly enjoyed our trip that included a day at the lovely Carmel beach, and staying in a quaint cottage near the Carmel River and Mission. Chiefie has also had multiple back rubs and massages from Lisa who is a fabulous healer of both (wo)man and dog! We are so very fortunate! I have uploaded more Carmel photos into a Picasa album, here.

The dogs loved the beach. Coal and Chief had been there before, a couple of times, so they knew what they were in for and fairly dragged me down to the sand. Rime was a beach newbie and I was a bit concerned as to how he would handle it. But my worries were for nothing as Rime enjoyed his day as much as the others and we didn't have any problems. Well, the only problem was getting the dogs to take a rest from running, chasing waves, and otherwise playing. When we returned to our cottage that night, all three dogs were "lights-out" for several hours. Ahhhh!