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!

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