Monday, November 22, 2010

Dunnigan Hills Trial, November 2010

Sunday we ran in the Dunnigan Hills trial near Zamora, CA. The day was clear and brisk, in sharp contrast to the heavy overnight rain and wind storms. Local folks in the Zamora area had been without power overnight. The weather gods were smiling on the sheepdog trialists and trial hosts, however, as it couldn't have been nicer (and there wasn't a strong Zamora Wind that we all know so well!). David Rees was again judging and we had another left-hand drive but no single or shed, because the terrain at the ranch just doesn't allow much room for a shedding ring.

Coal ran twelfth in the order so once again I didn't have to wait too long but had plenty of runs to watch before we stepped up to the post. I sent him left, to his better side, and that worked out fine. He could have been deeper but it was adequate. The lift was a bit offline though as a result. The fetch was fast and furious; I should have gotten hold of Coal sooner on the fetch - my bad. Since Coal is sometimes too careful and creepy, I often get sidetracked in my handling when he is fast! In theory, I can deal with too fast much better than too slow but it's something I need to adjust for more quickly on the fly. It must've been the cool crisp weather that made both dog and sheep really light on their feet. We made the fetch gates, and brought the sheep up the hill and 'round the post to start the drive. The sheep are very "educated" as one top handler put it, and they gave each dog and handler team a run for their money on the drives. The cross drive is right on the path to "home". I thought we were going to make the first drive panel, but didn't, and ran just low-- disappointing but it was my mistake and Coal's exuberance that I wasn't up to speed with. The cross drive was adequate and we did make the second drive panel, turned for home and I tried to remember to keep my eyes on my sheep the whole way up the hill and over to the pen. I couldn't see Coal but I could see the sheep and that was enough. The pen was successful in spite of Coal deciding to be sticky and not take my flanks close at hand (another issue to put back on the "to-work-on" list). We ended up with a generous 71 points which is a new high for us in the open.

We've run in six Open trials in about the past month and have gotten a score in each one. This little "circuit" has shown me a lot of what I need to work on over the winter, but more importantly, has shown me that we can indeed be somewhat successful in the Open. I have no regrets about moving up in class last April. I'm really happy with the little black dog. We are having so much fun!

Thank you to all who helped to put on the past weekend trials; they were both great and I know very much appreciated!

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