Monday, March 21, 2011

Sonoma Wine Country 2011

This year the Sonoma Wine Country Sheepdog Trial was truly "one for the book". The weather was awful but the companionship was good. The dog work was still great as ever, and the sheep were fine for the most part. The rain tested everyone's rain gear to the max. The fallen tree was just the icing on the cake. Once again we can say it was fun but we are glad it is over for another year! Teri T. was on hand with her camera when the weather got a little kinder, Sunday afternoon, and snapped these nice shots of Coal working on the hill field.

Congratulations to all the winners! There were many nice prizes in the raffles and of course there was the beautiful quilt. This year the quilt went to the one individual in the crowd who as someone noted, was the only person who could possibly win it and yet make everyone else there happy.

As for a personal wrapup with my dogs, it was a mixed bag. I ran Rime in the Nursery on Friday. During his first run, in the morning, the rain was hitting us all so hard it felt like just one step away from hail. I saw him shaking his head and squinting his eyes when he got close to me with the sheep. (Later we heard there was a funnel cloud that touched down in Santa Rosa that morning!) Of course the sheep weren't too happy to be out there, either. It did not make for a great experience for Rime in one of his first trial outings. I had made up my mind to manage his outrun and we did, but things just got too difficult on the drive so I retired. In his second run I really only went to the post to try to maintain the numbers for Nursery. By the time that second run came, it was 6:30 at night and a couple of dogs had been scratched. For us it was a retire almost as soon as I sent him. Rime and I need more time to work on his training even though he works very well for me on a daily basis at our home fields and can handle almost any chore including mamas, lambs, close quarters, gathering a whole flock, or just a stubborn sheep.

Coal ran on the flat field on Saturday, again in a pouring rain storm but not as bad as during Rime's run on Friday. Coal has been on that field several times so I think he felt comfortable. He did a decent outrun and lift. The fetch was not very straight as we were nursing along one particular ewe of the four who wanted to leave exit stage right and was baa-ing for someone who wasn't with her. She made it particularly difficult to maintain any type of flow. We got halfway through the cross drive and encountered the ditch feature in the field that bisects it longitudinally. Normally this is just a hop-over for sheep and dog, but on Saturday it was a raging torrent of rushing water and the sheep just flat refused to go over. And so we ran out of time on the drive for that run.

Sunday we were lucky to run at all, given the fallen tree and all. But the show did go on, and after lunch the weather brightened a bit. We were treated to only a few scattered rain drops while waiting our turn at the post on the hill field. Coal has never set foot on the hill field before and I have never run a dog over there. After I sent him, I just waited as he went out of sight and then watched for any movement in the sheep. On this field Coal did what I thought was a better outrun and the way the field is, the handler really cannot see the lift. The fetch was nicer, and through the gates. We got into trouble, though, on the drive once again, and lost almost all of our drive points. While we got the shed, it was not pretty and we timed out attempting the pen. I'm very happy with the two gathers in Open and we have much to work on, from there. Coal seems none the worse for wear from the runs, and is his typically happy self. I do enjoy running him!

It is always fun helping out with this trial and there were some spectacular runs by the top handlers. There were also some firsts and personal bests among the more local crowd including Lorin D.who won the big Pro-Novice class on Friday. Congratulations!

1 comment:

Pat Grannan said...

In years to come we will be able to say we were there the year of the tornado, hail and massive tree blocking the driveway.

Even though the weather was miserable it was still fun. Sandi and crew do a great job.

Good to see you and all the NorCal folks.

BTW - I was the one that made the comment about the quilt raffle. I still think it is true. Congrats Regan.