Tuesday, May 24, 2011

RESDA Beebe-Johnson Memorial Trial 2011

This past Saturday, RESDA held the annual Beebe-Johnson Memorial Trial. This trial honors two of the families who were and are stalwart supporters and handlers in the RESDA program over these many years. Normally this trial is held at the Boonville (Mendocino County) fairgrounds but this year the fairgrounds' large grassy arena was not available due to reseeding. So the trial was held at the actual Johnson family ranch.

A compliation of photos from the day can be viewed here.

I was really happy with how my boys worked. Coal ran in the open and had a nearly perfect run - unusual for us - except that we did not get our pen. It was just not meant to be and I have stuff to work on to try to improve this part of our performance. The RESDA pen is unique in that the handler stands still without any assistance to the dog to help pen the sheep. It truly must be all the dog's work and none of the handler except for voice or whistle commands. In fact at all the traditional RESDA obstacles the handler stands still with no crook, and with no arm movements. So if you and your dog "cross over" from time to time from USBCHA trialling to RESDA and back again I have to think it might be confusing for a dog to have you help at the pen sometimes, and sometimes not. I don't think that is the root of Coal's problem but it is pertinent to know. Here we are pictured working on the pen that we did not get:

Billy & Coal at the pen
Photo by T. Tucker
Lack of a pen aside, I was really pleased with Coal's outrun, lift and fetch. I'll get to review it on the video from Powell's K9 Productions, yet to come.

Rime ran in the RESDA pro-novice class. I helped him on the outrun by leaving him back on a stay and walking out. I think we are still at this stage for unfamiliar places so that I can assure Rime will have a cool head and a good run. He needs the mileage right now more than he needs "testing". I was really pleased with how he performed and stayed cool and calm even though one of the five ewes was testing him throughout. This would have been a prime opportunity for Rime to blow up, but he did not. We even penned. Next time I should try the chute (optional in pro-novice) if things are going this well again.

We also had a birthday celebration after lunch. Sunday was somebody's birthday who happens to be my big brother. Here we are showing off a cake and some napkins that say, "What's One More Candle?". It was a fun day for a picnic in the country, that happened to include a dog trial.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spencer Pt Pleasant SDT 5-15-11

It was a busy weekend of driving here and there. Coal and I ran at the Pt. Pleasant sheepdog trial outside of Elk Grove on Sunday. I took a bunch of pictures of the Pro-Novice class (but unfortunately did not get everyone, and no pics of the open class). The pictures are here in a Picasa album:


Sunday's weather was crazy and changeable. Storm cells rolled through with regularity, giving us shows of lightning and a sound track of thunder.

Dark skies over the trial field
Luckily it did not rain on most of the runs. Coal and I took our turn late afternoon and the weather was fine for us. We also got a nice set of sheep who were willing to separate for the split and single but yet moved together nicely on the outwork and drive. He was pretty amped up (no doubt due to the cool air, the weather, and waiting all day) so he was all gas and no brakes! That was kind of fun though and while he didn't listen to me very well we managed to finish the course with a decent score.

Saturday we attended a friend's celebration of an extraordinary achivement. It was good to see old friends and visit with new. It was a good socializing opportunity for Rime. Saturday morning Rime and I had a good lesson with our trainer, working on outruns. It was indeed a busy but productive weekend.

It's a bit sad that our local USBCHA trialling season is now completed until fall. Thanks to the Spencers once again, and their crew, for providing us with another opportunity to run our dogs!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Board Meeting

All but one of the one for the book Team
The team held a brief board meeting yesterday afternoon, since it was such a nice day. All but Grace are shown in the team photo; she was off on a committee assignment under some shade. Pictured below are a couple of the VPs:


The meeting was soon adjourned with ovine activities to follow! (Photos by T. Tucker)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dunnigan Hills Spring 2011

Last weekend we traveled to Zamora again for the Dunnigan Hills Spring 2011 sheepdog trial. It has been a few days but time passes so quickly that I never seem to quite find time to write about the trial, or anything else for that matter. As with everyone else in this day and age, the daily and weekly routine keeps a person so busy. If anyone is wondering what happened to the remaining twin lamb born on Easter Sunday, he is thriving, fat, happy and growing. He has a good mom. We also had another set of healthy twin ewe lambs that were born yesterday. So life goes on......without photos. I have a funny superstition about taking lamb photos.

Anyway the Dunnigan P-N/Nursery classes were run on the Friday. The post and course was returned to the "original" layout from a few years ago (basically turned a quarter turn or so counter clockwise from what the course has been the last couple of times). I had always liked this earlier arrangement and it reminded me of running Bid in Pro-Novice a few years ago at this trial. It was a bit of a walk down memory lane for me. Rime had two runs in Nursery. He is really not ready for Nursery/P-N and is not what you call a "true nursery dog" other than in birthdate...he is not one of those early-maturing, super-thoughtful and capable youngsters except in the enthusiasm department! However I thought of all places where Rime should feel comfortable it should be at Zamora, so I went ahead and entered him, just for mileage. There was a large turnout for the Friday classes and it was a very full day of runs. A lot of really nice runs were laid down in both the P-N and the Nursery.

As for us, in our first run, after what started as a beautiful outrun, Rime was fairly naughty at the top and on the upper part of the fetch. He rang the sheep at least twice. Frustration! I could not get him stopped. Finally I got him under control and we were able to complete the whole course, including remaining part of the fetch, the drive and the pen. Whew! That was a first and gave me a bit of confidence. I know he can do the work. It's just getting it done when we are away from home that is the current challenge. In his second run, he was a bit better on his outwork but the sheep were getting a bit tired and when we turned the post and started the first drive leg they opted to snake left around the hill and Rime did not handle this well. He was showing a bit of frustration himself, so I retired. I made a mental note that in the past Bid always did more poorly on his second run in a day at a  trial too. More runs are not always a good thing in one day. But at least we got one course completed; that is huge for Rime and me.

I haven't mentioned the wind. The wind dominated the entire first two days of the trial, with gusts of up to 35 mph according to the TV news. It made spectating really challenging and turned faces into dry burnt toast.  The dogs appeared to have no trouble hearing their whistles, however. On the P-N/N day, most handlers sent right (Away to me) with only a few sending left; but both could be successful.

Days two and three were for the Open dogs. Coal had one run each day. The outrun was lengthened from P-N. Fetch gates were set up near where the P-N setout had been. The drive was longer with three sets of drive gates instead of two. A single was required following the pen. It struck some of us who had been there on Friday as a little strange, because on Saturday and Sunday most handlers sent their dogs left (Come Bye) with only a few sending right. In past years either direction has been successful with an equal number of dogs getting lost on the outrun to either side. This year was no exception. A few dogs went back down to the parking area looking for their sheep. One or two went back to setout. Most made some semblance of picking up their designated sheep. There were a lot of really nice runs, especially on Sunday. It would have been very hard for me to separate out the top four or so runs in placement order if I had been judging. In particular Tom Spencer's run and Anne Mock's run were both just spectacular.

Coal and I got around the course both days and in both runs ran out of time attempting the single. I was happy that we got to the shedding area (no marked ring) but would have liked to complete a course at least one of the days. Coal had no trouble finding his sheep. He is running out from the post with a lot of purpose which is a big improvement over our Open classes last year. At the top, though, I feel he sometimes still lacks confidence but seems to be improving. Our fetches and drives had good and bad points but as usual most issues were handler-oriented. We also have much to work on in the singling department. I felt like our Sunday run was better than our Saturday run. It would be nice to get out to trials more often to kind of keep that momentum going. But our trial season is winding down and the travel budget is low. It was a nice relaxing weekend spent among good company, old friends, and new. The summer will be mainly for practice, for us, with a few one-day trials and a couple of fairs in the RESDA circuit. I will say thanks once again to all who helped to make the Dunnigan trial a success.