Monday, July 18, 2011

Pam Cornell Memorial Sheepdog Trial, July 2011

Rime near the cross drive at Willowside

Coal, Chief, and Rime on the Pescadero trial field enjoying the COOL!

This past weekend NCWSA hosted the Pam Cornell Memorial Sheepdog trial at Willowside Ranch outside of cool Pescadero, CA. The Willowside Ranch was indeed Pam's dream and we hoped to put on an event that was worthy of her memory. I am hoping that we succeeded. The trial field is shown above, where my boys were going for a romp on Friday afternoon before things got started. They were much appreciative of a big open field to run in after their car ride down to Pescadero driving through San Francisco!

The club offered Novice-Novice, Pro-Novice, and Open Ranch fun classes for handlers on the Willowside farm flock of mixed Dorper-Katahdin sheep. The adult ewes have been worked in the past, but are not worked often now; about half of them had good-size ewe lambs by their sides and these made up the packets of four, set by our very able and experienced stock handling team. Each packet had two or three ewes plus one or two lambs, so the sheep were workable if treated correctly. The runs were judged, but if a person needed to leave the post to help his or her dog, they were allowed to run out their time allotment as long as things were going smoothly. In this sense we hoped to provide a training and learning experience for dogs and handlers alike. Open handlers were required to run in Open Ranch, with no open dogs except for non-compete. On Saturday we offered fun runs after the trials were over for an additional practice experience.

I cannot say enough thanks of gratitude to the trial organizers who made everything look so easy. I am on the NCWSA board so I was involved with planning this event but did not have an assigned "job" for the weekend - so I had the luxury of being the floater to pick up whatever job was needed at the moment: exhaust, scoring, gophering - whatever! This is the type of assignment I truly enjoy the most as my job keeps changing. We also had tremendous help from the handlers who pitched in wherever and whenever needed to fill any job that needed doing. For this the Board is most grateful!

I ran my boys non-compete: Rime in the P-N and Coal in the O-R. On Saturday, Rime had trouble lifting the sheep - two ewe/lamb pairs who wanted awfully badly to go back to setout. I didn't want to give him his bite command in a trial as I am working so hard to get him to lift softly and correctly. So I walked a lot closer and he was able to lift with encouragement, we fetched them to the post and then retired and exhausted them. I figured a quiet work was much better than a blowup at that point as the older ewes were flighty and could have caused Rime to get into tail-in-the-air mode! Coal and I had a decent go but missed a drive panel, just skimming it low, and didn't get our shed. I was really happy with his engagement on the pen though, which has been a recent issue. He stayed with me and held his ground and while the lambs in each set had no idea what they were doing we were still able to pen. Pens were hard to come by this weekend so it was nice to get them with my dogs.

Sunday Rime was up third and I was a bit worried about him being too fresh even though he had exhausted runs almost all afternoon the day before. Anyway he was a little on the muscle but we managed to stay under control and got 'round the course. That was an awesome feeling for me as Rime has been quite a project!  Coal was up first in the O-R and we again had a decent but not great run - he was a bit too sticky at the turn 'round the post and that ate up time. Again we did not get our shed. You would think it would have been easy to split two ewe/lamb pairs but it wasn't. It was my fault and not his as I never could arrange the sheep to even ask him to come in, before time was called. More to work on.

Rime worked more exhaust as the day finished up and the only casualty in our group was that Coal must've gotten stung by an insect in his foot after his Sunday run. It started to swell and we finally figured out that it must've been a sting and not an injury to explain his limp. I gave him Benadryl and all seemed well soon - which was a huge relief.

Huge thank-yous to everyone who helped out. I am sure that Pam would've been quite pleased with the entire weekend event.

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