Monday, November 14, 2011

Hopland photos and article

Here are a few more photos from the Hopland trial, thanks to Teri!

One ewe of our packet did not get a gold star for playing nice with others

Coal waiting his turn
Another UC HREC Hopland sheepdog trial has come and gone. There is a nice little article in the Ukiah Daily Journal about it. This trial is becoming one of the best trials on the west coast if not in the U.S. There was a wait list for the Open class, so we felt fortunate to draw in. The venue is spectacular with a patchwork quilt view atop a hill where you can see across a beautiful Mendocino County valley, and of course the sheep are fabulous. Where else do you get fresh, mostly undogged, very healthy and fit commercial wool sheep for every run, all weekend? The staff from the research center were more than helpful and had everything fixed up so that our trial experience was so much fun. The Ukiah 4-H kids (and their wonderful parents) prepared delicious food on Saturday and Sunday. The trial organizers had every detail planned for and in place, including a setout person flown in all the way from Wales! Doesn't this sound like a recipe for a great trial to draw a lot of handlers and spectators?

As for Coal and me, our late-afternoon Saturday run was one I'd like to forget. All the stuff we have been working so hard on -- good outruns that are wide and deep enough, for one thing -- seemed to have gone out the window, as did inside flanks to release off pressure. It was as if we never trained at all.  I was pretty discouraged.

On Sunday morning, our run was better. The outrun, lift and fetch were downright respectable. We still had troubles on the crossdrive that had nothing to do with the placement of the crossdrive panels (which were wicked in their own right). We did make it to the pen as the photos document, however, time was called while we worked on  easing the sheep toward the pen. The course time was cut by a minute from Saturday to Sunday which didn't help us, but helped to get the trial completed on time before dark.

It's hard not to still feel discouraged about trialling but a good friend advised me to tally up the good and forget the bad parts. Our trainer told me that he was proud of me for taking a risk on Sunday morning's run that worked well to our advantage. Also, on the good side, Coal is still looking really sound. He got a good report from his chiropractor last week so we are greenlighted to go ahead and train and trial. There is one more trial weekend on our calendar before we close the books on 2011. I guess we're back on the team...

Ryme, however, is not sound. He has a similar rear-leg pulled muscle/soft tissue injury to what Coal had, minus the spinning. So Ryme has been on the bench for sheep chores and training for a week now and it will likely take longer to get him healed up. Luckily his knee itself does not seem to be involved, for which I am thankful. Ryme without work is not a happy camper so that is a chapter in the book yet to be completely written...and I hope it is only a temporary one.

Meanwhile we'll carry on (to quote a favorite Welshman)...

What goofy boys do while waiting tied to the fence!

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