Sunday, May 13, 2012

Don't Wine About It...

We went to a small, friendly practice trial today and were rewarded with cooler weather than what was predicted over in the Sacramento Valley. A nice breeze, an early start, and all dogs and people stayed wonderfully cool on a day that was supposed to be in the 90s but did not reach that point.

Coal was up first in a two-dog Open class. Originally I had entered him non-compete in Open Ranch but I guess when two Open dogs were entered it was a better choice to lump we two open handlers together. Being first is not our forte and the sheep took advantage of the situation and chose to run a lot. A lot! Poor Coal and I managed to careen around the course, best we could with him staying wide. No pen, no shed. I think there were two pens today, and you had to have the first name of Gloria to get a pen!!! Coal received a lovely bottle of wine for his effort. I'm sure he would rather have had a nice juicy bone but he didn't get a choice.

My main reason for going to the trial was to get Ryme out in a supportive atmosphere to see if he is more ready to trial in the mainstream. Unlike Coal, who needs to stay in the vehicle until almost his time to run, I kept Ryme out so he could see and watch the other dogs, handlers, and goings-on, in order to acclimate and get comfortable. Since Ryme is new to trialling, I have to go with my instinct on how to handle him pre-trial, and it seemed best to let him see and experience things around him as non-threatening and just same-old, same-old at another sheepdog trial, so he could relax and perhaps be less reactive.

I ran Ryme non-compete in the Pro-Novice class. Open handlers were supposed to run in Open Ranch, which included a shed, and since Ryme doesn't have the first steps of shedding training, I did not want to over-face him if we got that far. Ryme stayed cool, had a beautiful outrun and lift although I had to urge him on with several whistles. The setout person was a person with grain  (and no dog) who seemed to be crouching down behind his sheep - something Ryme is not used to but it is fine and good practice for him to get used to all different sights up top. The sheep ran down the field on the fetch as they had, for many (most) of the dogs. I was able to flank Ryme to try to straighten up the fetch and the sheep kept their velocity going! Soon they ran "out of bounds" and we were given the "thank-you". Not upset at all with the situation although it would have been nice to get further on the course. But I found out what I needed to know, which is that Ryme is ready to take another step forward. Big and welcome news!

There is a dock-diving pond on the property where the Don't Wine About It trial was held. After the trial, lots of the handlers let their dogs loose and probably twenty border collies were soon diving and swimming in that pond, Chiefie among them. I have never seen him swim so much! He was having a blast. He did not look like a ten-year-old and was keeping up with the young, strong swimmers. Such fun and a lovely end to the day.

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