Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dunnigan Hills Spring 2012

We are back from Dunnigan Hills trial, spring 2012 version. I had a ton of fun and so did the dogs. My goal was to get away from work mode for three days and get fully immersed back into my passion of the sheepdogs. I think we realized that goal and more! Oh and also it was in my mind to have some good trial runs - which happened too! Woo hoos all around! This trial marks our second year running in the Open. How time flies when we are having so much fun.

The weather was HOT, especially on Saturday and really hot on Sunday. Monday was better, but still warm. Coal ran in the Open on Saturday and Sunday. I was so pleased that we had two clean rounds, getting all of the gates and finishing the course, both days. Now that felt good!  Sunday's run was really nice and we might even squeak in on the HA  points on that one - we'll see; if not, that's OK as I am still really happy with the run.

Despite the farm flock and somewhat familiar (to us) field, the trial was still a huge challenge. What separated the women from the girls (and the men from the boys too!) among other things was the driveaway to the first panel. If you were not right on the money the crafty sheep would take an exit stage left around the hill and off they'd go towards home and you'd get the thank you from the hard-working judge, John Fontaine. Holding that drive line to the first panel (of three drive panels) was what made or broke many runs.

I always love this trial because of the wide open spaces all around you. All around you is nothing but hundreds of acres of open, green rolling hills of pasture land. Some of the dogs get lost in all that space. Coal did that last fall - went too wide and had a hard time getting to his sheep - but this trial he stayed just about where he should be on his outruns - wide enough but not too wide as to get lost. I was really pleased. We still have work to do on our fetches. But overall it was a really fun time. There were some really beautiful runs laid down that were a joy to watch.

On Monday I had volunteered to help with setout. My boys and I spent the day back at the pens so I didn't see much of the P-N/N runs. But we had a good day despite being hot and ending with some tired feet and sore muscles. My dogs got a ton of work keeping the sheep ready to go for the next handler and the next. Ryme earned his "penwork badge" by being invaluable to help me with calmly loading the release pens. He was awesome and seemed tireless. Coal earned his "silent gather badge" as twice the wily home sheep started for home without permission and they got pretty far before we could get them back. Coal had to be sent to pick them up over the hills without me whistling (which would have potentially interfered with the trial handlers' whistles). He didn't fail me.

Coal at 5 months
We've come so far and I am so delighted! When I got Coal as a puppy I was running Bid in AHBA and had just started to see some success in RESDA; Bid and I were tightening up our performances but still we had issues mostly created by me trying to start him on my own way back when. I had run Bid a few times in Pro-Novice but we weren't too successful. For a while it seemed like I might have another agility dog in Coal, as he didn't show much interest in sheep early on. But at about eleven months, he turned on and life changed forever. With the help and tireless encouragement of a great mentor, here we are in Open and putting in some credible runs. Life is good!


Celeste said...

Awesome story. Love the puppy pic, too. Congratulations!!!

Billy said...

Thank you Celeste. ;-)