Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In a State (or Three)

We were in a State this past weekend. We were actually in three states over the weekend: Oregon, California, and the State of Jefferson. Just one month after traveling north to the Cal-Oregon border for Dry Lake, we went back up for the State of Jefferson June trial at Geri B's home place. What a fun trial it was! I came away from it totally stoked. That will be our last USBCHA trial of the summer until either September or October, depending on how things go. I felt like we wrapped up "our" trial season on a really good note with many accomplishments and much to work on and clean up. Slowly we are inching our way into being more competitive and especially, more confident, Coal and I.

I loved Coal's outruns despite the fact that he was a bit too focused on the letout pens; it is all good experience. The outruns were strong and confident; they were a thrill.

Saturday's course was pretty standard, outrun, lift and fetch; left-hand drive, shed two from two, then pen. It may have been standard, but it wasn't easy. The young Gnos replacement ewes are still pretty fresh, even though they've been staying here since Dry Lake. We timed out working on the pen, which we should have gotten, but I was slow and behind the curve realizing which of the four ewes really needed to be controlled. Overall I was really pleased. While we rightfully lost a lot of points on the outrun due to the whistles it took to get Coal off the setout pens, the fetch and drive were both really nice. We made all the gates. Our shed was clean. I walked off the field wanting more. There is that old slot-machine effect again!

Coal at the pen on Saturday (photo by Erin S)

Walking the other dogs at the trial site (photo by Rhonda L)
Sunday's course got changed up. Fun! We had the same outrun but with five sheep instead of four, and we did a right-hand drive and came into the shedding ring. There we were to sort three sheep away from the five, and pen the three. Discarding the other two was up to handler's choice, so to speak. Those who were successful found a way to push the extra two ewes off someplace. I really enjoyed the challenge of this and it was fun to watch. Just farm work, just ordinary stuff we do all the time. Yeah!

Coal had a much better outrun lift and fetch on Sunday. I blew my "pull-in" whistle at the top so that he would stay focused on his packet of sheep, and not on the letout pens. The fetch was fast but we made the fetch gates and turned the post OK. Then we got into trouble. There was a BFL mix in our group who was the high-headed leader. Coal wanted to work her and not the others. We "argued" on the drive, much like we sometimes do on range ewes when Coal wants to "get up into their eye". There was also an orange-y colored ewe in the mix who had a mind of her own. Oh, so not the bo-peep set of five matched cheviot Xs that I had hoped for...but perhaps a better lesson for us, in the end. We did have our argument and the drive was not pretty but I won, for the most part. We fuddled around at the first gate and missed the second drive gate. Points off the drive were hefty and we deserved all of what was taken off (and probably more). But we came to the shedding ring, got our three separated from two and I hazed off the two while Coal held onto the three. We just had them in the mouth of the pen ready to go in (and I think even Miss BFL would have gone in) and time was called. Too bad!

This was such a fun trial and I want to send thank-yous out to all who judged, clerked, worked the pens and setout, and helped in so many ways to make it happen. We also had some more fine hospitality and fellowship with friends and in such a beautiful and rugged surrounding, it just takes your breath away. I am hoping I can return to the State of Jefferson again soon.

It is a seven-hour drive each way, to that State of Jefferson, which gives one plenty of time to think. I replayed both of Coal's runs in my head several times on that drive home, and found many places where it would have been nice to "woulda-coulda-shoulda"! Poor Chiefie and Ryme got hauled along and didn't get to do much at all. Chiefie likes to schmooze with people inbetween runs so I think he was okay with it but poor Ryme got pretty antsy. Ryme doesn't schomooze very well with people he doesn't know, and he really just wants to work. He deserves better than just being hauled along. So I am hoping that next time we haul to a trial that it will be for Ryme, too. For once I am looking forward to fall while I enjoy the summer.

Yes, definitely we are in a State!

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