Monday, July 30, 2012

Fun in the Sun, Santa Rosa Style

We had way too much fun over the weekend; way more fun than anybody should have when they are "working". Ha!  The working kelpie-club sponsored ranch trial at Shephard Ranch was a complete success. Everyone seemed to have fun. I really enjoyed judging the ranch classes on Saturday. The course was challenging and well designed and forget anything about AHBA being "easy" wasn't.

The course for the jackpot started with a blind gather of 5 sheep. Neither handler nor dog could see the sheep due to terrain. Then they took those 5 sheep and added 10 more from a take pen to run the rest of the course. The blind gather made for a really interesting beginning but it did not turn out, as it happened, to be the hardest part of the course, which in my opinion was the sort through the race. Especially on Sunday, when everyone including the sheep were getting a little tired, the sorting race took its toll on those who had their eyes on that jackpot. Some of the most experienced handlers and dogs found their undoing right there. In addition to those exercises, there was a graze, a drive, another outrun-lift-fetch, a y-chute and a freestanding pen. Twenty minutes - believe it or not - was almost not enough for some of the jackpot runs. It was hard work...and fun to watch.

The other levels did not have to do the blind gather and had slightly easier race sorting...but the courses were still challenging and fun.

Since I was judging, of course I did not run my dogs competitively. Coal got to help quite a bit on Sunday with setting the sheep for the blind outrun. Ryme got to run noncompete in Level 3 on Sunday. He mostly held his head together and I was so grateful to get a chance to run him in a trial atmosphere, providing us with much-needed "mileage".

The advanced handlers had to accumulate scores on both days to run in the "jackpot" for the big-cahuna money prizes. We judges got to hand out a ton of lovely loot to the handlers who placed in all the classes, all weekend. Such nice prizes!  The jackpot winner was totally shocked when her name was called with first place.

While three flocks of sheep were mixed for the trial, for the most part they all worked together beautifully. Only occasionally did "friends" split off and cause any troubles...but in most cases they worked back together with just a nod from the dogs. Lots of fun ranch work simulating real chores.

Another really nice thing about this trial was the super-smooth and consistent setout and stock handling provided by a young couple who were dedicated to this task all weekend. They worked really hard and their effort was much appreciated! They and a couple of kelpies single handedly kept a near three-ring circus going behind the scenes, accepting exhaust sheep and setting out "blind gather sheep" as well as "take pen sheep" all at the same time. Awesome!

All in all, just too much fun. Lots of old friends from Willowside days as well as lots of RESDA and other handlers enjoying a new or different venue. The thing about AHBA ranch is it teaches you to think on your feet, handling different problems as they come along, and not always in the same order. I love this venue for this reason.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lots to Think About

Next weekend I have been invited to judge an AHBA Ranch trial in Santa Rosa. It looks to be really fun! There is an unusual addition to the course, for those who chose to enter it; there is a "jackpot" added (with some nice money prizes, I must say). The first exercise is a blind gather for those who entered the jackpot, which will be above and beyond the other exercises that the "regular" HRDIII dogs do. We walked around the trial field today so I could think about judging it. The competition should be pretty stiff; there are a  lot of seasoned handlers entered, with both kelpies and border collies (and maybe some other breeds, I am not sure). I will be thinking about this course a lot, this week!  For the blind gather the handlers will stand in a gate opening into a pasture and send their dogs out for sheep off to their left that will be set in a lower spot. The dog and handler won't be able to see the sheep (although the judge will have a great vantage point, on top of the septic mound -- ha ha). It should be interesting to see how this blind gather plays out. I will have the front row seat.

AHBA is so much fun and we rarely get to do it any more, without Pescadero. Seems like on those few occasions when I have an opportunity to run in AHBA there is some reason why I cannot go. I've been asked to judge AHBA a few times now. It is fun done in small doses. I am glad to give back to a venue that has been so fun for me, put trialling miles on me and my dogs, and taught me a lot about cleaning up my handling.  Here is a funny picture of me judging AHBA a couple of years ago. I guess I never realized that I talk so much with my hands!

What I am hoping for is a cooler weekend than we had the past two days. It's been HOT! And yes we are totally spoiled here. Today we started a new chapter with our sheep flock. We picked up a little Cheviot ram lamb that we had reserved about four months ago. How time flies! Much more to think about and anticipating some lambs of our own next year if all goes well.

And, just because it's summer, here is a totally unrelated picture of Chiefie from summer 2009. Chiefie doesn't always make the blog, but he is the rock and the glue that holds everyone together around here. So he gets photo coverage every now and then, just because.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

From Foxtails to Tarweed in Thirty Seconds

Gosh, it seems like only a week or two that we've been able to work the dogs without worrying too much about the foxtails. There are still some foxtails about but they are low, and falling down. Just so we didn't get too comfortable, this week I noticed that our other little green friends have started poking their heads up from between the dry grasses...the tarweed plants. Ugh!

If you are not familiar with tarweed it's an obnoxious little plant that has a nasty smell to it...and it has an oily substance that sticks to dog's fur, which then attracts dirt and makes a clingy mixture that is hard to get out. Just lovely.

If you need a visual, here is a picture of a happy dog from years past who has been working in a tarweed-infested field. Too bad we don't have scratch-n-sniff on Blogger.

On the positive side we had good lessons with our trainer this past Sunday. This occasion was way overdue because we haven't had a coaching session since February! I've just been so busy with work and schedules just never seemed to mesh. The weather was too hot, or I didn't have free time at the right time, or there were trials to attend. Finally it all came together. 

Ryme was pretty jacked up at first but he finally did settle down some and showed some of the things he can do. I'd say he started out at about 50% of what he can do at home and moved up to about 75-80% by the time we were finished. He is still very much a work in progress. His outruns were the problem area, which was not a surprise. Ryme's driving, though, was absolutely lovely, and at a good pace which earned me a  compliment for "keeping up" with such a good clip. Yeah!

Coal got to do two big-boy outruns with a sort of a "geometry problem" involved (so to speak) that the real big boys are working on to prepare for major events. I was quite pleased that sent to either side he accomplished the goal of the day. Woo-hoo! And then Coal ripped a foot pad on each front foot, on the dry ground, and that was the end of that. Yep, summer marches on!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sonoma Marin Fair Video

PK9P Productions has posted a very nice video of Angus at the Sonoma-Marin Fair, in Petaluma. It's a really great example of a good RESDA run! Go Angus and Tom!

Angus at Sonoma Marin Fair

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pics from the State of Jefferson

Thanks to Gloria A, we have some photos from the State of Jefferson trial that we attended at the end of June. Such a stunning landscape for holding a trial, it was truly awesome. Nice sheep, fun courses, (fairly) good weather. Who could ask for more?

Coal on the fetch

Coal turning the post

Starting the right-hand-drive

Setting up the shed

At the pen with the three sheep we have sorted from the original five.
Woo-hoo! Many thanks Gloria!

Marin County Fair 2012

Wednesday, July 4th, we went to the Marin County Fair RESDA sheepdog trial. It's always a fun fair with a huge crowd, and lots of really interested and thoughtful spectators. I took a few photos of the first few dogs in the trial and then unfortunately neglected to pick up the camera again for the rest of the trial. Anyway here are a few shots of what I did capture with the camera:

Bill S and Chance completing the fetch

Karen K and Dickens complete the chute

Angus and the sheep

Tom T and Angus getting the chute

Tom T and Angus penning!

Sharon H and Dylan penning!

Hard working setout crew - thanks!!!
Coal and I have not practiced arena work as we've been focusing on our USBCHA trials all year. His last several sheepdog trials have been on huge courses out in the open, and our work at Marin on Wednesday was clearly not our best. I think I'm personally finding it harder and harder to flip back and forth between the two methods. The temperatures were relatively cool with a nice breeze blowing in off the ocean there in San Rafael. The sheep provided by Bill Berhow worked really nicely and were so consistent even though they are not accustomed to arena work nor the chute obstacle. It was hard to beat to find a better spot to spend July 4th.  Thanks to all who helped make it a fun day!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

'Tis the Season

'Tis the season for fireworks in the 'hood. It's not been a fun national holiday week, so far. The noise was bad on the night of July 3rd, so much so that we all hopped into the car and went for a drive for a couple of hours with the radio turned up and the air conditioning on arctic mode. It was not fun but better than staying home and suffering, however I did have to question the safety of being out on the road with hundreds of our local friends who may have been out partying.

The evening of the Fourth of July was even worse and the chauffeur was just too tired after the RESDA trial (not to mention little sleep the night before) to go out driving around, safely. So we rode it out at home with as much "white noise" as possible. Not pretty, not fun. A call was finally put in to the local police later in the evening just to see what the status was. Their reply, while polite, was that there were just too many calls to answer about illegal fireworks, and they have "limited resources" to deal with them and can't catch the people doing it. So we hunkered down. The bigger booms ended after midnight, but the "pops" did not stop until almost 3:00 AM on the morning of July 5th. Suffice to say that dragging herself into work had the chauffeur quite groggy.

Things started up again last night, the evening of.....July 6th. Luckily it did not last too long. We are really tired of this.

Instead of focusing on the negative I'm trying to plan a more positive blog post, with some new photos. Now that would be fun! Stay tuned...