Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hopland 2012 and More...

The Hopland sheepdog trial for 2012 is now a memory...what a wonderful trial site, with great fresh sheep and staff who never seem to run out of energy. Below is a picture of the trial field taken by one of the UCANR staffers, R. Kieffer, that is from their blog at this link. I really love this trial even though it is a hard one and I have not had the best of luck there...it is one of my favorites despite our lack of success. Coal and I have run there three years in Open now (incredibly) and the year before that in ProNovice. It is hard to believe that Coal is now six years old.

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I'm not sure that sheepdog trialling gets any better than this...

Coal and I ran in the Open on Saturday and Sunday and then helped with setout after his runs were over. We were middle of the pack on our scores but I was relatively happy with how he did overall. I would like to do better and we keep working at it. I was very pleased with his fetches in both runs which is one component that we have been working very hard on...and the improvement was there.

Ryme and I ran in the ProNovice on Friday. That day was somewhat disappointing as Ryme did not display the improvements in his work that he has been showing elsewhere at his lessons and at our various practice sites. I don't know exactly what to make of it except that maybe it was just too many changed variables all at once for him. Distance, strange field, touchy sheep...just too much for him to keep his head although the outruns were good (one to each side). Unfortunately though, that is what sheepdog trialling consists of...going to various sites and working the sheep and field that is set in front of you. I am thinking that I likely just won't be able to trial Ryme in most situations...so he will have to be a work and chore dog. We only have one more trial this year and it's in a familiar spot so I will go ahead and run him...and I plan to try to teach him a farm style shed this winter anyway, which will help me with his chores even if we never trial any  more. It is a very hard conclusion to come to after three years of work with him. He is now four years old...and very keen to work except...

A week ago Tuesday, Ryme got spooked by a loud and rapid period of gunfire right near where we were practicing. He quit working and wouldn't go back to the sheep that night. It was upsetting for all of us. I haven't taken him back to that site until this evening. He seemed fired up to work and we were sorting the sheep into a work group when suddenly he seemed to remember being scared, even though there were no more shots being fired. He quit again so I just put him back in the truck and got Coal out to work. After I was through with Coal I changed to a different group of sheep and tried Ryme again. He was ready to work again so we just did a few no pressure things and quit while he still wanted more. It may take a while to get Ryme happy at this practice site again. Poor guy. My dogs have become so noise sensitive due to what seems like almost a constant barrage of fireworks in the neighborhood where we live.

So that's the story... we have one more trial in 2012 and then it's on to 2013.

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