Wednesday, May 22, 2013

RESDA Judging Clinic

More from the other side of the clipboard: RESDA held a judging clinic last weekend that was quite an enjoyable and interesting day. The person who organized it did a fantastic job of outlining the points to cover for the day.

RESDA Open handlers who have been in the club for at least two years are called upon to peer-judge for one trial per year. Each year there are approximately twelve judging opportunities and all of those slots need to be filled, or else the possibility of dropping trials start to come into play. The names are drawn out of a hat (literally) at the annual meeting in February and assigned to the various trial dates planned for the year. The extra names (if there are any) are assigned to no-points days in which they will clerk or set out or a similar all-day job. This year we didn't have enough people to judge, so some adjustments were made. I hope that this judging clinic will encourage some handlers to try their hand at judging. When we run in a RESDA trial we know that next time we could be in the judge's seat; it keeps everything really fair and thoughtful.

I went into the clinic with the idea of soaking up what others had to say and adding to my knowledge of RESDA. I am happy to judge in the way that the majority leans as long as it follows the idea of practical dog and stock work. The underlying theme of the day was, in fact, "when in doubt think about what is practical dog and stock work".  Every little thing is not covered by the rules and by-laws. Judges have to assess the trial field or arena, the stock, and other details about the situation and judge accordingly.

At the end of the clinic, five actual runs were scored by the group and then discussed after each one. We didn't have to really pretend to make mistakes because the sheep provided options for scoring questions to pop up! Most of the scores were within a fairly close range of one another; it was nice to hear that there was relative consistency. Coal and I were asked to participate in a demo run. He was last in the order, and did a really nice job.

Thanks to all who worked on setting up this clinic. I think it will be really productive for the future of RESDA.

And completely unrelated, I unpacked my camera yesterday.

I found some pictures from February at Hopland at the pro-novice trial. Handlers are shown walking the course before the trial started.  I am missing the green landscape; everything here is turning brown. The foxtails are winning, and the dogs have no work. Enjoy the green!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mother's Day Dog Trial & Picnic

It has become tradition on Mother's Day to have a dog trial at the Spencer's that is interrupted at lunch time for a lovely pot lock picnic. Everyone brings out their favorite salads and sides, to go with the BBQ tri-tip and Mother's Day cake. The long tables are set up in the barn breezeway and all the action stops so that everyone gets their fill and catches up with one another at the mid-day break.

The dog trial was really fun, as usual this year, if only Mother Nature had held off a little bit on the heat. Regardless we all had a good time even if it was hot out. The Open ran first, which is not always the case, but it was this year. We ran on lovely mixed wool sheep -- some dark faced, some white faced -- that were so appropriate for Open. They were a wonderful challenge without being overly discouraging to dog or handler. You had to work to keep them together and you had to work to pen them.

Coal ran in the Open after just coming off his layoff from the sprained ankle. I wasn't sure how he would do but I was really pleased to find out, at the post, that we were pretty much in synch. He was out of shape physically and it showed, but other than that we had a great time on the course. It was a nice run, an especially nice fetch (which I messed up, not him) and a lovely drive (when I left him alone -- duh!). The pen, we had to work hard for. The single was sort of half-baked, teetering on the edge of the ring, but I knew I was running out of dog (he was getting hot) so I took what I could get at that point. I wasn't going to push Coal any harder after doing such a good job. Our run was placed 5th out of about 17 dogs so I was very happy with that!

The pronovice dogs had the white hair sheep in sets of three. There were some really pretty runs as PN is very competitive in our area. Ryme ran late, about 4 Pm after waiting all day in the car in the heat. It was not his day. I could tell when I sent him on his outrun that he was uncomfortable with the situation. He was slow and tentative on the outrun; I stopped and whistled him out twice. I knew  right away that he was not going to run well. After a good stop at the top, the fetch got a bit precarious; he would not open his flanks turning the post or starting the driveaway, so I retired. It was not happening, the sheep and dog were hot, and it had turned into a long day. No need to prolong it. I continue to try to understand him and work with him. We will try again another day.

Thank yous to the Spencers and all of their crew so that we all could enjoy another nice day of dog trialling on really good sheep and in enjoyable company.  That's my last USBCHA trial until fall since I won't be traveling this summer to any trials out of the area. It's a bit sad for me, since Coal is running well, but there are a few RESDA trials to attend and of course lots of training to work on and sheep to take care of.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Other Side of the Clipboard


Dunnigan Hills trial, pro-novice and nursery course field; thanks for this photo to Gloria Atwater

Last Sunday and Monday I enjoyed a different experience, on the other side of the clipboard. For the Dunnigan Hills Pro-Novice and Nursery runs, the judge was none other than yours, truly. People were asking me ahead of time if I felt "ready for this". I did feel ready! I wondered what sort of sheepdog trial mayhem the questioners might have in mind? Had I covered all the bases in my preparatory studies? Probably not...but I felt adequately prepared.

I was so surprised when I was asked to judge at this trial in the first place. After I got over the shock, I said yes! Of course, any way to help. The last two trials, Ryme and I have done the hard, dirty work in the sheep pens for the Pro-Novice/Nursery day. I considered this year's assignment to be a promotion! (at least I hope so). I have judged AHBA and RESDA in the past so it wasn't my first time at the judging job in general.

Bill B. told me to read over three things: the USBCHA guidelines, the USBCHA rules, and the Colin Gordon book, One Man's Opinion. I had all three of them at home already (what does that say bout me? ) and studied up on them mainly during my lunch breaks at work.

It was kind of nice because they asked me to come over and judge part of the first nursery on Sunday afternoon after the last Open. And then I came back and judged the rest of the nursery and all of the pro-novice (there were a lot of dogs) on Monday. So I had time on Sunday evening, before Monday's longer day, to think over the handful of runs I had watched on Sunday.

Overall it was a fun experience. The sheep were working beautifully and most of the dogs did, too. There are some PN handlers in our area who are really stepping up and they will soon be very dangerous! I told them so. It is wonderful to see...

Everyone was very supportive. If they had negative comments, they didn't share them with me. I had a wonderful clerk and the course director and score runner were fabulous. Such a great team! It's so neat to see everyone kick in to make a trial happen. As Bill told me, this experience will make you a better handler. Let's hope so! He has been my teacher for a number of years so it was really nice to be asked; I figure if anyone knows what I know about sheepdogs, it is he. My main goal was consistency and fairness. I wanted the sheep and dogs to be respected. In most cases, they were. In a few cases, the dogs were not respected. I have to say that I deducted a few points for that; it was a very small minority though. The vast majority of the dogs and handler teams showed good work for the level they are in.

This trial was held in memory of Nicky and Bob Riehl, who both passed away recently. I told everyone at the first handler's meeting that it was an honor to be asked to judge at a trial honoring Nicky. She was always supportive of beginner handlers, and she was supportive to me. She was also a great listener when I lost my Bid dog unexpectedly just about three years ago. It is hard to believe that she is gone, but the memories live on. They had a number of Nicky's border collie books from her library, available at the trial in exchange for donations to hospice. I picked up three older books that I do not have in my library. It is neat to have them and maybe they will be the topic of another blog post.

Meanwhile enjoy your dogs! Congratulations to Ann Raines and Singe who won the PN; Candy Kennedy and Vivien Willis who won the Nurseries.  I am proud to be a part of it.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

If You are Feeling Blue...

If you are feeling down, or blue...these should cheer you up!
If you are feeling fine they should make you smile!
Who could resist this face?

Friday, May 3, 2013

RESDA Trial at Slaven Ranch

April 20th we went to a RESDA trial at the Slaven Ranch near Zamora, CA.
The wind was blowing mightily, like it often does at Zamora, but the wind did not stop any of us from having a good time. In fact the wind was so forceful that it drove many of us inside our vehicles to watch the trial instead of sitting out in the sun in our lawn chairs that we had brought along.

The sheep were real, fine wool Targhee type adult ewes from the Slaven ranch. They were not easy to work but not impossible. The dogs had to handle them carefully and appropriately but they were very workable. They were certainly not dog-broke!

The sheep were set out with two stock handlers with their dogs, and if needed another handler with an ATV,  from a holding pen that was set up in the center of the very large pasture. It was a challenge for the working dogs to see where they needed to pick up their sheep and pull the sheep off of that setout pen and the stock handlers. It was a puzzle to be worked out for sure but not an unreasonable one, and certainly the situation mimicked what happens in real life, much of the time.

Coal ran in the Open RESDA and placed third. I was very pleased with him as he ran well as I know he can do. After our shaky runs in USBCHA this past spring I was really pleased to see Coal run out well and handle the fine wool ewes just as nice as could be. There were no problems with his run other than that we did not get chute nor pen (most teams didn't). For this trial we fetched the first panel and then drove the second panel. That course arrangement is not done often in RESDA but is sometimes done in the larger fields and pastures. We did not make that second panel but we had an OK line to it and the draw back to setout was very strong so I was pleased just to keep our sheep together to attempt that panel and move on to the chute. I think we stayed too long at the chute (in RESDA you must make two solid attempts at the y-chute and then you can move on, if you have made the two panels). That left us with too little time to pen but hindsight is also always 20-20! Coal was happy; I was happy!

Ryme ran in the RESDA Pro-Novice. The outrun was shortened somewhat and in Pro-Novice you do not have to attempt the chute at all. You can try the chute for practice if you want, but that eats into your (shortened) time allowance, as well. The RESDA Pro-Novice really is a training class, and you can do what you need to do to help your dog if you want to. Points will be deducted for handler movement but you can move about, and make it a good experience for your dog. I felt pretty confident about Ryme this time so I stayed behind the pen which is the "post" for RESDA, this time and handled it as if I were running in the Open. Ryme was good all the way around, and we were awarded with first place. Wow, a blue ribbon for Ryme! It was very cool, after all the time and miles put in with Ryme, and me doubting whether he would ever be able to trial in any venue.

Here is Ryme with his blue ribbon!

Full results for this trial are available here:

Slaven Trial Results, April 20, 2013

Thank yous to RESDA, the Slaven family who worked hard to put on this trial, Bill Slaven who judged, and Claire and Kathy who did the setout. It is all very much appreciated!