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.

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