I enjoy judging in small doses. Judging really makes you examine your own handling and training.
It was a lovely field with crossbred wool sheep who worked great for the Open dogs. These sheep have been in a trial before and are managed in a large group at home by a dog and handler. So they are dog-aware but certainly not dog-broke. They tested the Open dogs quite well. There were quite a few nice runs. I was hard pressed at times to find places to critique but I did my best.
There were of course a few runs that didn't go so well. I encouraged those handlers to go help their dogs. Sometimes it seems the handlers have grown roots and don't walk when they should - or so it seems at least...
There was also an old saying in other dog events that I thought of: "don't make the judge think!" It's meant in a joking manner but really, if the handler is doing something that is so different from the norm, then that handler is taking a chance of losing a lot of points that they needn't lose.
Being on the other side of the clipboard reminds me that etiquette goes a long way. The thank-yous received are much, much appreciated by the trial hosts, work crew, club staff, and clerk. It's those little things that keep sheepdog trials happening.
Speaking of which: lots of big trials have been running: Soldier Hollow, Meeker, the International in the UK, and so forth. It has been hard to stay focused anywhere but on the various websites that offered updates.
In our little part of the world, there will be a RESDA-style sheepdog trial at Lambtown. Details can be found on the RESDA website.