Friday, November 1, 2013

Testing Our Training at Pt Pleasant Fall 2013

If trials are a test of our training, we took two exams recently at the Pt Pleasant (tenth annual) sheepdog trial near Elk Grove, CA. While we didn't flunk, we didn't quite get straight As, either.

Coal ran in the Open both days and it was fun for me because we have not trialled in USBCHA style since May. I was excited to be back at the post (or the tower, in this case). Some of the things we have been working on turned out well; and some of the other things we have been working on, were not up to par. The sheep were from two different flocks, but mixed and worked together quite well.

In this trial the post (tower), shedding ring, and pen were all in one smaller field, and the outwork and drive were in an adjacent larger field. The tricky bit was getting your dog from one field to the other through a couple of options through the gates. From years past I knew this would likely be the scenario so when possible we had practiced in advance the exercise of sending the dogs through an open gate to pick up sheep. But those practice sessions were all on home fields so it was not quite the same to go to a trial and ask for the same thing. The first trial day Coal needed quite a bit of coaxing to run out the gate but the second day he had it down pat. I was happy with his outrun, especially the second day!

We had some good parts (like Saturday's drive and Sunday's gather) and some rougher parts (like both fetches and Sunday's drive).  I think our scores were a 61 and a 63. I was sort of surprised that we had trouble shedding because Coal has been shedding well in practice. We can do better so we will keep at it.

It was fun to see all the handler friends that I have not seen since May or earlier last spring. The weather was gorgeous up until Sunday mid day when the wind picked up and kept on blowing, so hard that by later in the afternoon it felt like we were running in a sandstorm! There were quite a few firsts with friends and family running dogs in Open for the first time, this weekend...which made it all quite fun.

I'm grateful that we had the chance to run in a trial and we're looking forward to the next one coming up soon.

These pictures are of a friend and her dog and are only taken with my iPhone so they are not of the greatest quality. They only show the closer, smaller field. The larger field with all the outwork is out of range of the phone camera.

Ready, set, go!

Nice shed, first day.


After the shed, second day. The gate the dogs had to run out on the outrun is just to the very right of this photo.

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