Monday, March 24, 2014

More About Zamora - Appreciation

More about Zamora - the theme is appreciation...
We had five sheep and we were to shed off any two. The course time was twelve minutes which was really nice. The sheep were sheared and in great shape; they would run at the drop of a hat and in that regard resembled overgrown Barbados more than the commercial whitefaced ewes that they obviously were. If they decided they were not going someplace why then by golly they did not go there, but they would bolt in another direction. They had a lot more room to run at Zamora than at Sonoma and they certainly took advantage of it! 

On the first two days when I was there, the scores were mostly low with a few exceptions. By Sunday’s scoreboard it appeared that some handlers and their dogs had figured it out and the sheep may have settled in a bit. There were very few pens and most handlers missed the first set of drive gates, if not the second set. 

Coal and I got  a better score the second day and had a slightly better run and his outrun was way better, but there was still no stop on the fetch and little stop elsewhere. Oh my goodness! I tried harder to get ahold of Coal on the fetch, but really couldn't. That was our downfall for sure. It must be exhilarating for him, because he came off the field practically dancing and he wanted to go back and run again a second time. Even after the ~ 700 yard outrun and and running at a warmer time of the day, he was not tired; so my concerns about him being not fit enough were nothing to worry about. We got a shed and went to the pen with about a minute to go which I knew was not going to happen (there were again very few pens and they took several minutes to happen with very patient handling and a lot of luck). 

Here’s the important part: I really learned a lot about the level of obedience and control that I do not have on the dog and realized more of what one must have in order to compete even at a moderate/medium level in this difficult, challenging type of a trial. I’m not exactly new to this activity, but it was another huge eye-opener for me this past weekend at Zamora. The non-broke sheep bring out all the flaws in the dogs and then you add the long distances. In the last two weekend trials – at Sonoma Wine Country and then followed by Zamora -- there was a high standard of performance. It helps me to comprehend the amount of work that the top handlers put into their trial dogs. The level of control and trust and confidence is a huge step beyond anything I have with Coal, and he is 7 years old and pretty seasoned. I saw lots of folks who are normally very good, have a lot of trouble. I thought I had a better stop and I really don't. I’ve been working hard on his fetch for a couple of years – and have improved it at non-Zamora trials - but I am not sure I can fix what Coal and I do not have.  I’m going to try, just to see if I can do it. The bottom line is, I certainly appreciate a whole lot more what is there in not only the top handlers' runs but the middle strata of runs as well.
I also appreciated the gal who sat and clerked for two solid, long days; I don’t know if she clerked the third and fourth day but I am going to thank her profusely the next time I see her and let her know I appreciate her donation of her weekend and more. I also thanked the course director on my way out of the trial and he surprised me by saying something on the order that I was doing good with my dog and keep up the good work. Wow! I said thank you! Needless to say I expressed appreciation to the people who put on the trial. Appreciation for all those who make things possible costs us nothing and goes a long way...

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