Saturday, May 30, 2009

Key Peninsula Trial with Scott

Last Monday (Memorial Day), I ran Scott in a trial at McDonald's sheep farm on the Key Peninsula. I had entered before I knew that I'd be getting my wisdom teeth pulled 3 days before. I was actually feeling okay on the Monday so Jerill, Diane and I headed out to the Peninsula in the morning - I was slated to run my first run later, around 11 a.m. I was entered in the Pro-Novice and Ranch classes with Scott and entered in the Novice class running Diane's dog, Rainy.

Although I was in a bit of pain from my teeth and taking some prescription pain killer (Tylenol Codeine) I had some good runs with Scott. If I had been well and not on prescription painkillers, I would have been more on-the-ball and I know we would have done better in our P/N class - we placed 10th overall among 38-or so dogs running that day. A couple hours later, we ran in the Ranch class. We were the second dog up in Ranch and I have to say that Scott and I were working as a true team. He was listening beautifully and I was helping him out too at the post-turn and at the pen (areas that I had failed to be pro-active in during my Pro-Novice run). We ended up winning the Ranch class! That was a surprise to me actually - I know I have a marvelous dog but given our last few trials, I wasn't expecting the run to go so well. Here is a play-by-play pictorial of running the course that day (double-click on the picture to see a larger pic). Also remember, we had only 5 minutes to run the Pro-Novice course, and 4 minutes to run the Ranch course - because they're timed, and there are a bunch of people watching you, and you're being judged, it can be a little stressful!

1) Setting up at the post. Sheep are about 150yds out. I have Scott set up to do an "Away to me" flank, meaning he'll run out counter-clockwise.

2) Scott's outrun was excellent with regard to distance from his sheep; however, he did need a re-direct/re-focus command from me when he neared the top. Scott is behind the sheep here in this picture and you can see the sheep being lifted and heading toward the first "challenge" - the fetch panels. The dog off to the right is the "setting" dog - its purpose is to keep the sheep in that one spot so all the competitors have a chance at getting a proper fetch & lift.

3) Made the panels! This has been something we've been working on. Scott has a lot of power with the sheep and the sheep will readily take off if he doesn't control it, which is my job, so I try to keep him at a fair distance and slow him down a bit using "lie down" "lie" and "walk up" commands.

4) This challenge, called "Turning the post" is where the sheep are turned around me and "the post", in the proper direction and heading into the direction of the 4th challenge - the "First Drive Panels." Those are the panels you can see in this picture.

5) Made it! Another skill that Scott and I have been working on - that is, getting all sheep through the panels and then turning them swiftly, without the dog gripping or pushing too hard, to head into the crossdrive to another set of panels about 300' away. We didn't make those other crossdrive panels - we were too low.

6) After settling sheep at the post (that is, having them stopped and calm after completing the drive), we begin the penning process. Scott was on the ball here - more than I was! The handler is supposed be "assertive' enough with the sheep to keep them from running behind the pen - you have to help your dog a bit in these circumstances. Note - you can't touch the sheep though, you have to stomp and wave your crook at their eye level!

7) ...And, they're in! A perfect pen! We actually timed out in Pro-Novice before I could pen all the sheep - one sheep had its big butt still hanging out the door when we timed out, so it was really, really close. When you time out, you lose all the points for that "challenge" so we lost 10-pts in P/N. We completed our pen (this pic) in Ranch in time.

No comments:

Post a Comment