Dayton is approximately 230 miles east from my house - it took about 3.5 hours to get there, each way. So, with a 6:15 a.m. handler's meeting on Sunday morning, I trekked over the mountains the night before. I recently bought a 2-person tent; very manageable for one gal to set up herself and roomy enough for one gal and her sheepdog!
The sun was out at 4:30 in the morning; I forgot how obvious sunrise was to you when you are in a tent. I was up and about at 5:15 or so. I shotgunned my Starbucks Frappacino Mocha and got my dog fed too. I was scheduled to be run #7 on the "Hill Field." My judge would be Lavon C. - the same judge who thanked me off the field at Lacamas last year because I lost my sheep and dog behind a hill! For this trial, I wanted to show this judge that I had improved in the 10 months since I last run under him! In addition, later in the day, I was to run on the "Flat Field" under Derek F. I've taken lessons from Derek in the past so I was eager to show him how much my whistles have improved and just overall improvements in handling my dog.
The "Hill Field" was up the road a bit, so Diane and I drove over there and set up our chairs. The first few runs didn't go too well - it appeared these range ewes (even having been worked by Open dogs the two days prior) were still a bit, well, rangey! They weren't the people-loving woolies we usually encounter at our local sheepdog trial!
I ended up running 5th due to a couple of scratches. Diane P. took pics of my run on the "Hill Field" with my Panasonic camera... (click on the pictures below to make them bigger and clearer!)
Here are Scott and I heading to the post. The whole trial field is in view here
I'm telling Scott "Look" before I send him on his outrun. I have to hold on to him when I tell him to look for sheep though or else he'll jump out like a false start!
Here is Scott coming up on the sheep.
Here is Scott's lift. He lost ZERO points off this! I'm very happy with him.
Our fetch was not great; offline and missed panel. However, most of that was due to me overhandling my dog.
Our drive actually wasn't too bad, but there aren't any pics to prove it! Here we are trying to get the pen. This proved out to be a difficult task for me and my dog on this run as well as the run on the "Flat Field"
Well, shoot. We timed out at the pen after having more than enough time to actually get it. The sheep were just too squirrely for me to figure out. They broke off into pairs at one point! My inability to get a pen on this field or on the "Flat Field" proves I need more practice with sheep that don't like people!
Here is Scott driving the sheep to the exhaust pen.
We ended up with a score of 49 on the "Hill Field." Out of 90 points possible, that seems low. However, we were one of the higher scoring teams for this particular field.
About 3 hours later, I was up to run Scott on the "Flat Field." It was about 80 degrees at this time and the sheep were starting to get fed up with this whole sheepdog trial thing.
Earlier I said I wanted to impress the judge, Derek, with my whistles. Well, this trial was probably one of the worst examples of my whistling ever! Literally, one "away" whistle fizzled out as if it was a songbird being strangled to death. Not good.
We fumbled through the course and again, timed out at the pen. Scott wasn't as quick with responding to my commands this time and the whole thing seemed to be a bit out of control. I was probably underhandling him on this one! Overall, I got 33 points total (yes, out of 90).
However, I finished the course and was not DQ'd nor did I have to retire. In total, the combined trial score I got that day was an 82.
In the greater scheme of things, compared to the rest of the teams competing that day, Scott and I didn't do too bad! Overall, combined, we came in 7th! Geri Byrne won overall with her dog Danny. Click on the score sheet below to make it bigger...
All in all, it was a really great trial and great experience. I hope to be back next year, perhaps running one of Diane's dogs in ProNovice. Saturday night, I took this picture of a lovely Aussie who was competing in in the ProNovice classes too. Isn't he adorable!