Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lucy's trials, my tribulations

Lucy and I ran in a three day sheepdog trial this weekend, in Massachusetts. The Friday trial started at noon, so we were able to go to work earlier in the day, and then head out, but the Sat and Sun trials started with novice at 7:00 am, so we had to leave the house at 4:15 am. I am just now beginning to catch up on some rest. I just don't handle debits of sleep like I used to..

So, on Friday, we walk up to the post. I made sure Lucy saw her sheep, and set her up to go away. She took the away, but was a bit tight. Nevertheless, she picked her sheep up well, and brought them to me rather quickly, only taking a down once the sheep were barreling up to me. We got them around the post in the right direction, and headed for the panels. I had to keep berating Lucy to keep her off, but we got around in a fashion. Then it was time for the pen. I could not get there before the sheep. They were jiggered, and at one point they headed, and made it to the exhaust. Lucy got in there, and after a bit of a commotion- (the sheep thought they could make it past her, and she made motions to grip a couple noses), she brought them back in a nice line 3 abreast, looking like they were very happy to go wherever she wanted them to. We did run out of pen points, so the judge told us this, and we stopped our run. It wasn't great, but it could have been worse (visa-vis Saturday). We got 6 place out of I think 15 dogs, so not bad.

On Saturday, I had a very hard lesson taught to me by the judge. I missed the handlers meeting, and at that meeting, he had said "don't use your stick aggressively at your dog". That was important information.... So, I set up Lucy to go away. She started out okay, but started to drift in and ACK!!!! she crossed over. That started me being jiggered. I was an idiot out there, and was hitting the ground with my stick at my dog when she would not take the flank I wanted. She would take what SHE wanted. We did manage to get them penned. At the end of the run the judge came up to me and told me he said not to do that. He hit me very hard for doing that, as in took off most of the fetch points and ALL the drive points. I spoke to a couple of fellow trialists, one gentleman in particular from Virginia was very supportive, and said that everyone has things like this happen. I then started to cry. It wasn't because we scored badly (I didn't even look at my score), it was because I had been such a complete jerk out there. It was poor sportsmanship, and it was ugly. The judge later came up to me, and tried to make me feel better, by saying that we all do this elsewhere, but at a trial it isn't cool. Anyway, I cried more, and thought that maybe this trial stuff ain't for me. I went home that day very tired and defeated. I didn't think I would go on Sunday. I decided that Saturday would just be canceled in my memory book...

But, when Sunday came, I decided yeah- I will go, and end this trial on a good note. I will NOT yell, and I will NOT swing my stick. When it was our turn, I walked out there calmly- I think I was more exhausted than anything. When we went out to the post, Lucy immediately set herself up perfectly for a come by. It was like she does in training- this I took as a good sign. I sent her, and she performed a very nice outrun. It was pretty. She brought the sheep to me quickly- well, THEY ran without help from her. I then did something different. I said "please" before all my commands. I also said everything much calmer. I kept my stock stick ramrod straight into the ground. The only time I used it was to block the sheep at the pen. We didn't have great lines (because I didn't know you needed them in novice!) to the panels and back to the pen. At one point the sheep thought they would escape to the exhaust pen, like they had done to many dogs the previous days. Lucy was ready for this though, and when they turned and bolted, she had them covered and back before they made it 15 feet. Lots of silence from the crowd when you see a young dog running to cover sheep- will they grip? Not Lucy, it was just a simple jag out to get them and back. Anyway, we got them in the pen, and I shut the gate. Lots of applause from the gallery, and I was so happy. Lucy didn't score much better than she had on Friday (remember, Sat doesn't exist), but MAN did the run feel better- all because I my attitude. Turns out we took 2nd place. We were tied for 2nd, but Lucy's better outwork broke the tie. It was a great way to end our first trials for the year.

Lucy is my girl. Kelpies rule!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lots happening

Well, we are getting down to crunch time for a busy few weeks. Kevin and Kay will be here in one week tomorrow. I have to dig out that itinerary from Penny, so I can see what time their flight comes in, but I think it is later afternoon, so we will probably grab a bite on the way home. There is one night in my home town, and then we head to the trial in New Hampshire. I found a cheap and decent motel, so I will be staying over during the trial. I had initially planned to go home after my run on Friday, but since I've no way to get K and K back to NY, I will stay over. That of course means I can help out a lot at the trial, since we are only running Friday, and we will stay until open finishes on Sunday. It is a looong drive. I dread the gas charges! Oh well, this will all be a wonderful start to K and K's visit, and in the end, WELL worth any money spent on petrol.

I have yet to determine what we will do for the couple of days before the clinic- I have to work a bit, but I think we can ensure that K and K each get to have some fun doing things they like. One day in NYC is something I am shooting for as well.

The clinic is coming along nicely. We are extremely full wrt working slots, and we have one official auditor. This will truly be a memorable event. We have almost an equal number of Border Collies and Kelpies, and the huge majority are well bred working dogs- none too young, and all ripe to learn from the master. Kevin, I think, will have a great time, and I know that we all will relish the opportunity to ask questions, and get insight. Kevin trains much like the typical "BC trainers" in the USA, and since usbcha trials is what many of us aspire to, this will be very apropos.

Well, that's it for now. I will post shortly on how my Lucy is doing.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Been a while....

Since I have posted. Not sure why, I guess I have just been very busy, and have a lot on my mind with the clinic coming up etc. Things are going well with the yard- I got some top soil delivered, and spread out/seeded. Yard is coming along nicely, and I have got to get out there and mow. I spent the last couple of days focusing on shampooing carpets. My goodness do the carpets look great! Lucy got to work another unfamiliar group of sheep the other day. I think they were St. Croix/Kathadin, though not sure. Wasn't sure how things would go, but she did very well. Not perfect, but she is just coming into her own quite nicely, and feeling her sheep well. We got to work the whole group at one point- 25-30 sheep maybe? Lucy was just absolutely perfect. Her outrun/lift/fetch, could not have been improved- I may be bias, but you know what, I didn't have to say a darn thing. She just did it. Makes me wonder what I am doing to make her do things that I don't like- since she obviously knows what to do on her own!

The clinic preparations are coming along. I have found a good place for the lunches- close by, and I am told, very tasty. Kevin and Kay will be staying with my parents for the time between the trial and the clinic. It wasn't the initial plan, but I think it will work out very well. We have a very full roster of dogs, so I will have to remain on task to make sure every one gets their fair share of time- a timer will help me with that. We are all looking forward to Kevin's experienced insight into the inner workings of sheepdog work/thought processes. I know for me and Lucy, there are things that I have questions about, that I bet Kevin, knowing Kelpies and looking in from outside, as it were, will be able to enlighten me on. It will be tiring- as I am staying in a camper on the sight, and I am a real homebody (read, don't sleep well out of my own bed), but, I think I will end up being very tired each night- which will help me sleep :)

I also got pricing on new furnaces, which I am happy to say are a little cheaper than I thought they would be- though not cheap. This will help with fuel bills this winter- that and keeping the heat down to 50, and using space heaters as needed....