This past weekend, I headed up to a sheepdog trial in Cooperstown NY. This was to be our second trial in open. I was nervous, but not as bad as the first time. I left early on Saturday morning, as I was not scheduled to run until late morning. When we got there, I watched a few runs, and before I knew it my friend and co-trialer showed up- and we watched some runs, and then it was Dan and my turn...
It's a big field and challenging sheep. They can be stroppy, runny, or just plain obstreperous, or they can be "dreamy" as some would put it, so you just never know what you will get. I sent Dan to the right, and he came up nice, I did give a caution whistle (more for me than for him). We got them down the fetch and turned the panels and got through the drive gates, but at the cross drive panels, about 3/4 of way there, I gave big flanks and it just got wonky. I decided we had tried our best to get those, considering the fact that we are so new. So, I had them bring the sheep on line best I could to me. Then we got to the pen. In my group was a giant Montadale wether. I have since decided to call those things "Moby Dick" in reference to the big white whale... They would not go in the pen. MD would just turn his head to face me and stand there, and if I walked Dan up, he would bust through me and ripped the rope out of my hand at one point. The second or third time he ran through me, I decided to retire. I knew we would not pen these sheep and I just did not want Dan to get more revved up over it. I tipped my head and said thank you. I was over all happy with Dan and really happy to be done with our run.
After my friend ran, we headed up to the cabin she had rented with her family, where I ran Dan and Joe, and then we all went to dinner in Cooperstown. I had the rib eye steak, which can be hit or miss, this was miss. Too much fat. But, the rest was good and I was starving. After dinner I went to the Bed and Breakfast I was staying at for the night. VERY nice people and turns out, the daughter in law of the owner I know from work. It really is a small world. I chatted with them until about 9:00 and then I had to hit the hay. The room was on the third floor of a very large Victorian house. It was a huge room with an en suite bathroom. I did not sleep well that night, mainly because it was a strange place, and I had another run the next day. I got up the next morning and was greeted with great coffee and WONDERFUL breakfast. Eggs to order, pancakes, bacon, sausage, breakfast casserole, to mention just a few, and then, the coup to gras, this extremely wonderful Swedish pastry and cream puffs, all made right in front of me from scratch. I took a plate of goodies to go and headed up to the trial site. I was not to run until much later in the day. My friend came and we took our dogs for a nice walk in the woods- what a nice trail.
Eventually, it was time for Dan and I to run. I sent away same as last time and he went wide and deep, maybe a bit too wide and deep, and as I stood at the post I heard the announcer talking about Dan running out there like a rocket, and as we waited for the lift, he mentioned something about how scary it can be waiting for that... took the words right out of my mouth. So, Dan did lift and I don't think he was prepared for them taking off back to set out so I whistled him over and he was a very good boy, took that flank and walked them straight back on line and a nice fetch ensued. We had a good turn at the post and then a good drive out to the panels and a good turn on the cross drive and good cross drive and good turn at those panels. I let my guard down and did not watch the sheep all the way back so we got hit five points on that part, and then after one missed attempt, we go them in the pen. Then, onto the shedding ring. These would have been good shedding sheep, but I only got one good attempt and then tried to set it up when time was called. I was very happy with how Dan worked, and now I KNOW we need to get shedding practice going!
On my way back to the car, the owners of the B&B stopped me (they came to watch) and congratulated us on such a good run, and they even had a biscuit for Dan. What NICE people. It meant a lot to have people there supporting us. So, after I put Dan back in the car, I watched a few runs and then we headed home. I just wanted to get back to my own bed. Took a while, but we got there. I was BEAT. So, now we are back to normal, and it feels good.
Dan made me very proud out there. I always had faith in him. He's my boy.