Monday, March 23, 2009

Sweet Sonoma!!!

Life does not get much better than this! I stole this picture from Patrick Shannahan......he took it with his cell phone. This is the big hill field at Sonoma.....the field that Patrick judged.....first thing Saturday morning. It was so beautiful...but the fog delayed running. The right drive panels are just out of view...but the turn took the sheep through the last trees on the right and into some very wicked terrain (especially if you were off line!). I ran Saturday morning...the sheep were wild but nice enough. I got my fetch panels.....lost my feel on the drive...hmmm...then in the ring for a nasty shed....and to the mouth of the pen...timed out. Every run, Sally and I are becoming a better team......and for that I am thankful!
Here is the flat field on Sunday morning. Saturday proved to be very challenging......as Geri said, the sheep were winning. I ran second with Sally on Sunday...and had one of those runs that keeps a person coming back. It was magical.....the sheep really liked her and she did a good job finding where she needed to be. Our drive work was the best we have done together. I even got my pen! That feeling of complete team work is something I have been striving for.....and my girl gave me her all. I am so dang proud of her....
now I just need to wrap my head around getting my shed with good, clean, consistent technique! Amanda Milliken just sent this shot of me.....and Sally getting our shed. Hmmm......okay.....I've got some work to do!
I must admit...the sheep were so tough...it made the trial! I am continuing to see how much of a run is the handler's job of reading situations and helping put the dog where it needs to be. Hence, my journey continues........
On the long....(did I mention LONG!) drive home....I kept thinking of my runs...what went really great.....what was consistent with my goes at Heppner...and what I need to clean up. I am glad to have the month of April to sort through, soul search, and clean up before I head to Big Willow.


It is now Spring Break.....time to Seize the Day!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Oh Heppner!!!!

THE SHEEP

THE FIELD
THE PLAYERS
MY STORY
I arrived at the Heppner trial field on Saturday morning, greeted by a nice day! Remembering all those stories I have heard about the weather and how hard the sheep pull into the draw, I was amazed at how different the 2009 Heppner sheepdog was turning out. I was looking forward to putting Sally on the sheep.....she has never seen Rambouillet type sheep before. They seemed quiet honest, a little touchy, and I was amazed at how much handling made or broke a run! Our first go was mid afternoon on fresh sheep......WHAT A RUN! Now we missed all our panels....but hey...she got a hold of those sheep.....felt them....listened.....and gave me her all. I achieved my goals of just whistling and staying calm at those darn panels...keeping a line and driving and not messing with flipping her about trying to hit them. I left feeling like we had the best "team work" run I have ever had with my girl! I was also quite excited to get my shed.....in the shed ring, I was amazed at the sheep and how they reacted to me.....it was a great learning day for both Sally and me!

Saturday evening the wind started....and with it...a little storm blew in. I scribed nursery for the judge, Derek Fisher, and learned a lot about method and intent. The sheep were quiet hard on the nursery dogs....but I saw some really great young talent!
I got up early Sunday....to high winds and a bitter dry cold. I scribed for the open judge, Don Helsley, and learned so very much! I love scribing for judges that share their knowledge and explain why they take off or leave points! He gave me things to think about when it comes to setting up a shed.....shedding is so much more than just getting the dog to come through the sheep!

As I walked to the post in the early afternoon on Sunday....I kept thinking of staying calm, whistling, and keeping Sally in the appropriate place......but with the course change, and the fact the sheep had run before...it was a different feel all together. I had to flank Sally more then I would have liked...but staying true to just whistling....she took all my flank handling and we hit a few panels! I got to the shed ring......applying what I had just learned earlier that morning and got my shed with about 45 seconds left in my run! The whole run had a different feel to it....but I was so tickled with two really consistent runs where my dog and I worked as a team! My goals of "recovery and letting go" became closer to how I want to handle...and my dog really likes the new me.....one that is quiet and not yelling corrections...go figure!

What a great trial, great weekend.....and now...I begin to prepare for Sonoma! Let the trialing season begin!!!!

Seize the day......

Monday, March 9, 2009

What a great weekend.....

Starting out Friday afternoon, I had a lesson with Patrick Shannahan up at Brigand's Hideout. I showed him my Nell...and then we worked Sally. It was sunny and almost warm. As always, I learned more in an hour then my brain could actually hold!
Saturday morning, I was up WAY before the sun to go check that ewe that was thinking of having her lambs...and then on the road to Sedro Woolly...a good 5+ hours north of me. Here is what Snook thought of the first part of the drive.....she must not trust me as she is sleeping with her eyes open!
And when she realized that we were going to a sheepdog trail.....then she got interested and started telling me how to drive.....
I made it to the trial site.....just after a brief visit of snow.....and took this terrible picture (nice snow fence!) but I tried to get the feel of the vastness of the field. The sheep were set way up at the top of that hill...and the handlers post was way back to the left of the pen. It "felt" big and long to me.
What a lovely trial...a great way to take a look at what I had learned at my lesson just the day before. On the good side, Sally took her blow out whistle and we got our shed. Nell had her coming out party into pro novice and, though it was nothing to write home about, she worked nice for me...we timed out on the cross drive. What I learned..., I might consider doing a little course work with Nell...laughing to myself! And Nell will be put on whistles before I run her again....ugh on standing at the post yelling my commands! And Sally....well, I am working on where Sally needs to be on each group of sheep. I think once I begin to consistently see where she needs to be, feel where she needs to be, and apply where she needs to be....it will start coming together with Nell more as well. I left the trial with all those thoughts on my mind....and did not even look at my scores...guess I'll have to wait until Dirk posts them! Until then.....
Seize the day!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Accessorize

Yesterday was the day to accessorize the lambs. I called my 16 year old son and asked if he and his two friends would like to come catch lambs for me. They all said that sounded like FUN! So, after a little game of chase and catch....each lamb was given an ear piercing...with a "salmon" colored tag....girls on the left...boys on the right. Might I mention that "salmon" is NOT a very pretty color when it comes to ear tags....but back to the task. I was afraid I was going to lose my very enthusiastic and FREE help when I flipped the first boy lamb and applied his matching day-glow orange band....but I talked those city boys through it and the task was done in record time. The boys did not hang out with me...but left as quickly as possible....I don't know why ;)
Here's Val...still the cutest lamb at Rocking Dog Ranch...and I still don't tell the others! And in the background....little 902 looks like he is trying to figure out why the girls did not get day-glow bands.....
Seize the day!!!