Monday, July 27, 2009

Confessions of an addict......

It is time for my confession....to bare all.....tell all. I am an addict regarding all things working stock dogs. I know that might not come as a surprise to most of my friends...but there you have it.... now it is in print. And...gasp....because I am an addict....I participate in arena trials! Swoosh....I feel better. So here is what I did this past weekend.

Every year for the past four years, I have participated in a really fabulous ASCA trial in Sweet home, Oregon. This is the "other" half of the trial hosts.....very friendly and supportive and loves to have his picture taken.....ornery might better describe him!
It was very amazing for me to look over the past four years at this ASCA trial and think of how far I have come......my first time there, Snook, my rescue border collie ran started sheep and then started ducks after my friend Ken introduced us to ducks. I remember watching everybody get their ribbons and prizes and thinking...someday! Each year, Snook would work her way through the ASCA ranks...and last year she ran post advanced GOATS. The thing about ASCA is that your dog has to start in the started class...regardless of how trained they are.

At ASCA trials...Australian Shepherd Club of America.....there are ducks to work.
Snook, Sally and Nell worked ducks. Nell was not sure she wanted to work ducks the first day and it was so mechanical...she did everything I said.....but talk about lack of intensity! Next day was much better.....Snook was 1st advanced duck run both days.....Sally 1st in started ducks the first day and 3rd the second.....gave me opportunity to work on some things....and Nell was 2nd and 1st in started ducks.
There are also sheep runs at ASCA trials. I thought the sheep were very nice this year! I did not run Snook the first day on sheep...she has her advanced title...but the second day I could not resist! She took first place and went high in trial with her sheep run! My little rescue red girl.....rocks at arena trials! This is where I felt bad running my open and nursery dogs in a started class. Instead of walking with the sheep like a started run....I chose to run the girls as advanced dogs...hoping to do some work on things I see at USBCHA big field trials.....I feel like I got to see some of those areas that Sally and I need to work on.....and then try a few ideas on how to work it out .....both dogs were still really nice and took their whistles and worked hard. Nell was 1st both days and Sally a very close 2nd.

AND THEN THERE WAS THIS!
Nell ran in started cows! I swear I almost wet my pants the first time "this" happened on her first day! OMHeck!!!!!!!!!!!!! My friends and cow mentors....told me to shut up and let her work...so the next day...I did. She got in over her head a few times but she put in some good work and tried so hard. Cowgirl Up little Nellie Bellie!

One goal that I have had for four years....when attending this ASCA trial....is to be high combined. Due to the fact I have never run cows (combined being scores from sheep/ducks/cows in same division in one day)...it was near to impossible. This year, Nell did me proud and brought home Most Promising Started Dog...which really is high combined for started. I knew she had promise.....Now it is time to seize the day....one day at a time!

cow photos courtesy of That'll Do Photography......THANKS SHANNON! You ROCK!

Monday, July 6, 2009

All that and a bag of chips....

I am on a blog updating mission tonight! Gosh....life sort of got in the way of writing about it! What has happened since Scio.....okay.....you asked.......

First off, I went to Dry Lake....a really fab trial put on by Geri Byrne and friends. The good from the trial for me was meeting Herbert Holmes....and hanging out with great people.
What I learned....well, Sally and I have some outrun work to do. The trial field was REALLLY HUGE and the course was HUGE but felt like a postage stamp on an envelope....the sheep were set at REALLY FAR BACK....and well, let's just leave it at that! See how HUGE it all is???
After Dry Lake.....I graduated my son from high school.....

He is the one in the middle....first born, funny, bright, and loves to play baseball! Gosh who knew I had a life outside of sheepdogs?

Then it was on to a Jack Knox clinic! My biggest brain freeze at the clinic came when Jack told me, "when you get Sally to stop for you because she wants to and not because you forced her to, you will have succeeded" or something like that! Hmmmm

My next trial was Sue Wessel's Dirt Blowing Trial. Dirt Blowing.....really? How is there any dirt left when year after year, people take all that blowing dirt away from the trial site in their rigs?? Sally's outrun was spot on.....brought tears to my eyes....and then......as she brought them on the fetch....the sheep and dog went into this gully ravine affair.....and I had no idea what to do! So it was part of the course to loose site of your sheep and dog on the run....but gosh.....I had no idea what to say/whistle/pray.....especially when it was sort of a mess when I lost sight of them all! Will the lessons ever end???? I think not....

I should have known I was in trouble when this was the judge and the judges tent! I wonder if he could see what my dog was doing when I couldn't.....cheater!After all that Blowing Dirt....I took a field trip to the Idaho desert....meeting Diane Deal for some personal counseling sessions! 15 hours of driving for two hours in the desert with Diane, sheep, and my dogs....priceless!The MacDonald's famous end of June trial was yet another opportunity to put Sally in a different situation. Her run on Sunday on the coop/scottish black face mix gave me hope of runs to come!
My latest adventure in my journey of working sheep dogs included a "handlers clinic" with Bev Lambert. My head is spinning....full of thoughts, ideas, and the precision she demands in her training and trialing!The Sheepthillz Sheepdog trial ended my time with Bev Lambert. The trial was hot, the sheep were complicated, but what lessons presented themselves! My Nell had a nice go in Pro Novice showing me that time and miles will soften her into the teammate that works well with me. And well, using excuse #6 out of my "book of excuses"....Sally was in standing heat!

I am now busily packing the car for my journey east.....off to Missouri for some face time with the Knox family.....and the end goal of having Nell meet her husband!

I am so excited for the adventure that lies ahead......

Seize the day!