Friday, July 30, 2010

Dawson Creek and Kate's debut

Last weekend Louanne, Jenny and I headed NORTH for a trial - that's a first as I am now totally used to the summer "commute" south for trials. The Gellings trial in Dawson Creek was a first for all of us. Dennis and Jean do a great job of putting a trial together. Heck, I'll be heading back next year for handler's dinner alone. 

Hope and I did not have a good weekend. On Friday neither one of us was steller. I don't know what I was thinking, but it sure wasn't about running a dog. I forced Hope...not once, but twice to cross over at my feet. After that, between him not listening (who could blame him, he was handled by a dislectic idiot) and me then totally doubting every flank I gave him (which isn't good for one's timing) we didn't exactly have our game on and we finally lost a ewe on the drive when she bolted for the water on the field. She wound up swimming even though Hope was nowhere near her by then - at the very least he still had a good recall...chalk that up to another "never had that happen at a trial" I thought...

Day two.  After a night of obsessing "come by clockwise, away counter" I was good to go. Hope had a great outrun, lift and fetch and we were both feeling really good about things...and then one ewe broke away and bolted for the water - which was a LONG way away. What were the odds... I left the post and Hope and I tried to push the other three to catch up to the fourth (you pretty much always want to push the group to the single), but frankly she was going for broke with nothing chasing her. What the heck. THAT's the luck of the draw. 

But hey, on to the good news.

This was Kate's first trial as a nursery dog. She doesn't have the best birthday date for Nursery so between that and the trials I could get her to this summer this was her first and pretty much only Nursery entry. 

Day one she got out to her sheep and brought them in fairly nicely , got them around the post and then lost them as we started the drive when they bolted into the trees. I left the post to help her out as I wanted things to end well for her, her first time out. 

Day two she did a bang up job and got the sheep around the course, penned them and won the nursery class (and beat all of the pro novice dogs as well as it was a combined class). Good girl Kate!

 Kate at the post on day two. 

Check out Louanne and Jenny's blogs for more about our Dawson Creek adventures.  Next trial stop, EID, Shaunovan and Maple Creek. It will be the whole family for a change with Travis AND Bruce attending - folks won't know what hit them. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Yippee ki yay!

Hope and I got back from what is now definitely an annual tradition - the World Stockdog Competition at Calgary Stampede. As usual it was Louanne, Jenny and I travelling together and staying in  Louanne's hacienda. As usual we went to the Schmaltz's Hilltop Trial first. As usual the biggest winner bought supper on the way to Calgary. This year we had to pick low hanging fruit when choosing the winner. Louanne was the only handler in the truck to get a score all weekend, so the Big Mac's were on her.  To put in perspective though, basically anyone that got a score wound up in the top half of a field of over 50.  Hope and I considered the trial yet another "learning experience".  Oh well, I was in good company.  
Wendy managed to catch some shots of me at the post on the second day in what seems to be a classic pose for me - hand in the pocket.

Note to self - must sew pockets shut before next trial. 
This year I convinced my friend Lara Forchuk to come out for Stampede AND to run a dog instead of just watching. She'd be thanking me for that later...
Day one Hope and I were third in the handler's circle.  We laid down a GREAT run and I got to slam the gate for the first time at the Calgary Stampede!
Given that we were third up this put us in 1st.  Slamming the gate and being in 1st at the stampede (no matter how early in the day) is one HUGE RUSH.  Hope and I hung on to first for 26  (of 60) more runs and finished out the day in 5th position and in the money.  Too much fun!!

Day two we got a particularly bad draw of sheep with one ewe who REALLY didn't want to play the game. Hope did a terrific job of finessing her around the course but it just wasn't nearly fast enough and we timed out at the chute. No finals for us this year. 

However, Louanne and Lara DID make it to the finals! 

 Lara and Louanne hanging with their good friend Angus McAngus before the finals. 

Congratulations to Dave Claypool and his dog Glen for their winning run, and to Wendy Schmaltz and her dog Gin for their reserve win. 

Can't wait til next year!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Another fantastic weekend.

This weekend the dogs and I headed down south for the Olds Dogs, Ewe Tricks Stock Dog Classic in Olds. While the trial was loads of fun, it was just a small part of another perfect weekend. 

Louanne and I stayed in her gorgeous new trailer (which she better blog about soon before I scoop her) at Randy and Val Dye's. Randy's responsible for getting me into all this in the first place and I love getting down to see him and Val. Staying at Randy's meant lots of opportunities for working dogs. Thursday night Corey Perry and Abe Marshall showed up to work dogs with us and a great evening was spent working dogs in a nearby field, watching rainbows, and talking dogs. 

A couple of dogs waiting their turn. There were a few showers in the area, but never did rain on our parade. 

The next morning Randy had us up for more of the same. Kate worked on picking up sheep off of a set out crew, I stretched her outrun and she got to push sheep off a heavy draw - all great experience and she handled it really well. This past week (between the trip to Randy's and the trip to Scott and Jenny's) has been very good for her.   She's really starting to catch on to it all. 

Randy's the king of " let's see what happens" and "it's good once in a while", so the next thing we knew the older dogs were stretching out their 700 yards or so. The dogs were so far away we had to stand up on the truck tailgate to see what the heck was going on. I'm happy to report that all of the dogs found their sheep.  
As for young dogs, Louanne had her Craig with her. Craig is no longer the cute little fuzzy puppy I remember. 

 Craig, looking very nice behind his sheep.

As for the trial, things couldn't have gone much better. There was an entry of 27 open dogs at this arena trial. Hope and I were entered as practice for the "big show" next week - Calgary Stampede. As it turned out we had two great runs and made it to the finals. Unfortunately during our finals run we had a ewe that really didn't want to play the game. Hope handled her very well but push came to shove at the chute and he gripped off. Frankly, she got what she deserved.  The sheep were challenging (5 pens the first day and only 2 the second) but consistently so. Congratulations to Corey Perry and Jill for winning the trial.  I believe Carl Snedden came in second, Jimmy Walker took 3 and 4th, Wendy Schmaltz came in 5th and Hope and I brought up the rear in 6th. 

The thing I was most pleased about at this weekend's trial is how far Hope has come. A year of maturity and experience has really done him well. I couldn't have asked for a better partner. 
We've got a few days at home and then it's back down south for Wendy and Chris Schmaltz's Hill Top Trial and then straight to Stampede.