Monday, August 29, 2011

Wild Trial Weekend

This past weekend was the VT Championship trial held at the Quechee Scottish Festival, followed the next day by the Spring Valley trial at Steve Wetmore's farm in Strafford, VT. Of course this past weekend was also Hurricane Irene, which led to the Sunday trial at Steve's being canceled.

My two girls, Song and Fina, did well on Saturday, managing to bring in 2nd and 3rd place despite some errors in my handling. Levi ran too, but not so successfully. They tried a new layout on the field this year, with the first drive panel a ways up the field to the left, where usually it is almost directly out to the side of the post, with a long diagonal cross drive. The field is small and oddly shaped. With the new layout, you stood or fell on how well you could negotiate the first drive panel. Your dog needed to be on the inside to hold strong pressure to the setout/exhaust area on the right side of the field. Then the dog needed to flank fast to the left to get around the sheep to turn them and stop them before they made it to the setout. Many cross drive lines included scraping sheep off the setout. Levi worked this fairly well, flanking hard and fast and catching his girls before they had gotten far off our intended cross drive line. I blew a check whistle to slow him as he passed along his sheep on their run for freedom. The sheep were slowing and it was easy to turn them too hard and bring them right back down the field. As he slowed one ewe felt her chance and made a break for it. She took off for the setout, Levi running as fast as he could to get in front of her. There were people and a dog at the setout, who for a brief moment worked to discourage the incoming ewe. She accelerated. She was going over. The setout team wisely took cover and she sailed over 4 feet into the exhaust pen adjoining the setout. I went to call Levi off, when suddenly I see the ewe come sailing back out over the fence. It took some work at this point to call Levi off. I could not figure out what had happened, or why the setout folks would have tossed this girl back onto the field as if my run would be allowed to continue.

Lunch break was immediately after my run and I got the rest of the story from the pen crew. Levi had no intention of losing one of his ewes. When she flew over the fence into the pen, Levi slammed through the setout team and squeezed into the pen after her. He hammered her a couple times, then drove her back out onto the field over the same fence she came in over. Then he cleared the pen fence on his way back out to pick up his rude charge and continue. Apparently he was not going to listen to the crew up top who were trying to stop him. Fortunately he did listen to me and with repeated "that'll do" commands I was able to get him off the field.

I can just hear Darlene's chuckle on this show. She would have loved it.