Saturday, January 29, 2011

And It Begins Again...

It's a new year, and even though the winter still has a few more months, we are looking forward to the warmer weather and the trial season it brings with it. Scott will start the season this March when he again attends the St. Patrick's day trial at Heppner, Oregon.
On our spring trip, we have lost alot of our regular trials so we are changing our routine just a little bit. Plumb Lucky, Shaker Village and the Hanley's trials have all fallen by the wayside (and we will miss them terribly) so we are going to try Larry Moore's trial in Missouri and make sure we get down to North Carolina to attend Dr. Ben Ousley's trial. We have been absent from that trial for too many years and we are really glad we were able to fit it back into our spring trip. Of course, we will again be attending the Kentucky Bluegrass and when we get home in July we will be rushing back to try out a new trial in Alberta that Don Grant is putting on. We hear he has a great and challenging field.
I am really glad that Ian and Joanne Zoerb have decided to move their trial up to the last weekend in July (making it a qualifier for this year's finals) and along with a new name, Bow River Sheepdog Classic, the former EID trial has also relocated to a new field.
August should also keep us busy with Shaunavon taking the old EID weekend and the Canadian Championships following a week later. We are still waiting to hear if we are invited again to Soldier Hollow and we haven't yet decided if we are going to go to Meeker. Then of course, it is the National Finals, this year in Colorado, that is the final show for the year.
Scott's primary dog again this year will be Don who will be entering his sophomore year in Open. His first year made us very proud with several wins and a reserve champion placement at the Kentucky Bluegrass.

Don moves sheep in the double lift at the 2010 Kentucky Bluegrass Classic.
Don continued to please at the national finals, placing high in both the preliminary round and the semi finals. We had some criticism of him in the double lift but he actually performed quite well, we were just being picky. Scott blames himself for the uncompleted International shed and eventual grip off. This winter has been time for Donnie to continue to grow and gain experience to be ready for the next year of trials.
Towards the end of the last trial year, Scott's second open dog, Maid, really started to come into her own. Scott had changed some of his training with her and it seemed to have gotten through. She was finally calming down and taking responsibility for herself. In the past, she had a short temper and was quick to grip. By the end of the year, she had gained confidence in herself and was much more trustworthy. In the finals, she had a little bad luck but even with that, she managed to place 5th in the double lift and kept her cool despite a few challenges.

Maid choosing not to grip a testy ewe at the 2010 National Finals
This winter, we were hoping to breed Maid to Don again (her last litter is a year old now and we are happy with the way they are coming along) but she didn't oblige us with coming into heat early enough. We can't have the pups too young when we hit the road so instead, she and Scott are trying to build on the work they had started last year.
My plans this year are to improve my attitude. I had a very bad year with some mistakes and bad luck and I let my dogs down by letting it affect every trial. Both dogs actually did well at the Bluegrass placing in the top 40's or higher (out of 143 dogs) each time they went to the post, and Hemp placed 26th overall, just a few placings out of the double lift. I am hoping to not let the pressure of trying to get enough points to go to the finals affect me and see if that helps improve my nerves and attitude towards my runs. Despite my troubles, Hemp did manage to get into one double lift last year at the Gelling's trial but once we were there, his bad at-hand work made it difficult to do well in the International shed.

Hemp stopping a collared ewe in the International shed at the Gellings trial in 2010 (photo by Lisa Wright)
I really started to feel like I could "see" how to do it and we have made big improvements in his close up work this winter. Scott has also helped us alot and has made some changes in our style, namely removing the stop as an option on our drive and fetch. This is forcing Hemp and I to find much needed pace. It's a different experience running a dog without a stop!
Laddie is Laddie. He has his short comings but he wants nothing more than to have you tell him what you want on the trial field so he can do it. Lad's biggest drawback last year was his shed. It cost him a placement in the first round of the Bluegrass and gave me such a complex that it was a downward spiral from there. By the end of the summer he had no shed at all. We built it back up by the time we went to the finals but some bad handling on my part eliminated the need to have a shed. SO, this winter, we have continued to work on his shed and we are keeping it light and trying to instill enough confidence in him to hold some of the harder ewes.
Lad in training over the winter (photo by Sarah Novak)
In addition, he has improved his other big weakness, his outrun, without any help from me. I never thought I'd see the day that Lad would finish an outrun when he had a strong draw but he has taken it on himself to fix his problem.
We are excited about the new faces in the dog kennel. Scott will be running Don's first born this year, June, who is owned by us, is by Don and out of Meg, a littermate to my Hemp. Scott will also be running Reba, a little red tri bitch owned by Cy Peterson of Georgia. Reba is bred the same way as Don but out of a different litter and will be making her debut in Nursery at the Misourri trial. Another bitch he will be running is owned by Louanne Twa from Alberta. Her Bracken is a littermate to my nursery dog, Syn. Louanne herself will be running another littermate, Craig, and we are looking forward to competing with all three of of them in the Bluegrass this year. The litter is out of Louanne's bitch, Isla and Lisa Wright's Hope. The final nursery dog that Scott will be running this year is a young male named Tam, owned by Diane Pagel.
In the next few weeks I will start to profile the youngsters and tell you a little bit about their breeding. For now, it's back out to the training field!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Shaunavon Sheepdog Classic 2011

Here's an alternative trial for all of you who aren't going to Lacamas this year:
Shaunavon is the little trial that could. It's been building every year and is turning into a nice quality trial.

Scott and Donnie won it last year and came home with lots and lots of goodies (dog food, all kinds of dog treats and products) and a beautiful belt buckle and Peter Gonnett and Taff won it in the inaugural year, 2009.
This year the trial is going to be one week before the Canadian Championships which are being held in BC. Both trials are sharing a judge and they are bringing over the many times South African Champion, Faansie Basson.
Good fun!


Shaunavon (Shaunavon, SK) : August 19-22, 2011
Canadian Championships (Cranbrook, BC) : August 25-28