Tuesday, May 28, 2013

2013 North Carolina State Championships

The North Carolina State Championships, also known as Dr. Ben's is one of our favorite trials every year.  It's a place of good people, good food and, good runs. This year is the 29th year of the trial and you bet we'll be there for the 30th. It's a family trial put on by Dr. Ben and Emily Ousley in Lawndale, North Carolina.  Normally we fear the weather at this trial.  It's usually hot and humid but this year, it was a pleasant surprise to have the humidity blown away with a nice breeze and it topped out at 82F.  We got there thursday afternoon and parked on the hill under the tree and plugged in to the outlets provided for the campers.  We didn't need our air conditioning but it was still nice to have electricity and water for the whole weekend. Parked next to RC Tomlinson we, along with Debbie and Harold Bailey and Bobby Ford enjoyed the benefit of RC's breakfasts and deserts of berry dumplings with ice cream and strawberry shortcake.  Saturday and Sunday night we had  suppers made by the local church and the Ousley family and neighbors along with a bonfire.  Good country home cooking and desserts.  Yum!
Friday night we started with a nursery class and Scott used it as an opportunity to train on Skip and Alice.  Skip was having some trouble with his flanks and didn't bend out on his outrun and crossed so Scott retired him to make him take it but Alice did a nice job.  Scott wasn't happy that her stops weren't looking as good, but she still managed to win the class.  Ford had been working on his outrun this past week and I had plans to retire as soon as his run went bad but he was the only nursery dog to get out to the sheep nicely and without any help from me.  He started his lift well and although he missed his fetch gates he was under control on the fetch so I decided to go on in case we could get a leg. The drive on this course is difficult (the nursery runs the same course - outrun and drive as the open) but Ford is getting the hang of it and made both his panels.  When we got to the pen, he pulled his old games and everytime I tried to shut the gate he ran around the back to push the sheep back out.  Eventually we got the gate closed and were happy to learn we got his first nursery leg but I was still peeved about the pen.
Saturday morning we all had to be up early to get going on the open class because we had more entries than usual.  Hemp ran in a good spot in the morning.  He continued his streak of good runs and other than a rough start to the fetch, his run was pretty good.  These sheep are hard to shed and the judge (Peter Gonnett) wanted the last two on the head.  Hemp did it spectacularly, and we received complements from the judge after the run.  He got a 90 and placed 3rd for the day.  Scott ran June shortly after and she laid one down and other than a rough shed, there wasn't much off her run and she got a 96 to win the class.
Donnie was also at the top of his game but had a missed attempt on his shed and one sheep popped out of the pen before she was repenned. So Donnie had to give the win to his daughter but was right behind her with a 92 to place second in the class.
Laddie ran in the afternoon and he had a good hang of how to bring the sheep down the steep, terraced hill but when I tried to help him with some sweet whistles, he wouldn't take them.  I gave him hard whistles but it was too late and too much and he overflanked to miss the fetch panels.  His drive started nicely again but the same thing happened.  As soon as he needed my help the little whistles didn't take and the big ones were too much and he missed the drive away panels.  There was no way that was going to place so I retired his run to save time for the rest of the runs.  I wasn't sure if Laddie was not working well or if the sound had changed as it warmed up.  In years past, with the extreme heat, the sound had been a factor and it appeared that at that time of day, that was what was going on since the next few runs following us had similar problems.
The next morning it was Lad who had the better time to run and we pushed and pulled each other around the course.  We just haven't been able to get together this season to get a good score but we got around the course and finished, but with a non competitive score.
This day the trial was ending with a shed pen single and Donnie had trouble with his single and never got it. Fortunately, around the course he was very good and he managed a 91 which hung in there to get him into the top 3 overall and let him run in the double lift the next morning.
Hemp ran in the late afternoon and it was a similar run to the day before.  Not so good at the start of the fetch but then he settled in and finished nicely with a 94 and was 6th for the day.  I had to work a little harder to keep him in line but these nice dog broke  Katahdins aren't really his kind of sheep.  His overall score put him tied for first with Linda Fogt and her nice little, Jill bitch and earned him a spot in the double lift the next day.
Scott ended the day with June and we were all hoping she'd win again, and her fetch was making it look like they could but Scott said he forgot that the sound dropped off down in the hollow before the drive gates.  It only seems to happen when it warms up and most of the runs that day hadn't had the problem but as it warmed, it started to cause missed gates. The sheep got a little off line and Scott needed a flank to the comebye.  June didn't hear it right and not only took an away, she couldn't hear his stop whistle.  June is a fast little dog and before you knew it, she had headed the sheep and was bringing them back to Scott. Knowing there was no way of saving that run, he retired.
So the next morning we had a double lift of Linda Fogt and Jill, Scott and Don and Me and Hemp.
Linda ran first and made it look easy.  Perfect turn back, nice lines with all panels made and finished her shed and pen.  Scott started nice and Don was great on his turnback but the sheep were low and running on the crossdrive and 3 of them missed it.  In the shed, Scott said he couldn't get any flow and never got going much on it so rather than continue to struggle and frustrate Don, he retired.
Hemp and I ran last.  I didn't expect much because like I said at the Bluegrass double lift, he has been injured since last August and other than the turn back in Kentucky, he hasn't heard it in a year, let alone had a chance to practice the international shed. (which he doesn't really "get" anyway, and unfortunately he had a broken foot during our shedding clinic).  His first outrun was good but he was pushing hard and it was difficult controlling his aim.  We missed the first fetch panels but fortunately, we missed them high so it put him in a good position to make a turn back and he went on the first command nicely.  As he got higher up the terrace hill, I gave him a bend that he didn't take because he couldn't see the sheep and didn't believe me so he was too tight on his lift.  He  straightened out though to make his fetch panels.  He was pretty much running them around the course but made his drive panels and then we attempted the shed.  We got about halfway done before time was called but Hemp needs work on the concept of the shed so I was pretty much on my own.  Since Scott retired, and it was obvious that Linda had won, it made Hemp the North Carolina State Reserve Champion.  I was very proud of him.
We moved on to the nursery class after that and Scott retired Skip on the crossdrive when he missed a couple of flanks.  He was making sure he knew that he had done wrong so that Skip would be ready for the Open Ranch class that was following.  Alice ran out on her first outurn and had the sheep run off before she got there.  She regathered them up but the judge gave her a rerun.  Her second run was better but she was wasn't stopping and Scott wasn't happy with her so he retired her.  He's hoping he'll have a chance to work on her before the next trial so that she remembers what it means to stop.  Ford stopped on his outrun and I decided to help him once and then he stopped short at the top.  However, after that, he was alot better around the course and even opened up around the pen, but my timing was a little off and we had the sheep circle the pen anyway.  We finally got them in, and he let me close the gate so I was much happier with him but it wasn't good enough to get a leg.
In the open ranch, he stopped twice on the outrun and he needs to know we aren't playing that lazy game so I called him off.  Scott substituted Bliss for Alice so that she wouldn't get to take advantage of Scott again.  She ran very well and got second place in the class.  Skippy had obviously learned his lesson from the nursery and ran well enough to win the class!
We had one last dog to run, and that was Diane Pagel's Ben.  Ben has been trialing a little bit to get experience this year so that when he has his main nursery year next year, he'll be ready.  So we were very happy when Ben won his first trial in the Pro Novice!
Next year is the 30th anniversary of the NC State Championship and they are already looking forward to it, and so are we!
Open 1 (66 dogs)
1. Scott Glen and June 96
2. Scott Glen and Don 92
3. Jennifer Glen and Hemp 90
4. Anita Young and Mitch 87
5. Ken Arrendale and Mairi 87
6. Tricia MacRae and Jim 87
7. Vicky Wilcox and Pat 84

Open 2 (70 dogs)
1. Linda Fogt and Jill 102
2. Dwight Parker and Craig 96
3. Alasdair MacRae and Sweep 96
4. Emily Falk and Spain 95
5. Bruce Fogt and Wyn 95
6. Jennifer Glen and Hemp 94
7. Bob Washer and Clare 93
8. Robin French and Bill 92
9. Scott Glen and Don 91
10. Bob Washer and Brigs 91

Nursery 1 (8 dogs)
1. Scott Glen and Alice
2. Jennifer Glen and Ford

Nursery 2 (13 dogs)
1. Dee Penatzer and Floss 62
2. Bruce Fogt and Kate 56
3. Barry Zimmerman and Jip 52

Open Ranch (17 dogs)
1. Scott Glen and Skip 79
2. Scott Glen and Bliss 77
3. Lauren Seabolt and Ben 66
4. Charlie Hurt and Shep 63
5. Marianna Schreeder and Jane 58
6. Dee Penazter and Floss 59
Don puts all his sheep together in the double lift
Don and Scott work on the International Shed
Setting up Hemp for the first outrun of the double lift - photo by Debbie Bailey
Working on the International shed- photo by Debbie Bailey
Hemp 2013 North Carolina State Reserve Champion

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bluegrass Classic 2013

Once again the Bluegrass and it's volunteers demonstrated why it is one of the premier trials of the country.  We never miss this trial and I was so happy to hear announced at the handlers dinner that for the first time all the helpers were making plans for next year instead of thinking about not having it again.  Top dogs and handlers come from all around, and this year, we even had a Welsh competitor, Nigel Watkins, a former judge of the Bluegrass, compete in addition to the usual handlers who come from as far as Oregon and us, of course, from Western Canada.
The Bluegrass is great for seeing what our young dogs have under the hood.  The underclass' field is quite a test and weeds out the men from the boys because of it's hill, small course and difficult sheep.  Ford showed me he wasn't ready.  He brought me sheep each time, which was oh, so brave for a dog who is afraid of them, but he wasn't competitive and the wheels started to fall off after 4 runs so I didn't run him his last two times.  He was listening better but was starting his "not calling off" game after the pen when his sheep were to be exhausted.  I decided this wasn't doing us any good so I didn't run him anymore and we will work a little while we are visiting friends this week before our next trial and we'll see if we can make any improvements.
The other young dogs got better and better.  Scott was a little peeved with Alice and her no stop but she actually did quite nice, making it into the top 10 in the nursery more than once.  Skippy was very nice and over the 4 days of nursery, he put himself into contention for the overall nursery dog, but Scott didn't realize this and on the last day, he thought it would be easier not to run him so he could concentrate on June's run, so that took him out of the race.  Erin improved every day and even got a leg in the nursery one day.  Her top score in Pro Novice was pretty impressive when she got an 89 out of 90!  Bliss won the first day of Open Ranch and then placed second the next day (to Jimmy Walker's nice dog) and won the overall!
The open dogs pleased us too.  June started everything off by getting a good score on the first day and late on the last day, we all held our breath hoping her second run would be good enough to get into the double lift on Sunday.  She had a dramatic crossdrive panel and an audible cry was heard from the audience when she flanked and almost missed, then corrected and flew on the other flank to save the other side and finally a happy sigh when she pushed them through and finished with a good score.
Don ran at a very difficult time on his first run.  The sheep had tuned sour and runs around him weren't getting getting sheep around.  When he lifted them, Scott tried to help him by whistling some commands but he realized that Don knew better what was happening up there and by following Scott's flanks, it was getting harder.  Scott finally just gave him some walk up whistles and let Don bring them down the difficult fetch by himself and he did a great job and when he got them to Scott's feet they had a nice drive and finished the course nicely.  It wasn't a a great score so his second run needed to have very few mistakes and it didn't.  We were very excited when Don hung in there to get in the double lift on Sunday.
Laddie didn't have a very good Bluegrass which is unusual for him. I found out when he finished his run on the first day, that he had picked up a little virus that a couple of our dogs had, and had very bad stomach cramps and diarrhea.  It probably explained his multiple stops on the outrun, but he bravely did the rest of the course.  I had a couple of handler's errors that unfortunately made things alot harder for Lad.  Had I known he wasn't feeling well, I wouldn't have run him but it was only a 24 hour problem and he was good to run the second day.  However, his handler's errors continued and when he drew tough sheep I tried to correct his line too soon and Laddie being the biddable boy he is, did what he was told and the sheep got back to the set out.  He got them off the set out 4 more times, but the sheep had a taste for it now and got him beat.  I had to call poor Laddie off and we both made the walk of shame down to the exhaust.
Hemp blew me away this trial.  Neutering him was obviously the best idea and he is now working like a charm.  I've never had him work so nice but he's been getting better every trial and it was nice to walk to the post with some confidence. He ran early the first day and just trotted his sheep nicely down the fetch and around the drive.  I wanted to turn around to Scott in the audience to say, "Are you seeing this?"  It was like I was working some other magical dog and when I finished the shed I knew we had something special going - unfortunately, when we got to the pen, I think, as I started to get nervous about how well it was going, it translated to Hemp who was was pretty tired (remember he has been injured since August and is very out of shape) and he slid through his stop and missed 3 flanks so we didn't get a pen.  It was no matter, and he finished the round in 7th place.  His second run wasn't as perfect around the course but was still quite good and he had a dynamite shed and this time we penned and qualified for the double lift in 5th place overall!  That night, at the handler's dinner, we found out he had won the "Top End" award which is given by the set out crew to the dog they think handled the top end the best.  They said he walked on the most confident and courteous of all the dogs.  I was so honored.  Especially since this was the trial that caused me to neuter him after last year's lift when he left the sheep to try and breed the set out dog.  It's a different solid minded dog that I walked to the post with this year and I am so excited to take him to the finals this year.  He hasn't qualified since his nursery year because we usually get a few points at the start of the year and then when the bitches come in heat, he would fall apart.  Not this year.  Our fun ended there though. I knew the double lift would be difficult for him because with his injuries, he hasn't heard a turn back in over a year, let alone tried an International shed.  He wasn't sure when I asked him to turn back and crossed over and I had to ask him a few times before he finally went back but I think it was good practice for him. It was very hot and his sheep were heavy and Hemp is out of shape so getting around the course was like pulling teeth but he had decent lines and made all his panels but at about 20 yrds from the shedding ring, Hemp had enough and gripped.  I thought it might help us and the judge let it go but it didn't do much for motivating the sheep into moving, so Hemp tried again and this time, when he grabbed the sheep's hock, he was called off.  It was ok though, I was so happy to get that far.
June was nice around the course.  She did need a second turnback whistle but then she took off and had nice lines.  In the shedding ring, it was just starting to heat up and the sheep only wanted to graze.  They got down to one sheep who just wouldn't leave, and one collared ewe, who was willing to take her place.  Scott fought with them to the very end but didn't get the uncollared one dug out so no shed.
Don was a star!  Usually, the Bluegrass is won by someone who draws in the morning in the first second or third spot.  Alasdair MacRae had drawn the coveted 3rd spot this time and he didn't waste it.  He had to use two turn back whistles but the rest of the run was beautiful and his dog did a spectacular save in the shed.  Scott and Don had their work cut out for them to run in the heat in the 9th spot and beat such a nice run, but they did it.  Don did his best turnback ever and only needed his first whistle when he went back with confidence.  They also had no points off their shed and no points off their pen to win the trial!  Scott has won this trial twice before, once with Dan and once with Pleat but it meant alot for him to win it with Don because twice before he had almost won it with him but lost out to Don's mother Star, when Scott made a handler's error.  This year, there was no handler's error and he was proud to win.
Many thanks to everyone involved in the Bluegrass Classic.  We appreciate you all and are so glad you will be back next year!
Thank you to Alice Urquhart for the pictures!
The ceremony before the double lift

Hemp and I
And then there was one - June and Scott fight one last sheep in the shed
Me setting up Hemp for the first outrun
Hemp argues with a sheep on the 3rd leg of the drive, leading to a grip off
Don navigates the first leg of the drive
Donnie cools down before starting the International Shed
Scott and Don close the gate and end their run
Scott and Don the 2013 Bluegrass Champions

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Borders On Paradise 2013

We are in Turbotville, Pennsylvania in the heart of Amish country and pre-civil war main streets, at a great trial put on by Dave Fetterman every year.  The weather has been pleasant, not too hot and not too cold with only a few runs to be done in the rain.  Unfortunately, I didn't get very many pictures as I have been battling an upper respiratory infection that just won't go away.  When talk of pneumonia was brought up, Scott pretty much confined me to the camper and told me to sleep.  I was feeling better on Saturday so I got some pictures on that day but today has a colder wind blowing so I didn't get to see much.  Linda Tesdahl was our judge and the sheep were hair-ish crosses who never stop moving.  They were mostly easy to pen, except for a few sets and were very difficult to shed, so we saw all kinds of desperate sheds and it made the clean sharp sheds all that more impressive.
Scott ran Don early on Friday and things just didn't come together.  He was never able to get his running sheep to settle so he only ended up with a score of 76.
Laddie ran midday but just isn't himself.  He's acting ok and it's likely just the fact that he's out of shape, but he just didn't try very hard to be right this weekend.  In his first run, he pulled up very short, which many of the dogs were doing, but at his age, he should know better and I was unprepared for how very short he was going to be.  He ended up pushing the sheep off  the wrong way and really didn't try very hard to fix it.  I finally got him to flank over to try to get onto the fetch line, but when he missed the panels, we retired.  If he is still off when we get home, I'll run a blood panel on him, but like I said, he's acting well and he's never had a ton of motivation anyway so perhaps the fact that he was laid up for the winter with a shoulder injury and isn't in shape, is the reason he's not really performing.
Hemp was wonderful. If his winter injuries and lack of fitness are bothering him, I can't see it.  I have been very happy with him these past two trials and he is proving that the decision to neuter him was the right one.  He even had a bitch in heat run right before him and he never cared at all.  That is not the same Hemp who tried to breed the set out dog at the Bluegrass last year!  He had one of the rare, deep outruns for the weekend  and although a little fast on his fetch I settled him down and we had a nice drive but missed the hard to hit crossdrive panels.  One missed attempt on the shed and we got an 80 and were in 8th place.
Amanda Milliken with Monty and Bev Lambert with her young Joe surged to the lead with a tie score of 87 and it looked like there was going to be a run off, until June smoothed her way through her run (she did have one missed attempt on the shed) and beat them by one point with an 88!
On Saturday we had some rain but even the real serious deluges didn't seem to affect the runs.  Vicki Kidd had a horrible down pour while she was trying to hit the crossdrive panels and we were worried that her dog wasn't going to hear her but she pushed through and made them anyway.
June ran in the morning and the sheep were challenging the dogs a little more on the top early in the day.  They wanted back to set out and were willing to run over the dog to get there.  Scott saw this and figured he'd be in trouble with June as long as they were running like that and sure enough, they tried to get around her and she gripped one and was DQ'd.
Laddie ran midday again and he was a little better this time.  I was ready for him to pull up short and gave him a couple of blow overs at the top.  He felt ok around the course, but we missed the crossdrive panel and had a missed attempt at the shed, before we got it (I would like to say, when he did come in on the single, he was very committed to holding it and we've been working on that so I was pleased)  and we only got a 70.
Hemp was a little harder to hold on the second day but perhaps this was my fault.  He's starting to accumulate points and it's looking like qualifying for the finals is within our reach (for the first time) so I'm probably tensing up.  I've been running him for the joy of it and just working like we were at home but now it's starting to matter so I would guess I was just not treating him like the reliable work dog he is.  I will try to relax more at the Bluegrass this week.  We had another missed crossdrive but a great shed and got an 83 for 7th place.
Scott and Don ran at the end of the day and did it as smooth as June did the day before.
Donnie on the fetch
 He had a ewe challenge him around the post and when she wouldn't back down, he gave her a perfect nose hit and she behaved herself the rest of the time with only a little grouch in the shedding ring.  It was going to take a pretty decent score to beat Amanda Milliken's 92 set in the early morning, and then Bev got a 93 with Joe but  Donnie topped them with a 95 to win.
Don and Scott take a single
 We ran the underclasses today and Scott and I are not feeling very good about our youngsters right now.  Ford was the first dog to go to the post and was terrible.  He stopped several times on his outrun and still came in flat on the top.  I don't know where that stop went on his fetch because after his lift I never saw it again until he got the sheep to my feet. Oddly, even with no stop or square flanks, he was lucky to have a straight line and made his panels.  He always settles down on his drive and listened well there.  He did think about not flanking after making the drive away, but decided to go with it.  His crossdrive was a little low and he was good about taking some flip floppy flanks in front of the panels and oddly, he was the only dog I had that made the crossdrive panels all weekend.  He brought the sheep to the pen without taking a stop and they didn't go right in so some flanking was required.  He was a little tight but we managed to put them in the mouth but on the gate.  I had to move around to try and get them in and that excited Ford who pushed them out, singled one off and tried to grip it on the head (I know you are saying, Jenny, in the past you haven't been able to get him to grip and now you are complaining that he wants to grip) we got them back together, put them again in the mouth but at that point, I knew it was only going to be a one point pen so I wasn't worried when the timer went off as I was shutting the gate.  I'm hoping the several runs at the Bluegrass will settle him down.  Ford gets nervous and gets stupid, and in turn, this gets me nervous and mad.
Scott ran Skippy but had to use it as a training exercise when he wasn't listening and wouldn't stop or bend so they retired.
Skippy on the fetch
 Alice really wasn't that bad although she was a little fired up by the running sheep but she was unable to make her fetch panels and then couldn't get the sheep to line out on the drive.  They ran back and forth too much when her excitement was making them touchy.  So Scott retired her too.
I missed Erin and Ben in the Pro-Novice but Scott said that Ben crossed over and then wouldn't take a comebye so he retired him.  Ben is very young and is going to need another year to mature.  He's a nice dog so Scott is making sure that when he messes up on the field, that he knows and understands it.  It was important not to try to continue the run since the main thing is to build a dog for next year.  He might even pull him from a couple of trials if he thinks it would be better for the dog.  We'll see how he goes at the Bluegrass but we have high hopes for him next year and need to give him good experiences this year.
The same goes for Erin - she did get out better on the uphill outrun, and only lost a couple on her lift but Scott was more concerned about her learning to take her flanks properly and stopping when she was told to worry about her lines at this point.  He retired her at the pen when it wasn't going well but she did fine.
Many thanks to Dave Fetterman for having us all to this fun trial and Jim and Joanne Murphy for doing all the clerical work and doing a little bit of everything, and a big thank you to the boys in the set out who did a great job holding difficult to stand sheep. 
Tomorrow we will head down to the Bluegrass in Lexington, Kentucky.  I hear the weather is supposed to be in the low 80s all week, that could be very nice to run the dogs in and beat my cold!
OPEN 1 (79 dogs)
1. Scott Glen and June 88
2. Amanda Milliken and Monty 87
3. Bev Lambert and Joe 87
4. Amanda Milliken and Dorey 81
5. Joyce Geier and Jim 81
6. Lori Cunningham and Matt 81
7. Ivan Weir and Jim 81
8. Jennifer Glen and Hemp 80
9. Carol Guy and Will 80
10. Polly Matzinger and James 79

OPEN 2 (78 dogs)
1. Scott Glen and Don 95
2. Bev Lambert and Joe 93
3. Amanda Milliken and Monty 92
4. Viki Kid and Macy 88
5. Jeanine VanDerMerwe and Sam 88
6. Barb Klein and Crista 85
7. Jennifer Glen and Hemp 83
8. Tommy Wilson and Roy 83
9. Joe Evans and Mist 82
10. Bev Lambert and Nan 82

Ranch and Nursery were the same  run but not all dogs were entered in both classes so the placings are different.
Nursery (14 dogs)
1. Bev Lambert and Rose 78
2. Amanda Milliken and Howell 70
3. Amanda Milliken and Feist 65
4. Viki Kidd and Reed 55
5. Barb Klein and Craig 55
6. Lori Cunningham and Anna 52
7. Jennifer Glen and Ford 49
8. Joanne Murphy and Gil 42
9. Sue Schoen and Rue 37
10. Tom Hoeber and Quinn 30

OPEN RANCH (15 dogs)
1. Pam Davies and Jet 74
2. Fran Sharon and Liz 71
3. Mary Thompson and Paris 66
4. Amanda Milliken and Feist 65
5. Jim Murphy and Hemp 54
6. Jennifer Glen and Ford 49
7. Sandra Meilhan and Troy 46
8. Nancy Liptak and Rusty 44
9. Joanne Murphy and Gil 42
10. Linda Fossetta and Murk 39

PRO NOVICE (24 dogs)
1. Gene Sheniger and Ket 63
2. Barb Leverett and Bob 60
3. Renee Billadeau and Tally 58
4. Joyce Geier and Jack 56
5. Lori Cunningham and Anna 55
6. Jim Murphy and Speed 50
7. Linda Clark and Lyn 44
8. Pam Davies and Ben 44
9. Linda Clark and Meg 41
10. Megan Quigley and Dot 40