This came so true at our 2nd nursery trial in Zamora. I was worried that I have only been working him on the flat. I was wishing it hadn't become so dang blasted warm so early here in So. Calif. so I could have taken him to the desert to work him in the rolling hills. My last works in the desert were 300-400 yards on flat as a pancake ground to get him ready for his first trial in Arizona.
In the morning when I showed Champ where the sheep were set, he was vibrating. Not good that he was that amped up. New environment and several females in heat. So, I took him for a mile hike up into the hills to knock the edge off and it did.
Champ sees sheep on the other hill. I like how he pulls his listening ears back, He is concentrating, listening and looking. He is a little boney in the butt like his sire, but he seemed to inherit the best of both Buzz and Kilt. He has a fabulous personality.
I was so tired come Monday morning from working at the hospital, I told myself I would sleep in at the Motel 6 because Champ didn't run until later in the day. But, when I looked at the running order, all of my friends were running early on. So I shlepped up at 5 am, packed the truck and went over to Jack in the Crack for breakfast. I wasn't really hungry, but I had some OJ, coffee, and a couple of baby pancakes with bacon. When I came back out to the truck, something about the lighting of my truck didn't look right. This is where my grandmother would have said, "Great Cesar's Ghost!" While packing the truck in the dark, I had neglected to shut the tail gate. I ran around to the back of the truck and timidly said, "Champ." He got up, waged his tail looking at me like nothing could possibly be wrong. One thing about Champ and Yoko. They like my truck. And they, both guard the truck. No one is taking them. But, I was relieved that he didn't jump out to relieve himself or something else. Okay, Mental note. Walk around the vehicle before getting in it after looooong drives.
I apologize Champ. I'll try to be more careful with you!
Back to the trial…..Even though I was worrying, I have said over and over gain….I trust Champ. I trust that he is level headed enough to figure it out. And, that is exactly what he did. If you sent to the right in Zamora the hills rolled and there was this one valley that sucked the dog downwards before he was behind the sheep. I knew I wasn't sending right. On the left outrun, there was a road that kind of ran right along side the set out. It was obvious that lots of dogs were going to follow the yellow bricked road. And, they did. Champ received 0/0 on his out run and lift. I thought his fetch was one of the nicest of the day, but I was told differently by a knowledgeable person that I was just off-line all the way. Okay then.
The nursery field
The cross drive panels are not in the picture to the right. But you can see if you send to the right, there is the 'Valley of Death' on the light colored high ground (that's what i call it) that draws the dog downward. Champ ran way to the left up the hills.
I studied the fetch carefully for my 2nd class. I sent Champ to the left again and this time faced him a bit as he took off….whoa, he did an even more outstanding outrun. I'm standing there at the post watching this 2 yr. old dog climb the hills taking in exactly where his sheep were set so he could come in nice and deep behind them. Thump, thump, thump….went my heart with LOVE. He has a nice stop at the top (unlike his mother) and comes on softly, but with presence. I made sure his sheep were on that imaginary line all the way to the post.
Patrick taught me to keep the dog in the 'same room with me.' Translation: If the dog is pushing sheep up their you know what, he can't hear you, because he is in one room and you are in another. So it is important for me to keep Champ in the same room with me :0)
The post is where we had our problem. We lost quite a few fetch points trying to get our first drive line started. I think Champ was a bit too amped up and a bit too close for comfort. They wanted to go back to the exhaust and Champ could feel the pressure. He was NOT giving any ground to them. We definitely need some work on that.
Champ was a pushy mother f'er on these sheep. He didn't want to lose them. So it was up to me to handle him. Normally, I would say…I did a shit job in handling my dog. But, surprise, I was happy with my handling at this trial. I gave myself an inner talking to and said, "Damn it Suzanne, this is a nice dog. You step up to the plate and do the best you can for him as his partner." And, I think I did :0) I think I was almost happier with myself than with my dog. LOL I had to pull the trigger at the exact moment or he would not have made those panels. And, as Michael Meredith has told me, "There is a reason those panels are there. Those panels are there to be made, Suzanne!"
The Slaven farm
I think we were all wondering if Zamora would still beheld after Bill Slaven passed away last year. We are so thankful to the Slavens for carrying on with tradition. I told Peggy (Bill's daughter) I was sorry to have missed the Memorial they put on for Bill Saturday night at the trial. They had bagpipers and everything. Hopefully Bill was watching over everything from the heavens above.
Before my nursery classes I spoke to Patrick Shannahan who told me that since I already had qualified Champ for the nursery finals in Arizona, go to the post, as if in a training session. I really think that helped me remain calmer and took some of the pressure off of me. But, after that first run, I was wondering why more people don't just have a cardiac arrest at the post? Lordy. Thankfully, one of my Shasta friends, Donna had an ice cold beer for me afterwards. Never did a cold beer taste that GOOD!
The Zamora hills sprinkled with sheep
Speaking about my Shasta friends, Vivian, Amy, and Donna. It was so nice of them to invite me to their room on Sunday night to have a glass of wine and tell funny stories. Plus, they rooted for everyone that went to the post. And, when I came off the field the first time, they all gave me a little round of applause. That made me feel so good since my heart was beating a zillion beats per minute. It was like coming off of 'Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.' I guess that's why we are all so hooked on this sport. It's the adrenaline/endorphin rush. It's friggin' addictive.
My other piece of work I need to work on is the pen. Champ is just over flanking a tad too much. Plus, I still don't have a stop when I say stop. I know we need to work on that. But, that over flanking killed us. The good thing was that the sheep never circled the pen. They stayed within the mouth of the pen or close to it. He was on it, no doubt. But he just moved a bit too much to either side that made the sheep kind of rock right, rock left. Plus, they didn't have enough time to settle. Champ, when he would stop, gave him his mother's "I'll kill you if you move look." That look doesn't do a whole lot of good when you are trying to pen. The sheep refused to take their eyes off of Champ fearing for their lives. Okay, so he did inherit a bit of his mother's tension. :0)
My husband worried about me on the drive home. He thought as soon as my adrenalin rush wore off, I'd be too tired to drive. Haha He was wrong. That adrenalin rush stayed with me all the way home until my head hit the pillow. I slept a full 8 hours. It was wonderful. And, I am still rolling over and over in my head our runs. What I could have done better to have helped Champ more. One thing I didn't do on our first run is blow take time/steady whistles. I did a few on our 2nd run. Take time and there whistles. He knows both. It was just that my nerves took hold of me, so I need to work on that.
That's a wrap…trial number two :0) Four for four….meaning 4 qualifying legs for nursery. He only needs two, but it is nice to see him being "consistent." My friends asked, "Are you taking him to the nursery finals?" Quite frankly, it never even entered my mind. Really. Maybe, I will spend a few minutes thinking about it after I see what we do in our next few trials :0) I think I have enough on my head right now getting ready to move. Oy Vey. I just sold my sheep. Eddy is taking my geese back. Trying to put everything in order. Lordy, Lordy….I wish i was forty!