I got myself off the pity pot and drove 5 1/2 hours to Scio for the dog trial. I'm sure glad I did. I stayed with Carol Wiggins who has Champ's sister, Jojo. We always have a good time together. After trialing and chores, we would go to town in Lebanon to partake in some fine dining. Just what the doctor ordered :0)
The weather was really nice for Scio (That's where I cracked my head in ankle deep mud the last time I went there). We only had one short downpour. The rest of the time it was cloudy and mild. The sheep were a commercial flock of Willamette "fatties." They worked more consistently on day two when they started to get with the program. But, they could "lean" on your dog pretty good or run right over your dog.
Day one, Champ was pretty amped up, but worked fair considering we didn't get our collared shed/pen and I was low on the cross drive panels. :0( We scored a 55 ending up mid-pack. He wasn't exactly happy how I handled him. I was a bit too gruff with him. I flicked my crook at him because he was too close up to his sheep in the shed ring and he flipped in a circle. That was the first time at a trial I saw him sulk a bit turning his head away from me. I apologized later to him.
Day two, I decided to try to work on myself. I wanted to be a little more proactive with my whistling and when I went to voice, I wanted to be a bit softer, higher in pitch (other than the pen where I gave him some gruff "Lie downs.") I was fairly pleased how he was reacting to my whistles trying to leave him alone as much as possible.
I sent him right on the second day because it seems we are always running to the left at the trials because of how the sheep are set and where the set out is located. Plus, I felt he tends to run better to the left. I sent him right and he had 0/0 off his outrun/lift. They squirted off to the side (I would have pointed him on his lift) but he covered with a whistle, but it was a bit wiggly down the through the fetch panels. We lost 8 points.
Our hardest part of the drive is the first leg and it proved that way on day two, too. I had a difficult time getting on line. At the cross drive it was almost next to impossible with these sheep to get a close turn at the panels because as soon as they went through they ran as quickly as they could towards the exhaust. But I watched closely at many handlers that never put them back on line to the shed ring. I had Champ drive them back on line. We lost only 8 points on our drive.
The shed was fairly easy. Judge asked for a shed of two that didn't have collars on. But after the shed they ran to different corners of the field (both exhausts) Champ gathered them at a full gallop and I FORGOT to regroup them in the shed ring. Lordy. HUGE mistake. I lost 5 points and 3rd place. I ended up 8th or 9th. :0( I won't make that mistake again. The sheep got a bit easier the second day to pen and we penned with little difficulty.
But, all in all, Champ gained some experience plus I learned a lot, too. We had some nice compliments which always makes one
feel like they might be on the right track. I have a lot of trust in Champ. He is teaming up with me more and more the older he gets. He is exactly 3 1/2 yrs. old tomorrow and I am seeing a big difference in his personality. He wants to be RIGHT. This is a good thing. :0)
Off to a small trial at Fido's this weekend. Most will be heading to California's Dry Lake trial. Maybe next year for us!
P.S. I got over Yoko embarrassing me at the Heppner trial. I had to let go of my EGO. She is entered in the next two trials. We'll see.....