Monday, April 21, 2008

First trial of the season (Part I): Friday's runs

I went to my first real trial of the season this past weekend—I had a great time and learned a ton! I don't know how I'm going to remember everything, so I guess I won't try to fit it all in one entry. Instead, I'll try to write a bit about it in several posts as I remember them and continue to think through everything that happened.

I was SUPER nervous the first day. Ridiculously nervous. Actually, though, it was our best day. Craig won his class and Taz came in second (by one measly point!) in the novice class, both of which were complete surprises to me. Everything happened so fast! There was a strong draw to the left side of the field, so I sent both dogs into the pressure on the bye side. Craig did a great outrun, lift, and fetch, needing not much help from me. I lied him down a little too long when the sheep approached the post, and the sheep ran a bit too far past the post. He got them back on line, though, and our drive away was a little wingy and wangy but we made it through the panels. Our cross drive started out really nice, but I lied Craig down too long again and the sheep turned toward the pen before they reached the cone we were supposed to turn them around. I flanked him to the left but then again lied him down too early, so they hesitated where they were supposed to turn back up toward the cone...and then kept moving forward past it (and still below it). Ack! Mindful of not crossing the course (I am still kind of unclear on when exactly I am in danger of crossing the course when driving, so I figured better safe than sorry), I reflanked to the right and they turned to come back down to the pen. I saw on video that I practically let the sheep reach the pen before I moved off the post, so I'll have to remember in the future to move a bit sooner. One ewe started to go around the back of the pen, but a quick flank stopped her and she rejoined her buddies at the mouth of the pen. I let them settle a bit, gave Craig a quick come bye command, and in they went :-)

Taz was pretty amped before his run. I wasn't sure whether he'd run straight up the field or do his hesitation routine and not leave my feet at all. He did the former, beginning his infamous lollipop outrun. I was elated that he left my side, but soon regained my wits and remembered that running straight up the field was not what I wanted to see either. I yelled at him to lie down (in retrospect, I wish I just asked for a lie down more softly, but I wasn't sure he'd take it—and, well, I guess the truth is I was a bit amped as well). He did, immediately. "Get out!" I yelled, and he kicked himself out. Yay! (It turned out I got hit pretty hard for that redirect, but as Elaine said, I'm looking at the big picture.) He still came in a bit tight, so his lift was a little offline, but he took my lie down at the top and we recovered. His fetch was fine; we turned around the post and made our way to the pen. The stupid rope was all tangled up. I grabbed it and sort of just held it in a bunch (instead of unraveling it and extending it—the judge later told me I should have taken a few seconds to untangle the rope and take advantage of the full length I had). I flanked Taz around, and he was a little tight but he was moving slowly and steadily. I lied him down. The sheep tried to get past me, but I guarded my side and gave Taz a come bye flank. He took a slow step in. Oops. I waved my arms a little and they moved to face the pen. I told Taz to come bye again, and this time he took just a gentle step to the right (my right, his left) and the sheep went right in. Hooray!

Those were the best runs :-)
Tomorrow, I'll write about the rest of our runs, which included some good stuff but also highlighted some areas where we clearly need much more work ;-)


Samantha said...

Congratulations Laura, Craig and Taz too.

I really enjoy reading your blogg and your experiences. :)

Laura said...

Thanks Samantha! I had so much fun at the trial--and Friday was a great day for us :-)