Last weekend, we went to the CHC SDT up in Hot Sulphur Springs. This trial is always a lot of fun, and the setting is just beautiful.
I ran Taz and Craig in the open ranch class. The course was a bit smaller than it has been in years past, and the sheep were fantastic—they were nice, even range ewes. That doesn't mean it was easy—the course was tricky, with deceptive rises and a narrow irrigation ditch crossing just before the post for the open class.
Craig ran pretty well, doing everything I asked of him. Unfortunately, my timing was a bit off, and I was late giving him direction. It wasn't one of our better trials, but we had fun :)
My main goal with Taz was really just for him to do a proper outrun. And he did it! I let him set himself up, and I sent him to the right (his "good" side). Off he went, nice and wide. He paused at the drive away panels, and looked back at me. So I gave him another "away!" and off he went. He came in very nice and did not slice, but he did overflank just a hair. The sheep lifted just a smidge to the right (my right) and Taz covered and brought them straight through the fetch panels. We struggled a little around the post, partly because he didn't take his stops right away and partly because one ewe was very stroppy and kept leaving the others and then turning to challenge him. But he handled her nicely, walking right into her and then giving her a chance to turn back to rejoin her buddies.
First half of his drive was great. He took his inside flanks well. But he went all the way around when I asked for an outside flank and began bringing the sheep back to me. Since we haven't worked on driving at all for the past month or two, I retired. We lost 2 points on the outrun, one for the redirect and one for sending him from too far away from me. Jim Swift was the judge, and he said he thought Taz was borderline too far away from me when I sent him and decided to hit me so I'd learn how far was too far ;-) The following day, Taz didn't stop at all and didn't need a redirect on his outrun, but he overflanked a bit more at the top and the fetch was a bit wilder. Taz did the same thing on the drive as he had the previous day, and we retired during the same point.
Honestly, I couldn't be happier. I am optimistic that this whole hesitation thing is really starting to be behind us and hopeful that Taz is remembering his training from the winter. Our next trial is in a couple of weeks, and I am going to work on driving with him in the meantime (and stopping when I tell him to—that's just me getting lazy on enforcing his lie down and is easily remedied). I hope to get a little further in the course next time—I'd like to at least complete the drive away and transition to the cross drive, but we'll see how things go...
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