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FALL CLASSIC - ASCA Stockdog Trial
September 23-24, 2006

This was a very exciting trial for me:  Sizzle’s first trial!!!!  I only entered her in sheep (and FEO –For Exhibition Only) but still…my baby dog’s first trial J  But I can’t forget Cinder during this show report because she was OUTSTANDING – so maybe I will start with her.

Our first run of the day was Advanced Cattle and the cows were perfect – they were like very large sheep.  Cinder was lovely, controlled when she needed control and fairly hard-hitting (for Cinder) when that was required.  She got one of highest scores yet – a 115 and took 3rd!  Yay Binder!  Ducks were not so much fun but I did learn a couple lessons which paid off for the next day.  More on that later.  Cinder got a 108 (which is quite respectable:  anything over a 100 is considered a good” score) but my attitude was not great.  I just hate the little monsters and I think Cinder reacts to that.  We had a little break and then started Advanced Sheep and Cinder was PERFECT. 

All I had to do was open the gate for the center pen (and I almost messed that up because it was a new gate!)  She not only got a 116 and won the class, she won High In Trial for Saturday!  Good Girlie!

Now on to the Bizzinator.  I was SO NERVOUS to be trialing Sizzle.  As I pulled her out of the trailer for our run, my only real coherent thought was “She’s just a baby.”  She is only 18 months old after all.  With much trepidation on my part (and cheering on the part of my Aussie friends who are glad to see me trial an Aussie again) we walked into the arena.  Big gulp.  Our stock were set out and we went to work.  I have to tell you, I could not have been more proud of my little monster.  She got around the sheep, hit balance and started WALKING towards the first panel!  Then I had what I am beginning to term a “Kristi Moment.”  Seems to happen to me in the oddest places.  As we headed towards the first panel I thought “Hmmmm….Sizzle has never done panels before.”  I shouldn’t have worried – she was an angel.  Took all her commands and took those sheep through the panels (without me having to walk through them) like she had been doing it all her life.  Then came Kristi Moment #2:  “Hmmmm….Sizzle has never done a re-pen before.”  That didn’t go as well.  I got her to drop a good distance away from the gate but in the nano-second that I took my eyes off her, she bolted up at the sheep.  I only had the gate open about a foot (a BIG no-no in the eyes of Kathy Warren – my trainer) and as the sheep barreled in, I slammed the gate on Sizzle’s nose.  Regardless, she ended up with an 88 (out of 100) which is a TREMENDOUS Started score!  I was so proud of the little heathen!

Day 2 dawned – once again starting with cattle.  I thought we had a lovely run but the judge didn’t quite agree – we only got a 102.  Personally, I thought the run was dynamite and ultimately that’s all that counts.  Cinder was AWESOME.  On our way to our duck run I decided to change my mental game a little.  It also helped that Kathy had made me work the duck pens the day before J  Instead of going in to work “foul” (as I call them) I asked Cinder in a very exciting voice “Want your ducks???”  We were the first dog of the day and Cinder laid down an AMAZING run.  I honestly couldn’t see one thing we could have improved and the judge thought so too.  Cinder got a 119 (!!!! On ducks!!!), won first place and went HIT Ducks for Sunday.  We then went over to sheep and once again, Cinder laid down an amazing run.  She is so solid I can’t believe it.  She not only won the class with a 117 but went HIT Sheep again!  I don’t think I am ever going to have another dog like Cinder.  She is incredible.

Back to Sizzle.  One alarming thing about trialing is how quickly they pick up bad habits J  By the time we walked out into the arena on Sunday, I could tell I had a different dog.  She was quite “perky” and not in a good way.  While our run was fairly uneventful and she did get a qualifying score of 75, she was MUCH pushier on Sunday.  She had already figured out that this was a trial – not training.  The little heathen.  She did her panels almost as nicely as the day before but we had a lot of circling on the way to the re-pen because she wasn’t getting out far enough.  She knew I wasn’t going to come after her:  it’s a trial!  The re-pen was probably the scariest moment of the whole trial for me.  I got her to down, opened the gate (this time without taking my eyes off the little monster) and swung it completely open.  As Sizzle broke her stay, I rushed towards her to make her lie down again.  She did but now I had a dilemma:  Sizzle and I were on one side of a huge open gate, there was this inviting large hole that the sheep had just run into and I had to get to the waaayyy other side of the “hole” to shut the gate.  I also had to do all this without touching Sizzle.  So basically, I just prayed that I could call her off and very slowly made my way to the gate.  The bad news is that Sizzle broke her stay again.  The good news is that she called off and didn’t go into the re-pen looking for her sheep!  All in all, I am thrilled with Sizzle but I definitely think we need a lot more training time until she trials again.  On an interesting note:  Cinder was 2 ½ when I trialed her for the first time and that solid foundation is certainly paying off now.  Time to do the same thing with Sizzle! 


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