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San Diego County Fair ASCA Stockdog Trial June 10-11, 2006

I decided to do this trial with Cinder in an attempt to win our first buckle (and maybe $1000!) Despite all the HIT’s that Cin has won, it has never been at a trial with a buckle and the folks hosting the San Diego County Fair Trial were offering LOTS of them so I figured it was worth the drive.

First off, let me say that the trial committee was AWESOME and that this trial is going on my list of “Must Attends” – only three other trials have made this list in the past so you know it was something amazing. All three types of stock – cattle, ducks and sheep – were offered at this trial so Cinder and I were going for the High-Combined Other Breed Buckle (and the $1000.) Let me explain – the Fair put up $1000 in prize money for the overall high combined dog.

The club put up the cash to buy buckles – lots of them – but High Combined Aussie and High Combined Other Breed are the most prestigious: it means your dog OVERALL did better than anyone else’s. Since Cinder is a Border Collie, we were obviously going the for the High-Combined Other Breed.

Day One: our first run was cattle. It did NOT go well – the draw was horrid and we couldn’t even get them to the first panel. That said, I was SO proud of Cinder: she worked her heart out and showed me more grit on cattle than I have ever seen out of her. Despite our score of 30 (out of 125) I was tickled pink by how hard Cinder tried. She could not have given me more than she did…and she gave me more than I expected. So even though that meant that the $1000 was now out of our reach, I was THRILLED with her performance.
Our next run was on ducks – my least favorite type of stock. And these ducks were the kind of ducks where if your dog blinked an eyelash, they moved 10 feet. Now, it takes a lot to go from “hard-hitting cow dog” to “finesse duck dog” but Cinder managed it with her usual style and we ended up with a 2nd place finish. Our final run was sheep and Cin was PERFECT – the drives through the panels could not have been better and she drilled her center pen. I actually didn’t think there was any way the sheep were going in and Cinder just slam-dunked them into the pen for a 1st place finish and a High In Trial on Sheep. Yay Binder!

One interesting note about the first sheep run: we almost never have a lot of spectators at Stockdog trials and when we do, they usually understand that you don’t make a lot of noise until the animals are either (1) penned in the center and contained or (2) at the very end of the run when the beasties are put away (also contained.) So, here we are at the San Diego County Fair and at any given point there were between 100-300 spectators who didn’t know the “rules.” When Cin and I started our sheep run, we were about the 5-6th dog in the ring. Cinder had an AMAZING first drive to the panel and once the sheep cleared the first panel, the stands erupted in applause. Needless to say, this came as a wee bit of a shock to both Cin and I and I thought “Oh crap, she’s going to freak out because of the noise.” Silly me: I apparently have a ham. Once the applause started, Cinder looked around, her head came up, her tail came up (a sure sign that she had quit working) and she started to do a victory lap!!! Once the applause started, you could see Cinder think “For me?? You are clapping for me???” A panicked “NO! There!!” put her back on her stock but she is definitely a showman 
Day 2 was a WONDERFUL day. We started with sheep and Cinder had another amazing run. We lost by 1 point (for a 2nd place finish) but then she went out and nailed her duck run and not only won the class but went High In Trial Ducks! Our final run was our cattle run and a lot was riding on it. Even though we had been knocked out of the $1000 prize, we were still in contention for the High-Combined Other Breed Buckle. There were several REALLY nice dogs (that weren’t Aussies) that we were competing against and it all came down the final cattle run.

Our draw came out and Cinder immediately went in to take charge. Once the cattle starting moving down the first drive, it was hard to get Cin to back off a little bit: she was pretty jacked up! We had a lovely (if a trifle fast) couple of panels and then began the battle at the center pen. The cattle did NOT want to go in the pen – Cinder and I worked our little tails off and FINALLY got them penned! I was so proud of her! Not only did she do a bang-up job, she won the class and went High In Trial on Cattle!!!! Yippee Skippee!!!

This also cinched the High Combined Other Breed for Cinder and I now am the proud bearer of an ENORMOUS buckle which I will be wearing at every trial – even though I can’t sit down in it (it’s that big!)
As I said in the beginning, this trial is going on my list of “Must Attend Trials.” We won three laptop carriers (one each for the HIT Cattle, HIT Sheep and HIT Ducks,) three first place ribbons, three pretty blue chairs that the Fair gave out to all 1st place winners, two second place ribbons and a HUGE SHINY BUCKLE!!! But most importantly, the people were great, the venue was awesome and I had a ton of fun. See you next year at the San Diego County Fair!

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