As Gale and I walked into the arena to start our trial, I had one of my last-minute panic thoughts of “Gale hasn’t seen stock in WEEKS, she has never loaded sheep into a trailer and oh-my-god – the barb wire cowboy gates in and out of the pasture!!! EEEK!” So, with great trepidation I started our sort – and she (despite being sooo wound up at the sight of stock) held her sit and off we went with our 10 head! She was almost perfect for the trailer work – again held her sit – but she was getting pretty frustrated with me. I could see her little mind working “I haven’t worked in ages and mom is making me SIT-STAY for 10 minutes at the beginning of our work! BARK, BARK, BARK!!!” We got the sheep in and out of the trailer without a calamity and headed for our first gate. Another panicked thought on my part: “Oh dear – Gale has never taken sheep out of gate – especially not THIS gate – and I KNOW the sheep are going to want to hook and get into the side pasture!”
We got the gate opened, I freaked, sent Gale too soon, and she promptly put the sheep back in the arena! Oh well, at least we “lost” them in an arena! We went back to get our sheep and headed out for the pasture part of the run.
Gale was still excited but was lovely out on the hill. We made it through the second gate just fine, did our “hike-with-sheep” and approached the final cowboy gate. A word about this gate and these sheep: they KNOW how to get through the fence and their favorite place to be (the re-pen with lots of grass) was about 50 feet from the gate. So, we had to not only hold the stock to me while I was opening the gate (without pushing them through the fence), once they got through the gate, Gale had to circle and hold them away from the re-pen. She was MARVELOUS – it took her 3 gates to figure out what her “job” was! She took 3rd place (won some money!) and got her RTDs! YAY Gale!
Our next run of the day was Post-Advanced Sheep with Cinder. She was amazing – pulled it off without too many bobbles and earned her first Post-Advanced Sheep leg with a 109! Then she went and SMOKED her Adv Duck and Adv Cattle runs! I could have gone home happy right then.
The rest of the trial was equally amazing. Cinder went HIT Ducks and HIT Sheep (our first run-off!) on Saturday and Gale got a qualifying score for STDs-FEO! What a day! Sunday went equally well – Gale was even better on her stock, Cinder had a decent duck run (handler-hampered) and a stellar sheep run (took 2 nd) but the pride of the day was her Adv Cattle run. The cattle were MARVELOUS on Friday and Saturday but by Sunday, they were sick of the whole thing. We were pretty far down on the run order and I watched as experienced dog after experienced dog (all Aussies) had really tough runs. The center pen seemed to be the tough spot – the best I saw was 2 in the center (we were running 5 head.) Cinder and I went out and all I could think was “please don’t get hurt.” Seems to be my usual mantra on cattle. After some battle at the back fence, Cinder got the cattle moving through the panels and we headed towards the center. Cinder was AMAZING. It took a ton of work and patience but we got all 5 head in the pen! We were the only team that achieved that on Sunday. Cinder really knew what we were trying to accomplish (and I have never worked so hard myself at a center pen!) and I was so proud of her! She won the class and won HIT Cattle. She also went High-Combined Other Breed for the weekend (612 points! – beat the High-Combined Aussie by tons of points!) Like I said at the beginning – what a weekend! What good dogs!