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Running my first novice trial

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This weekend Soda and I will be running N/N in San Diego at the Highland Games. As I understand it, this is a smaller field but still, this is a huge step for Soda. I honestly, honestly never thought we'd get this far! It will most likely be the pinnacle of her sheepdog career but I'm okay with that. She's come so far, especially for a puppy-mill bred dog and with a total and complete noob for an owner. I'm not really sure how we'll do, Soda occasionally lacks confidence in new situations and I've been meaning to get out to other trainers and fields but it's always one thing or another, you know? But I'm just so... beside myself.. that I will be running in Novice! I know to most of you it's NBD but like I said, it's a major accomplishment for the Soda and I can't wait to see what happens. Even if we crash and burn, at least I felt confident enough to go!

 

I'm excited to see Open--I've never actually gotten to see Open runs IRL before. I work on the weekends so I have to take vacation time to see/compete. We've run in a few arena trials and those are fun and kind of "our level" stuff. This is a reach but reach for the moon, even if you miss you'll land among the stars, right? (Ok, corny, I know...)

 

Well, there's not a whole lot of point to this post but if anyone has any advice, please impart it! And if you'll be there, come say hi!

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How exciting for you! Only advice I can give is "Breathe" (you'd be surprised that once you get to the post, you forget to do that most fundamental thing ;-) ) and Have a GOOD TIme ;-). Oh and get pics! Best of Luck.

 

Betty

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How exciting! Don't be surprised when it goes by like lightening. Ask the judge at the handler's meeting if you can complete the course even if you retire (that way, you can go out and help Soda and still work for how ever much time you have left). Bring some libations for afterward. Volunteer to help for Open (especially to scribe) if you can--you'll learn a ton.

 

Here's a nice article by Don McCaig about going to the post for the first ime

 

Good luck and let us know how it goes!

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Hey, Paige! Good for you! I will be there Sunday to watch and cheer everyone on (and watch the guys in kilts walk by, and eat meat pies and shortbread :rolleyes: ). Now, I don't want to be the voice of doom and gloom, but on this particular course, the sheep are notorious for winning--they've been there before, and know only too well how to scoot up the hill to the exhaust, and they will take every opportunity to try to do so. They are quite wiley on this course. You will see many a good Open dog lose its sheep up that darn hill.

 

So, best suggestion I can give is to not worry too much about lying her down (anywhere on that course)--too often people get hung up insisting on that darn lie down, and the sheep will take advantage and bolt. Trust your dog and let her cover them.

 

Have a great time, and see you Sunday,

A

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Good for you Paige!!!!

 

That is very exciting. I remember my first trial, just a couple of summers ago! I too ran my first novice trial at the Highland Games. It was a big learning experience and a whole lot of fun. You should go out there with the mindset of having fun and getting your first trial under your belt. Ask Soda for good work, and let her give it to you. The best advice I got before that trial was the advice Anna gave you, don't worry about lying her down on the course, more so slowing her up and letting her work her sheep. The cards are stacked against you from the get go, so as the underdogs (no pun intended), go out there and have fun, you've got nothing to loose.

 

When some friends heard that I was doing the Highland Games for my first trial they tried to talk me out of it because it was set up to be a failure. We did loose our sheep, but I learned that my dog gives me 100% every time he works, and we had miles to go before we were going to be successful. Look for the little things Soda gives you at the trial. It will make it all worth your time!

 

Good Luck! I will try to be there cheering as well.

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Good luck! Wow, you really are coming along. Fantastic! and try to have fun. But, of course, who am I to speak? I was amazed at my last trial that finally, after nearly ten years of trialing off and on (mostly off), I can step to the post and not shake so badly I can hardly hold my crook. :rolleyes:

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thanks, guys!

 

I have been warned about the sheep knowing the course and knowing where to break --this is more confirmation that my source wasn't exaggerating LOL!

 

My biggest reservation is that Soda doesn't have pace and may not cover. LOL--sounds like a winning combo!! Our fetches, up until recently have been a little... well, WHEEEE!!!! So my handling challenge will be inspiring non-WHEE!! without allowing opportunities for clever sheep to make a break for it. which sounds delightful!

 

She will, occasionally decide that she "gets it" and try to cover so let's hope this is one of those days and also that I can try not have diarrhea of the mouth and start spewing all kinds of crazy cues.

 

I'll def. let you guys know how we do.

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That's so exciting, Paige! You and Soda have come so far and you deserve to be proud, no matter the outcome. Good luck and have fun!

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Paige, I'm totally stoked for you. You guys are going to have a GREAT time - and I'm really proud of you for having the guts to just go out there and do it. Can't wait to hear about it. Definately breathe!

 

How many runs do you get? If you get more than one, see what happens on the first one and if she has trouble covering then do whatever you need to to help Soda on the second one - even if it means leaving the post (ask the judge if you're allowed to continue even if you RT).

 

PS - it is not NBD. :rolleyes:

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The best advice I can give is to have fun. Go to the post with the attitude that it's just another training run (i.e., don't stress out over the "competition factor") and with a plan to help your dog. Watch the runs ahead of yours so you can see exactly how the sheep are behaving and then try to have a strategy for helping Soda to manage them when it's your turn.

 

Deep breaths. Find your zen place. The calmer you are, the calmer and better work you'll get from Soda. And remember that once you've got the first one behind you, it gets easier (or at least less frightening) each time you go out.

 

J.

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Welp, we ran today. :rolleyes: We finished the course and got an okay score of 56. I think that put us at like, 6th or 7th place. The outrun was as abysmal as I thought it might be. Soda just had zero (actually negative because she sucked it out of me, lol!) confidence and I had to redirect/encourage her 3-4 times (!!). It's just a new field thing. I REALLY have to start getting out to new places. The sheep did not, early in the day, break for the exhaust so we lucked out there. Later was a totally different story.

 

The lift was as abysmal as the outrun. She was nervous and did some displacement sniffing (!!) and sort of fetched the sheep to the set out person (that's okay though. She's not used to that). So I encouraged her and she moved them right along. I do not remember the fetch, haha, other than it was offline--of course. We didn't manage to make it around the post but the judge was kind and I heard her say "It's okay, just go" because we were struggling. I like it when judges help the noobs.

 

Our fetch through the drive panels was nice and I'll be danged if Soda didn't actually rate her stock. I nearly died when she sat on her own to take the pressure off. That part was really quite nice. The pen was nice too and Soda really showed her stuff to help put a sheep in the pen. I think she enjoys penning because she can clearly understand the goal (sheep go in here). She always gets a little more eye and a little more style around the pen. That's nice.

 

All in all, I am extremely proud of the Soda-monster. She really gave it all she had and she may have had no confidence, but she did as I asked anyway and that's all I can ask for. I was so proud that she tried so hard. I really was. She is such a good dog--I just love her to bits. I keep saying it but, you really don't understand how far she has come and how she has learned to show heart and respect for me and trust that I am not asking her for something too much... well, it's amazing. Makes me all weepy eyed. (don't make fun!!!)

 

Okay-- so I got to watch Open and that was fun. I think the run I remember most was Bob Dias and... shoot, I forgot his dog's name but it was the epitome of control and calm work. I loved it--the cross drive was a beautiful thing.

 

The venue was different too. It's at a festival so there is the "general public" there. They watch and enjoy and ask questions. That was neat. Lots of kids wanting to pet the dogs--I'm not so much a kid person, but Soda likes them well enough. There was also an announcer, Joe (I didn't get his last name) who gave play by plays and explained things to the public and he was very entertaining. He was also very kind after my run and was very sure to tell me "great job". Herding folks are always so nice.

 

It was a great experience. I am excited for tommorrow, sort of. The sheep are now VERY wise to the exhaust area and I'm sure will be making some mad dashes. I'll report tomorrow on how it goes.

 

Thanks for listening to me babble and again, any advice/wisdom is accepted with an open mind and heart. :D

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Congrats! Take a deep breath and be happy you got numbers instead of letters! Sounds like you both learned alot :rolleyes:.

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We ran again today and did well. The outrun was... abysmal... again. She ran up, then slowed and started to cut in. I kicked her out and she was even slower then and needed a few redirects. I knew that if I kicked her out she would slow down but if I didn't, she was pretty much going to run up the middle-- and here the dog needs to be as wide as possible (it's a narrow field) because otherwise they would have booked back up to their holding area. If I encouraged her along, she would have sped up the middle... I didn't really know how to handle that so I let her continue her out-walk and was able to grab control of the sheep. At least I know that I need to work on confidence at a distance in new areas, fo' sho!

 

BUt everything else was nice. We got a score of 60 and that landed us 4th place. :D I am pretty happy with that. On the lift the sheep split and one went and sat with the set out person. I waited for a couple of seconds to see if they would reclump ... they didn't. So I asked Soda to "get back!" and she did and went back and gathered the single (there may or may not have been a well placed shove by the set out person :rolleyes: ) and continued on the fetch.

 

all in all, I was pretty pleased. :D

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Congrats! It sounds like you did pretty well and enjoyed yourself too. And you found out that the things you suspected were holes in Soda's training really were, so you know where you need to work. Have you tried shushing her right after a redirect to help speed her up. A long "Shhhhhhhh!" should serve to speed and widen at the same time. (A series of short "Shh, Shh, Shh, Shh!" should speed and bring a dog in some.)

 

J.

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Paige, that is AWESOME. Ya heard me? AWESOME! I know from what you've said on the other board that Soda has come a really long way. I think placing 6/7th and 4th on your first time out is outstanding! Hell, finishing the course is outstanding! You guys rock! And don't forget, it's not just Soda, you obviously have done a great job yourself.

 

I'm just grinning from ear to ear for you!

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Way to go Paige and Soda! You guys are an inspiration for someone just starting out like me. I think it sounds like you did really, really well! :rolleyes:

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Congratualtions Paige!! Hey, count your blessing and be thrilled, you got numbers not the alphabet your first weekend out! Stay on the moon for a few days, you both deserve it.

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Congrats on your run. You did well and know what holes you need to fix.

 

Was Bob Dias running Cloud? Koko? Rock?

 

Diane

 

Cloud. It was really just a beautiful run. I watched it and said "That's what I want to be". Everything was so calm and careful and under control ...

 

ETA: He ran another dog, I can't remember who but I remember Cloud's run as the one that blew me away.

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Congratulations! :rolleyes::D

 

It sounds like you kept your head (always a challenge for me!) and helped Soda where she needed it. That's sounds good handling to me!

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