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Finals Report thru the Nursery


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Hello all,


Just finished unhooking the trailer, thought some of you might be interested in my impressions of the Finals through the Nursery. I rolled out early yesterday morning and didn?t have a chance to check out the Open Course, but it?s basically the same as Nursery, but longer.


The Ward Ag Complex is, well HUGE! Can?t guess at the size of the field, but it was big enough for a 375+ yard outrun for the Nursery with plenty of room to push the open to 450 or more. The field is wider than it is deep, so dogs had plenty of room to cast out.


The flock totaled 600+ -- we ran one ewe and four lambs, again, don?t know if they kept that count for the open. This count meant no group ran more than once in the Nursery and then there would be a several day spell before the next run in the Open. They were in great shape, carefully culled before and during the event, resulting in pretty even groups to work.


The sheep were kept well away from the trial field, the group for the next day brought to the holding field at the top only after all runs were complete for the day. The sorting system was very impressive; these folks knew what they were doing. Again, the result was uniform sets of sheep.


The trial field was a challenge ? both for the host group and the handlers.


To the handler?s left was a line of trees that had been thinned out, as had the thick brambles that were under the trees. When I first walked the course I thought the folk who had cleared and trimmed had left a nasty mess ? deep mounds of fine wood chips, more like saw dust, everywhere. Later learned that the chips had been trucked in to smooth out the boulders that line the tree line ? if memory serves something like 100 truck loads!


Dogs sent to the left could see the sheep all the way, but the tree line and the odd terrain seemed to bring some in. The dogs that cast out, even to the far side of the tree line, did OK.


To the right, there had been an effort to remove some large trees and smooth out the ground, but wet weather had left several large tree trunks and a boggy mess.


Dogs sent to the right had a problem. There were some blind spots however the dog cast out. The ones that cast out all the way to the fence and slogged through the mud came out of the bog just below a slight hill. This caused many to pull in and then needed at least one redirect to cast out. Dogs that were pulled in by the bog ? it reached maybe fifty yards into the field from the fence ? needed to naturally or with a redirect cast back out to the top or risk crossing over or coming in tight. Again, most handled this OK.


The fetch was tricky. There was a slight dip immediately after the lift, and you know how sheep react to that. There were a couple of trees almost on line before the fetch panels, but most were able to get things under control.


Pressure changed as the day progressed. On Sunday the sheep were determined to go to the handler?s left most of the morning, then it became kinda random, especially when the storm pressure began to grow.


The drive started to the left, lots of time and points were spent making the first turn ? the sheep wanted to dash up the field. The cross drive had a couple of good line markers and there was plenty of room behind the second panel for handlers to lose points for a loose turn. Each leg of the drive was about 115 yards.


The pen gate was in a bit of an odd place ? the back of the pen ? but that had the dog on the exhaust/pressure side of the pen. Most got the pen, few on the first try.


All in all, a very challenging course.


Things went very smoothly. We lost daylight at about 4:45, but we were able to run 50+ dogs the first day and start the champion round before losing light on day two.


Camping facilities were good ? never seen so many electric hookups in one place. We were at the back of the facility so there was no city noise, but we were close to restaurants and other ?necessities?. Clyde Hall offered practice sessions at his farm about twenty miles away, a great chance to work before a run.


Final general impressions ? perfect, no. But, a lot of work went in to making this a great Final.


And, after heading out yesterday I tuned in to a radio station in one of the small towns that had been so devastated by the tornados. Some music, but mostly information on where to go for help, what items were needed for the cleanup, memorial funds at local banks, updates on state and federal assistance. Made me very thankful that the storm passed by us to the south, but very sorry for the folks whose lives had been so disrupted.



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Guest Charles Torre

Thank you very much for that expert and interesting report.


Do you mind some naive questions?


What kind of sheep were they? How were they, temperament-wise? Were they completely unfamiliar with dogs prior to the trial?



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Hey Charlie...


sorry to be slow responding, it's amazing how many leaves can pile up when you're gone for a few days... we can see the decks now!


you asked...


What kind of sheep were they?


ya know, I'm not sure, looked like Dorsetts... the flock is owned by Vergil Holland and Melinda Handley...


How were they, temperament-wise?


599 of them were sane, 1 was not...


generally speaking, they were a bit challenging... the lambs stayed with the ewe pretty well, but mamma was on full, heads-up alert... time of day was the greatest variable, they were a bit light in the morning, then got a little more reluctant at mid-day and in the afternoon...


Were they completely unfamiliar with dogs prior to the trial?


My understanding is that the ewes had been used at the Bluegrass, the lambs were trucked in from Texas... they had been at the trial site for quite some time, but not on the trial field... they had seen dogs at the site, Steve Alsop -- the very capable guy who set up the handling faciltiy -- used his dog to move the sheep as necessary, through chutes for worming and frome field to field... they had never been worked in small groups, generally about a hundred at a time...



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I misunderstood your question- I don't think there was anyone there who was planning on televising it,Rural Route Video was there to videotape it, as usual. I didn't notice any TV broadcasts or companies or anything like that over the weekend, though.

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It did. However, her run in the qualifying round was pretty amazing too. She had a few points off the outrun and lift and then a disastrous 19 off the fetch. At that point she must have decided she couldn't risk losing any more points at all if she wanted to make the semifinal. So she didn't -- nothing off the drive, pen or shed! I don't think anyone else equaled that.


In her final, double-lift run, she'd have had the high score if she hadn't missed the drive gate, and it looked to this observer as if she had the drive gate in her pocket, except that she was trying too hard for a really tight turn, and so flanked Pippa just a little too far to the left before the sheep went through so she'd be in a good position to stop and turn them immediately after they went through. That little extra flank was enough to make them slide past the panel on the inside, and that was that. But she pulled off a beautiful international shed and a good pen to make for plenty of excitement right down to the wire.

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