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Time on course and where is set out


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Hey Penny,

Time on the course this time is 10 minutes. I haven't seen any pics from the running yet but I would bet the post and the set-out spot would be pretty close to the way it was 11 years ago. There's only so much one can do with a not-so-large rectangular field. They gave us 9 minutes back in '99, and it was plenty. We had about 67 dogs to the post then and everybody got to run twice. And I would think the outrun would be pretty close to the same distance too (350 yds plus or minus). If they backed it up too much the Nursery dogs would be lifting the sheep from Open territory, then the course would appear to be the same for Open and Nursery and they wouldn't want that. I'm glad that big tree is still there in the middle of the field. It made things interesting at times. Not only did you have to keep the line but you had to make sure the sheep didn't drift to where you couldn't see them. Just a little extra fun thrown in. :-)

 

The Nursery sheep in '99 did pull mostly to the exhaust, but at the lift they would try to escape the other way or to the dog's 'come-bye' side. Once they got through the fetch panels they reversed their pull and wanted to go to the dog's 'away' side or to the handler's left over to the exhaust area. By then they could probably hear and smell the sheep in that fenced area.

 

The Open sheep in '99 didn't pull too much either way. They were a contract grazing flock and just wanted the dog to go away so they could eat. Open dogs had to push, push, push.

 

One thing I remember was one day early in the morning when the sun was rising on the field. The drive-away panel was placed exactly on a line from the post to where the sun came up over the horizon right between the panels (left hand drive). And the sun cleared the horizon just seconds before the late Stu Ligon's run. He got his sheep to the post and turned them, and then he had to look as best he could at the drive panels and work his sheep through there. We, as spectators, couldn't look for more than a second at a time because the light was too bright. Poor Stu had no choice, he had to look as best he could right into that sun and navigate his sheep through that gate. Talk about luck of the draw... No one else had to fight the sunlight like that, even on the very next run the sun was higher and the light not nearly so blinding.

 

Hope all's well with you, Penny.

 

Ray Coapman

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Penny - 10 minutes. Sheep are set at 325, to the right and above the tree for nursery. Will be left of the tree for Openat 400, more diagonal than in 99. Strong draw towards exhaust side on the left. The fresh sheep are over that direction and i think they all slept in that low spot last night. The 99 sheep didn't draw anywhere they just put their heads down. These don't graze during the runs like those did, they want to get off the field if they can.

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The Nursery sheep in '99 were a different flock than what was used for the Open. They were a group of Polypays, I was told they were a local flock. They did indeed draw the way I described. They were also mostly ewes and not very fit. Many runs came undone at the post because the dogs wouldn't listen to their handlers and slow down on the fetch. If the dog ran them on the fetch by the time the sheep got to the post they were in no mood to be turned around to go back out on the field. They fought the dogs or split up and ran away. Many also had trouble at the pen.

 

Ray

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Dear Doggers,

I think the problem was (and at my trial is since I rent sheep from that same flock) that our dogs have never run Polypays and these Polypays weren't/aren't used to dogs. Up close and personal from a sheep farmer with forty years experience, the sheep are sound but some very good dogs have troubles with them. Last year at my trial half the open dogs scored zero the first day. Second day everything went better and second year went better yet although dogs who had not run the first year often failed to hold them on the fetch until nearly the fetch panels by which time they'd figured them out,

 

I think we badly underestimate the effect unfamiliar sheep and environment have on our dogs. We look at top handlers' successes around the country and presume they come because of handler skills while, in part at least, they come because their dogs (and they) have previously run on sheep all around the country.

 

Donald McCaig

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I think we badly underestimate the effect unfamiliar sheep and environment have on our dogs. We look at top handlers' successes around the country and presume they come because of handler skills while, in part at least, they come because their dogs (and they) have previously run on sheep all around the country.

 

I think we underestimate the negative effects of pushing sheep at high speed under pressure a quarter mile down the fetch line.

 

Funny thing, but the handlers and dogs that have decent pace on the fetch tend to have sheep that behave better on the drive and in the shedding ring. Sheep that are exhausted and stressed by the time the reach the handlers post tend not to handle well the other half of the course. More often than not, handlers who are complaining about "unfit" sheep would do better to look towards pushy dogs as the source of their woes.

 

Pearse

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I think we underestimate the negative effects of pushing sheep at high speed under pressure a quarter mile down the fetch line.

 

Funny thing, but the handlers and dogs that have decent pace on the fetch tend to have sheep that behave better on the drive and in the shedding ring. Sheep that are exhausted and stressed by the time the reach the handlers post tend not to handle well the other half of the course. More often than not, handlers who are complaining about "unfit" sheep would do better to look towards pushy dogs as the source of their woes.

 

I would agree. There was no 'buzz' among the handlers about the sheep's condition. "Unfit" was my own observation after watching run after run come a cropper at the turn of the post and trying to figure out why this was happening. The answer was in the fetch. Dog after dog would simply not listen to its handler. The sheep then wound up being run almost the entire length of the fetch line, and they would not tolerate this. They were completely out of breath when they arrived at the post, breathing hard with nostrils flared looking for a place to get away from the dog. There was no place for them to get away so they either turned on the dog or split up and ran away. The key to having a run here (and at most trials like you mentioned) was to bring the sheep to the post at a walk not breathing hard at all. Then you would have enough of the sheep left to finish the rest of your run. There was plenty of time to walk them, it wasn't as if time was the factor making people rush the fetch.

 

Perhaps the word "unfit" might be a little harsh for public consumption. I might qualify that a little and say that they weren't fit enough to be run the way that most of the dogs ran them. Let's say that they were fit enough to be walked around a grassy pasture on a late summer's day. Sort of depends where you want to draw the line between fit and unfit.

 

Ray

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I would agree. There was no 'buzz' among the handlers about the sheep's condition. "Unfit" was my own observation after watching run after run come a cropper at Perhaps the word "unfit" might be a little harsh for public consumption. I might qualify that a little and say that they weren't fit enough to be run the way that most of the dogs ran them. Let's say that they were fit enough to be walked around a grassy pasture on a late summer's day. Sort of depends where you want to draw the line between fit and unfit.

And here's the thing that bothers me about trialing, though I enjoy trialing myself: it seems to me the real purpose of having dogs to work livestock is lost in the competition. The goal of using dogs for work is to manage livestock in a low-stress, efficient manner. And yet at trials, sheep often seem to be run around the course, especially on the fetch (sometimes that can't be helped, if the sheep are light and inclined to run, for example, and sometimes it's the fault of the trial for setting the times too short so that handlers feel compelled to speed things along). From a purely livestock management POV, running the crap out of livestock is not acceptable work, period. And yet we allow it at trials, and then will claim that sheep who are blowing and recalcitrant after being treated that way are somehow at fault. If the sheep weren't fit enough to be run the way the dogs ran them, then ISTM that the dogs and the handling were the issue, not the sheep. But discussions such as this one seem to illustrate more and more that the livestock (i.e., their welfare) are completely secondary to anything else to do with trialing (i.e., winning), and that's a shame.

 

J.

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Well said, Julie!! And I, too, enjoy trialling, but I have long wondered if I was the only one who felt this way...

A

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I might qualify that a little and say that they weren't fit enough to be run the way that most of the dogs ran them. Let's say that they were fit enough to be walked around a grassy pasture on a late summer's day. Sort of depends where you want to draw the line between fit and unfit.

 

Ray

 

If they were fit enough to be walked around the course, then they needed to be walked around the course, unless of course you didn't mind having to fight them all the way around the drive. The time needed to be set so that you could walk them around the course and finish.

 

To me it sort of depends on where you want to draw the line between control and pace and none.

 

Pearse

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I agree that sheep should not be run around the course, and i do not admire handlers who chronically run that way. Allowing enough time for good livestock managment is sometimes not factored in, but just as common is allowing too much time. Too much time allows for the weaker dogs to "finish" a course when the were not working livestock in what is to me efficient. I don't want my sheep run, but as a livestock producer i also dont have all day for a dog to pitter pat around barely moving stock.

 

 

I think it is a dis service to the dogs and stock to allow to much, or too little time.

 

Lana

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Ray said: "One thing I remember was one day early in the morning when the sun was rising on the field. The drive-away panel was placed exactly on a line from the post to where the sun came up over the horizon right between the panels (left hand drive)."

 

Among the moments I remember was walking the Nursery course with you the day before the first go, two friends--or maybe fiends--memorizing the placement of lighter and darker blades of grass then assessing their visibility from the post. When I got there the next morning, you told me the committee had changed the panels the previous evening. The charm held regardless. Makes me nostalgic and a sad. Sally and Taylor are both dead now.

 

Penny

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I think it is a dis service to the dogs and stock to allow to much, or too little time.

 

Lana

I agree, though at least here in the east, there's seldom too much time for a course, probably because the trial hosts are trying to accommodate as many runs as possible. Sheep generally must be trotted around the course, although there are always exceptions.

 

The polypay sheep that started this discussion simply won't move for a weak dog (and may even run over it), so amount of time on course for such dogs would be immaterial.

 

J.

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Ladies and lassies, the National Finals deserve your support. Doesn't anyone complaining have any fond memories?

 

I raise sheep and am careful of them. I'm sure you are, too. Even doing set-out, things can get out of hand on occasion.

 

Too much time creates more stress than I have seen with too little. In ASCA and AKC, the time limit is pre-set and handlers want those titles, so they muck about forever to get that obstacle or score. In USBCHA, open handlers usually take the better part of valor and retire.

 

Penny

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Ladies and lassies, the National Finals deserve your support. Doesn't anyone complaining have any fond memories

 

 

 

Penny

 

 

As somebody who has spent many hours helping Geri put on the west coast finals( and as somebody who has put on trials myself) i was in no way complaining about ANY finals. Mine was observation about trials in general, so perhaps my comments did not belong on this topic.

 

As far as USBCHA handlers ret when they should i would not agree. I have seen a lot of wrecks this past year with handlers not walking off. Again not the finals.

 

Lana

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Ladies and lassies, the National Finals deserve your support. Doesn't anyone complaining have any fond memories?

 

I raise sheep and am careful of them. I'm sure you are, too. Even doing set-out, things can get out of hand on occasion.

 

Too much time creates more stress than I have seen with too little. In ASCA and AKC, the time limit is pre-set and handlers want those titles, so they muck about forever to get that obstacle or score. In USBCHA, open handlers usually take the better part of valor and retire.

 

Penny

 

I wasn't complaining about the Finals, this one or any others.

 

I was making a general observation. I've hosted trials, been course director at others, and competed in a bunch. I want to see them continue and I think these types of discussions are helpful to keep us all mindful.

 

Pearse

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Topics morph. A question was asked and answered and then the topic went off on a tangent. There was an apparent complaint about a finals that occurred more than a decade ago. Beyond that, I thought the conversation had veered onto the attitudes toward sheep at trials in general and not about the finals. So Lana, I think your comments were appropriate, as were mine and those of other folks.

 

If we need to start a new topic, that's fine. But I think it's a valuable thing to talk about livestock welfare at trials and also about the *real* reason these dogs are necessary and how trials are supposed to test for the real work, which isn't harassing livestock in any way.

 

J.

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I stand at the post

The sheep are centuries away

Held by a horsemen

 

At my feet he waits

I watch his searching gaze

And can tell,

Centuries nailed down to now,

That he sees them

 

And then he runs

Sent out by the

Old shepherd who stands behind me

And points

My Eyes shaded by his rough brown hand

 

He Calls the long years home

Through the sheep

That come straight to my feet.

 

 

 

(Poem inspired by a run I saw on video this year.)

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Before the era to accommodate as many trial runs as possible - wasn't it generally calculated that 100 yards per minute would have been considered a reasonable pace to move sheep?

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It is ironic that trials were originally organized to improve the breed (whatever breed) for better and more efficient management of livestock. Ultimately, judges are the ones responsible to hold participants accountable for the welfare of stock by penalizing poor stockmanship.

 

It seems to me that part of the contributing problem may be that some of the people becoming judges (in various venues) aren't from livestock backgrounds. They have never had to doctor stock after a trial that have been handled poorly. JMO

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Among the moments I remember was walking the Nursery course with you the day before the first go, two friends--or maybe fiends--memorizing the placement of lighter and darker blades of grass then assessing their visibility from the post. When I got there the next morning, you told me the committee had changed the panels the previous evening. The charm held regardless. Makes me nostalgic and a sad. Sally and Taylor are both dead now.

 

Penny

 

Hi Penny, Glad you came back to the thread. I also remember walking the course with you and spending time scoping out all the weeds and blades of grass the sheep would have to walk over the next day. What a nice Finals it was. I thought everyone was so hospitable, and I'll bet the folks there this year are having a good time too. Donald delivering commentary through the little sound system during the runs, and Amanda filling in for him sometimes... both really good at that btw. I still am awed by your second Nursery run when I think about it. Scoring an 86 under the single judge we had at the time (would/could be a 172 under two judges). Absolutely fabulous! Yes, Sally and Taylor are both gone now. I had to retire Sally early from trialing, she had a hind leg problem that's not very common to Border Collies that eventually affected both her legs. I lost her this summer.

 

I really enjoyed my time back east and met some really nice folks. I had met Ms. Conrad a few years prior, but I had also spent some time chatting with Stu and Bernie. Bernie was like a walking physiology notebook, a subject we both loved. I'm also glad they added the barn dinner/dance again this time. I thought it was a really nice touch back then. Absolutely the best back ribs I think I've ever had followed by an old time string band. I've told the people I know that were going this year to be sure not to miss it.

 

Well, we have a new Nursery champion this year. Now on to the Open!

 

Ray

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Yes Jeanne Joy, you're correct in that it is officially is the judge's responsibility to protect the sheep. In fact I have come off the judge's stand in the past to get between a dog and sheep in order to protect the sheep while the handler was still standing at the post trying to command the dog. This other topic that has developed has been gone over many times in the past, though, and we all know it is also the handler's responsibility to know when things are going wrong and to step away from the post, collect the dog, and put the sheep away. To me this is something that should be learned in the "educational" classes when a handler is coming up and gaining experience. I hear that overseas they retire more easily than we do over here, largely because there may be another trial going on a short distance away. They can pack up and move on and try again at another site the same day. We can't do that, so more value is placed on a single run than probably should be. I think if more judge's would become pro-active in this the problem might decrease.

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Before the era to accommodate as many trial runs as possible - wasn't it generally calculated that 100 yards per minute would have been considered a reasonable pace to walk sheep?

 

I think that is still about average for most trials.

 

Say, a 400 yard outrun. The dog will run about 600 yards in about a minute to 90 secs

 

Four hundred yard fetch - 4 minutes

 

Four hundred yard drive - 4 minutes

 

A minute each for shed and pen - 2 minutes

 

That's 11 minutes for an 800 yard course which is about average, and 100 yards per minute would be on the slow side. I was Course Director for the WWSDA trials at Portage this year and set the time by walking the course from the setout to the pen. The setout was 535 yards, and the drive legs were 125, 150, 125 and I walked the course at a brisk walk in 7:30 minutes.

 

Adding time for the outrun, pen (easy), shed (difficult), we set the time at 10 minutes and extended it to 11 after the first run. In hindsight, 10 would have been fine.

 

Too much time on the clock is as bad as too little. It allows for sheep being run around the pen and the shedding ring for 3 or 4 minutes, and allows for pokey runs to score when they should have timed out.

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