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Jan Thompson's Water Cress Farm SDT

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This was the third annual Water Cress Farm SDT, hosted by Jan Thompson at her lovely farm near Limestone TN. The capable and in-charge course director was Dan King. Cy Peterson (and her chef-of-a-brother) helped with all aspects but really made sure no one ever went hungry or lacking anything. Bobbie Washer was always there helping out and making sure things went smoothly in the judge's booth and scores got posted regularly. Julie Poudrier did an awesome three days' set out with her dogs putting in those long days beside her. And, lest I forget, Lyle Lad judged three full days of runs with humor, honesty, and experience (and patience for her assistants).


Friday was the Nursery, Pro-Nov, Ranch day. Nursery I was followed by Pro-Nov, Ranch I, and then Nursery II and Ranch II. A hoped-for Pro-Nov II was not held due to lack of daylight.


Saturday was Open I and Sunday was Open II. Open I was a nail-biter, with Mike Hanley and Moss tied with Robin French and Bill first place. Due to time restrictions, Lyle determined a silent gather would be the tie-breaker. Mike and Moss went first with a very nice bit of outwork and a smooth but banana-shaped fetch. Robin and Bill had a nice outrun and lift, and an off-line but a bit straighter fetch, but not such a smooth or regular one. So, in the end, Mike and Moss won but just by a hair.


On Sunday, a surprise awaited the Open handlers as a new field was used, a long, tricky field with hills. Dogs had to be sent to the right and faith had to be displayed as the dog would not be able to see the sheep on the initial part of the outrun and the handler would not be able to see the dog on the middle part of the outrun. Amazingly, very few dogs had an difficulty completing a nice outrun.


The field was long, with a significant hill on both the right and left sides about midway along, a dip beyond, and then another hill, on the side of which the sheep were held out (Julie calculated she walked at least nine miles' equivalent to and from the set out pens to the set out cone, and the dogs much further, of course).


A number of dogs did quite nicely on the fetch but it was tricky as both dog and sheep would be out of sight of the handler for a short distance. Those that held a straight line would do well and those that didn't would show up somewhere along the hill with the cross-drive panels, losing points and having to take the sheep back to the line to try and make the fetch panels.


Once they turned the post clockwise, the drive would be uphill to the drive panels and then a tight turn was essential. If the dog turned the sheep nicely, they would tend to head right downhill and and about half-way up the cross-drive panel hill neatly, by which point the dog would have to be in good contact if a nice cross drive through the panels was to be accomplished.


While Saturday's Open I required a split of any two (I think) prior to the pen, Sunday's Open II required the pen prior to a single (last, on the head). That was often challenging and some handlers appeared quite grateful when "time" was called.


This is a lovely, welcoming, hospitable trial where good dog work is rewarded. The sheep are (barring the ewe nicknamed "the bitch" who was, thankfully, marked and removed from the flock) workable but don't give anything away - they require good work to get good results.


The handlers' dinner has always been great but this year Cy's brother did a fantastic dinner - pit-cooked marinated turkey breast with bechamel sauce, lamb with mint jelly (but I cheated and used the delicious brown gravy on mine), stir-fried tiny green beans, salad, an assorment of pies. Wonderful!


Again, thanks to Jan and her wonderful crew for a lovely trial in a beautiful setting. I don't have photos but Christine and Maureen posted some on Facebook, and they are lovely, also.

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