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Working Sheep in 14inches of snow.


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After working in -1 degree and 14 inches of snow on the farm, I started to wonder if there are or have ever been sheep dog trials held in the snow ?


Most trials in the US are held in warmer climates when it is winter in the midwest or northeast.


Keeva has become solid muscle. Getting through all that snow is hard. Although she will never let me know, however I have to admit I am breathing mush heavier these days.


I guess there wouldn't be many spectators at these winter events. :blink:

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Bruce and Linda Fogt hosted a trial the last weekend of Dec.--this was after the blizzard came through Ohio on the Wed. before the trial started. I believe they had at least 12 inches with drifts on the trial course higher than that. I had to pull my dog because he had a pulled hamstring, but I think the snow might have slowed him down enough that we'd have done o.k. :P

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Somewhere in the last week, somebody posted on my Facebook news feed about a sheepdog trial in the upper midwest that was recently held amidst drifted snow! :P


So, I guess it's done, I just haven't tried it. ;)


Not sure about the 1 degree temps, though. That level of cold could be dangerous. I'd worry about dogs and/or sheep in a trial panting and gasping in that frigid air. Might it not freeze lungs or some such, since heavy exertion and open-mouthed panting would mean the air can't get warmed in the nasal cavities?


~ Gloria

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I have been to a couple of snowy trials. One funny one was watching Diane trying to run her dog in a white out practically!




Of course I still have to work if there is snow. :D Our snow in western Wa is very heavy and wet.

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I don't trial but a couple of winters back, we had snowfall after snowfall after snowfall, and drifting. Chores that would normally have taken an hour and a half at most, would take four hours for the two of us. The heifers wintered in the fields behind the house and the mature cows across the road in the back fields.


I have a short video (that I can't upload as I don't have bandwidth or whatever it's called to do it) where I sent Celt out to fetch in the heifers for their supplement. The field was deep with dense layers of snow, some hefty drifts, and some few pathways that the heifers had packed down as they moved about from hay to resting areas to working pens to water.


On a previous day, he had tried to navigate the snow between pathways to make his usual outrun and work, but found it an exercise in futility as the snow was often deeper than his back and movement to be exhausting even in a short distance.


This day, it was obvious that Celt had learned from his prior attempt. When I sent him, he took a good look to see where the heifers were -we had maybe half a dozen or eight, scattered up and around the spring and in the west hayfield, where we fed them their hay. He chose a pathway that would take him in the general direction he wanted to go. When he got to a fork in the pathway, he hesitated for just a second to see where the heifers were in relation to his pathway choices. My normally big-outrunning dog did the best he could and chose the pathways that took him around and behind the heifers, minimizing having to flounder through any unbroken snow. With the dog generally behind them, the heifers began to move towards the working area (where we supplemented them) along whichever of the paths were closest to them and most direct.


This posed an interesting working challenge to Celt - a few heifers moving along this pathway, some moving along another, somewhat parallel pathway, another moving along another one - each converging or diverging as the paths met and crossed. He used his presence on the heifers in the pathway where he was, he kept an eye on the other groups and moved slightly back or forth in his chosen pathway to influence them (even from a bit of a distance), and he monitored all three groups from the pathway he chose.


He brought them all up and put them all into the pen, and hardly placed a foot off the hard-packed pathways. He looked, he figured out what to do, and he did it within the constraints that nature had thrown in his way. Of course, he would have floundered if he'd had to do it directly in the unpacked, drifted areas of snow where the heifers had not packed down pathways. I could not have asked more of him, and I could not have been more pleased. He used his instinct and intelligence to get the job done well.


Back to your regularly-scheduled programming...

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Celt is a very nice dog who had the misfortune of being my first "real" dog, and the victim of my pitiful training efforts (and the victim of not getting real suitable help, either, at least until a lot of damage had been done). His major inherent flaw is being very sensitive to pressure, which also has made him a good dog on pairs as he respects the mothers and babies, and the mothers have a certain level of trust in him. His other major inherent and learned flaw is lacking confidence. He's not the only one in his litter, his mother is a bit that way, and his early training did not help the situation - rather, it made it worse.


Someone I respect as a very top handler said that he "really, really liked" Celt, enough to want to know his pedigree. I've been very blessed to have him and only wish I'd done better by him.

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We usually have a trial at the Milliken farm right at New Years. If there is less than about 4" of new snow she holds the trial. It is routinely on snow packed surfaces. It was cancelled this year as two days before Kingston had 12" of snow.


Three years ago it was easily -20C, crunchy snow, and we ran in a small field


Last year was great with just a dusting





Or we do this!



But we are still training and I think I might hold a fun day at my farm in the next couple of weeks...



But this is where handlers hang out! Wish I had some photos of the really cold snowy year...but i don't think the batteries in the camera worked!



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I ran Nan in a snowstorm...it was lightly snowing when I started then whiteout where I could not see the drive....so I guess and you could see black flashes...we completed the course. They waited until the snow had passed (maybe 10 more minutes) then finished the runs. We have winter trials and we have run in snow, maybe a inch or two? Mainly, when we run, it is rain.

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I have to laugh about snow in Western WA. When I first moved here 23 years ago people told me it NEVER snowed.




It snowed every year!




It doesn't last long, I think the longest we have had it on Island was two weeks. But generally was not normal mountain snow that is dry and crusts. It is wet and heavy. On Island we have gotten more than a foot at the project. And a couple of times normal snow as it got cold. I fed with snowshoes and used a toboggan sled with my sled dogs to feed hay.



And with the Ice storms and continuous mud I long for dry snow!


On The pennisula it seems there is more snow. So when I move stock there often there is no snow on island, and alot around hood canal.




I asked Pete this morning if it would snow. He stated in gruff farmer man fashion. 'Doesn't snow here!




The thing I fear the most when working out in the fields and forests, is high winds. And lightening.




You can see photos of snow on island on my blog I think.

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