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Congratulations to Julie

Guest Charles Torre

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Guest Charles Torre

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I see that our own Julie Poudrier & Willow took first on the second day of the Clendenin Farm's Novice Series (after a run-off!).




Julie, as I am sure you know, you are obligated to give an account of your experience, with special emphasis on the humiliating parts that usually manage to accompany the glorius ones.





[This message has been edited by Charles Torre (edited 04-01-2002).]

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Thanks Charlie. I'll apologize in advance for how long this is. I always seem to write long for the articles I do for work as well. Must be a sign of genius! wink.gif By embarrassing, do you mean I have to tell how my Boy dog refused to cover on the come bye side, which was quite unfortunate as the sheep tended to run off the top and to the left straight for the exhaust? You see, Boy is the dog I would have pegged to do well for me this weekend as we are still working on Willow's outrun.... Or perhaps that I nearly blew a fetch and turn at the post by being in the wrong place?


I guess I should start by saying that Steve Clendenin and Nancy Jackson and all the other folks who helped out once again put on a great trial. Steve makes a point of putting on novice trials (all classes but open are offered) with the main purpose of providing a relaxed atmosphere where even first timers can come out and have a good experience with their dogs. and he always has helpful suggestions, so I came away with tips on helping Boy learn to cover better (sorry Boy, but you'll be working those Welsh mountain sheep more).


I trialled my dogs there last year and so sort of knew what to expect out of Steve's sheep. But, apparently Steve had to go out and get new sheep because I guess last year's lambing wasn't as successful as it might have been. The sheep he bought (don't ask what kind--they looked like perhaps dorper/katahdin/barb? crosses, but then maybe they were so light and deerlike just because they were kinda small). In any case, they had been worked with dogs (I think I heard this correctly) only a week and a half before the trial. From the start they knew where the exhaust gate was, and they outraced many a dog to that gate. At least most handler/dog teams were able to scoop them out of that corner and continue on with their run, but there weren't too many fetches that actually made the fetch panels. They also weren't easy to pen. Not that Steve's regular sheep were ever easy to pen, but these were even less easy than those.


That said, my runs on Saturday were all my dogs' fault! smile.gif Boy had a nice outrun and straight lift, but then paused to sniff one of Colin's set out dogs. Of course while he was socializing the sheep took their opportunity to hightail it toward the exhaust. Boy didn't cover as he should, but we were able to get them back and get back on course. We lost precious time, though, and ran out at the pen.


Willow did a great outrun (hallelujah!), but paused to sample some corn used at the setout (and before you ask, yes I do feed my dogs!). But Willow is a very fast dog, so she managed to overtake the bolting sheep, even after pausing to sample corn. She managed to catch them, but we never could get them moving in anything that resembled a straight line--flank her to the left, sheep instantly bolt to the right; flank right, sheep bolt left. I was getting a bit dizzy from the rapid zigging and zagging, and then one of the sheep helpfully broke off from the group to race back to the setout with Willow in hot pursuit. I of course left the post a that point, not that she's inclined to grip or really chase, but mainly because these were new sheep in unfamilar territory and I didn't want anything bad to happen as a result of panicked stock. So we were retired, which was rather disappointing as Willow is usually pretty good at getting wild running sheep under control.


We also ran P/N (NC) and again Boy refused to cover, causing us to run out of time at the pen. He did manage a reasonable drive, though, and we did get a score, so I couldn't complain (this was our second attempt at a P/N course at a trial). Willow ran so wide that she had a brief pause at the set out pens before continuing on her outrun (which of course lost us some major points on our outrun). She's a good driving dog, and so once we got the sheep to the post she did a pretty good drive, made it through the panels but ran out of time at the pen.


It seems that I always manage to draw the first run on Sunday (it's kind of a running joke amongst us now) and Sunday at Steve's was no exception. I HATE going first, and I have to say that I decided to run Willow first as sort of the sacrificial lamb (no Easter pun intended) because really Boy has been doing a more consistent job and always has great outwork. So as I walked out on the field I jokingly said to the other handlers that I would set the standard for the day. I won't say it was a beautiful run--Willow did a lovely outrun (this from a dog who wouldn't go to the right not so long ago) and a nice lift. The fetch was off to the left (big surprise), but was straight, and we made a decent turn at the post. We had pretty straight lines on the wear and "crosswear" (Steve always has a crosswear for novice classes) and to the pen. I kept Willow well back (which the sheep liked), but I knew she could turn on the afterburners if they tried to bolt for the exhaust. We had a nearly perfect pen, except that Willow was slow on her come bye flank (we've been having that trouble at home at the pen as well), which allowed the sheep to move slightly up the side of the pen before going in.


It wasn't till nearly the end of the novice runs that a score tied ours. I had to go first in the run off. I figured when I went out there the worst I could do was second, and that really does take some pressure off I suppose. Nice away outrun, I gave a brief steady whistle to shorten her just to the right of 12 so she would be prepared to flank back to the left to cover the draw. The sheep lifted nice and straight for the first few yards, but then made the usual bolt to the left. Willow covered, but we missed the fetch panels. I did get the sheep back on line (pretty close to it anyway, given the speed at which events were occurring), but then novice handler brain took over. The turn at the post was to be clockwise, so I foolishly stood there to the right of the post as my dog worked her heart out to bring the sheep around the way I wanted them to go (with the sheep not wanting to get anywhere near the human). Just before the point of no return my brain kicked in and I jumped to the left blocking the sheep from going the wrong way and opening up the way they were supposed to go (well, duh! And Willow just gave me one of those looks). The wear and pen were pretty smooth, and I felt really good about our run, but I also knew that I had made enough mistakes to give Meagan room to pull off the win. I got lucky. Meagan's sheep bolted from the set out before her dog was anywhere near them (Colin tried valiantly but couldn't hold them). Her dog definitely did not cause the sheep to leave early. So Tom told her to call her dog back and gave her a re-run. I think that the chase to try to catch those bolting sheep before being called off revved her dog up a bit much, and so when she sent the second time, her Wyn was a little tight and the sheep again left early (but with cause this time) and although Meagan recovered, it was enough of a bobble to leave us in the lead.


As you may recall, Willow is my little tri rescue dog that showed no interest in livestock when I adopted her. I had no idea about herding back then either. So I'm especially proud of her accomplishments because she didn't have a good start and she's stuck with me as a handler and all that. She's improving steadily, and will soon move upto P/N (driving has always been her strong point).


I ran P/N NC again on Sunday. Ran Boy first just as a throwaway run as I figured he hadn't really covered his sheep yet this weekend and so wouldn't this time either (plus he hasn't yet got a whole lot of confidence to push the sheep away from me at greater distances). Naturally he had to go out and prove me wrong and cover very nicely on that come bye side (fourth time must be the charm). I think our score had we been competing would have landed us in 7th or 8th.


Willow, on the other hand, ran tight on her outrun, and although she got the sheep to me and then managed to drive them through the drive panels, she hesitated on that come bye flank to make the turn back to the pen. That hesitation was enough to give the sheep a chance to bolt for the exhaust, and Willow, my speeding bullet, couldn't catch them.


I'm left wondering why both dogs can't perform well on the same course on the same day! They seem to take turns....


How's that for long-winded horn tooting Charlie? Sorry it's so long, but I figure people will just skim or skip. I'm working hard to move up to P/N by midyear with both dogs. Now if I only knew of a good way to remove red clay mud from my clothing....




[This message has been edited by juliepoudrier (edited 04-01-2002).]


[This message has been edited by juliepoudrier (edited 04-01-2002).]


[This message has been edited by juliepoudrier (edited 04-01-2002).]


[This message has been edited by juliepoudrier (edited 04-01-2002).]

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