The Highwood Stockdog Series is over- the last trial was held on Sunday. It is a GREAT way to pass the winter months, and is a lot of fun. Once a month we all drive to the High River arena and run our dogs. Last year was the first year, and this past year was even better than the first. It's like a well oiled machine. We can set up the whole arena trial (panels, fences, pens), and unload a trailer full of sheep in twenty minutes.
It has been a great learning experience for me. Last year I was SUPER new and each time to the post gave me a bit more confidence, and a bit more experience. How to read my stock, how to trust my dog, and what to do in general. This year has been more about learning my dogs- and giving them both that valuable experience.
It has not been without it's ups and downs though. I moved Brit to the Ranch class- which is a bit more advanced than Novice. The handler stays at the post and there is a longer drive (up the length of the arena). Novice is a small easy course, and the handler can walk on the drive (which is only half way up the arena at most).
Brit handled that no problem to begin with. We even won our class a few times. And then the sheep got heavy. And when that happened it was hard for both of us. lol. The drive seemed even farther and I struggled to keep her moving. And one trial she wouldn't. So back to novice we went for the last two of the season. I am glad I made that decision for her- the sheep got worse. But she handled them okay with help from me. Her run yesterday was the best she has ever done. Calm, Confident, and reading her stock. It was a great feeling only marred by a DQ caused by my handler error. I didn't know, and made a mistake at the pen. It doesn't matter in the big scheme of things but I do feel bad about it. And it wrecked an otherwise perfect run, and a great feeling. But you win some and you lose some! All things about this sport are variables- even the rules! lol. I am proud of Brit- this game is not easy for her, and although she is keen she often lacks the confidence to back it up. I've worked very hard with her to get her where she is now. And I feel that I can get her even farther if we keep marching on. At our own pace, step by step. For as long as she is able and willing we will continue to train and trial.
Leo has come so far- from his first time at the post, to the run yesterday. Consistently placing in the top three in his class every time, ensured that he brought home First Place in the Aggregate. Winning the Novice Class overall! The class is a fair size, and there are lots of good dogs. I am so very proud of him. I know I am biased but he is a pretty special dog. Talented, Keen, Honest, and is the type of dog who will look after me. He has taught me a lot already, and I am looking forward to a great summer of farm work with him. When it was announced that he won the Novice class I was happy, but it didn't really sink in. It has now, and I am just thrilled with him. What a dog he is!
Winning, or losing. It is all part of the fun of the game. For me it is never about winning, but doing my best, and pushing my dog to do his/her best. My favorite part of any sport is the training. I am a dog trainer. I love that part. So for me trialing is a test of my training- and that is for all sports- not just herding. Herding is the most difficult thing I have ever done, and I am very new. So it has been a challenge. I have a great support team though- people who have shared their knowledge and helped me a long the way. I am forever grateful for that! I know that I am very lucky!
Here are their runs from yesterday- lots of good stuff in there. And most importantly- Improvement from both of them!
and a token photo. Leo and I after winning the aggregate. I'll get a fancy jacket with our names on it, which I may never take off! ;)