Saturday Update

Gel is doing well, but the morning was a bit rough. The sheep run went well. Gel flanked a bit wider than he needed to a few times and lost contact with the sheep, which isn’t ideal in an arena trial. Gel is a (sometimes excessively wide) square flanking dog. I took it slow and controlled and I’ve since found that isn’t the ideal way to do it in an ASCA trial (more on that later). The duck run was beautiful. The first cattle run sucked however.

These cows are not dog broke, they are human broke, but not dog broke. Gel was trying to fetch them to me and these cows don’t fetch. They are more afraid of me than the dog. I got in the way and essentially pushed the cows up over Gel. One of them kept turning on him. The cows moved off the Aussies who bounced up and down and barked, but a dog with any kind of eye (which would be Gel and a Kelpie who is entered) and moves in a controlled manner made them turn around to see what this strange creature was in their field.

Then Gel got kicked in the jaw. I stopped the run. He’s fine, but it upset me because it was, essentially, my fault. After lunch, they gave the scores for the morning run. Gel came in second on the duck run and third on the sheep run. In the afternoon trial under a different judge, we did ducks first and it was another beautiful run. Then we did cattle. I almost didn’t do it, but I figured, I paid the money and I was bound and determined to keep Gel out of harms way. We got the cattle out of the pen and they started in the right direction with Gel hot on their heels (he has figured out the pattern and essentially the “game” already). I came in behind him, at a run, and between the two of us, we pushed those suckers around the ring in record time: less than three minutes; it was cattle aerobics! I discovered I have to stay at their hips, behind their vision and keep Gel in the pocket behind them in push mode. We were last in the sheep run in the afternoon. The sheep were wild. The morning of being harassed by the dogs made them really, really light. All in all though, they were really good sheep though. They stayed together as best they good despite what some of the dogs were doing to them and didn’t hit fences unless a dog was really pushing them. Our sheep run went well. The sheep turned on Gel a few times, again, they are not used to a dog with eye, but he kept marching on and we completed the course without mishap.

It seems in an ASCA trial, the quicker you can get the run done, the fewer points the judge can mark off while you are in the ring. They want speed: we’ll give it to them, but we’ll do it in a good, workmanlike manner.

Anyway, we redeemed ourselves. In the afternoon trial, we went first in ducks, first in sheep AND first in cattle with the highest cattle score of the entire day, all dogs! The judge for the morning trial even came up to me afterwards and complimented my sheep run. His two dogs (he ran in the afternoon class) couldn’t manage the sheep. So, we go into Open in sheep in ducks today and hopefully will get our second Started leg in cattle and do an Open class in the afternoon.

I was unable to get anyone to adequately videotape my runs. I’ll try again today.

Hopefully the thundershowers will hold off and today will be relatively uneventful.

Fern is having a good time both at the trial and in the hotel room. There are several Aussie puppies there so she’s been able to play with them throughout the day. She likes being in a hotel room.

Until later …