Dogs on Wicklow hike

Dogs on Wicklow hike

Friday, 5 September 2014

The Killing Field...

It was the strangest thing to watch. Dog after dog on field 3 not stopping, not flanking, all in the same spots, even with top dog and handler teams. The field was flat and slightly downhill with some undulation and the wind in the face of the handlers. The field was also very loud, as the ground was rough cut stalks instead of grass. The general consensus was there were several dead spots perhaps complicated by wind and noise from the field. It became known as 'the killing field'.

Four or five of the top seven scores came first thing in the morning when the air and field were calm.

I thought Craig and I might have a chance, as we were near the end of the day when things might settle. After just grazing the fetch on the wrong side, and making the drive panel in dramatic fashion and turning the sheep perfectly at the panel, the sheep started to come down and once again the dreaded dead zone struck and Craig didn't take his right hand flank until far too late. Although we just missed the cross drive gate, our cross drive line was way off.

It has been a dry year for the North Americans in general as no one made it through to the semi-finals this go around, but a rich experience in learning that will expand our knowledge of sheep and sheepdogs for better performances in the future.

We feel very blessed for the lessons we have taken away. Sometimes hard falls are what spur you to greater heights if you take the lesson.

We will enjoy the semis and finals and then prepare for the long trek home.

Fortunately, we found a covert route to the trial field parking that cuts off 15 minutes and event traffic, but it's a bit rough...not for the faint of heart or a low riding vehicle! :)

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Thursday, 4 September 2014

The parade to open the World Trial was very festive. Lots of Scottish entertainer and a big crowd.

The Canafian team was small but had a big presence in the crowd. Here's the Canadian Team 'selfie'...
Lee Lumb, Mary Lou and me.

Day 1 of the World Trial is done. Mary Lou and Dyna had a very good run. One sheep broke at the pen which cost points and time and as a result Mary Lou and Dyna ran out of time on the single. Mary Lou just before her run...

The going has been tough overall on the three fields, with scores generally being lower on fields 1 and 3. Field 3 has been dubbed 'the killer field' as the sheep and field are extremely tricky. I will be on field 3 later today.

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Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Onion is not a veg!

We picked up Mary Lou's daughter Alison from Edinburgh airport. While we were waiting for her plane to land we grabbed a quick bite to eat. One thing you learn very quickly in the UK...vegetables aren't as common as in North America. When the menu says "with veg" it doesn't usually mean anything colourful like broccoli. When we ask where the vegetables are, invariably the server points at the onion.

Now, I'm not known for my culinary skills, the smoke detector is just as likely to go off as the stove timer when I'm cooking, but onion as a main veg?...I'm just sayin'.....

Anyway, the Ettrick Valley is a beautiful place...the vastness is simply not captured in a photo...

...but sadly the planting of trees is changing the landscape and reducing the grazing, eliminating the Shepherd's livelihood.

The Ettrick Valley is quite (very) remote and there is a roving library truck that comes through every three weeks! Love it!

So after some sightseeing in Edinburgh and around the Ettrick Valley, and some dog work with Bobby, we are off to Tain! The countdown begins!

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Friday, 29 August 2014

The Brae

We have been really blessed on this trip...we have been invited to work our dogs on Welsh mountains, on lordly English estates and now on a Scottish brae. We are in the Ettrick Valley, home of Bobby Dalziel.

When we arrived at the area where everyone parks for training, we couldn't believe our eyes. Several hundred feet above us and about 600 yards away a dog was working a group of Scottish blackface back and forth across the face of a steep brae, amidst the bracken and heather.

You may be able to see the tiny speck of white mid-way up the hill on the right, just below where the dark green foliage ends near the top of the brae. That's the sheep. Although it doesn't look it in this picture, the hill is so steep I got a crick in my neck looking up to watch the dogs work.

We were a bit terrified (can you be 'a bit' terrified?) to send our dogs, as the ground was very rough and incredibly steep.

This gives you an idea of the slope...

The view from the handler's perspective...can you see the sheep? That's Dyna working those sheep up there!

Send her again? Really?

The view from my window of the beautiful B&B where we are staying...

A few more days in the Borders, a trip to Edinburgh, and then it will be North to the World Trial!

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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

To Scotland!

We are heading to Scotland today. Yesterday we attended a show and got to see Jim and Shirley Cropper run, as well as other top handlers such as the Longtons, work tricky Swaledales. Although we all had decent runs, a bobble each knocked us out of the running. One fellow even ran with dual canes!

The sheep weren't very cooperative, often ending up in the announcers tent...

The show had some impressive animals...check out the size of the Texels...I'm talking about the skull BTW...

...and the horns!

We had an amazing Thai dinner to top it off...

Now to fit everything into the car...ugh!

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Hen party...

We went to a quaint little agricultural show yesterday with a small sheepdog trial for charity. The spectators were protected from the sheep by a roll of snow fencing (why do they need snow fencing in the UK?)...actually, many of the trials we have been to have had no fencing at all, as the dogs are expected to take care of the sheep. It would be a litigator's dream in North America.

We arrived just as they broke for lunch and we were invited for tea. Even at a small rural show, this was done with proper china tea cups and saucers, four of us ladies sitting around chatting.

The rural qualities of Britain were emphasized by the poster for a dear lost animal on the tea room window...

The trial itself was entertaining. It took four people to hold the uncooperative sheep near the stake. They were just over the crest of a hill so you were never 100% sure if your sheep were there or if you should send your dog. You had to climb over a rocky ditch, go through the spectators and the car park to take your sheep to the exhaust at the end of your run. Just a typical day at a sheepdog trial...

Mary Lou and Dyna had yet another stellar run, finishing in second, one point off the lead.

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Sunday, 24 August 2014

On the edge...

The last few days have been on the edge...sheep on the edge of the road in the Dales...

...sheep on the edge at trials, Mary Lou on the edge of winning a trial (2 points off the lead), our rental car on the edge of stone get the idea.

The trials yesterday had good hands such as the Longton's running. When we left the one trial, Mary Lou was winning on 90 points on very difficult sheep. Late in the day apparently the sheep went very good and Mary Lou was pipped by scores of 92 and 91.

The trial fields were, as always, beautiful, and the running was on Swaledales...

We came home to the house mascot, who is entertaining beyond belief and helped us check results on the computer!

Today we are off again...more later!

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