Sunday, September 11, 2011

NEBCA Novice Finals 2011: The Sort-Of-Okay, The Bad, and The Slightly-Better-Than-Bad

What a treat to have my mom accompany me to the trial! I understand how boring it is for most people to watch a sheepdog trial if they aren’t involved with it, but it’s nice to have someone rooting for me under the tent now and then. It also makes some aspects of traveling with three dogs a lot easier when I have help. Thanks, Mom!

Getting the car ready for the day.

The NEBCA Novice Finals were held at Peter VandeCar's High Point Farm in Knox, New York, and judged by Bernie Armata. The classes were Novice/Novice, Pro/Novice, and Ranch. There were three runs for each class; each handler's lowest score was dropped, and placings were determined by the total of their highest two scores. Nov/Nov would run twice on Saturday and once on Sunday. Dare was the only one of my dogs qualified.

The sheep were Dorpers, with a sprinkle of Cheviots mixed in. The Cheviots didn’t want to participate, and the packets which drew two Dorpers and a Cheviot generally had a lot more work to do. Unfortunately, I can not blame the runs on this, as I drew three Dorpers for each of my three runs. I can only imagine how much more ragged still our runs might have been.

Several more experienced handlers took turns setting for the classes, and grain was used to set as well, so in spite of the handlers’ best efforts, the setting was not always even. Some handlers used their dogs quite a bit to hold, moving them till the sheep were still and trying to keep the sheep spotted till the dog on course approached. Others used their dogs to the slightest possible degree, holding mainly with their own presence and the grain. While grain undoubtedly made setting easier for the folks at the top, it often resulted in startled sheep, who were engrossed in grain nearly until the moment dogs were on top of them.

The field as viewed from the post in N/N was mainly level till just before the setout, where a low hill bumped up somewhat steeply, with another rise behind that. Dogs being sent left would encounter two ridges that tended to draw them in flat; dogs being sent right had a more gradual approach, but a large tree was in the path that was probably the most “correct” line for the right hand outrun. Dogs cutting to the inside of the tree would most likely be too tight, so they needed to go to the outside of the tree. I discussed strategy with Gene and debated hard with myself about which way to send Dare. The right was her natural side, but her come-bye had been better in our recent lessons. The exhaust was to the far left at the bottom of the field, and ultimately I decided to send left. We frequently work on a similar hill at Gene’s, and I didn’t feel she’d pull in just for the sake of (possibly) not seeing her sheep. Also, I felt it was very likely that if sent to the right, she would “cheat” on her outrun and stay to the inside of the tree. Either way, I didn’t feel confident that she’d take an out if I tried to widen her. I finally decided that if the sheep either got away on their own or broke away due to her being too tight, it would be much harder to get things fixed if they broke left and headed to the exhaust (as I felt she’d lose her cool and go into chase mode), so I finally settled on sending left. I fretted about it every run, but ended up sending left for all three runs. The turn at the post for Nov/Nov would be counter-clockwise, backwards for the course, which was a left hand drive/wear. This was intended to give the novice dogs a chance to cover that heavy pressure from the exhaust when making the turn.

N/N handler's meeting. L-R: Dan Weeks, Sallie Butler (I think), Bob Holmgren (I think), 
Jean-Louis Bigourdan, not sure (green shirt), Kathryn Acres, Pam Davies, Laurie Place, 
me, Wally Dury, Donna Dickinson.

None of my runs were pretty, but I'll post them all anyway. There's little point in having this blog as a journal for myself if I can't be completely open. All photos and video of me were taken by my mom and are (c)Regina Ireland-Auer. I am very lucky to have any photos at all from Saturday; I goofed big-time after the runs were done for the day, and formatted my camera's memory card (which deletes all photos, usually irretrievably). Kudos to my stepdad, John Auer, who researched the problem for me and suggested I try Pandora Recovery. It was a success, and many photos were saved!

Run 1: The Sort-Of-Okay
Dare leaves on her outrun on a decent path. 
Joe Evans is holding with grain and basically no dog (his dog was way off by the tree on the right hand side, I think). He had them nice and quiet, but they were startled by Dare, 
who came in too flat and too fast. Cindy Schmitt is working push out at the top.

Surprisingly, considering how flat Dare came in at the top, she got around them and they came through the fetch panels. Unfortunately, this was done at warp speed, as with most of her fetches.

At the post. I think I may have been giving her the wrong flank after the fetch panels to try to turn the post the right way (the wrong way at this trial). 
I remember catching myself doing it in one of the runs, but don't remember which one.

Whee! Zig-zagging the sheep all over the place on the assisted drive sure keeps things exciting!

No style whatsoever, but we made the panels.

Heading to the pen. Dare came around too far to the come-bye side when we had to fix the line from our turn, and now she needs to flop around away to the other side to cover the pressure 
from the exhaust to keep them on line to the pen.

 A bit of a bobble as the sheep had beat me to the pen, but not terrible; this photo shows the worst of it. They went back the way they came, and then in. Penning wasn't too bad at the trial, so it's annoying that I forgot to stop them so I could get to the gate first. They'd likely have gone right in. 

"Run away! Run away!"

No smiling! I'd likely have been looking even more miserable if I'd known 
that this would be the best of my three runs.

A 64 (of 80) for our efforts. 

Run 2: The Bad
I tried over and over to make this embedded video a larger size, but Blogger was fighting it (it kept either showing the text of the HTML code, or it would give me an error when saving). 
Sorry it's so small. Perhaps it's best you can't see the details!
Warren Mick holding, I think.

You're probably wondering just what that mess was worth?
(Third from last run; a 50.)

Run 3: The Slightly-Better-Than-Bad
Sunday was supposed to have started with Ranch 2, 
but the fog was so thick we had to wait two hours just to be able to run N/N instead. 
My run was second to last in the class, and by that time, severe weather was imminent. 
It's hard to tell from these photos how really ominous the sky was. Peter had his lightning meter out and was manning the gate to the field to get us on and off quickly. 
He said the field has been struck many times.

Last ditch chance for a respectable run.

Wide enough, but not nearly deep enough. 
You can see one sheep has already startled at her approach, 
in part due to having been occupied with the grain (but also due to the way she came in).
Gene Sheninger holding, Maria Mick doing push out.

The result is that the startled sheep actually lost its footing and fell, while the other two took off down the fetch line. Dare locked in on those two and ignored the other one...and me. I couldn't get her stopped till she almost reached the fetch panels. You can see in my body language that I am dying to run at her right now! Very lucky for me, the single did not jet to the exhaust, 
and I was able to get her to bring it back.

Turning the post the wrong way, which was the right way. 

She'd been pretty bad all weekend on many counts (I wasn't doing much better!), and on the drive leg I got so sick of her not giving the sheep any room, not pacing herself and not taking my "time" or lie downs, that I swished my stick in front of her nose to push her out. 
She moved off a little, but not by much.

Lots more zig-zagging, but we made the panels and had an okay turn. I'm sure someone will say I should be looking at the sheep here, and when making a turn like this, yes, I should be. 
I'm double checking my line to the pen as I forgot what I had picked out as my landmarks! 

When I flanked Dare to cover the exhaust and to stop the sheep so I could get to the pen, she didn't stop where I told her to (not even close), so the sheep beat me to the pen gate again, and I had to have her push them back a little, but we got them in without any trouble. 
Look how close she is here--totally unacceptable, and not tolerated in training.  

Three nights later, Dare had a fever, so it is possible that she just wasn't feeling good at the trial, but she was eating well and I couldn't get her to slow down. NO lethargy, no other signs of illness, so I am not sure I can use Wednesday night's fever explain away our performance on the previous Saturday and Sunday. (58 for our last run.)

When the scores were tallied, we didn't even make it into the top 10. Very disappointing, considering the last time we'd been to the Novice Finals, we were fourth. We didn't run very well;  my disappointment is with us, not with the judging.

Next: A few other runs and scenes from the NEBCA Novice Finals.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fetch Gate Farm Benefit Trial

Or, “You Weren’t Thinking of Moving UP, Were You?”

Me? Move out of Novice/Novice? Why do that? I mean, it’s only been four years since my first NEBCA trial. No, I don’t have my own sheep, I don’t think I went to any trials in 2009, and just one in 2010, so we haven’t exactly been racking up tons of trial experience. But still, we’ve been out to work at other fields--including all those miles to Colorado and back--and attended our share of clinics, so it’s not like we never leave our “home” field. It’s really time to get moving up; and yet I can’t seem to get it together with Dare out on the trial field. I get extremely nervous about trials, and no doubt I transmit some of that to Dare, but even so, I know we can do better than we have been doing. There doesn’t seem to be any point to moving up unless we are consistently doing reasonably well in our current class, because once we move up, there’s no going back.

Fetch Gate Farm's Benefit trial was Novice classes only; Nov/Nov, Pro/Nov, and Ranch, and was a benefit for their big trial in July. I’m so glad that Heather and Roger Millen are willing to have Novice/Novice handlers and dogs at their great trials, and I was happy to be able to attend, support the trial, and get more experience.

The trial was August 13-14, and the judge was Ron McGettigan. I entered Dare, but barely considered entering Seamus. He’s still quite young, and we have so much to work on. It didn’t seem worth it to rush him into a trial. However, Gene said that Ron is great for helping novice handlers and young dogs gain experience, and encouraged me to enter him; Heather echoed the sentiment, so I sent off an entry for Seamus. We’d been to Sheep Camp at the Millens’ in June, and I thought having been on the field before might help Seamus a little, too.

Seamus has had issues with his away side outrun since I got him back from Scott; that is, he was going fine with Scott or with me when I worked with Scott, but when Scott was out of the picture, Seamus’s weak areas started to become more evident. He doesn’t like to run out to the right, and at first he would run straight up the field, my “Lie down!” and “Whatareyoudoinginthere!!” seeming to do nothing but spur him on faster and with more determination to get to them. After a Come to Jesus meeting…or two…he finally took me more seriously. He started at least trying. He’d run out slowly, with his head turned in on the sheep, and stop, usually turning to look at me. I’d tell him to get out, and he’d carry on a ways, and stop again. He’d stop two or three times on the way out. Of course I didn’t want him to develop a habit of stopping, but for the moment, this was a much less serious infraction than running straight at the sheep with intentions to chase them all over the place. We were working on this from lesson to lesson, and one day as I walked him into the field, he saw Gene bringing the sheep out from the woods, past a pen to our right, where there was also another packet of sheep. Seamus then decided he’d go look for sheep in the woods, or in the pen, even though he was looking right at Gene and our set of sheep who’d just walked past us. On another day, Gene had the sheep settled at the top before we got to the "post." Shadows were falling across the top half of the field were the sheep were, so it may have been harder for him to see them, but he just didn’t see them at all, and kept trying to go to the woods to look for them again. All these little hiccups, yet I decided to add more to the training stew, and asked Gene to start holding the sheep further out, so I could start lengthening his outruns again. He was going out well for Scott, but in trying to get a handle on his issues, we’d been working fairly short distances of 100 yards or sometimes considerably less. With all these recent challenges, I had some concerns about how his outrun would go at the trial, but hoped that having been on the field before and the sheep being up on a hill in front of us would help him see and get to them. If I could get him to his sheep at the trial, and he didn’t break them apart, I’d be happy.

Dare had been working well, overall. Her outruns were generally good, and she’d been driving pretty well; in fact we’d been driving Ranch course distances in the last few weeks. I’d made plenty of handling mistakes causing missed panels and crooked lines, but she’d generally done all I’d asked of her. I had hope that we might do better than our last outings at PA State (Hop Bottom) and Borders on Paradise (where we placed 3rd out of a small class of 11 or 12 dogs; although we were 3rd, I felt the quality of our work wasn’t what it should have been).

The trial was well-attended, and had the largest number of dogs I've seen in a Novice/Novice class except for Hop Bottom. There were 27 dogs on Saturday and 29 on Sunday. I was surprised and pleased to learn that Gene was setting for N/N, which in addition to the familiar field was a nice little bonus for Seamus to lift off a familiar person. The setout for the class was quite far for N/N; close to 160 yards, up a hill. Gene and I were both glad we'd been asking Seamus to go further recently!

My first dog up on Saturday was Dare, early in the running order. She ran out a bit tight and not quite deep enough, pushed in and broke them apart on the fetch and started to chase (but surprisingly, listened to me when I yelled for her to stop), and got them around the post. We did an assisted drive but missed the panels at the last minute because she didn't do as I asked, and we managed an okay pen. They were pretty easy to pen and it should have been a "gimme" but she wasn't quite right so we got dinged for a point off. We ended up with a 50 out of 80, and I think that put us 13th.

Seamus ran near the end of the class. He went out to the right slowly and with his head turned in. I was SO close to giving him a flank or an out to encourage him along; I was almost literally biting my tongue not to say anything. I'd have to give him a redirect if he stopped, but realized in time that I’d take points away from myself that I didn't need to if I pushed him on before he stopped. I managed to keep my mouth shut, my little dog got himself all the way up and around them, and he ended up with a 20 point outrun! He turned in at the right place, but after he got them moving it was a race and they pulled hard to the right, and he was quite excited. Still, we got them down the field as far as the post but in trying to get around it, he wouldn't quite listen and had them jiggered up, so ultimately lost one and then they all ran to the exhaust corner. The judge had told us that if they got to the exhaust, we'd have one chance to get them out of the corner, but if it was a mess or if they got away a second time, that would be it for the run. Seamus had no intention of doing it nicely and ran one along the fenceline, so I retired. I wasn't happy that the run ended in the corner, but I was very happy he got out around his sheep without stopping or redirects.

Saturday Novice/Novice scores.

The sheep were difficult about the pressure on the field to begin with on Saturday, because the'd been used for four days at the Sheep Camp clinic in June, then for a four-day trial in early July, and now for a two-day trial in August, so by Sunday they were pretty bad. Seamus was very early in the Sunday running order. He went out all the way again without stopping, but didn't go out quite so well this time and came in fast at the top. He got them to me but it was very ragged, and we got around the course in a hurry-up-and-stop kind of manner. It was not pretty but he was at least making an effort to be a team player, and we got all the way around. He was going way too fast all the time. He earned an 18 on outrun, 8 on lift, 6 fetch, 13 for the wear, and a 10 point pen, for a total of 55. There were three 55s and his outwork was in the middle of the three, placing us 9th of the 29 dogs. I certainly didn't expect to place with him, but he was the only one to come home with a ribbon!

Sharon Nunan was kind enough to take photos of both my runs on Sunday, however, I'd messed up the focus setting on my camera and didn't know how to fix it. Out of focus shots are not Sharon's fault.
Here's Seamus on his Sunday fetch, sort of covering.
He got them to me instead of letting them get to the exhaust, so I guess that counts as covering the pressure, but they traveled a lot further than the 160 yards or so.

Seamus coming around hard at the post to cover the pressure of the exhaust.
Photo by Sharon Nunan.
Trying to get things sorted out at the post.
Dog and handler are both in the wrong spot...especially the handler. Photo by Sharon.
I was trying to pay more attention to what my sheep were doing and not be so focused on my dog, however, I should have been paying attention to him here.
I’m lucky they didn’t squirt left in front of the panels. Photo by Sharon.

 And the return leg, heading to the pen. Not a good line, but least he covered. Photo by Sharon.

Into the pen, and he’s right where he should be. Photo by Sharon.
Good boy! Notice he’s not trying to run after the sheep who are bolting
towards the exhaust after being let out of the pen. J Photo by Sharon.

Dare's second run was near the end of the running order, and wasn't pretty. I was surprised to see that she’d earned a 20 point outrun, because as she went out I didn’t think it was as good as the previous day, and I didn’t notice the sheep trying to get away from the setout or anything that would have given us a “default” 20. Her outrun isn’t her best attribute so I’ll take a 20 when I can get it! Got them down the field and though she's usually a pretty good listener--at least at-hand!--I couldn't get into her head and we made mess as we were trying to turn the post to start an assisted drive. I was also not in the best place at the post for these sheep, so between my unfavorable position and her state of mind, we ended up pushing the sheep slightly back in front of the post and then across the fetch line to the wrong side. I couldn't get her to do as I asked and in trying to fix where the sheep were, they ended up going completely around the post the wrong way. Then as I tried to push them back, she came in too hard on them, split them up, and chased, so I retired. That's the sort of thing I expected from my young dog, not the 6 year old dog. I have my bad days too and make plenty of mistakes, so I guess it would be fair of me to accept that she just couldn't do it that day, but I admit it was disappointing as she’d been working better than that. I guess that's the typical trialer's lament: "She's working great at home!"

Dare kind of covering the pressure on the fetch (they are offline to the right). Photo by Sharon.

Dare walking up on them near the post. I’m not in the right spot to make things better.
Photo by Sharon.

I don't think she actually gripped, but she was still A Very Bad Dog. Photo by Sharon.

 Sunday Novice/Novice scores.

Dare is qualified for the NEBCA Novice Finals, which is over Labor Day weekend. I'll spend the next few weeks working on the issues we’ve had at trials this season, and continuing to get a handle on Seamus.

Next: NEBCA Novice Finals.

A few more photos from the trial, taken by my with the screwed-up camera settings. Full results are available for a little while at the NEBCA Trial Schedule page.

Diane Sobel-Meyer’s Aussie Magnum on Saturday. Magnum won the class on Sunday.

Gene Sheninger’s Teg driving in Saturday’s Pro/Novice.

Mackenzie Murphy and Hemp in Saturday’s P/N.

Cindy Schmitt’s Imp. Jaff in P/N on Saturday. They placed 9th.

Peggy Chute’s KC working the pen in Ranch on Saturday, where they placed 4th.

Judy Gambill’s Tweed waiting to be sent for his Saturday Ranch outrun.

Heather Millen and Chip turning the post in P/N on Sunday.
They had a beautiful run but timed out a few seconds before the pen.
Chip is Dare's nephew; he is a grandson of Perky.

Sharon Nunan and Will head to the post for their Sunday P/N run.

Will fetching to Sharon.

Will doing a fast flank to fix the drive line. The P/N drive gates are the red ones.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

On the Road Home: Day 15

The work: Jack Monsour

My final day on the road was once again hot and humid; the heat wave from the Midwest followed me back east. Fortunately, it wasn’t as miserable as the previous few days.

Jack Monsour is a gentleman who had been quite involved with trialing quite some time ago, but hasn’t trialed in years. His dog work is now focused on raising and training dogs for use on his sheep farm, where he and his wife run about 1000 North Country Cheviots. They are also kept busy with the management of their vacation homes: Monsour Vacation Homes and Sheep Farm

I came to know of Jack through my friend Jan Mayr, who takes lessons from him as often as she can make the trip (nearly two hours each way). As I was talking with Jan about the itinerary for my trip, she asked whether I was going to stop by to visit. Jan lives in the outlying suburbs of Pittsburgh, which wasn’t on the way home from Vergil’s, but what worked well was to meet at Jack’s for a lesson. Happily, she was able to arrange that on somewhat short notice, and so I got in a quick visit with Jan and her husband Bob, as well meet and work with Jack for the first time.

Jan and I took turns working dogs, and first up was Jan and Ceilidh. Ceilidh is related to Dare, as she is a great-granddaughter to Walt Jagger’s Imp. Celt, and Dare is a granddaughter. Ceilidh is a fast, intense little dog who is hard to keep up with on sheep sometimes. She worked nicely, but very fast in Jack’s large round pen. They didn’t work very long as Jack suggested ending on a good note while she was still in a good state of mind.

Ceilidh looking for her sheep as she waits her turn.

Ceilidh coming way around to cover her sheep at the top of her outrun.

Next, I worked Seamus. Seamus was also working really fast, and I don’t think Jack was entirely comfortable with this young, unknown dog, so we worked in the round pen for the most part. This was fine with me, as I didn’t need more distance from him for what I wanted to work on. He wasn’t doing anything crazy, just acting young. After he settled a little bit and started working more like a dog who’d had some training, Jack suggested we practice gate work by pushing the sheep back and forth out of the round pen and into the larger field a few times, which we did, and Seamus was happy to have more space when he’d re-gather them in the larger field to push them back into the round pen.

Getting him thinking about holding them to me instead of pushing them past me. 
Photo by Jan Mayr.

Being a good boy and lying himself down. I don't care if he lies down or stands, as long as he stops.
Photo by Jan.

Bringing them from the larger field back into the round pen. 
Photo by Jan.

Jan’s Piper had his turn next. Piper is also related to Dare; they are both sired by Cheryl Williams’s Andy. As Dare is the easiest of my dogs for me, Piper is the easiest dog for Jan to handle. He was a good dog for Jan to ease back into stockwork with after a few years of not being involved. Like many Andy pups, Piper generally doesn’t want to get into trouble, so he is a careful, sometimes cautious worker.

Piper at the lift.

Piper holding his sheep to Jan.

After Piper, Dare and I worked. We also started in the round pen, and she was working well, so Jack seemed comfortable with us moving out to the larger field. We worked on a little driving. As I drove down the field, the sheep started to run down to the bottom; I didn’t know there was a gate there, which led to the woods where many other sheep were hanging out. Oops! Sent Dare on to regather, then drove them past me the other way. This time they ended in a corner near the barn, next to their bottle lamb buddies. Apparently I need to pay more attention to what pressures might be in an unfamiliar field! Dare gathered them out of the corner and we put them back into the round pen for the next dog.

Beginning a nice little drive, with me modeling the sophisticated look of a bug-net veil.
Photo by Jan.

Dare gathering out of the corner near the barn.
Photo by Jan.

Putting them back in the pen for the next dog.
Photo by Jan.

The humans and sheep needed a bit of a break, so I had a chance to talk to Jack a little bit more about his dogs (all of them go back to one of his first dogs), and how trialing differs now from when he was involved. I also got to meet Jan’s youngster, Gem. Gem is related to Bran, via CV Joe. Bran is a granddaughter of Joe, and Gem’s sire is a double grandson. I can’t wait to hear about Jan’s adventures with Gem as she grows up!

Gem: "Is it my turn next???"

The last of Jan’s dogs to work was Seeker. Seeker is yet another member of the extended family and a nephew of Dare. His dam is a daughter of Cheryl’s Andy. Seeker has more power and a bit more eye than Piper. He worked for the most part with purpose. He’s not as easy for Jan to handle as Piper, but I think easier than Ceilidh, as he is fast but not as fast as Cei. He resisted giving room to the sheep when sent to his uncomfortable side (sometimes he resisted flanking that way altogether), and Jack stepped in to give Jan backup, which sorted him out quickly. I am sure if Jan were able to work him more often, they could make some good progress. He’s a nice dog, and Jack likes him well enough to have bred one of his bitches to him earlier this year.

Seeker walking up on the sheep.

Fetching to Jan.

Working with Bran wrapped up my two-week adventure. Again, I worked in the large round pen. She was working rather predictably; not trying to make a mess, but not quite working with me, either, by constantly coming on into the sheep, coming on too fast, and over flanking (especially at the top). On the fetch, I couldn’t seem to get her to even think about pacing herself. Jack had an idea that he thought would make her more responsive than my frequent demands for her to lie down (half-ignored on her part) and my stick. He went back to extremely basic work with her, by sending her around, and coming through the sheep towards her if she pushed on too hard. After a few minutes, she settled and worked for him in a relaxed and somewhat thoughtful manner. Just another example of how what I am reactively doing with Bran doesn’t seem to be working. If I see what I’m doing isn’t working that well, and what other folks are showing DOES work, why is it so hard for me to break the bad habits and remember to do what works? Insanity (doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results)?

Starting a little drive in the pen. 
Photo by Jan.

Why we were still in the pen: "Whee! I'm fetching sheep! Hooray! Running behind sheep is fun!"
Photo by Jan.

Jan had to work that afternoon so they got on the road after I finished up with Bran. I got all my dogs out again for a bit and chatted with Jack, who encouraged me to think more about the work the dogs (the breed) needs to do, and let them work rather than thinking about trialing and giving so many commands. I do try to work and train my dogs with real work in mind, not trialing, but I think it is too easy for me to slip into the “training for trialing” mindset, since I don’t have sheep and don’t get the chance to do practical work all that often. Another point well-made that I need to work on!

The takeaway: Trust more in Bran and let her work.


The route: Pennsylvania to HOME! J
The mileage: About 265
The time: About 5 hours

A happily unremarkable last leg of my trip!

This familiar sight means I'm getting close to home. 
An abandoned train bridge which crosses the Delaware River and I-80 near Columbia, NJ.

Total mileage for the trip: 5085. The dealership was quite surprised to see me back for another (free) oil change and service just four weeks after the previous one.

This was a wonderful journey, and I hope that I will have a chance to do it again sometime. The dogs and I didn’t come home as finely-tuned as I’d hoped, but I feel that the experiences and input from a wide variety of experienced folks taught me a lot. I feel like I have more tools in my toolbox now, and I hope to remember to pull them out to use once in a while. The dogs are working pretty well overall, and I am still learning about areas where we all need extra work.

Fetch Gate Farm is having a Novice trial next weekend, and that is my next target. I entered Dare, and with encouragement from Gene and hostess Heather Millen, I’ve also entered Seamus. I hadn’t planned to enter him as he’s young and not always predictable, but both of them said that judge Ron McGettigan is a really good judge for novices and young dogs, so I’m going to make the leap and run Seamus too. One thing that also helps me feel somewhat more comfortable entering Seamus is that he and I have been on the field before, back at the Scott Glen clinic in June. The trial atmosphere will be something new for him to run in, though he’s at least been at trials before, which I hope will help.

Running orders are now up at NEBCA trials

Next: Fetch Gate Farm Novice SDT.