The day started like any other one here, chilly, delicious Nicaraguan cafe, the handlers camp buzzing with generators and excitement about the finale.
A strong final it was, with everyone turning in decent runs–no competitors whose dogs didn’t go back. Ron Enzeroth and his admirable Mick started the day with a run around the course that could have demoralized every other competitor. But things went south in the ring. Any run missing the final thirty points could not make it to the top. Not at this one.
My runs were quite good on the course and tidy sheds for both. Dorey made a couple of good saves—one collared she handled smartly while I tried to make sure I had enough collared ones behind her to let the saved one go. With eight collared sheep, only to keep five, this is a confusion peculiar to Soldier Hollow.
But it was the pens that were the take aways. Howell took his five to the pen, but while we were working them in, the discards showed up. I did not look to see. The crowds’ swoons told me they were coming, but the patter of their hooves on the dry ground behind me let me know how close. “Howell. C’mon. Now or never.” It worked. Handlers had a laugh. The thousands of spectators went mad.
Dorey’s was different. She had an exploder. Only she and I knew about it, as she kept it under such good control with a list left and right to answer all its ideas about leaving. I had seven minutes to pen. I wish the moments could have lasted all of it instead a couple, as they were so enjoyable and intense.
Soldier Hollow is an honour to win. The event makers, Mark Peterson, Karen Stanley, Donna Eliason, The Utah Stock Dog Association, the setout crew, the throng of spectators, the hardened sheep dog trial fans. I hope I can honour them with a couple of golden runs they won’t forget, any more than I will.
Today we drive on to Meeker, through the long sweeps of highway across eastern Utah with its climbs and descents, and the warm embrace of the eastern slope of Colorado.