Another beautiful Colorado day. Not much wind but plenty of sunshine. Good running on the Open field.
The nursery sheep were quite a bit heavier I thought than in the preliminary round. It was hard to get a flow. Every time the dog wasn’t six inches away from them they stopped and sometimes when the dog was very close they stopped anyway.
My dog didn’t mind the heavy, but all the necessary stopping and flanking exceeded her training and we ended up ringing them at the second drive. Joni had no problem, with Ben winning easily I think. There have been very few scores posted. We never really knew who had what score on the nursery field as they were never posted there. We’re still waiting the final result as I write.
Back from looking at the new course. They moved the setout over and back another 75 yards. The drive us further away and reversed. Pretty straight forward except the drive is in a low spot for the last half so going to be very difficult to see and judge the panel.
I drew up 12th with Joe. Hoping for the best.
Joni did win the nursery. Charles Williams was second with a lovely little bitch named Lyn. I was 16th with Lee and very proud of her. She performed well above her degree of training. Next year we’ll hopefully do better.
I’ve been delinquent. I’m sorry. The only internet is on the hill up above Barbara’s camper and last night was cold and windy with thunderstorms. I opted to hole up in my camper and not add to this blog.
It’s been good running mornings with wind in the afternoons. The wind coupled with difficult yearling sheep made for low scores. It appears that a 120 or lower will make the cut for the top 40 and Saturday’s semi-final.
Mich, Barbara and I all ran today which has been the best day of running I think. There wasn’t any wind to speak of until after noon and that was more at our backs than in previous days. The field is very flat with a few spots with not great acoustics, add any wind and hard sheep and many dogs can’t hear anything.
Mich got a 120 and Barbara and Maverick aced it with a gorgeous run and a 172, high score thus far. Joe and I struggled to get a 127. We could have done better, but a ewe broke at the pen and Joe opted to keep the 4 we had instead of flanking. I was fairly annoyed until I saw Allen Mill’s great bitch, Sis, get in the same mess after a stellar run and end up with a grip and no score. Ouch. It was a beautiful go not needing a pen.
Ever since we left Meeker, connecting with the world had been difficult. My computer is still dead after Sammy tipped the water onto it . No cell service is available at Strang Ranch, so Internet junkies are agitated and in withdrawal.
Meeker is splendid trial to win. The Merino sheep are magnificent athletes, descending from the rarified air of the flattops at ten thousand feet, to take on our sea level dogs. Two of mine made it to the semi-finals, Dorey and Howell. Howell set the pace early in the day with 104 of 110 points, a marked single and uncollared shed. Howell was back to his old self, after a course of Doxy. He marched them in style. Dorey had a difficult single at the pen, swinging around three times before we got them in. The same uncollared single wrecked havoc on the shed by running everywhere out of the ring and never giving us a chance to take the collared single. Only Howell made the final, but that was enough.
Howell drew up just before noon, which in high-desert-speak means heat of the day. From frost at seven to 80 an hour or two later. His first gather was very good. The spotters lost his sheep for the go back and Howell went tight for a couple of redirects. He picked up the second group and fetched smoothly save a few kinks. He drove well. His shed was a twenty pointer. But I lost a few taking risks at the pen. They did not get back together.
A few competitors nearly caught us, but none ever did. Howell’s second Meeker championship. You can never win that honour enough times. It was my turn to buy at the Meeker Hotel.
We got up next morning to work young dogs at Ila’s and ride on to Carbondale for the US National Finals.
On Monday we went about parking in the rough terrain of the carpark, with sage brush stumps, cactus. Leveling up is a big job. The biggest handlers meeting in North America ensues, with all anticipating their best ever finals. Mary Minor and Feist turned in the first run of our gang, She is still sitting eighth after two days of qualifying. Barbara Ray ran well with Stella and Howell will be back for semi-finals on Saturday.
he sheep were very different to Meekers’s Merinos–much more Rambouillait type, but difficult and demanding. Lots of good hands fell by the wayside under their pressure.
We went out to a Carbondale restaurant called Town. It was grand.
A long wait through the night for the Nursery to start. Haley Hunewill, Faansie Basson, and Joni Tietjen are leading the pack. I put Quark on the line at the pen after an OK run around the course. She grabbed one under duress and it was game over. I have Zola, tomorrow morning and Dorey on Friday morning. If I can get to wifi, you will hear from me.
Very limited internet here. Mostly while I’m walking dogs I need to keep an eye out for magic spots of connectivity.
Yesterday was the day to arrive and get level. We’re all parked together, a bit away from the many many other campers, which is nice. Had the handler’s meeting and the compulsive drive-walking yesterday at 5:00. Then Kak and Mich had appetizers and pizza for us all. Really nice to be warm with friends as it got cold and windy and even spit some rain.
8:00 start with the Open today. Nursery starts tomorrow. I don’t run today so I’ll go cheer my friends on.
One of the many tables at Amanda and Howell’s celebratory dinner. They won going away with a nearly flawless run. Howell took charge of the sheep and never accepted anything but perfect obedience from them. It was excellent.
Barbara ran well also but had a little trouble with Stella’s turnback. Derek was second with another really good go.
It was an excellent final with the sheep being very sheddable, resulting in many completed runs, unusual for Meeker.
I have one more practice on the morning and then we are all off to Carbondale for the finals.
Thursday was a down day for me. Went to the practice field on the morning to work all the dogs very briefly. Half an hour spread over three dogs goes very fast. Spent the rest of the day watching the runs and reading.
The running was either much better or there were much better handlers running. Many, many scores over the 60 point cutoff. Amanda especially got on very well, winning the day with Dorey.
Today turned out to be very tough running, with only one score in the 80s and one in the 70s. The worse day yet. Happily for me, running late in the day Joe proved up to the work and had a really good late afternoon run, winning the trial. Happy day for me.
Had a lovely handler’s banquet hosted by the Meeker committee. It was Mexican and delicious. After the trial they did the running order for tomorrow. Amanda is up early with Howell. The remainder of our dogs run after lunch. Wish us luck. 30 dogs will run with marked sheds and 12 dogs getting into the final
My mother’s terrier knocked over my flowers on the table. My computer was in the way and now will not light up. Mich lent me hers.
Yesterday the scores went upward. Handlers speculated as to why—the caliber of runner, or the increased agreeability of the sheep. Who knows.
Dorey had an intelligent run. A fluffed shed attempt. But the pen was once again intense and successful. 82. Ron Enzeroth tied her score in the lead, with a similar good run. We watched the running most of the day, with the sheep telling us stories, good and bad, about the dogs.
Meeker poured it on in the evening with Michael Martin Murphy entertaining the event at night, a lamb cook off, and the art show. We grazed leftovers with great wine.
Today is maintenance and young dog training day. I see a walk at Avery Lake in the later afternoon. My pals are running dogs today and I look forward to watching them take on the Meeker sheep.
First day of running was tough. The sheep were happy to run in just about any direction. Some dogs struggled with the outrun, but mostly it was difficult sheep that destroyed hopes.
It took about a 60 to make the top eight cut for automatic inclusion in the semifinal. Shauna Gourley set an early high bar with an 80 that wasn’t met all day. Terry Warner got a 77 midday and at the end of the day Ron Burkey and his nursery dog, Rocky, scored a 74.
I had no luck with Nan, running a dismal 50. We missed every obstacle in a spectacular show of incompetence on both our parts. Oh well, tomorrow’s another day, I hope.
Mittens, sheepskin boots and winter jackets are required first thing in the morning, but within a few hours, it’s back to sandals and dresses. Maybe those radical temperature changes do not affect the nature of the sheep. A dog’s ability to cope at mile high altitude is definitely changed from one part of the day to another.
Howell had a crappy go today with a good outrun, decent lift and sheep that despised him the balance of the way around the course. We made it with a couple of missed gates and a decent finish. The trial takes back the top eight from each qualifying day, to Saturday’s sami finals. Howell lives to play on Saturday. Shauna Gourley lead the day with an 80 score. Barbara Ray showed us it could be done properly with a good go around the course but no finish for a 72. Beverly was disappointed. There are two more days of this tough running. 47 dogs a day.
We all went to the White River for a dog swim. A mob of dogs. Afterwards, I got in some training time with the young ones. All part of growing up, but their being cooped up on a long road ride like this, is harsh by any measure. I took Hazel out to watch for awhile. She spotted the sheep way up the big Meeker field and longed to be the one who brought them in. Her turn will come.
It was steaks on the barbecue for our camp, with all the accoutrements
Who knows why a day’s trialling is so exhausting, but it was.
Everyone was in the recuperation gear. The drive from Soldier Hollow was uneventful. A mangy coyote interrupted a vista. The cafe was right in Vernal. The dogs enjoyed their customary swim party at the Kenny Reservoir, which looked extra precious stone like, azure blue against the stark barren cliffs that form its edge. Meeker was bright and promising. Full of people wanting stories of Soldier Hollow, but looking forward to this field of dreams.
The black powder season has begun here for elk. Bonus for the dogs. They adore elk legs, which can be ours for the pick up at the processing centers. Happy dogs.
Away with the light blankets, in with the duvet. Near freezing at night, but hot in the afternoon.