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.
Is anyone actually reading this besides Heather??
(Editor’s Note: Does that really matter? Who is more important than I?)
Today was the big arrival day at Meeker. When I got here last night the parking area looked full, and another 30-40 rigs arrived today. We’re seriously packed in here now.
Not much happening. Did laundry. Had a nice long dog walk in the morning. Mary Minor and I went over and worked on the practice sheep. They mostly ran all the time except when they were standing next to the exhaust gate. I’m not sure anyone learned anything. I got to give my nursery dog, Lee, the first work since we left Dennis’s over a week ago. That alone seemed worthwhile. These trips are very hard on the young dogs. I’m going to try and get her over there a few more times this week.
The trial field looks great, a lot of grass. The infield from behind the fetch gates in is mowed and green. The rest is tall yellow grass. Will make spotting the sheep hard.
I run Nan tomorrow. Amanda and Barbara are also both running. They’re before me so I get to see what they do. Always good to get the take of some skilled handlers before attacking the course, especially one as tough as this one.
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.
Didn’t have quite the day I’d hoped in the finals. Both dogs handled their outruns and turnbacks well, but Joe and I couldn’t manage to hold our she sheep and so never finished. Nan had a fighter in her first group and managed to completely lose her head on the fetches. Not like her and unfortunate, but that’s life.
I missed Amanda and Dorey’s triumphant run as I left during the lunch break and drove to Meeker. It’s about a 5 1/2 hour drive best done in either daylight or the dark because of all the deer and elk. I opted for daylight.
It’s a lively crispy morning here and we have a day to rest and do laundry and get ready to try and make another final. At least at Meeker there is room for many small successes, unlike Soldier Hollow. Meeker pays day money and pays all the finalists a fair share of the purse. I think that makes the trial much more enjoyable for everyone lucky enough to get in. It seems as if it’s getting as hard to get into trials as it is to win them
The weather has cooled off entirely. Much of today was overcast with the odd sprinkling moisture (that’s how rain is measured in the desert). The dog running was fascinating, the sheep big show girls, without asking so many pointed questions as showing flat disdain for the dogs. It made it fun.
Dorey was the earliest high roller, with an adorable go around the course. With five full minutes at the pen, I could not put them in. Who knows how far you could have gone with Lavon Calzacorta at the trigger. What grips would have been tolerated? I tried every trick in the book, short of calling on Dorey to really shift them, and they never budged. She held an 82 without the pen, which turned out to be just enough to carry her into the final. Barbara Ray laid one down with Stella that scored her finalist status, and Bev delivered with Nan, scoring a ninety. Howell had qualified the day before but ran real well anyway, scoring an 88. The running was thrilling to execute, with good timing and canine authority rewarded at every turn. They sheep were devilish at the pen.
Allen Mills, of Texas, had one of the most memorable runs in the preliminaries. Sis, at ten years old, has had a brilliant career and now a long one to boot. She picks every sweet spot at the end of flanks and gives a perfect amount of ground to leave sheep relaxed within her turns. What a wonderful partner she has been for Allen, and I look forward to watching her at the next two trials. She didn’t quite pen, which cost her a spot on the final day.
Tomorrow the double lift Finals.
The quality of this day was fully revealed to me at its conclusion, when I had a really good run with Nan to qualify her for the final. It’s tough waiting until the end of the day to run, but it gave me an opportunity to watch many strategies on the course and make my own plans. Happily, it worked out.
Amanda ran early in the day and had a great run but no pen. Barbara ran in the mid-afternoon and did great, managing a perfect pen for an 85. Scott and Don won the day with 91. Ron Enzeroth and Mick had a good go they didn’t need, since they were already in, coming second. Nan was third. Dennis Gellings and Tess were the fifth team to qualify.
We’re all dinner now at the Zermatt. The running starts at 8:00 tomorrow. I can hardly wait. Good times.
Disappointing day for me and a few other people. Nan was up first and was great. Alas, she had a sheep that wanted to fight and kept attacking her. In spite of this we managed to get everything but only scored a 72 for 7th place. Nan was sure good. I’m really proud of her.
Amanda had more luck with Howell drawing a reasonable group and doing a good job with them.
Ran Joe at the end of the day and the best we could manage was a 74 for 5th place.
So that’s Amanda and me, each in with one. We will get another chance to get our second dogs in tomorrow. Amanda runs in the morning and I run near the end.
The first day at Soldier Hollow is a quiet one. Only several hundred spectators. Handlers getting their feet on the ground, resting from the long commutes. The sheep were tall, racey and naive. They make great study for dog handlers as they expose so much about the dogs. Every wrong move. Every scaredy cat eventually is exposed on sheep like these. Every missing confidence. Many caved at the end of their runs with altitude wrecking their stamina. The heat in the afternoon, while not as as blistering as it can be, was harsh, compared to the chill of he early mornings.
Dorey’s fetch was good but argumentative with her sheep after a gratifying outrun. Timing killed the driveaway panel with sheep bolting up the drive and missing narrowly to the outside. I might have been OK with that, but not with the two minutes required to return the shed sheep to the ring for the march to the pen, where I couldn’t finish. She was seventh or eighth, not among the five guaranteed a spot on the final day. Her next run is Sunday morning–onward.
Louanne Twa, a last minute entry on a cancellation, rose up to the top for winning the day with 83 points. Her dog was forward and free, a skillful sheep manager and all round good looking representative for the Canadian flag.
We barbecued some King salmon and got some sleep.