Last weekend we went to MN to attend the Coyote Classic put on by the Upper Midwest Australian Shepherd Club at Conroy Farm. As always, it was a great time. I got a great surprise when I arrived at Deb’s and found Gail in the kitchen. That was the awesomesauce on the entire weekend, as I didn’t expect her to be there. But she’d come to support me in the quest for Quinn’s last cattle leg. That gets its own post so I’ll move on to Jig.
On the plus side, we ended the weekend with a Started Cattle leg, and came within two points of a qualifying score our first time running in Open Sheep. There were some blue ribbon moments sprinkled about, which was a good thing. Most of those came on Friday and Saturday. By Sunday…
I don’t know about anyone else, but by the third day of a trial I’m running on the low side of the meter. My dogs usually come out of the gate on Friday raring for action, and by Sunday they are starting to mellow. Quite the opposite happened with Jig. She started out Friday a bit fast and furious but listening — for the most part. By Sunday she had figured out this wasn’t like training and she could get away with a whole lot. So she did. Or tried to. Confidence shot through the roof, and my control was left gasping in the dust.
Jig would make a terrible poker player. When she gets the intense, wired, I’ve-been-into-the-crack look in her eyes, I know I’m pretty much screwed. She’s way quicker than I could be even if I were a ninja, and when she flips a paw and blows me off, she doesn’t hold back. This happened most on cattle. Jig loves her some cows. She particularly loves the heads. Even after getting a very thorough thrashing (which could have been far worse than it was) her enthusiasm didn’t dampen. Oh, she was way more thoughtful, and we made the course, but the next day she was over-cranked and ready for more action. With cattle that’s never a good thing. She and one steer had a set-to that got the bovine chasing her and me chasing it to keep her from getting trampled. Though how I thought to accomplish that I have no idea. In the end, Jig was faster than us both. She evaded her pursuer and I was able to get a stop on her before she went back for more.
I’ve no qualms about calling my run when things get out of control. I’ll try to work through it for a bit, but if I’m not getting into my dog’s head in short order I thank the judge for his time and exit the arena. It doesn’t pay to let her think she can one-up me, and it’s not doing the other competitors any favors.
Given that Jig hasn’t been trialed in a year, this was our pre- pre-nationals test. Um…yeah… I’ve been working her every day since Tuesday, and will continue until we leave on the 29th, being sure to remind her that control isn’t always a bad thing.
One of the other highlights of the weekend was getting to visit with Tracey. She had Jig’s mom Ivy along, and we were able to get some photos of the two of them. Tracey also took some shots of our runs, some of which I’m sharing here.