The Year of Training Pays Off
At the end of last year I was so frustrated and upset with how the trialing season went, I decided to take a year off. Not so I could sit in a corner and lick my wounds, but because I was determined to fix as many of mine and Jig’s issues as I could. I’d had enough of our melt-downs and non-qualifying runs. She’s a better dog than that. I like to think we’re a better team than that, though I’m definitely the weaker partner.
I gave myself one trialing goal: finish Jig’s WTCH. We needed only one cattle leg to do so. Jig and I both love working cattle though our methods are at opposite ends of the spectrum. I want nice, quiet control, power when required, and no rodeos. Jig seems to like rodeos, and has been known to actively go looking for a fight.
After our failed attempt at getting that final leg in the spring, I worked even harder at preparing us for the next one. It was difficult because my plans to get us both off the farm didn’t transpire, and we didn’t get to do any training on cattle. Still, I sent in my entry for the Coyote Classic over Labor Day weekend. To be honest, going into the weekend I was thinking, “If we can’t get this one last leg, with these cattle, on this course, then I’m done.” And by done, I meant throwing in the towel and never trialing again.
Well, I’m pleased to say Jig is (pending official ASCA verification), WTCH Heartsong of Shadowdance OFTDs DNA-VP.
We finished her WTCH on our first run, which took a lot of the pressure off for the rest of the weekend. Our last run of the weekend, though not qualifying, was some of the best work we’ve done on cattle. We missed a Q because I took the opportunities to make things right, which meant some parts of the run weren’t as smooth as they could have been. It all started with the take pen when I refused to allow Jig to Go Bye because that would have put her immediately on the noses. Have I mentioned a time or two how much Jig likes to hit noses? Yeah. To prevent that, I insisted she take an Away. She fought me on it, but ultimately I won. By the time we finished our run, Jig was actually holding her position on the drive and not creeping up, taking her stays to hold pressure until the cattle moved off, even if that meant she was nose-to-nose, and there were a couple instances where she hit a nose and I was able to get her to stop right there and allow the heifer to move off. That last one was a huge victory for us.
We still have a lot of work to do. A. Lot. A WTCH may be the end of one journey, but it’s also the beginning of another. Not only are we going to make a run for the 2020 Finals, but I’d like to get Jig’s Post Advanced titles next year as well. That means I’ll be hitting a lot of trials in 2019. It’s all time and miles, but I finally feel as though we really can do this.