Sheep at the National Finals.
I wish I could say that my run at the USBCHA National Sheepdog Finals went as I visualized.
But seven years of sheepdog trialing has taught me that things don't always go as planned. In this sport, no two fields are alike; no two groups of sheep are alike. Weather conditions change. The best handlers and dogs react and adapt to the changes, but even that doesn't guarantee success.
The open field at the National Finals.
In the smaller fields in the Midwest, the dog rarely loses sight of his sheep as he's running out to them. I have little experience with running on big fields, and it showed at the Finals.
Jack spotted his sheep, and kicked out wide to go get them. His path took him over a rise and out of sight. I thought I'd spot him as he neared the sheep.
I was wrong.
He went past his sheep, and we lost valuable time. Once he found his sheep, I gave a few too many commands, causing him to circle the sheep. While we got back on track during the drive, we ran out of time in the shedding ring.
While I was disappointed, I had no regrets about making the cross-country trek.
I've had the chance to compete on a challenging field with challenging sheep--and to see some of the best dogs and handlers in the country. And, once again, I've learned new lessons about sheepdog trialing.