This was a great course for its terrain.  There were many hills with partially blind outruns that allowed for good training conditions for our dogs.  Though trials are not designed to be training events, but competitions, never-the-less, this trial allowed for not only strategy, but great terrain conditions to challenge our dogs. 
 
I believe in testing my dogs in some of the toughest conditions that I can find.  Whether it be very difficult stock, tough terrain, or even extreme weather, all situations just add to my dog's being a well-rounded herding dog.  I don't shy away from these difficult situations, and I try to push myself and my dogs to do well in these areas, always keeping safety in mind. 
 
I tend to think about it like this:  When we went to college, we had to take all of these "support classes" in order to meet all of the requirements to graduate.  Most of us really didn't like messing with these classes.  They were boring and non-stimulating, and we really didn't see that they would ever help us in the real world.  It seemed that most of these support classes were just a waste of time. All we really wanted to take was our core classes, they were the "fun" ones.
 
But these classes were still required, so grudgingly we took and finished them, good riddance!  I have found, though infrequently, that these "support classes" have come in handy.  Sometimes they were of use in everyday real life, and sometimes they were there in the background, adding to the understanding of something complex while in a work situation. 
 
With our brilliant herding dogs, the same might be true.  If we train for the harshest or hardest work, then trialing might be easier for us and our dogs.  The simplest example that I know of is with one of my dogs.  Her first ProNovice trial was on a flat field.  I had been training with her on small hills.  When we were close to running at the trial, she didn't see the sheep.  They weren't far, it was just flat.  I had to lift her up in my arms so she could see them.  That was a little embarrassing, but I learned, that like with obedience training of the past, I needed to train my dogs for all situations.
 
For me, right now, my focus is on the pressure of large trials.  Large in a big area to work in, physically large, but mainly large in respect to the number of dogs entering a specific trial.  The pressure of that many people watching my handling is what I am working on for me, the handler.  I need desensitizing to the pressure. 
 
For my dogs, right now, my emphasis is outwork.  We are working on very large outruns, and driving well at a good distance. 
 
So the Dunnigan Hills Trial had fairly steep hills in which the handler had to be careful with their lines and the speed of the sheep.  Off line or too fast, meant one would miss the panels, of which there were three.  Two regular drive panels, then the last one was a pull through.  More challenge for our handling.
 
Often the outrun was such that a redirect was necessary.  If your dog was not used to running large outruns, or used to being redirected, the sheep might be missed, and a retire was imminent. 
 
This course did not have a shed, which was the first Open trial that I have been to that didn't.  We had pen, which at times could be very challenging for both dog and handler.
 
Bill Berhow put this trial on, with his home flock sheep, which were in very good shape.  He was a good host and the course director for this trial.  The weather cooperated as far as it was sunny and there was no rain.  But Saturday we had pretty good wind, which got some of the handler's coughing and sneezing.  Even a few dogs were sneezing from the pollen stirred up in the air.
 
This trial was a true field trial.  We were out in the middle of a huge field, with the only fence around, being along the road to protect the sheep from cars.
 
I enjoyed this trial, and am planning on returning next year.
Leave a Comment:




All Content, Copyright © 2017 Operation Sheepdog Herding. All rights reserved.
Paso Robles, CA - info@sheepdogherding.com
S.D.G.