Sunday the girls and Matt and I went to the Mid-State Fair Sheepdog Trial.  Kate and I were invited to attend.  This was Christian's first big trip last year.  She had had a great time meeting lots of people, and seeing the trial.
 
This year, Chris had the best time also.  We seated ourselves down in the alley way beside the arena.  A family sat down beside us and Chris was beside herself.  She couldn't get enough of them.  The two children petted and petted them. 

Kate even came over for their attention.  We taught the kids the proper way to approach the dogs and I watched them handle the girls the way they were taught.  That was nice.
 
Tam was not interested in the kids at all.  She actually loves kids, but sheep more.  She paid them no attention, but remained focused on the trial.  Also at one time, she gave me the familiar look as if saying to me, "well, is it now my turn to run?"  That broke my heart.
 
Tam often gives me that look at home, or even at my trainer, Shelley's place, when she is wanting her turn to work.  I told her that I was sorry, that she couldn't run in this trial, at least not this time.
 
Throughout the trial, many people approached us and the girls.  One of them even asked if this (Chris) is the puppy from last year.  Sure she was, and they were astounded by how she grew up.  I was actually taken back a bit by that.  Surprised that someone would remember us, and be able to pick out which dog was the puppy last year.  Most people tell me that they can't tell the difference between my dogs.
 
The trial went pretty smooth.  No one, handler, dog, or sheep were hurt, and that is what we all wish for.  This year the judging seemed pretty even, and the weather somewhat cooperated, as it remained in the upper 90's.  I have been here when the temperatures rose to the 110 degrees +.  The arena is covered, but it can trap heat and get pretty balmy in there. 
 
Kate won the trial, and apparently is now called the 2012 Mid-State Fair Sheepdog Champion.  I never noticed that title before, but that might have been me just missing it before.  Kate had a score of 97 out of 110.
 
She held it together very well.  Her first run, to establish whether she would make it to the finals, was rough in my thinking.  The sheep were very jerky, moving much like lambs (they were 1 year olds).  They were hard for me to handle. 
 
Her outrun was shallow, and she stopped a little short on the come bye side, at about 10 o'clock.  I whistled a walk up whistle, trusting her that she stopped correctly on the balance point.  She did, and proceeded the fetch.  The fetch was very choppy, with no flow at all.  I would have Kate put a tiny bit of pressure on the sheep and they would move a little, then more pressure, then more jerky movement from the sheep.  This behavior was throughout Kate's whole run. 
 
At the pen, which Kate has been known to do without my helping at all, was pretty terrible.  The sheep would be positioned in the mouth, and slight pressure put on them to go into it, and bam!  one would break away.  This happened three times!!!  Not really typical of Kate and I as a team.  But such was our run.
 
In the finals, she started out shallow again!  I had it with that.  About half way to the sheep, I yelled her name "KATE", she stopped YIKES!  "get back"  PERFECT!  I knew I lost points by redirecting her, but I was determined that she was going to work correctly!
 
She landed at 12 o'clock.  Nice lift and a nice fetch.  The pen was the post, and I kept her very tight around the pen.  Friends told me that her run was almost flawless, though I didn't feel that. 
 
In this final run, we had an added obstacle of a single shed.  After the shed, and pen, the  four sheep came into the shedding ring grouped as three and one.  I didn't like that at all.  While some handlers may have taken that single, I decided to properly handle them.  I made sure that they had totally regrouped, then took the single.
 
I spoke with Shelley, my trainer, about how I handled the single, and she told me that that was the proper way to do it.  I told her I was going to do it the way that I should for the National Finals, and not deviate from that way, and she agreed.
 
On another note, Chris is no longer lame.  Her feet have healed, and she now walks without a limp.  During the Fair trial, she remained leashed, but I felt that she was grateful that she was no longer in pain. 
 
We stopped at McDonald's to get Kate an ice cream cone for winning the trial.  Tam and Chris got one too.  Chris was running along the grass after eating her cone, without a limp, and enjoying being off leash.  When we got home, she ran to the front yard and grabbed her favorite outside toy, and ran around the lawn carrying the toy and growling to herself.
Chris and Tam wishing they were out there instead of Kate.Good studies!
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