Thursday, November 27, 2008

Going to a Trial

People who know me know I'm a perfectionist. I'm also anal retentive and competitive. I like doing well. Being a winner if you will. Ken has for years told me to enter trials. I flat out refused. I wanted to be the person who came out of nowhere and cleaned house. Ken kept telling me that my dog would act differently at a different location. You would think after my years of competing with horses I would know this. Change the environment and change the animal's behaviour. For some reason I did not transfer this knowledge.

Tessa and my first trial was a small arena trial. We entered up in the ranch class. At home I practiced all the predicted obstacles. I felt confident, ready. After driving like a maniac to reach the location, I took a deep breathe and entered the unknown. Tessa who's normally a gung ho maniac who charges the sheep. Who for years would dive in and floss her teeth on some handy wool, suddenly needed encouraging to walk up on the sheep. Not a huge deal. I used my most excitable voice and encouraged her to "Walk up, walk up". We ended up having an acceptable finish and she more or less listened well.

Feeling pretty cocky we entered the next trial. This one was a field trial. The difference being one is held in an area the size of a hockey arena and one is on a giant field. Tessa at home was running these gorgeous sweeping outruns. An outrun is where the dog runs down the field, collects up the sheep and brings them back to you. Magically, this skill disappeared. She ran up the field and stopped. Stopped not even close to the sheep. Then she proceeded to move the sheep the opposite direction from where I was standing. Our second attempt was not any better. She would not look down the field. Meaning she couldn't see the sheep. I finally ended up running down the field until she saw them. The whole experience was embarrassing and humbling.

It still baffles me how she turns into this different creature when we travel. And I'm tired of paying my dues and donating into the pot. We're doing okay when we do arena trials but the field trials are flat out embarrassing. They've become expensive training runs. So when do I stop putting her in field trials and only take her to arena trials?

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