Due to an unseasonable amount of precipitation the venue, though beautiful, was in three or twelve or 45 feet of grass and ticks. Doesn't matter how far the outrun was; could have been 200 ..300…yards or 100 miles…It was a long distance through tall grass and over a small hill. Out of 40-something open runs the first day, there were only 17 scores. Things did not improve much the next day, though they adjusted the field slightly. For pro-nov they moved setout slightly uphill, which helped for visibility, but it was still difficult through the tall, thick grass for the dogs, the sheep, and the handlers.
Before our turn, watching a few runs leading up to ours, Jai spotted the sheep. When we stood at the post, Jai stared in the correct direction as setout moved the sheep to the field. I sent her, she did a nice outrun, decent lift; the fetch was a struggle as the sheep had a strong draw and it was hard for Jai to turn them …until she gripped; then the sheep turned and we were able to do some sketchy driving and timed out just getting to the pen.
I was really happy with her. It was hard work in that grass. She was great.
Pat can't see at a distance. I'd get him glasses, but they'd have to be bifoculs so he could see upclose to lick his balls, his other favorite past time. With his chronic panting and licking, they'd always be fogged up; he'd look silly. Pat has pride – …and, happily, experience. Though he started way wide and threatened to continue past the sheep to setout, he took my redirect and brought me sheep but it was really hard work for him. Once he got the sheep to me and (sort of) around the post, he was driving beautifully, but we timed out. It was really getting hot, the outrun was laborious and Pat has a sore shoulder so I pulled him from his second run.
Prior to Jai's second run, as we stood around waiting, she fixated on a horse in the field adjacent to the trial course. Then entire time we waited for our run, waited for our sheep, Jai stared at this tan horse grazing piecefully against a fence in the wrong direction.
I mean, sure, aesthetically, it was a pastoral scene…but I'm thinking, "I'll bet this isn't about beauty and this is going to bite me in the ass."
Occasionally, during the runs leading up to ours, Jai would break her intense horse concentration long enough to note the relatively close presence of SHEEP, but as soon as they disappeared up the field or into the exhaust, she was back gazing horseward. No sustained interest in the part of the field we were standing in that actually contained sheep. The source, if you will, of our future sheep.
I'm not going to lift my dog up into the air and force her to look in another direction because,
A) That looks really silly and since I've NEVER lifted her before, unless we're cuddling at home on a chair or couch, I KNOW she will think this behavior on my part is really really really wrong at the post, and she is likely to nibble-lick the shit out of my face in nervousness, causing me to scream and drop her….
B) See A.
So I kept alternating between thinking,
"This is going to bite me in the ass." and,
"No, she'll remember….she just found sheep not two hours before. Once I send her, she'll forget about horses and go get the sheep. Just like I'll stop thinking about the beer in my cooler. We've never ridden a horse together…we don't even watch westerns. I'm so happy I brought lime for the Corona!"
I pointed her 90 degrees away from the horse and I sent her comebye …and she went down field veering across course and straight for the fucking horse. I recalled and tried to lay her down to redirect, but she came ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE POST….where I attempted to send her again…to the … frankly disinterested horse. We did this a few times and then I walked off. I should have let her bring me the goddamned horse so we could have RIDDEN OFF. The post was about a quarter mile from the handler's tent through 120 feet of grass and ticks and we were both hot and tired.
Regardless, I was happy with both my dogs. They both gave it their all and I made the mistakes, as usual. It probably would have been nice to ride that horse.