Jimmie's Open Trial - October 2021

By Lorna Savage  


Well, certainly a hard year for managers to schedule trials with Covid rules, conflicts etc but finally - after a date selected, then cancelled, then new one chosen, moved again and finally settling into a one-day Open trial with two runs back-to-back - the very first open trial for Jimmies Farm happened! Yes, there had been Novice trials in previous years, but this was the first Open.  

The week before Janet, Carol and I set out to ready the field, panels were already temporarily in place after deciding what end of the field the post would be.  East was flatter and better for shed and pen but would be a very small drive, a steep drop-off being a problem that would make the cross drive very small, so the west end was chosen that also gave a much better sight line for the Judge. This was a relief for Janet since the spanking new handling system could now stay where it was.  

 The three of us spent our day building the exhaust pen (thank goodness for post pounders and fencing pliers).  It took a few hours but we were satisfied.  We then finalized and staked the panels and proceeded down to turn the set out to face out into the field. Thankfully  Howard showed up to assist, then electro net was strung to block possible errant sheep, the set out cone was placed and then instead of deciding to take apart the frame of the tent - a real pain since it was all in with screws - we succeeded in wrangling it to straddle the roof of the RTV with both Carol and I at a front overhanging corner and Howard holding up the back end some 20 feet behind. We walked slowly with Janet driving and managed to get it to the other end of the field without incident.  Wish we had a picture of that!  We called it quits then but later in the week did the few last minute things of tarping the tent and measuring out the shedding ring.  All set for the day.  
It had been wet before the trial and again after the trial but we lucked out on the day, cool and a bit breezy but the sun was out and it was a great day for running dogs.  Because of the rain earlier the parking was a field away, the closer one was just too wet to have vehicles drive on, bit of a hike but I have seen further.  

*Photo Credit to Kris Kivaho

The field itself was being used for a trial for the first time. It's the very back hayfield that is actually two smaller fields with trees and brush dividing them.  This made about a 275 ft outrun but the terrain was what made it more difficult.  The left was wide open at the end, a good opening in the middle and a road cut through the brush to the right. Either outrun would work, but most sent left the first day, much deeper and open but a surprise at the other end as the sheep would be out of sight and some dogs got a surprise coming up the rise and finding themselves in front of the sheep.  The right would be a bit trickier, tighter and the dog could be drawn in if he did not hit the road way through.  

The field dropped off on both sides from the post, a long slope to the first drive panel. For the person walking the course in the morning, a post had been placed on line on the top of the hill in the cross drive.  You could not see the cross panels from the first, of course it was removed before the first dog.  The second day the set out was moved over for a dog leg giving more room for dogs to go right.  The Scotties worked well like Scotties do - stay in control of them and they worked great but give them any other option and they would take it, which they did on some fetches or they would take advantage and head down the hill towards home on the front side of the trees and brush with the dog running down on the other side to come around and stop them.  Again Scotties - if you were right at the pen they would go in, shedding a bit more difficult but doable.   

 In the end very few did not finish with a score and there were some very good runs.  Not a ton of dogs running that day - 19 each round - but so many people had obligations that weekend, what with puppies, family, etc, but to me it is not the number of dogs you are running against that makes the winner it is the score you have achieved.  In all the trial was a success but makes me think with so many having scores - was it too easy - NO I think not.  But then again there is always a way to make a trial more challenging...  

Congratulations to Janet and Howard for a successful first open trial and thanks to the set out crew and scribes and those posting scores, great day, great company.  

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