Some not very long time ago I have never thought that one day I return to Italy with my family for a sheepdog trial. Unbelievable but true, this happened last weekend. On thursday morning we set off for the drive and in 6 hours we found ourself in the wonderful Tuscan spring. We all worked hard in the past months and we needed both the sunshine after the winter and the free time to be together a little bit.
I think going for this family break was really a good choice, and linking that with our first real sheepdog trial made it even better. We had really great time enjoying the surrounding cities and villages (Siena, San Gimignano, Colle di Val d’elsa) and also the countryside where the trial was organised.
We were starter of the beginner class. The italian sheepdog association (Associazione Italiana Sheepdog , who organised the trial) has a bit different regulations and names for trial classes than I am used to in Austria. They have beginner , novice, and open classes instead of trial class 1,2, and 3. Parcours are basically the same as of trial classes, our beginner course was one gate , and some drive shorter – I would say.
Our parcour was the following (on both days):
Outrun (~80m), lift, fetch (through a gate), turn, drive (through a gate). Then we had to leave the sheep at the second gate , call the dog back and do an other shorter outrun. Then fetch and stabilisation, and penning.
The first movements of our run were the best both days. Jet lost “only” 6 and 10 points on Outrun-lift-fetch out of 50. On saturday the weakest point was the penning – I did not really had concept how to do it as we didn’t practice that too much. On sunday the drive was quite disasterous as I completely lost my orientation towards the second gate. So all the sheep passed it on the wrong side of the gate-wing. But on sunday the penning was super , actually the first really nice we have done. ( On sunday we were the very last starter so I had the chance to watch the others how they put the sheep into the pen 😉 ) Jet came second on both days which meant we could stand up to the top of the podium based on the combined scores after the two trialling days.
(photos by Synve Lundgren)
I don’t have to say , we gained a fantastic experience. Jet was purely SUPER. She had no problem with the new place and unknown sheep to work with, she was focused, motivated, and very-very smart. Especially on saturday she really had to work hard to herd the sheep on the right direction because they were pretty “flighty” , and stubborn, also the ground of the field on saturday was very uneven so it must have been hard for her to run on it. She was a fast runner where she had to be, stopped when I told her, she kept her nerves and waited motionless only staring at the sheep when this was necessary. She gave 110% from her side on both days that is sure. I was (and I am) very, very proud of her.
I learned a lot, I see where we have to improve, and it was great to see more experienced dogs and handlers at work. I had unforgettable times this weekend. I owe huge thanks for my husband Daniel for his unlimited patience and support. Without him I could not have made it 😉