So so proud of my boy. Last Thursday and Friday we had a practice trial in Belgium. So complete FCI trial with judge, just no points or titles to be won. But therefore very good practice because if something went wrong you could just do it again.
Day 1 started with IHT-1 (International Herding Trial Level 1). It’s the level he is currently competing at. So remember, every trial we enter is with sheep he doesn’t know, a field he doesn’t know and obstacles he doesn’t know. Last time we trialed we had sheep that weren’t used to barking dogs And he had a field day.
So this time I was expecting the worst. I thought he might make it a party instead of working properly. So my aim for this IHT-1 was getting his head straight and finishing the round. When we started I could literally see the carrots sticking out of his ears and the devil in his eyes. Luckily, with some struggle, I got them all out by the first obstacle. So we had a decent run. It wasn’t very fluid, but we would’ve passed if it was a real trial. That was also the biggest comment of the judges.
So day 2 was an IHT-2 trial. This one is harder. More obstacles, more walking, the dog having to push the sheep past you and even a small outrun. My goal for today was fluidity. So walking without having to stop, only for the planned obstacles. I come to the fence of the pen and there are 4 sheep stamping their feet at us. Hmm… not the best start. Those sheep at the last trial did that too. Ah well, I already got what I came for yesterday so we’ll see how this goes.
We get the sheep out be it with some complaining from the sheep and we start walking. We are actually walking normally this time! We enter the first obstacle. It’s half of a round pen. The sheep have to go in and stay there. But I can’t go in. Rover managed to push the sheep past me. Then he had to stay and I had to walk about 50meters away, call him and send him on an outrun to fetch the sheep. He didn’t want to stay at first, but we managed it the second go.
We practice outruns, but he still finds it challenging sometimes to get the sheep to me in a straight line. But he did a very good job this time. I had never thought we would be able to do this. So after that I was already so happy I felt like we could conquer the world. And we did. We didn’t get full points on everything, but most obstacles we had never even practiced once! After the run the judges said they felt I could go straight through to level 3! That was the best compliment ever, as I never expected to even finish a level 2.
After our run I couldn’t have been more delighted. Finally Rover was showing at a trial what he can do. Proud of me and my boy. Now next is to show it at a real trial. December 1 will be our first chance.
On to more great trials!