Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Specialty Recap: Herding

As I hinted in my previous post, Porter & I had a great time competing at the Cardigan Welsh Corgi National Specialty last week up in Ohio!

On Saturday, we tried herding ducks for the first time. We had only practiced twice before (thanks Renee & Nancy!). We actually ended up tying for first place in our class, which also tied us for High in Trial (that’s all levels of duck & sheep classes and all dog breeds!). We ended up with Reserve High in Trial since the other dog beat us by 1 point in the tie breaker! And “that other dog” was no other than Lowri - Stout’s half-sister  :)  Congrats again Susan!

Here is a video of our Started A duck run:

(Thank you to Susan Perry for the awesome photo at the end!)
Note the car honking after we pen the ducks  :)  Thanks Judy & Kim!
(To view it larger, click here)

Later that day we also qualified on our sheep run! It wasn’t necessarily pretty, but we FINALLY got it done. We have been competing in the Started Sheep class since November 2010, failing all 8 previous times to qualify. Well, I guess persistence & practice do eventually pay off!  :)  There were many, many, many times that I wanted to throw in the towel… But thanks to Dana & Wendy I stuck it out!

Here is a video of our Started A sheep run:

(Nothing spectacular, but just in case anyone is interested in what herding sheep at a trial looks like!)
(To view it larger, click here)

All I really wanted to do going into the herding trial was not make a fool of myself and hopefully qualify… So everything else was icing on the cake!
We competed again the next day and failed on ducks. We just could not get them out of the corner. I made a mistake which allowed them to get there, and we worked & worked to get them out. Finally the judge yelled something at me. It was quite windy & I wasn’t sure I heard her right, but I thought the gist was for us to go on. I took the 2 ducks I already had & Porter & I started driving them down the fence, abandoning the other 3. Then the judge yelled “Thank You!” very loudly. After 8 failed attempts on sheep, I know what that means!  :)  I gathered Porter up and we left the arena.
I asked someone outside what the judge had yelled: apparently it was “It ain’t going to get any better!”  Oops. But that is kind of ambivalent, right? It could have meant what I thought…  :)  Oh well.

Our sheep run later that day was also a little strange. As Porter & I waited at the cone, the sheep were brought out. One sheep wouldn’t go with the others to the pan. It wasn’t anything serious, but it was about 10-15 feet from the others & was staring at Porter. I sent Porter on his outrun & he actually went around to cover that sheep as well as the others. They did take off running up the field at that point, but I’m kind of used to that… :)

Anyway, we follow them up the field and they bolt for the corner. At this point the judge yelled at us again. Not wanting to make the same mistake I made earlier, I asked her what she said  :)  She said she was going to give us new sheep & we could either stay out there or come in & let the next person go. I may not know much about herding, but I knew I did not want to stay out there with Porter while they took away his sheep, then brought him fresh ones. He would be one high, anxious, close-running little corgi.

I guess that set of sheep had been chased up & down the field earlier by another dog & they were a bit spooky. We took a short break before entering the field again. I didn’t really see a difference between our new sheep & the old. Or it could have been because Porter was still a little wound up… But we worked the course (it was ugly) and did somehow manage to qualify on sheep again! I was ecstatic!

I spent the rest of the afternoon on Cloud 9, just like the day before. I watched Dana & Michelle earn their HT’s – Congrats! And watched my Kentucky friend Nancy take High in Trial from the Intermediate class – Congrats! Susan & Lowri took Reserve High in Trial & Stout’s dad earned his HXAs – Congrats!

I finished up the day helping Dana with the Instinct Testing. I love watching that! Only 1 dog out of about 15 cardigans didn’t pass. My favorite was a little 6 month old puppy named Rory who wouldn’t even walk on the rocks outside. But once he was in there with those sheep, he turned it on! (And his owner reads our blog!) Stout’s mother passed with flying colors and so did his grandfather (who is also Porter’s half brother).

So all in all it was a good start to the Specialty. Have we finally turned the corner in our herding progression? I don’t know. But this was the first trial that I didn’t feel like I was going to puke as we headed out to the cone. And we did better than we ever have. Coincidence? Probably not  :)

Stay tuned for more photos and the recap of our time in the agility & obedience rings!


  1. You looked good out there and handled your dogs like you knew how to. GOOD JOB!

  2. Great report! Sounds like a good trial to me!

    My guys LOVE to herd...I just wish it didn't cost a fortune and was a bit closer to home.

  3. Congratulations on such a successful National Merinda! Thanks for showing all the photos. I admire your perseverance more than you know --- particularly the puke part!! Hope to see you in October!