Some difficult ground in Wessex by Wendy Beasley
After writing a column about other breeds in trials I found when I went to the Wessex championship TD trial last weekend I found that I had made one notable exception, and this a very unusual breed. Yogi, or to give him his full name Orlisclot Bobbin Along, is an Irish Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier, and certainly not a breed that would immediately spring to mind when thinking of TD, but there he was at the weekend qualifying TDEX in fine style as one of only 22 qualifiers from an entry of 75.
Yogi is handled by Andrea Clarke and she was absolutely delighted with his achievement, so much so that she actually jumped in the air at the presentation, and skipped to collect his qualification. I am sorry that I missed seeing him work, but when we took his photos later it was evident that he is quite a character, and thoroughly enjoys what he does. Qualifying at this level is no mean achievement for any breed, and many of the Collies, GSDs and gundogs found it too difficult on this occasion, but this little terrier not only gained the qualification but also the distinction of being the first of his breed ever to do so.
The Wessex trial is one of our longest trips with a five-hour journey, and if it wasnít for the lovely ground and warm welcome we probably would not bother going, but we always make the effort and have never been disappointed. This trial alternates between PD and TD, and when we had Libby, Phoebe and Leo working we used to go to both, but now with just Lunar and Spica we just do the TDs, so it is two years since we last went.
Brian and Barbara Riste run this trial with a very able team of helpers, and it always runs like clockwork. This coupled with the very good ground makes it a very enjoyable trial. However, even this trial has suffered from the 2012 freakish summer, and the usual lush green grass was replaced with very long seedy stems that should have been cut for hay long before. Obviously the wet weather had prevented the hay cut, and so we were very lucky to be allowed on the fields at all, and it is a credit to the farmers that the trial was able to run.
I am sure that when Sheila Tannert was asked to judge this trial she too pictured the usually very good ground and so designed her track pattern and chose her articles accordingly. However, both proved quite challenging on the long stuff, and around 30 of the original 75 entries were lost at this stage. Both Lunar and Spica managed the track, Lunar with all three articles and Spica with two, although he did stop on the last but unfortunately Paul was standing on it.
Lunar suffered from the seeds and spent the first three or four legs coughing and sneezing, and I think this affected her square, as despite searching well she only found two articles. Spica also got two out, so we both had enough to qualify, but were unlikely to trouble anyone for the ticket. There were however some very good marks on the board, and when the draw was done for the following day it was discovered that the top 12 dogs only had six marks between them.
With 47 qualifiers to get through on the following day Sheila had her work cut out and very sensibly decided on a straightforward round with no gimmicks. The speak had been done on the tracking field and the set up of leaving your dog, walking back past it and continuing on for several paces, all the time requiring the dog to speak, caught a lot of us out, and judging by the marks lost Lunar wasnít the only one to join their handler as they walked past.
As is usual Sheila worked the top 12 dogs first and then did stays, which she split into two lots as there were so many of us. The round consisted of heelwork around and inbetween the jumps, and a straightforward sendaway to the middle of the boundary hedge and then either a left or right redirect to the corner according to where the dog had finished up in the send out. With what seemed a simple test it was surprising how many went out and I estimate we lost around half of the number in this section, one of which was Paul and Spica.
Roll of the ground
It seemed the sendaway was not as simple as it looked as several dogs including Spica made it look difficult, despite doing a great deal of running, and even Lunar went out slower than usual before picking up speed at the halfway point, so I wonder if the roll of the ground meant that from their height they didnít see the hedge from the start as clearly as we could. However, for whatever reason this and the jumps reduced the qualifiers from 47 to just 22, and once the stays were done we found out that Jean Cooke and Waggerland Topic had taken the ticket.
This is home ground for this team as Wessex members, and for the last couple of years Jean has been limiting her trialling to the more local area after finding the travelling was getting too much. Jean has won numerous tickets over the years with her very well known dogs, and used to go to every trial there was. However, she has not campaigned this latest dog to the same extent, and had almost dropped out, so had taken the decision that despite the fact that Topic is only just four years old this would be their last trial. Now she will perhaps have to think again and at the very least they will be expected at the championships in Lauder now they have qualified.
I was very happy with Lunarís qualification after such a long break and with no land to train on, and it is not surprising that Spica struggled as we have not been able to do much training at all. Letís hope it soon stops raining so that the farmers can cut the fields and we can get some land to train on, although it wonít help much for our next trial in Scotland which will be on heather.