Trialing in Florida

Trialing in Florida, February 2018

Recap on Florida trials

Earlier in February, we left cold, snowy Wisconsin headed for Florida for the first trials of the season on the 17th. After the long drive and change in climate, it took our dogs a while to get used to the new setting. Temperatures were hotter than usual for February in Florida too.

 C54
C54 is a 2 day trial for both Open and Pro-Novice dogs. It has a big outrun and testy sheep. All of our dogs managed to have respectable runs for the 2 days. Storm placed 4th and 8th out of the 70 +/- runs. Monday, was the day for the Pro-Novice dogs and it was still a big distance to outrun for these youngsters. The sheep were rather testy for these dogs with lots of draws creating several tricky pulls. Ava managed a beautiful outrun, lift and fetch but had trouble on the drive away when sheep pulled hard to the exhaust. This left Ava feeling she had to stop them from running off, so we retired gracefully. Lyric managed a very respectable run and got them penned! Good job Lyric.

Lyric

Asher Dell Farm
Tuesday was the start of 3 days at Asher Dell Farm. This is a much smaller field and very well dogged sheep that just loved to stand at your feet. This made it hard to get them away from you on the drive away with the younger dogs. Ava still had trouble with her driving away and was determined that her sheep weren’t going anywhere she didn’t feel was right. Lyric sorted it out and put a score of 81 taking first place in the “ranch” class. An early finish this day meant we were off to a trip to the ocean. This was very much enjoyed by all!

Cooper enjoying the crashing waves.

Wednesday was the start of Open at Asher Dell. In this small field, the clever sheep knew every inch of their field, therefore every escape route too. If you gave them an inch, they certainly took a mile! This made it very difficult to shed.  The first runs were about getting our dogs used to these sheep as in Wisconsin, we never came across this issue. Shedding was difficult for most. Also, these sheep were put around the course a fair number of times adding to their confidence in besting the dogs and handlers.

Flo and Kerry setting up for the shed

Flo put up a half decent run with 4th place out of 59 runs. In the second round of Open on Thursday, we saw our dogs starting to figure out the sheep and we all learned their shedding tricks. We managed to take 3 placings: Flo with 3rd, Hawk with 2nd and Storm at 8th out of 65 runs.

That’ll Do Farm
Friday brought a whole new trial at That’ll Do Farm. New trial – new challenge. This trial brought very fit hair sheep that taught one wrong move from the dog and they were gone! It was a racing match around the field!  First up were our young dogs in the ranch class. Ava, with her quiet and calm actions, managed to get the sheep settled giving us a 3rd place.  Lyric drew a set of runners which took off on every turn. Gordon retired gracefully.

Ava

Saturday brought Open 1 and it was a real “luck of the draw” on what sheep you got and how quietly you could lift them. The sheep were rather challenging to the set out crew as they had lots of trouble holding them in place until your dog arrived. The exhaust was close to the field pen and the handler’s post. With this BIG draw, if you weren’t on top of the issue, the sheep easily made it to the exhaust gate. If you DID manage to hang onto them around the post, the drive away was the next challenge. They’d just go back to the holding pen. If your sheep were on-line, you couldn’t miss the gate, as they’d run straight through.  These sheep were a real test of dog and handler skills.

Gordon and Hawk on the shed

For Open 1 (out of 76): Hawk was 3rd, Storm was 5th and Reba was 9th
For Open 2 (out of 79): Hawk 1st, Flo 7th, Storm 14th

Now we are back home after 9 days of trialing. Wisconsin welcomed us back with warmer weather, red-wing black birds (a sign of spring here) and sunny days.

First Move Forward Clinic Recap

The first “Move Forward” clinic is in the books.  Friday, Cedar Stone Farm experienced a large snow fall so we were wondering how we’d get into the clinic field. Not to worry, a driving path and parking area was cleared by the time everyone arrived in the morning.

The clinic is the first of three focused on sharpening skills relating to trialing. Gordon intently watched each dog/handler team run the course he had set up. After everyone went, we gathered as a group and he prompted each handler to objectively review their run. He then gave specific tips on how to make each run more successful. There were lots of “ah ha” moments as Gordon drew diagrams on the white board and explained why he made the recommendations he did.

With the deep snow on the clinic field, the dogs and handlers got the chance to learn how to handle sheep in those conditions. The handlers all commented that when there was deep snow on their own properties, they tended to not work the sheep as much. This was another learning opportunity as we saw the sheep (and dogs) gravitate to the paths created by the “side by side” or the previous run. Handling this was a new experience for most and Gordon gave expert advice on exactly what to do to keep the flow but allow for the conditions.

The sheep were a great mix of willing participants and some not so willing to walk through the snow. Again, Gordon told us to “not complain about the sheep, just handle it better.” He gave tips and tricks on how to handle the sheep that didn’t want to trudge through deep snow when paired with some sheep that didn’t mind. We all committed his tips to memory!

Each handler/dog team improved with each run and as they stepped off the field, lots of smiles in the successes they were having.

The lunches were awesome and filled everyone with warm food so the cold temps really didn’t seem to bother us.

Everyone left the two days happy with what they learned, looking forward to the next clinics and feeling excited about the upcoming trial season.

Gordon’s continued support and expert advice was well received by all!

Thank you to Merry Russell and Cedar Stone Farm for hosting.

Gift Certificates available now!

Want to give your friend that special gift of lessons with Gordon Watt? Gift certificates now available $75/lesson.

Certificates can be for any number of lessons, whenever you want.

Please contact Gordon for more information.

USBCHA Nationals 2016 – Reserve Champion!

Our trip to Colorado was just incredible. The journey was so breathtaking and the weather was glorious. What can we say about Gordon and Storm! What an achievement;  first time on Range sheep;  first time at the Nationals and so happy with the results of Reserve Champion.  Talented handler and very talented Storm handling his sheep with ease.  Storm never faulted, he just trotted them around the course like a day out for a stroll in the park.  Looking forward to next year’s Nationals.
natl1 natl2 natl3

Winter Double Lift and Shedding Clinics

Over the winter we will be hosting two series of double lift and shedding clinics.  This is a great opportunity to get yourself and your dogs ready for the up- coming trialing season.

Gordon will be on hand to teach you and your dogs the correct way to turn back your dogs.  This will consist of 3 sessions on look backs and shedding.  The 4th session will be a double lift course to put to practice what you have learned.  It would be beneficial if you could attend all 4 sessions.

Cost is $25 per session.

First session will be Saturday December 10th, 8am-12pm or 10am-2pm (tentative).  We have indoor facilities if weather is bad.

Dates as follows:
December 10, 17, 31, and January 7th
January 21, 28, February 4 and 11

Contact Margaret Lass-Gardiner for more details
email: info@nippersinkhall.com

Welcome to the home of Gordon Watt Sheepdogs

Gordon Watt was born in Ireland in 1964, to a family of shepherds.  His father is William Watt, a legend in sheepdogs.  At an early age Gordon became interested in all aspects of sheep care and sheepdog training.  When he was 15, Gordon and his first dog, Chum, won second in the Irish Nationals and it was on from there.  In 1999, he was Irish National Champion, and in 2005, Gordon became World Champion, after also winning the English National Championship with his dog, York.

Gordon’s current main trial dog is Huthwaite Storm.  With Storm Gordon has won Northumberland League Nursery, numerous Open trials, and was fourth at the English Nationals in 2015.  His most recent trial dog, Moss, has won many Open trials, and was 3rd in the English National in 2014 and on the English team in 2014.

Gordon has maintained his York line in Flo and Reba.  Flo goes back to York’s mother and Reba is Flo’s daughter.  Storm and Moss are outcrosses.  Their pedigrees can be seen here at this website.

When choosing a sheepdog Gordon likes to see “an ability to work sheep properly”.  By that he means a dog that uses its brain.  Also, the nature, the personality of the dog has to be very good.  “Power” is not the dog that scares sheep, but rather the dog sheep trust and can move them.

He likes to show young dogs sheep at about 8 months.  At this time he feels it is possible to evaluate an individual training program for a dog.

Look at the calendar on this website for training availability, upcoming events and lessons.  Gordon is based in Southeastern Wisconsin and located near the major metropolitan areas of Chicago, Illinois (O’Hare airport) and Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Mitchell Field). Gordon is booked for clinics in the Midwest and elsewhere.