Both of my dogs were entered, and Reese was just coming off a 5 day Larry Painter clinic, so my goals were to work our skills, make my dogs be right, and do some good stock work, even if that meant stepping in and helping my dog, or "forgetting" and element of the course, and essentially not Q'ing.
I'll do Zen first since he had fewer runs. I just entered him in ranch dog, because that kind of stuff is better for him. He thinks courses are dumb. First day we had a crazy set out. It took what seemed like 5 minutes for the stock handler to get the group out and settled, then as soon as Zen made a move they shot off for the back corner. So I left my post and stepped in to help. In B field I knew he wasn't going to be correct if I let him handle that on his own from 300' away. After that we got through everything with some minimal difficulty. He was much more "up" than I needed him, but was able to walk instead of trot the whole time. The sheep really had his number, they'd eye him up hen he got in close to pen or sort, and he's not good with direct pressure, but he made good decisions and not once did he grip. No Q due to me leaving the post on the outrun.
Day two the ranch course was much better. Still had 50% too much dog, but again, he walked, he drove, we sorted, and he pulled out a Q in level 3 with an 83.
Reese had a great weekend and I had some very proud moments for myself out there. I am 50% of the team, and I feel like I was finally relaxed enough at a trial to MOVE where I needed to be, and think about how I was affecting the stock.
Even though Reese was in level 1 I had her drive stock whenever possible. So I didn't fetch through any obstacles in the Arena courses. I did fetch some in ranch dog, when it was the most logical thing, but through most obstacles I had her driving sheep. We did Course 3 in arena, sheep and cattle. Not one time did she break her sit until sent her (YAY). A lof of it is a blur, so I'll do a highlight recap.
In arena all stock went through all obstacles, no skims. Our drives weren't perfectly straight, but she did drive, and when I made corrections, she took her flanks and theres. Freestanding pen was done on both stock with minimal issue. I think once on sheep and once on cows we had to make a second attempt. Her stop did deteriorate some, but I was able to get on her and make it happen, and maybe only a few times did I let it slip (stops are super important). I made a mental note to use the word less on Sunday, and just give here a "there" to check up and be allowed to adjust and control stock. Her gathers were nice, with her going all the way around, even between fence and cattle without physical pressure from me. On the first day, the cows were against the fence near the repen and she would flank to the heels, but wasn't staying in the pocket to push them into the repen gate, so I made a good decision to let go of the gate, leave it open, and walk back and support my dog to show her she could push at that point. The second day, she did it with no help.
The second day, the ranch course was a little more Reese friendly, and we got 95% of the way through. A couple times on moving through gates she'd taken the correct flank, but then came in short to funnel sheep through, which, is practical, but not what I asked. I expect a nice, square flank, until the dog is told otherwise. So at the last gate, she did the short flank again, so I didn't let sheep run through, I closed the gate, and asked her to flank all the way around twice, which she did. Then the third time, I opened the gate to let sheep through as she'd flanked nicely and all the way to the fence, and her brain kind of had a melt down, so she gripped. And we were thank you'ed. :) (appropriately) Which was no big deal, I corrected her for gripping, asked her to stop, she stopped, then, all is good, we left the field. SO proud of the baby dog.
A personal favorite moment was when we had sheep in the freestanding pen and I sent her around to the back to push them out and they turned to face her, she bounced out of the pressure a little, but I flanked her again and told her "there". She stood, sheep stared, she reached under the fence and did a very appropriate bite, sheep moved, and she walked forward to keep them moving. Her arena scores were consistently mid-70's (maximum 90 for level 1), and she finished both her level one titles this weekend on sheep and cows in the arena.
Again, proud of myself for those moments where I made good training choices, and asked her to do things over, or be right. Also the moments where I thought "move, and show her/them where to go" or "you're blocking your stock", that's BIG for me, normally I can't think. The decisions I made to call the run after a success, or enforce a skill I know is there, all of those were big steps forward for me.