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Lessons I Learned from My First Trial

I don't really have any advice on the training do's and don'ts before a trial, but I do have some other insights to offer. Some of these are things I had heard before and some are rather minor details that I overlooked before my first trial. I shouldn't really say overlooked, because I still wasn't even aware that I was suppose to be looking for them!

Anyway, I will list some of the things I learned that someone might find helpful. I'm sure there are many things that I didn't pick up on that I will probably notice at the next trial, but this is a start.

1) Make sure you have comfortable sleeping arrangements lined up. - I'm not sure how everyone else handles sleeping in a strange place, but I tend to sleep better at home. (Probably due to the fact that I haven't ever really been on a "vacation" before.) You will need your rest if your going to keep up with that hairy thing running down the sheep that you like to call your dog!

2) Make sure your dog has actually been taken out on a leash to relieve himself before. - This probably sounds pretty silly to most of you, but hear me out. I live a long ways from nothing. I don't really have a need for a leash most of the time. The short jaunts to town or even going to an evening rodeo don't take that much time. So the dogs have always been turned out off leash to do their duty. I found that to be a real challenge for my little female the first day or two of trialing.

3) Try not to tell the judge *all* your dogs bad points during the evening meal! - It's probably alright to leave a little something to the imagination.

4) Pack things you would never expect to need. - Such as duct tape. This is the most multi-purpose tool ever created. When your crate falls apart, you have the duct tape. When your dog rips the mirror off the side of your pickup (not to bright to tie them there I'll admit) duct tape to the rescue again.

5) Make sure you take time to figure up how much dog food you will need if you are going to be gone for several days. - It is not a good idea to just grab a coffee can, fill it up, and take off. These working partners of ours don't exactly appreciate being short changed on their meals just because we have "trial on the brain" syndrome.

6) Offer to help in different areas when your class is not running. - You see the trial from a whole new viewpoint when your back working in the holding pens. (Especially when that steer has run you up the fence and is blowing snot all over you.) The outrun and lift can truly be viewed in a whole new light from up there.

7) Try to get your dog out and working different types of stock. - Whether you are running on sheep or cattle you need to get out and work fresh livestock. Make sure your dog has run the full gamut from heavy to light. If the trial is the first time your dog has seen fresh cattle and they take off at a high lope across the field, things could get exciting.

8) Last, but certainly not least, make sure and thank everyone for the time and effort they have put into having this trial. - Without people who are willing to give of themselves so freely, we wouldn't have the opportunity to enjoy this sport so much.