Set-Out Pens/Trailing Of The Sheep
Updated: Oct 23
Where do I start with this one? Trailing Of The Sheep, Sheep Dog Trial is one of those trials that is a family favorite in the Double V household. This was going to be the first year I set and competed at Trailing Of The Sheep since I find it difficult to focus on what I feel I need to do for set-out as well as keep my dog rested enough to have the edge they need to be competitive. It was exciting to have the dogs this year that allowed me to feel I could do both. I was handed disappointed though. I was not able to compete or set this year with Phyllis. Unfortunately, she broke a toe sorting and treating goats the day before the trial.
I cannot remember how many years I have set for this trial on two different fields with stock from a couple different commercial producers. The sheep have come from commercial flocks that are summered in the mountains above Ketchum Idaho.
This year the sheep that were used are owned by Cory Peavey. They numbered just over 900 with over 700 of those being long yearling replacement ewes. By the looks of the flock, they had a good summer in the mountains, healthy and strong with good feet. Rumor had it that this year there was a lot of pressure from predators. If the rumor was true, then we had a group of sheep that were survivors. These sheep were aware of their surroundings, crafty, and fleet of foot, leading to a great challenge for handler and dog. This would also prove challenging for the setting crew as well.
The sheep were unwilling to put up with mistakes. If you pushed too hard, they would fight or run to get back to the group at set out. If you did not push hard enough, they ignored you, or ran to the group. If you over covered, you had a fight. If you were slow to cover, they would run for the group. Of course, there were some that were just so concerned about being exposed to predators that they would blindly just run through you in an attempt to be in the middle of the group. These are the ones that would cause the set-out crew fits. It was hard to tell which of the sheep would act this way while they were in the group but, would become clear as they were being moved off the set-out pens.
One of my goals while setting sheep is for them to have been exposed to the set-out dogs as little as possible. This means we try to work the sheep while using our dogs only to cover and save us from our mistakes. Another goal is for me to stay patient with the setting crew in an effort to make is a good experience for them. The first goal was attained by patience while moving the sheep (although sets were moved out to the set point slowly). The second goal was not achieved. I once again found my patience being tested because of the rate we had to move the sheep to make the sets. This testing of my patience caused me to be short and abrupt while attempting to communicate what I was expecting to happen and what I was seeing happen; failing my second goal handily.
I am still processing my failures through the trial. It will likely take me some time to accept my failures and weaknesses. The one thing I can say is, I am proud of the job each of the setting crew did with one of the toughest setting jobs I have done. Each of them delt with the difficulties presented them and worked through them doing the best they could, despite my lack of patience and difficulty communicating with people (especially when under stress).
Because this years setting was so busy, I only got to pull out my camera at the end of the trial. I failed to capture the sheep in the beautiful Autum setting of Hailey Idaho this year. Trailing Of The Sheep remains a favorite trial of the Double V household. We look forward to next year for another attempt at the trial and at photographs.