That was quick! It's all over, and relatively painlessly.
BabyJ had an even better time than last year. The big hits were the sailing club stand, with dinghies rigged and just at toddler height, the motorbike demo on the main arena, and most of all, the bumper boats. Yep, he stepped confidently out on his own, stood in the queue, handed over his ticket and climbed into a bumper boat to head off into the pool among all the bigger kids. All by himself. He's two! Part of me is just gobsmacked that he's so independent already, another part is terribly proud of him, and a biggish part is mourning the imminent loss of my first baby boy...
The sheepdog stuff went well, too. R had just come down with a nasty cold and bravely suffered through the day with the minimum of "man-flu" symptoms. He used a variety of dogs in the yard demos, let a few of the pups have a go (even little Moffy), and then ran Fred in the judged round at the end of the day. Fred was working well, R was away with the fairies, and they messed around at the drenching race to end up with a 93. Andrew Gorton and Ella scored 97, so they'd have to be in the running for a second win.
R and Yarralonga Charlie, thinking about a warm bed, panadol and a hot toddy:
R and Charlie doing a demo:
The yard sheep apparently started out pinging all over the place, but they got heavy very quickly in the unexpected warm sunny weather, and took some pushing around the yard course. The crowd and the showground noise was also a bit of a challenge for some of the younger pups, but they all handled it brilliantly.
Binnaburra Bonnie (Binnaburra Tuff x Binnaburra Tina):
Hayden Harries' collie, Mac's Magic, a Fred daughter:
Hayden's pup Woofy (Ramulam Gus x Olboa Merle)- 4 or 5 months old, looks like a cattle dog x cocker spaniel, works like a dream:
Our Harry (Fred x Fly):
Andrew Gorton and Boylee Ella (Esme's mum) filling the force:
And our arena run... well, we didn't win but we were running 2nd for a while there (ie that first afternoon). Our arena partners were Ray Sutherland and Christies Tammy- they had an unfortunately bad set out of sheep, and Tammy had trouble getting them back on course, but once they did the rest of the run was smooth and ended with penning for a 78.
Bill's sheep were released correctly, but took off in two different directions and ended up way across one side of the arena. Bill cast fairly straight but got around behind them without any problems, and then brought them neatly across to one of the fenceposts. I couldn't understand why he seemed to be steering them way over to my left until he came around clockwise and nearly crossed- I shouted his name and he looked up in total surprise to see me standing about 20 feet from the fencepost to which he was he was apparently balancing. After that, it was a pretty run- he kept them on course all the way up and across the ground, and I don't think lost another point on the carry. The sheep went through the race like a dream, and I was starting to get rather excited.
Then we got to the bloody bridge.
After an initial inspection, the sheep decided that they didn't fancy going over it, and kept ducking around the corners. Bill was a bit of a tosser and wouldn't come around to me to cover when I asked, and he didn't walk up on them when he should have. But I was also trying to keep him from pushing too much, in case things busted up and looked bad in front of the crowd, which was a big mistake. The sheep decided Bill wasn't a serious threat and started to walk over him, and we must have wasted about 10 minutes pfaffing around, flanking him in wide circles and running all over the place while the sheep had a picnic in the mouth of the bridge. Eventually I asked him to come in and hassle them, which he did, and they turned like magic and walked over the obstacle.
So with just a minute or two on the clock, I started scampering (sorry: 'continued at a steady pace') for the pen. Bill, his unfit little brain just about fried from 10 minutes of pointless boglaps in the hot sun, followed the sheep over the bridge and the only way I could stop him from crossing was to let the sheep run all the way across the arena before calling him behind me and sending him to fetch them.
By the time we got them to the pen, Bill was close to wrecked and just wasn't listening, taking random flanks here and ignoring stops there, and the bell went before we had them close to penned.
We still got a 65, which wasn't bad in the circumstances and was way better than the total trainwreck I'd been seeing all week in my nightmares... Yet I'm strangely disappointed.
(Warning- upcoming photo of something you won't be seeing here often- me)
Bill, sheep, race:
At the accursed bridge:
The other disappointment of the weekend was that I really didn't get to see any agility. I'd been really keen to see Kriszty's Jess in her retirement runs, as well as some of our baby pups grown up, and it sounds like I missed some brilliant agility. Jess and Sonic's team took out the Teams Agility win, came second in the Teams Jumping, despite missing Terra, one of their key members, through injury. Then a flu-stricken Jules and DiscoDiva went and won the Open!
It was a pretty good Royal Show for the Mac's "city crew", overall- Jules and DiscoDiva (an original FredxQueani) also won Excellent Agility to gain their ADX and head on up to Masters for good, and came a close 4th in a tight Masters Jumping (2 seconds between top 10 places! Wish I'd seen that), Graeme and Maverick (FredxQueani Part Two) did well in the Novice Obedience and were on a great score until he got a bit distracted in the signals, came 2nd and 3rd in the Novice Agility and Jumping, and Karen's Sonic (MickxSally) overcame his youth and stresshead tendencies to put down some very professional runs, including 3rd on Open Jumping, 6th in Open Agility and a 7th place in Masters Jumping among some of the top dogs in the state. They might have been handy sheepdogs in another life, but I think agility is the next best thing, and we're very lucky to have such great people keeping these pups out of trouble.
But somehow between R's yard demos, the pacing and nail-chewing of the build-up to my arena run and then the extended self-flagellation, performance dissection and general whining that followed, I didn't seem to have time for anything. We missed the shearing competitions and the wool pavilion, didn't see any of the showjumping or stockhorse demos, and didn't get around any of the agricultural pavilions let alone commercial exhibits, so hardly squandered any money on tacky showbags, gimmicky labour-saving devices or junk food. It didn't seem like the Royal at all.
Fortunately various sources did get some video, so I've been able to see
Jess's retirement runs here
Sonic's Royal debut here
(thanks to Graeme F)
Maverick's Novice Agility:
and Novice Jumping:
Diva's Masters Jumping:
and Excellent Agility:
The big upside of only having one day at the Royal was spending the rest of the long weekend with my family, hearing BabyJ give them his quirky toddler perspective on life and the universe, and soaking up the sunshine and the company of our very own people.
BabyJ and his Unka Mike:
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