I have to admit, this didn’t go the way I’d initially imagined.
Plan A involved me attending the clinic originally planned for South Australia.
June 9th/10th: R would have just finished seeding, I would have spent the preceding 6 months really brushing Fly up on her stops and flanks and working on some basic driving. I’d book time off work, leave the kids in R’s capable hands and fly myself and Fly over to South Australia, where I’d hire a van and spend a few enjoyable days touring the beautiful area around Strathalbyn, south of Adelaide, where my Dad grew up on a dairy farm. I stopped there about 10 years ago on my way back from the Melbourne agility Nationals, and it’s a glorious part of the world. Then we’d attend the clinic, learn heaps from Faansie Basson about skills needed for running ISDS style trials here, meet other Australian sheepdog triallers with similar interests, and come home refreshed and inspired. A bit of an indulgence, something to look forward to, the option I chose over travelling to South Australia for the invitational Champion of Champions with Queani last year (the one and only time I’ll ever get that invitation, I’m sure).
The way it actually happened:
The South Australian clinic was cancelled. The Queensland clinic was full and the Victorian one not an option.
With the support of some WA people, I asked about holding one over here, and we were accepted. Hosting the clinic here seemed like the right thing to do, given the awkward time of year and the fact that the burden on hosting always seems to fall on a small group of people.
Seeding was delayed, and delayed again, with a late break and machinery breakdowns, so R was stressed to the eyeballs and tractor-bound day and night for weeks up to the day of the clinic. My leave from work never happened, because of staff shortages: in fact my hours more than doubled. Jake did his cruciate and Muddy did his shoulder, Fred’s surgery went pearshaped and I spent all my free time driving up and back to the city for vet appointments. Fly hadn’t been worked, yet alone brushed up, since 2011. The kids got sick. I got sick, and stayed sick. Lambing started the week of the clinic, and we never got around to breaking in the dry ewes planned for the clinic. None of the necessary fencing repairs got done.
Anyway, in the end, people came, Faansie came, we had a clinic, I met some new sheepdog enthusiasts and even if we didn’t cover the sort of trial-specific skills originally planned, I think it was a success. Until Sunday afternoon, when our house blew apart in a storm. But that’s another story.
Lilli making the Pets earn their keep for once (Tuama-tutama and Basil seen here with friend)
Andrew Gorton and Boylee Ella in the corner
Inspired? Motivated? Informed? Yes, yes, yes, definitely! Also, totally and utterly exhausted.
Many thanks to Denise Agnew and the newly founded Sheepdog Trials Australia for the huge effort involved in organising these workshops, thanks to all the WA people who attended and for all your help with the chaos that followed, and thanks to Faansie for going the extra (thousands of) miles to include WA.