As with last June, this meeting saw a smaller entry than usual, with many members and committee busy with holidays and new puppies, and a few dogs taking a break to recover from injuries. The meeting was held in the heart of Exmoor. The vast field had lovely soft ground, but grass was longer than ideal due to the presence of nesting skylarks, meaning it couldn't be cut as planned.
At the start of the day we prepared for a relaxed time in the sunshine. The field had largely been set up in advance and there was only one dog to measure, giving us plenty of time to help in the socialisation program of Catriona Ryan's Tealeaf's sons, schooling for Harerunner pups, and trials Pippa Hill's promising youngsters.
All was going great until we started the competition with Montyjack Masqued Marksman (Ruairi) and Mulcair must Contain Nutz (Chester). Ruairi caught the lure at the first turn, and from that moment we were cursed with technical challenges. The pair went back into slips, but the controls on the lure machine broke down. On their third attempt, both became unsighted but had managed to run enough of the course for the judge to award the win to Montyjack Masqued Marksman, who sadly then had to be withdrawn before the second round due to lameness. Frustratingly, the troubles with the lure machine continued.
The first round was a 400 meter wiggly figure of 8 (well, thats the best I can describe it!) with the first turn dividing the dogs into cheaters and tumblers. Montyjack Maskara came out of slips like a rocket, with more determination than I have seen from her before. However, she fell into the 'tumbler' half, and as she snatched the lure, flipped several times. Luckily she wasn't hurt, but her confidence was battered enough so on the rerun she was a non-starter.
As there was only one veteran entered, Shandril Moonchild, she ran a bye with Dashing Dexter in the 18.5-20" dog stake, and showed the young lad a thing or two.
After a break for lunch, the course was reversed and we ran a few more trials. Eleven month old Moonlake Motorway Cop had his first mini trial, which was even shorter than intended, as he managed to catch the lure despite Andy running it flat out. He is going to be one to watch in coming months!
I don't have much to report on the second round. After watching my Penny Paynes Blue Grey speed on the run-out to the first turn and take a right while the lure went left, then miss out every other turn altogether, I was a bit too grumpy to pay attention!
After a quick break and the raffle draw a new course was laid, but our worsening technical woes meant no dog was to run it. A zigzag was laid, and all fingers crossed. Though it cooperated for one trial, the machine couldn't hold speed. The only choice then was to divide the stakes or try for straights. Though we would rather not run races, we felt that was the fairer option for the overall competition.
All finalists ran well, and the results of the straight weren't as predictable as some may have thought. All of them should be proud, they deserved their rosettes. Special mention must go to Moonlake Mercedes though, winning her stake in her first competition since having her litter in March. Well done Tealeaf!
It was an incredibly frustrating day, so we really do thank all competitors, triallers and spectators for patience and understanding. We are having a bigger, better machine built that we hope will resolve the problems we have been having.
Thanks as always to those who battled to get us to the end of the day. Extra special thanks to Damian who gave up his first day off since Halloween to drive the quad, and Biddy for keeping the tea flowing and me plied with every flavour of cookie, brownie and cake.
See you all next time, and fingers crossed for a less tricky day!