“Above and beyond the call of duty”

A few weeks ago I attended a trial that had everything but the kitchen sink thrown at it. I ended up leaving early but wanted to “tip my hat” to the people who stayed and endured to keep it going … no matter what mother nature had in store.

Majority of trials are put on because the hosts/hostess’s love the “sport”. Usually they are handlers and truly want to give something to this “passion” we call dog trialing. It’s complicated to put on a trial in the best of circumstances much less when weather makes it almost impossible.

So … “Hats off” to:

The trial hosts that spend hours and hours preparing for the big event. Having to arrange finding judges, sheep, setting up holding pens, getting entries out/in and courses set up. Arrangements and accommodations for judges and sometimes their spouses. Keeping everything running smoothly no matter the chaos going on around them. Then after it’s over … getting the scores tallied up to hand out prizes and keeping track of points to send on to USBCHA, then on to the clean up and if sheep are rented the hassle of getting them loaded and moved.

The set out crew (that at this trial were soaked to the bone after days and days of endless rain). Most set out people work hard to get each set settled for the next competitor and usually it seems to be in either boiling sun or soaking rain … hour after hour.

Score keepers – trying to keep all those numbers correct and getting them posted. Sometimes just keeping the score sheets dry from the judges truck to the barn seems a major accomplishment.

All the unheralded volunteers that seem to always be there to help trials go smoothly. Never paid and usually under appreciated … they are an absolute necessity to any trial.

Stock handlers that are in literally “stuck in the pens” getting the stock sorted. When the rain is pouring it tends to be in very muddy pens.

These are all the people who freely donate their time and effort to make a trial run and without them we would never have trials.

However, I don’t want to forget the competitors who drive for miles and miles just to run a dog for 10 minutes – in weather that would make “normal” people stay inside (if they had any sense :@). These are some of the reasons we feel such connection with other handlers … commiserating about a bad run or the congratulations on a good one (or my favorite … the addictive “checking the running order” 20 times as if our name will suddenly move) all are “part and parcel” of what a trial is about.

One of my favorite comments has always been from the book “All about Eve” (this is from memory not direct quote). A “test” to see if you will enjoy dog trialing — Get dressed in your best clothes and stand in the shower until you are soaked. Then get out and go flush your wallet down the toilet. If you’re having a really good time you will love running dogs :@)

So, tip your hat (Cowboy hat :@) to yourself while you’re at it … and thank your trial host and all the volunteers that allowed you that 10 minute run (even if it was only a 2 minute “crash and burn” :@)

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