Outdoor trials are different every time one goes. Weather conditions being the biggest factor, but how things are set up plays a big part too. The CPE trial at Stoney Creek Orchards in Romeo, Michigan this past weekend was no exception. Weather was hot and muggy – unusually hot for this early in the year here in Michigan. The set up was really done right though for an outdoor trial, making it safe for dog and handler alike.
Located between Romeo and Rochester Hills on a busy 55 mph road, the owners put up a 4 ft tall fence around the entire arena, along with a staging area with its own swing gate and latch. Only dogs who were going to run relatively soon were allowed in the staging area, and the gate was closely monitored so dogs could not get loose. This was such a comfort to me and I’m sure to all handlers, especially those of us who have seen dogs get loose at trials in potentially dangerous locations.
The east side of the arena provided large shade trees. Those who arrived early and set up their easy ups enjoyed that shade for much of the day. Had the weather been a lot cooler, I assume the set-ups would have gravitated toward the sunnier side of the arena. A wading pool with faucet and hose was also present to cool off dogs and handlers alike.
The equipment there wasn’t brand new, but it looked very solid. Both of my dogs liked the teeter a lot, with its more streamlined yet sturdy look. The double jump looked a little scary to me at first with its upside-down V shaped supports on each end, but the dogs did not hesitate to jump.
The “sales office” for the apple and cider business was used for hospitality, award pickups, and worker raffle drawings. It was cooler in there, and the antiques lining the walls were an interesting diversion. Another building, used for donuts during apple season, was used to serve lunch and snacks to trial-goers. Top on my list was a bowl of fresh watermelon, very refreshing on those hot days. Workers who volunteered for the last class of the day also got a free bowl of ice cream, which tasted oh-so-good!
The trial was run smoothly. I was amazed at how soon the award labels made it up to the sales office, given the trial secretary and her assistant both ran several dogs. The trial is put on by Orchard Creek Canine Academy, which is run primarily by family. They offer 4 CPE trials per year, in May, June, July and September. This is a very nice trial to attend. There are numerous lakes in the area, so one could make a vacation week of it and attend the trial on the weekend. Plus an added bonus: they have extra nice C-ATCH ribbons and bars!