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Bev's Proposal


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#1 Pipedream Farm

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Posted 05 April 2005 - 06:34 AM

Has anyone read over Bev's proposal on SheepDog-L yet? If so, any comments?


Mark
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#2 cgt

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Posted 05 April 2005 - 06:42 AM

Blech.

I'll supply more of my expert opinions a little later.

charlie

#3 Rebecca, Irena Farm

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Posted 05 April 2005 - 06:58 AM

Training Level BOD members?

I think one thing to keep in mind (in my very novice opinion), is that the USBCHA trials are first and foremost a breeding selection tool. It seems that this proposal loses sight of that fact and makes the USBCHA more about the member's gratification and the competition, than about the dogs. And while that was happening at the leadership level, their "official" acknowlegement of dogs at the training stages would be viewed by the general membership in the light we presently view current sanctioned classes.

For instance, picture to yourself the advertisement: "Rock, Level II trial winner available at stud." I think it would have serious detrimental consequenses to the breed as a whole - no "sport" is worth that.
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#4 jvw

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Posted 05 April 2005 - 06:59 AM

I just read it very quickly so I can't say much.

EXCEPT that I really don't like the "Training Level" titles.

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#5 jvw

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Posted 05 April 2005 - 07:02 AM

Posted at the same time as you Rebecca.

Its not the only reason this was proposed but I know it was one of the reasons--a way to generate more $$ for the HA

Jennifer

#6 Pipedream Farm

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Posted 05 April 2005 - 07:28 AM

Rebecca,

As Bev stated this (Rock, Level II trial winner available at stud) type of thing is already occurring.

A few of my thoughts...

I like the idea of one nation-wide set of classes.
I prefer the control of these classes to be regionally, since those who compete at this level will likely compete regionally.
Something should be offered (to trial managers or handlers at that trial) for any sanctioning fee.

Mark
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#7 cgt

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Posted 05 April 2005 - 07:33 AM

This issue was discussed some time ago at the same venue. It would be worth tracking that thread down and seeing what people said. One person that contributed, a person who has relatively little credibility I would say, was me. I said some stuff like this...

I hope the novice classes never get sanctioned.

For me, the current level of variety in trials is better for learning than a more standardized approach. Where I live there is quite a variety of "novice" experiences - some are very kind, and some still have me jerking bolt-upright in the middle of the night. It's nice to have the option to go either way and still be, say, running in PN.

Perhaps more importantly:
Sanctioning novice classes sends the message that proficiency in these classes is an end unto itself. Currently, people generally have a goal of Open-level performance.

I am not sure what exactly would be the incentive for a trial organizer to sanction the novice classes. It costs money, it involves following more rules in a class that is best left informal, and the potential handlers shouldn't care about sanctioning because there are no points involved.

I fully agree that trial organizers need to be more explicit about what is involved in the novice classes. For example, "Ranch" seems to mean different things in different places, PN experiences vary quite a lot, etc. But I don't see why rigidly defining the course is the way to do this. Better for the trial organizer to be left free to define the novice experience as they see fit and to specify this as best as they can on the application form.

It also seems to me that this is the first step on the slippery slope to having points, finals, etc. for the novice classes. I think this would be a Very Bad Thing. In my experience, the atmosphere at trials in the novice classes is often competitive, but always very friendly and informal - with a lot of team spirit, if you will. The goal is to learn and get better - winning a ribbon, points or some $$ is just icing on the cake. I can imagine this nice situation will change when many people are desperately pursuing the national Novice-Novice crown. Pity the poor judges who would be responsible for us bumbling novices and our national standings. I can hear it now: "I ran the sheep around the pen 57 times, so I should get more points than Larry who ringed the pen 58 times." "My dog only gripped for 2 minutes 28 seconds, so why do I get the same score as Charlie who's dog gripped for 8 minutes?" If people need to have some nationally organized recognition for lower levels of performance, with rules and standardization, etc., there are already well-known venues.

To be fair, I should emphasize that points, finals etc. for the novice classes were definitely NOT in Ms. Lambert's proposal. I'm just a gloom and doom guy, I guess.

charlie torre

#8 Deacon Dog

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Posted 05 April 2005 - 08:05 AM

The handlers association membership has been declining which has lead to less dues and sponsorship revenues. Sanctioning fee revenues have been flat. These problems have left the association on the brink of insolvency. Sure it's a way to generate more money, and what's wrong with that? If anyone has a better solution, I'm sure the BOD would like to hear it.

With respect to breeding selection, are there currently ads such as "pro-novice trial winner available at stud"? Either way, I don't see how sanctioning novice classes affects anything.

IMO there are some problems with the proposed implementation:

There's no reason to have novice representatives on the BOD. In fact, an open handler requirement should be kept for all BOD members as well as officers and committee members having anything to do with rules making or trial related affairs.

Since there won't be any novice points or awards, I don't see anything wrong with the current class names or having different courses around the country. Extremely broad guidelines could be put in place to allow these differences.

For the same reason, I think the handlers association should only sanction novice classes at trials at which there's a sanctioned open or nursery class. Novice handlers indirectly benefit from these trials being held, so why shouldn't we kick in a small fee? Plus why would hosts even bother to have a novice trial sanctioned?
Tony Luper
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#9 tucknjill

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Posted 05 April 2005 - 09:10 AM

I think Beverly's proposal is a great first step. It will help generate more revenue for the HA (which showcases the finals, which SHOULD be used as a breeding selection tool) It outlines a more standardized guidline for classes across the country and lastly, it gives the HA some means to handle disciplinary matters that happen within the lower classes. (matters which are too serious to be handled on just a local level. Unpleasant yes, but still in all they need to be dealt with when the occur.) It also gives the novice handlers a voice, limited though it may be. The amount of influence/ or voice that an individual has within an organization should directly relate to the amout of experience they have.

I do agree with Charlie that I would not support a national novice finals and I am also against keeping the points as I feel that leads to people staying down in the lower classes. It also smacks of people earning titles etc.

As I said I think Bev's suggestion is an excellent first step.

#10 Bordersprings

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Posted 05 April 2005 - 09:42 AM

I too think Bev's proposal is a good first step. I disagree, however, with a proposal to create additional BOD positions.

If anything, the HA needs to reduce the number of Board members - there are exceptionally few examples of boards with the number of people the HA has that are effective - and the current state of the HA speaks for itself.

I would recommend having a "Training Class Competition Committee" within the HA that would have both Open handlers with a few "Training Class" handlers as a compromise solution to having "novice board members".

It is not clear to me what the purpose is of having a maximum length to the outrun and drive of the highest training class. Isn't the highest training class to be the equivalent to an Open course without a shed? If so, there should be no maximum's but perhaps minimum's would be in order (or ranges).

#11 bcollie

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Posted 05 April 2005 - 09:51 AM

I have to agree with Charlie on this one. As someone who puts on trials, why would I want to sanction lower classes? Just more headaches and more money and without a points system and a finals (which we sure don't want to go there!) what is in it for me as a trial host or for a novice entering?

I know the HA has financial problems but I think the new president is getting a handle on it. As far as decreased membership there are ways to increase that. More responsiveness from the board and more member involvement will encourage people to rejoin. Added membership benefits such as member discounts to Border Collie related businesses and a more up to date active website with members only access to the main parts are two things that come to mind. These benefits could be offered to both voting members (open handlers) and associate members (novice handlers) without the added burden on trial hosts and on Francis to track points, etc. So as not to put too much work on Francis, a webmaster position could be added to make more frequent updates to the website, making it a place to go to get not only the info available now but contact info for members, actual entry forms, trial results, etc.

I think the HA should do what it was designed to do and work at doing it better and leave the lower classes to the regional organizations. If we take this away from the regional organizations, we may be taking away their ability to attract members. Just my 2 cents!

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#12 amc

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Posted 05 April 2005 - 11:25 AM

The HA incurs most of its expenses by helping to fund two National Finals. In the not too distant past, Finals hosts were expected to come up with the majority of the costs associated with the staging of the event. The HA paid for the judges, the premiums and awards, and expenses for the secretarial staff. Traditionally the ABCA paid for half the prize money, plus the ABCA has its own awards for high-placing ABCA members and breeders.

When I was still a Director, we voted in the creation of a livestock fund, to which the HA and the ABCA would each contribute $5000 per year. Any money not used in a given year would roll over to the next year. It was believed that one reason we were having trouble getting people to bid to host the finals was the cost of the livestock, so this fund was supposed to help address that. The fund was not intended to be a source for hosts to tap into willy-nilly; it was just an assistance. In 2001 we asked for and received $6000 from the livestock fund, but our actual livestock costs were $10225. We asked for the amount we felt we needed and we raised the rest.

While I have been a supporter of and participant in the Cattle Dog program from the beginning, I think some changes need to be made there. I don't think it's necessary to have a finals of the top 1/3 of entrants...there were 20 Finalists in Open out of a total entry of 60 dogs. Similarly, 23 Nursery dogs ran twice, and a top 10 Finals was held for them. All the finals placings were paid premiums. It would be better (and more lucrative for the HA) to have a larger entry and a smaller Final day. Heck, even the sheepdogs have been cut to 17 on Sunday!

As far as novice sanctioning goes, I agree with Geri and others who don't think it's a good idea. Regardless of Bev's good intentions, it WILL send a message that TL classes are 'enough' to create bragging rights.
Amy Coapman
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#13 Deacon Dog

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Posted 05 April 2005 - 12:19 PM

The objectives of this Corporation shall be to collect and preserve the history of the Border Collie dog, to promote the breed through obtaining, maintaining and disseminating information pertaining to their breeding and training as working dogs; to promote dog trials, exhibitions, publicity for the breed, and to work specifically for the improvement and preservation of Border Collies as working dogs.

Not trying to be facetious, but that's what the HA was designed to do. If the only thing it does is put on sheep and cattle finals, it can probably cut costs enough to continue doing that at the current level, and hats off to the BOD for getting this in motion.

If it ever wants to do more, it will have to increase its revenues and human power base. Maybe handlers are satisfied with the status quo.
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#14 Bill Fosher

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Posted 05 April 2005 - 11:27 PM

I generally agree with Charlie, Geri, and Amy on this one. But I would like to point out, in fairness to Beverly, that it's pretty common in this area for novice rankings to be used as bragging rights and in breeding advertisments. You usually don't see them in dogs at stud, but often in litter ads.

I haven't been an open handler for long, and I can remember clearly having long and (for me) frustrating conversations with people who wanted novice trials to be the same everywhere they went. To me, that's part of the deal. Find out the lay of the land where you're going. I don't eat at McDonald's when I travel, so why would I want the novice classes McDonald-ized?

It seemed to me that the hew and cry for national novice rules came primarily from people who lived in places like Virginia and Maryland where they were within easy striking distance of a few regions that have differing rules and expectations in the novice classes, and who traveled around enough to get tripped up occasionally by differing nomenclature, etc. It has always seemed to me that this is a relatively small number of people, and a relatively small inconvenience that could be avoided by a phone call or e-mail to the trial host (or in some cases, a visit to the regional club's web site).

If the HA wants to do this to bring in more money, then it needs to be sure that the juice is worth the squeeze. It seems to me that it is asking a lot of novices ($25 per year and $1 per run) and offering them almost nothing in return that they don't have already. In fact, if the HA carries the day and makes the regional clubs obsolete, they lose control over their local trial scene. East coast rules will probably prevail, as they have at the national level, because of sheer number of trialers.

I am getting ready to put on my second novice trial this fall, and I doubt if I would bother applying for USBCHA sanctioning if it was offered. And I doubt it would make very much difference in the number of entries.

#15 blackacre

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Posted 06 April 2005 - 02:17 AM

If it's a question of money, ABCA has lots. Merge the two organizations and then maybe the ABCA can really fulfil its stated objective of supporting the working border collie. Works for the ISDS.
A.

#16 Bordersprings

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Posted 06 April 2005 - 03:07 AM

Andrea has hit the nail on the head! Sponsors are not interested in an organization with a target audience of only a few hundred members. The ABCA has 9000 members - now you have something that is of interest to a sponsor.

Also, the USBCHA is the only "Association" I have ever belonged to that has no education products (magazine, newsletter, etc) in spite of its stated mission (think about all of the professional associations, sporting associations (like American Quarter Horse Association)or even the AARP and they all provide member services and have publications. Without such publications, sponsors/advertisers can not reach their target audience - and the Association will not be able to relaize its real stated mission. Currently the USBCHA is a "club" (not much different from the VBCA or CBCA) that kind-of organizes two trials a year. This is a far cry from their stated mission.

The fundamental change required by the USBCHA is to become "REAL" Association with 1) member services, and 2) "REAL" value to sponsors. If this is accomplished, and the USBCHA runs their own Finals like other associations, they will not only be self-sustaining but revenue generators. The USBCHA Finals could generate significant revenue in two years (essentially too late for next year - although the Cattledog Finals for next year could be organized as a revenue generator if the decision was made immediately) meaning that the Finals would not cost the Association anything (yes, this means the HA does not pay for stock rental) and would receive significant sponsorship revenue.

Currently, any "sponsorship" is a donation as there is no means to reach any significant audience through the Finals - hence the reason "sponsors" come and go and their is no real "sponsor" other than the ABCA.

So, I agree with Andrea and Tony. The USBCHA can address the "novice issue" if they wish, but at some point I hope the Association takes a step back and makes the fundmental change that is required for it to graduate from a "club" to a professional "association" that can not only fullfill its mission but do so boldly.

I think the old adage about the "forest through the trees" may be appropriate.

#17 NancyO

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Posted 07 April 2005 - 05:09 AM

Let me first say that I've not been in dog trialing very long, and therefore do not know the history of the HA. From hearing handlers talk, it seems that people don't want to pay the dues if they aren't or can't go to the Finals, usually due to distance to the Finals.

I've also heard that Regional Finals have been proposed in the past and was wondering the reason why people did not want to have Regional finals through USBCHA?

Nancy O

#18 Valhalla

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Posted 07 April 2005 - 08:13 AM

Along the lines of Andrea and Craig's suggestions, why couldn't the USBCHA and the ABCA merge to form one organization?

My suggestion would be for the ABCA to purchase some land, centrally located in the US, buy a "starter flock" of sheep, then breed and raise them for use for the Finals. There would be revenue from the sale of stock that has to be culled. Each year you would have your new flock of yearlings and would not have to pay for sheep rental, shipping, etc. Pay a few knowledgable people to manage the flock. There are people, like Kate Broadbent or Julie Williams for instance, who would be very well qualified for this position.

In addition, the piece of land could be used to host the Finals each year. Is there a rule that states that the Finals have to move from coast to coast? It is difficult enough to find a site and a group of people that want to bid, let alone all the work it takes to host the Finals.

And possibly even raise cattle and have the cattle finals at the same site as well.
Perhaps this is all far-fetched, but it is an option.

There would be a large initial investment (land, stock, fencing, buildings, etc.) but after that is all completed, it could generate income.
Christine Koval
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#19 Shoofly

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Posted 07 April 2005 - 08:33 AM

I think, if the HA wants to raise membership and revenues, the trick is to figure out something that makes people want to join, a benefit gained from the cost of joining. Waaaaaay back when i got my first BC, in the ABCA packet that came after registering, was a nice little thing from USBCC inviting me to join. And proud new person to the breed, i sure did. I don't know if ABCA does this already, but it would be a good way to get word out to a largely untapped market. Trick after that is to keep people interested, give them a benefit from joining that keeps them joined. I think a national publication is a real benefit that people would enjoy and it would keep them renewing. So, the argument is that starting and maintaining a national publication is too much work. Wellll, we already have a couple that i'm familiar with - ABC and The Working BC (probably a cattle dog one too but i'm not familiar with it/them). Question is, how to choose one or the other to be the "national" magazine. My solution - don't choose. Allow the person joining to select one to receive "free" as a part of membership. It's win-win for the magazine and the HA and the new member. Maybe even introduce a reduced rate if the member chooses both magazines, or provide name and address to the "unchosen" magazine so that publication could lobby the new member for a subscription as well.

Something else i think would be nice for the HA to do for members is to send out a list of upcoming trials 2 or 3 or 4 times a year to members, including locations. Maybe get it into the magazines since they'd be the "national publication" de facto for members. It would be a simple service and might get casual ABCA/HA members out to see some trials. I sure remember the first one i went to BHB (Before Herding Bug) and the only reason i found about it was a co-worker found a flyer blowing in the wind and gave it to me since i had "those dogs". If i'd joined the HA and been getting a magazine and a list of trials right after registering that first dog, i might have gotten bit by the bug even sooner.

Just some thoughts but i think it would be nice to spread info and tap into the untapped BC lovers out there. Give them a benefit and educate them all at the same time.

-- Robin French
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#20 Smokjbc

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Posted 07 April 2005 - 08:46 AM

Hi,
Just some random, not particularly structured thoughts..

I am fairly new to sheepdog trials- although have been cattle dog trialing for a while now. I have run in Pro-Novice- hoping to get to Open soon- once I get one dog to drive straight, we may get our chance. After all, she has an automatic shed- as in automatically whenever sheep are within shedding distance of me. I find that is frowned upon when done at the turn around the post as opposed to the shedding ring :rolleyes: .

I don't really want to see sanctioning of novice levels, but I do think the money issue and growth of the USBCHA does need to be to be addressed, and working more with the ABCA and/or merging with it seems the more attractive option. I do think we would see better sponsorship options with the # of ABCA members.

The idea of ABCA having its own stock to use for the finals is an interesting one to me, but I do have to say I would really hate to see the Finals in one place all of the time or livestock limited to one type of sheep/cattle. I think its a great thing for the Border Collie that it has so many different environments, livestock, and situations to deal with. I think moving the Finals helps find the best overall stockdogs. Keeping the Finals limited to place and type of stock would possibly be detrimental to the breed.

J. Green
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