Jump to content
BC Boards
Donald McCaig

How far is "far" and how do you get there?

Recommended Posts

Dear Doggers,

 

Some recent posts have given me pause. One wouldbe handler wanted a trainer within two hours, another complained that 100 miles was too far to travel.

 

100 miles?

 

In the day, handlers like Lewis Pence and the Pulfers hit the road after work Friday night, got to the trial ground by dawn, departed Sunday, drove all night and went to work Monday morning. From mid Ohio they drove to Maine and Texas. This was before RV's so they stayed in bunkhouses, motels or their truck. Bill Berhow would perch Scarlett on the back of his motorcycle and drive from Florida to Mississippi and back home for work Monday morning. Every time Bev Lambert's bosses offered her a raise she'd say, "Give me more time off instead."

 

So okay, I'm not that heroic either. But six hours is my average driving distance to a sheepdog trial and 12 or 13 aren't that uncommon. If you can share driving 24 hours is no big deal.

 

There are limits to sheepdog travel: family, the job and money. My next sheepdog trial (2 open dogs 1 P/N), 6 hours will cost me between 5 and 6 hundred dollars (if I'm out of the money). If I traveled with someone and shared expenses, it'd be closer to 4. I'm self-employed but, like you, have a family to consider.

 

Many/most open handlers have straight jobs,not many are independently wealthy and all have families. I'll be running against them next weekend.

 

I'd be interested to hear how far others will travel and how they overcome the limits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donald McCaig

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'd be interested to hear how far others will travel and how they overcome the limits.

Donald McCaig

 

 

I might not be a good example, because I have a hard time, being laid off for over half a year, overcoming the limits. But 100 miles is a dream distance. 6 hours is a minimum distance for a trial, and I've travelled that distance several times for lessons as well. I've travelled over 12 hours for clinics and once flew my cow dog to Texas (can't imagine how I managed that because I was REALLY poor then LOL) to compete in an Oklahoma trial. We were taking a dog to his trainer at the same time, for a friend, so I think we got a little help on the tickets and rental car plus the trial host put us up along with about 15 other people in his living room.

 

If I want to practice with other sheepdog folks, I have one option that's about 90 miles away and an AKC oriented person in town that can offer me nothing in the way of constructive stock or property. Once, I got the opportunity to work a commercial range flock on docking day and I jumped at the chance, that was about 150 miles away.

 

I am scaling back on any trialing for this year as I start a new job and get my two-year old ready but in the past, it's been a hardship to get there so I focus on what I can accomplish with my limited resources and also on the rewards of keeping my own sheep and developing my little grade flock (which wouldn't impress many but for this area and what I started with, I think are some pretty shiny ewes.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I travel 100 miles for lessons with my new dog and traveling 6 hours for a trial won't be a problem once the dog and I are ready. I have a great job that allows lots of flexibility so while I may work an occasional weekend I can away during the week for lessons.

 

Once the dog is trained I will have access to work sheep much closer to home so that will help keep the dog and I in shape.

 

I would love to have an RV to travel further but while I don't drive a prius or any such so called "eco-friendly" car I hate spending money on gas, I'm working on getting something I can sleep in that will still get 20+ mpg.

 

Tim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I would love to have an RV to travel further but while I don't drive a prius or any such so called "eco-friendly" car I hate spending money on gas, I'm working on getting something I can sleep in that will still get 20+ mpg.

 

Tim

 

 

I'd love to have an RV too! Or even a tent trailer LOL. I drive a little Nissan and we secure dog crates in the back and usually stay with the dog-friendly, if a little shady at times, Motel 6.

 

Funny story, kind of. My partner and I went to a trial where he helped out at the set out pens for a few days. At the end of the day, we were hanging out by my little truck with dog crates and cracking out the end-of-the day beers when a busybody approached us. She said bluntly that since we didn't have an RV, she was concerned that we were loitering or had broken down and were waiting for a ride. :rolleyes: . I nicely explained to her that we were waiting for the trial host to feed us (we had been invited to the house for supper and didn't want to crowd the host so soon after the trial was over). This person was actually right next to me in the running order for Open earlier, so I was a little annoyed that because we didn't have "a rig" that our presence was suspected.

 

Don't think that's the norm, I've been to plenty where people slept in their cars or tents and no one thought anything of it, but I was taken back a little.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't trial any more, but when I did we would go to Jack & Kathy Knox's trial in Missouri-that's 600 miles each way. Then the trial in Jordan, Minnesota that's 270 miles each way. Then a couple of trials in Illinois, at least 200 miles each way. I lucked out with a trial or two at my own farm and then a couple others in Wisconsin which were within 2 hours of my place too.

 

As far as clinics go, I host a couple each year, but the other clinics I go to are about 2 hours away although I also went that was 4 hours away. I don't just train on my own sheep, I go 4 miles, or somewhere between 50 and 70 miles away. We're lucky to have so many people here in Wisconsin who are active.

 

Laura

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was thinking about this topic this very morning while examining my "dog budget" -- the expenses do add up, but watching Brodie work sheep for the first time gave my bruised and battered spirit such an indescribable lift...the experience was, as the commercials say, priceless...

 

I've pursued a number of sports, which explains my orthopedic problems :rolleyes:, and all have been expensive in their way -- tennis, horses, golf, even going to a gym to work out to "stay in shape" is costly--(which is how I am balancing out the current cost of doggie lessons -- if I were going to a gym, or taking PT, it would cost about the same at the moment). All of the different sports and hobbies have something to offer, but there is some special attribute to working in partnership with a dog that does make one want to go to rather extensive lengths to find the right fit with a trainer to make everything work just right. When Robin looks at me and says, "Yeah, I get that," it just makes my heart smile. The girl that we shared lessons with the other day had driven about six hours to work with the trainer who lives about twelve miles from us. Lucky us. :D.

 

Liz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always figured if you wanted it bad enough, you'd make it work if you were at all able to. Anyone who trains their dog to a high level of work or sport puts in a good deal of time and effort.

 

Not stock work, but I drive over an hour each way to SAR training every week. People involved with disaster SAR work often travel a much greater distance than that about twice a month for team trainings. Then they may all over the country to train at different site or to polish/test their dog's skill.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I first started, I drove a good hour and a half each way, twice a week for lessons. The first trial I went to was about a 10 hour drive, with one P/N dog. There were a number of trials in a 6-8 hour distance following that first one, which we went to and did the cheap motel thing. But then, I decided that cattle were more interesting for me and my dogs, and the cattle trials were all 8+ hours away. AND, if you really wanted to be competitive, you needed to haul your own horse. So I bought a horse for the first time in probably 20 years (which was good, as I had really missed having a "reason" to have one, anyway). For a couple of years, I hauled the horse in a funky old stock trailer, and either slept on a cot in it, or brought along my backpacking tent. The horse would be tied to the trailer at night, until the one night she broke the clip on the halter, and I discovered that I had a lead tied to my trailer with no horse attached. In the morning, we tracked her, and she had run 4 miles in some random direction. So when I got home, I bought 6' panels to haul along, so she could have a pen to hang out in. The backpack tent was ok until one night, when I went to get into the sleeping bag in it, I discovered it was SOAKED--somebody's male dog had pissed through the mesh "window" and all over my bag! As soon as I got home from that trip, I bought a small 2 horse with living quarters, which I have hauled all over the country a LOT. Back in those days, before massive budget cuts, I would be gone on average two weekends a month, with trailer and horse; most of those trials were 10 hours away. Not to mention entry fees for cattle were right around $100 a pop.

 

I don't trial as often any more, but each summer I drive from southern Ca to Wyoming and Nebraska for a 2-3 week series of trials. We get in 8 or more trials in that time period, and the entry fees are not quite as steep as out here, and the paybacks are nice.

 

I guess this is my lengthy version of:

if you wanted it bad enough, you'd make it work if you were at all able to.

A

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Far always seems further when you feel like you are not prepared.

 

We don't have the funding to allow us to go alot, when we started out we put the money into stock, fencing and bringing trainers in here and offering clinics. The benefit far outweighted travelling to clinics, especially starting out having the ear of the clinicianer for multiple days. Often times if the trial is overnight one of us has to stay home here at the farm, this weekend is my turn.

 

Most all of our training is here at home, and I try to take advantage of what ever situations that arise to test and challange my dogs. We go down to another handlers about 2 1/2 hours south of here a couple/few times a year to test our dogs. Last year I went prior to entering Plumb Lucky, the test went poor enough that I elected to save the money and stay home. At this point we have stayed with arena trials due to knowing that we can succeed there.

 

A few weeks back we tested Jake again in the open field, there were glitches and bugs but Wayne felt comfortable enough to haul 6 hours down to Larry Moores his weekend. I don't think he would have done it if it was not for sheep one day cattle the other. We have been traveling up to 10 hours for cattle trials but we are selective at this point looking for trials with lower entry fees, ones that maybe Wayne can travel with others or ones that have other events that we have enjoyed, one we went to offered a point/time sheep trial and a mini clinic with Pete and Juan. The trial was more seasoning.

 

Today marked Wayne and Jake's debut out in the open field down at Larry's, he's running in Open. He ran second in the draw, made it all the way to the pen without wrecking and then made a novice mistake of giving up on the pen and moving on to his shed. His comments after the run were the most important, he said that he enjoyed it, was having fun competing and is excited about tomorrow (he is entered in Open cattle and a seperate Double Lift class). That means that far is not going to seem too far in the future.

 

I pretty much consider our program as running on the cheap compared to if we were just hauling to season and if we had seasoned our way up through the ranks.

 

When we travel we do one of three things, motel when it is cold, haul the horse trailer with living quarters or sometimes Wayne just takes a cot and camps. In June he will be running to the 3 day cattle dog trial series down in southern Iowa, he will be taking the truck with the topper and camping.

 

Deb

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't trial now, never made it past Novice, I do have a husband and a farm (and no children living at home to help out with "baby-sitting" the place and stock and animals any more), and I am on a budget.

 

I travel about 135 miles and 2 1/2 hours each way to get a lesson maybe once a month (during the seasons that the weather and the trainer's lambing schedule permits). Clinics have been anywhere from 150 miles and three hours away (no longer being offered) to the 250 miles and six hours (hauling the camper and going around DC) away that I am able to go to now (twice a year).

 

My Dan is at training about 300 miles away, and I will have made the trip about three times in total for this (combining it with other trips twice to save a "leg" or most of a leg of travel).

 

To attend/volunteer at trials, I travel yearly to the Bluegrass (350 miles, 8 hours hauling my little camper), to Jan Thompson's Water Cress SDT (almost 400 miles and 8 hours with the camper - but I combine this with a trip to visit my daughter an hour and a half away or I probably wouldn't drive that far), and other occasional trials between three and six hours away (again, hauling the camper). Last year, the "biggest" year I've had in going to trials, I went to five. Most years, it may be as few as two or three.

 

I spent the first several years either staying in a cheap motel or sleeping out of my van, then a couple of years sleeping in my Subaru, before I was able to afford my little teardrop (that the Subaru can pull). No shower, but very manageable and it doesn't require a big tow vehicle that I wouldn't want to drive otherwise.

 

I guess you can say I'm just not that dedicated, as much as I would love to be able to spend more time and money on training, going to trials, and maybe even trialling. But home and family and economics take precedence. I admire those that really put in the miles, money, and effort to get to the top, or just to strive to be good handlers with well-trained dogs. I'm can deal with being at the bottom, just having useful dogs at home, learning on my very slow curve, and having my own set of priorities because I have to live with them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have driven over 300 miles one way for a clinic I wanted to attend. Regular lessons an hour and a half away. I chose carefully who I wanted to start my dog and drove over 200 miles one way for that. And my favorite trainer (not regular) is 170 miles one way.

 

I would go farther if I had to/wanted to! Although I am hoping to set up regular sheep time this fall (probably not lessons, but time more than once a week) about 45 miles one-way.

 

Writing this sort of makes me sad. I am on a break and feeling very jealous that in some cases, all that would prevent someone is the time they had to drive. Money is a different matter, you have it or you don't, I guess, but at the same time I'd personally rather spend my money on this than a lot of things. But mainly, I can't wait until I get my body back and we can start again this fall (or sooner this summer, if I can find a place to go with minimal foxtails!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the farthest I've traveled to a trial is about 1,000 km, or 12 hours of driving (done that one a couple of times). Audio books, Red Bull, and nice scenery make the drive almost pleasant. On average, I travel maybe 4 hours to a trial. As trial director for our stockdog association, I have to say I'm very grateful to anyone who puts on a trial and compared to the work they put into hosting all of us, the driving distance is nothing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As someone that has access to at least 4 sets of sheep and at least 3 trainers within 30 minutes, I'm now going to stop whining about the drive every week :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was training my dogs, we would travel between 3.5 hours and 6.5 hours (one way) for different clinics, training, and volunteering/viewing trials. I started with someone closer (about 1.5 - 2 hrs.) but that trainer didn't exactly work out, so I opted for better quality over better mileage.

 

Karrin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We don't work our dogs at all; they are just beloved pets. However, my husband and I do have a small home on a calm bay in the Bahamas. Our dogs love it there... no leashes or collars, roam freely and play all day, romp in the surf, chase fish and crabs, and spend time with us 24/7. So when time allows, we drive our dogs from Arizona to Ft. Lauderdale -- about 3-1/2 days each way -- and then fly on a small plane to the island.

 

People who don't have dogs are usually shocked by this. But as someone else posted, when you see the sheer joy on the dogs' faces, it's so totally worth it.

 

A funny side note... When we start packing our SUV for the trip, usually a day or two in advance, our dogs will jump in the back and refuse to get out... for literally hours!! There's nothing we can say or do to coax them out. They're not taking any chances of missing a trip to the beach!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I live about 45 minutes from Boise. The group I'm involved with quite often offers clinics and lessons with accomplished open handlers, etc. All too often, people from Boise complain about "the drive" and tell us how we live "so far out." I always think to myself, "If they only knew how good we have it here..." I got sick of living in Boise, so moved closer to the action. See? Simple!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am one of those that have posted about looking for a trainer in a geographic area. I drive 50 minutes to an hour once a week to train for agility, the closest good sheepdog trainer is at least double that. I have a self imposed agility trialing radius of about an hour and half. REASON both my husband and I use our trucks for work ( we are both self employed) and they now both have over a 100k on them and they are not getting replaced in the near future, we would be up the creek without one of them. So yes I would like to take lessons and see if I and my dogs have any aptitude with sheep, but my dogs are my hobby not my job and there is no way I can justify the wear and tear on my truck.

Yes one day I want an RV for the dogs and then I will travel, but don't judge those of us starting out who have our personal reasons for not putting in the mileage to harshly I am sure we all have our reasons, in my case the piggy bank will not buy me a new truck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I got my first dog, I traveled 2.5 hours for a three day clinic in MD. I didn't know a soul. When I look back, it was remarkable, given how I'd lived til then, never really traveled much at all, never had stayed in a motel alone, just did horse shows and day trips due to my job(s) and home commitments. That was 1994? The passion to work with dogs and sheep (I really love sheep) changed my life, and I love to drive, thankfully, to places I would never have seen before that time.

 

My job requires that I work 50% of the weekends of the year, and as many of the holidays. To get to train (clinics) or trial (not compete), I have to work with a co-worker who is a SAINT, scheduling to get the days off I need, and save up the money to get there or pay fees (hourly worker making about 28K a year, but owns 14 horses). The fact for me is that I can usually break even on my trips, most of which are about 2-4 hours, being lucky enough to live in an area that's smack in the middle of central VA. I have to keep on good terms with a spouse of 28 (in Nov) years, who keeps the house and barn straight enough so I can go. Breaking even is a big deal to him, and if I don't, he doesn't know about it.

 

To work for a trial, I have gone as far as TN (2002 finals volunteer) and KY (both eight hours drive). I have to consider the days off, so it'll be in the wee hours after work, and yes, I do have to be at work 7:30am Monday. To work dogs or help with sheep with a friend, I'd go 2-3 hours drive one way and think nothing of it. Gas and time are considered, and if I have it, it's well worth it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Up until recently I drove 100 miles (two hours) just to get groceries, let alone dog training. Dog training was another hour beyond that and trials are 3-6 hours away. I recently moved and have a glorius 40 mile drive to get groceries, but the 60 miles I saved have now been added the trials and training milage because I moved in the wrong direction.

 

I was also the one sleeping in a tent among the RV's and travel trailers because after gas and entry fees, I couldn't afford a hotel room. Showers on a 90F day came from a cold water hose behind a barn after everyone else left.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm lucky that where I am I have access to several great trainers for agility, obedience, dock diving within 15-45 mins. I rent a field for agility that I use several days a week that is just a few mins from home. If this field was 30+ mins, I probably wouldn't do this as often. Once or twice a week I am OK on driving those distances.

 

For agility and other trials, I prefer the local ones (I'm lucky that again, two places within 30 mins of me hold weekly events during the Fall so I can come home each day). I am finishing my degree (one morning a week plus online classes) and work part time (which includes most nights and every Saturday). Funds are limited and I cannot justify spending the money on extra gas/hotels. Time is also limited because of my schedule, so mornings are really the only times I can go places for classes/lessons.

 

Now that I've started Stella on sheep, I'm very fortunate to have a wonderful trainer that is only 40 mins away. As of right now, I can't see myself driving too far if we ever got to a trialing level....but I'll never say never... :rolleyes: My current situation is not permanent...so hopefully in a few years things will change and I will have more funds/time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I first started, the person I trained with was just over an hour one way. I was living on a tiny salary ($20k) and yet I scraped together the gas money to go out and work my dogs four and five times a week. Of course gas was much, much cheaper nearly 10 years ago.

 

I've always pretty much had to do trialing on a shoestring. In all the years I've been doing this I have tent camped, except for one brief stint when I pulled a 1959 Shasta camper. But I soon discovered that pulling the camper cut my gas mileage in half and the difference in $$ would pay for a hotel room. There are a couple of trials where I do splurge on a hotel--usually winter trials when I know I'll be cold and miserable and I can get a hotel for a reasonable rate. Otherwise, it's a tent for me. As Anna noted, there are some rude handlers who will let their dogs pee on your tent (they better not let me see it happen), but I was recently forced to replace my trusty Taj Majal tent when even the rain fly started to leak and I spent a soaked weekend last year at Dr. Ben's NC State Championship trial.

 

The furthest I've driven to a trial was clear across the country to Sturgis, SD, for the 2005 finals, Twist's and my first finals. More typically I drive anywhere from 4 to 6 hours. This requires flexibilty at work (I went to the Internet cafe in town daily while at Sturgis--yep, camped in my tent there, too--to do my paid work in exchange for being able to take all the time off needed to drive back and forth and spend nearly a week there).

 

I became unemployed a year ago, and as a result I have been to maybe five trials, all relatively close, this year. I've worked at a few trials because the money I got paid was more important than actually running my dogs, plus I actually like doing set out, especially when my good buddy Debbie is working the pens. I really don't mind driving long distances--NPR and good books on tape help a lot. I usually don't look forward to having to set up a tent, etc., once I arrive at my destination, especially if the weather isn't great (rainy, hot, etc.).

 

Like others, I do have to worry about animal/farm care when I leave home. Fortunately I have good friends who will step up and help out when I need it.

 

If I were working now and had a flexible enough schedule, I'd be trialing more. Hopefully I'll be able to get back to that. I enjoy my sheep for themselves, and am happy here on the farm, but I do miss seeing my friends and testing my dogs at trials.

 

J.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For starters, anywhere I want to go that's not in the 17 sq miles of "home" requires a 40 min ferry ride to the mainland. That always means relying on a state-run system's schedule, and in the summer, getting to the ferry landing at least an hour before the ferry leaves.

 

I drive 2 hrs from the mainland ferry landing to train & go to clinics. I'll be driving to trails (to compete) for the first time this year. One is only about an hour from the ferry dock, the other I have no idea, as I've never been there.

 

I'm lucky I have my own sheep, plus work for a friend with sheep (and her sheep are a rowdy bunch!) When we want to work a new field around here, we run sheep down the road.

 

I'm pretty much a step above dirt-poor. I farm, and I work part-time as a baker. I raise probably 90% of what I eat, and that cuts down the bills. I'm a master of camping on the cheap! I'll happily stay in my tent anywhere (I did at Finals last year), I pack a ton of food, I bring a camp stove.

 

I can generally rely on my sister & BIL to look after things while I'm gone, but they have their own jobs & small farm, and I feel bad over-burdening them. Scott is great with the chickens, but he's clueless about sheep... and leaving the puppy with him would result in me coming home a single man!

 

When I was in high school, I paid everything for my horse. I got myself to shows, I paid entry fees. I cleaned a lot of stalls to work off board. My friends all thought I was nuts when I'd skip concerts to go to horse shows. I loved every minute of it, though. It's the same with working dogs now (except that the dogs actually do help make some money). Where there's a will, there's a way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We're lucky to have so many people here in Wisconsin who are active.

Laura

 

I never knew that we had so much going on in WI in the world of stock work here in WI prior to getting my first border collie and finding this board!

 

I travel 220 miles round trip for a lesson (about 4 hours total) and go at least once a month. And I am lucky because there are several clinics held within 3 hours of where I live.

 

I'm not sure where all my lessons will take me but I am having so much fun learning everything! :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WHEN (which is not NEARLY enough) I get to trial it's usually a minimum of a 10 hour trip one way- all for maybe 30 minutes of trialing over two days...wish I could make that long drive a LOT more often. And it normally costs me about 400.00 a weekend to pay gas and hotel, food, etc. Still, if I could, I'd do it every weekend. I am lucky that I have a great open handler who helps me train only an hour away.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dear Doggers,

 

Some recent posts have given me pause. One wouldbe handler wanted a trainer within two hours, another complained that 100 miles was too far to travel.

 

100 miles?

 

In the day, handlers like Lewis Pence and the Pulfers hit the road after work Friday night, got to the trial ground by dawn, departed Sunday, drove all night and went to work Monday morning. From mid Ohio they drove to Maine and Texas. This was before RV's so they stayed in bunkhouses, motels or their truck. Bill Berhow would perch Scarlett on the back of his motorcycle and drive from Florida to Mississippi and back home for work Monday morning. Every time Bev Lambert's bosses offered her a raise she'd say, "Give me more time off instead."

 

So okay, I'm not that heroic either. But six hours is my average driving distance to a sheepdog trial and 12 or 13 aren't that uncommon. If you can share driving 24 hours is no big deal.

 

There are limits to sheepdog travel: family, the job and money. My next sheepdog trial (2 open dogs 1 P/N), 6 hours will cost me between 5 and 6 hundred dollars (if I'm out of the money). If I traveled with someone and shared expenses, it'd be closer to 4. I'm self-employed but, like you, have a family to consider.

 

Many/most open handlers have straight jobs,not many are independently wealthy and all have families. I'll be running against them next weekend.

 

I'd be interested to hear how far others will travel and how they overcome the limits.

Donald McCaig

 

Donald,

I am not complaining about anything. all i posted was kinda far but we will see. Seems like you took a shot at me, giving me no excuse not to travel as much as you do. Everybody has things going on in their lives and i am just trying to see how i can work another event into it, and it wasnt 2 different handlers making a comment about distance they were both mine about the same place.

I wish i could do things the way you do or all the other posts about traveling etc. but my dog hasnt even taken 1 lesson yet. Give me a chance to catch up at least, then complain about me saying 100 miles away.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...