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Bridging division between Working Border Collie Tradition vs. “Working” Agility Dogs+Other Disciplines

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Come on, sheepdoggers, only 215 more posts to go to match the "What is the Point of This?" thread. We could all be forever enshrined in glory!

 

The "What is the point of this?" thread was only 208 posts long. Before the last software upgrade, I used to stop threads at 250, as a safety precaution. This is far and away the longest thread ever. I have been watching in some bemusement to see how long it can go.

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But I'd rather watch Lou or Riggs or those Kelpies in Australia moving sheep. It isn't just what they do - it's what they are.

 

And my Border Collie knows that, which is why agility is lighthearted fun for him, but sheep work is -- well, it just IS. Consider this: his tail is up the entire time we're in the agility center; his tail is down and never aloft when we're in the sheep pasture or pen.

 

We will never fool a Border Collie into thinking that agility or any other dog sport is his work. :lol:

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The "What is the point of this?" thread was only 208 posts long. Before the last software upgrade, I used to stop threads at 250, as a safety precaution. This is far and away the longest thread ever. I have been watching in some bemusement to see how long it can go.

My mistake - it's the entire FAQs section that has 772 replies.

 

My own Word document of selected posts from this thread runs to 60 pages now, (11 pt New Times Roman - single-spaced.) at the top of which I put:

 

"This is my edit of a very long, very strange but interesting thread. Most of the posts by the OP have been omitted – except the first one. Other things I cut were the posts that compared the merits of different agility dogs, and the “he said, she said, I didn’t say that!, you’re full of crap!” posts, plus a few others."

 

I am undecided on whether to include the "beer posts."

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I am undecided on whether to include the "beer posts."

 

If you don't include those, I will be deeply offended. :P

 

Yuengling

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Can I have post 580?

 

 

eta...darn it, hit submit too late, shoulda checked after reading, didn't see Root Beer's last post

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If you don't include those, I will be deeply offended. :P

 

Yuengling

OK, you talked me into it!

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Diana, thanks so much for writing. Hurray!!! ok. Here is my personal assessment as non-expert handler but a ballet person, lol! and someone who has watched tons and tons of UK agility experts run and does the usual wild guessing. A UK’er is going to giggle (bless them) at how I’m butchering the language, whereas I’m sure the serious U.S. agility handler will be groaning and doing smack-dos, lol… But seriously, unlike the U.S., the UK is a tiny country pretty much the size of Kansas and yet the trials are huge, a single trial can have as many as 800 participants just in one show, and every weekend supplies opportunities of non-stop trialing. In the UK, contacts are honored so long as the hind legs hit the safe zone, so Rolfe’s dog is “safe” in that one "controversial" A-Frame. Anyway, in the UK you will also get far more sheepherding folks involved with agility because distance traveled is much shorter, there are tons of opportunities for sheepherding folks and agility folks to interact amongst each other and to rub elbows and be “neighbors” and trade information. You don’t get this in the U.S….There is a real geographical divide. Us city slickers have to dedicate time and effort to travel out to where the expert sheephandlers are at. At the very least, every single border collie owner in the U.S. must come to these Boards. These boards are critical to our education and the preservation of our breed.

 

Back on subject. Think of spatial movement. You take two Olympic runners in the speed race. Pretend they are equally fast but that one is very tall with long legs – 6’. The other is only 5’ tall. That 5’ tall runner is going to have to run twice as fast to cover as much grounds as the 6’ tall sprinter. So for Will Rolfe’s dog to win it’s truly amazing. The dog has extremely short legs and a very small stature compared to the other border collies, so he has to match the much taller border collies who indeed have the 26” stature. Clearing jumps for a big border collie is a piece of cake! My dog is barely 19” and has short legs, and non-standard 22” is her maximum height that she can handle. Had she been forced to do 26” it’d be a disaster!!! But here is Rolf’s dog, who is a mere 17” if I were to guess his height. He is also working with a handler that moves differently than the other handlers. Rolfe is much older and he’s not going to be able run as fast as the much younger handlers, and neither is his style like theirs either. (page for the other handlers). The handler’s style is very measured, very calm and careful. Every handler has a specific style. In key locations the camera is focused on the dog, and you might miss key moments of the handler’s placement versus the dog, but if you draw out the diagram, you can see where Rolf’s dog echoes his handler’s spatial decisions. Also about the running contacts, it is a conscious decision by the dog when it adds in those extra steps….You see some handlers reward for accuracy versus the risk factor. A dog that “counts its step”, adding more steps as it approaches the contact zone is still thinking as opposed to the route way of a b.c. just going on the “fly’ instinctually. Some handlers reward the accuracy as opposed to the risk. And that’s why Rolf’s dog performs the way it has. It has engrained into itself what the handler’s preference is, and it echoes that preference. There are those of us, me included, who try to train for the many-steps for fear of the blown contacts. Other handlers prefer the blazing speed risk factor with the big long stride, and that’s why U.S. handlers this year blew out our running contacts (our running contacts bit us in the butt) and we ended at near the bottom of the ranks, internationally at FCI worlds, lol! Usually we are at least in the upper ranks- this year we were almost at the very bottom for the U.S. large team (all border collies).

 

Here are Diane’s comments, and my non-expert thoughts as a ballet person and the video so people will know what we are referring to.

 

 

Frame 0:23, the jump after the aframe, he isn't turning going over the bar, the head is straight as he's at the apex at the jump (even though his path is turning)so he lands away from the course path, adding an extra couple of feet (half the width of the jump) to his yardage.

 

What Serena sees: folks FREEZE-frame right at the 22. Look at the dog’s gaze after he lands, he is looking straight at his handler, and look how he landed right at the jump, in perfect lineup, perfectly! Parallel to the angle of the bar, it is sooo tight folks, extremely dangerous and beautiful matchup to its handler….so he can meet with his handler’s lineup to pull through to the next hurdle…all other border collies would way over jump….Diane, I actually have the opposite reason for the Aframe controversy. You see in all the other contact equipment, Rolfe’s B.C. looks straight into the contact zone and does gorgeously, the head must be kept straight, because a dog running contacts is supposed to look at the frame and not the handler to meet its running contacts….But somehow in that A-frame, you can tell that somehow the handler must have signaled or pulled it off too soon, because you can see how suddenly the dog looks up just when it’s about to hit the contact zone as if to say to the handler, what is it you’re signaling to me to do??? Whereas in all the rest of the contact equipment the dog is fully concentrating on the frame and not until he hits that zone does he look up to the handler for the next task…

 

Frame 0:26, jump after the broad jump, he takes the outer 50% of the bar, landing 2-3 feet wider than if he'd hugged the inside on the turn.

 

Dog is in the outer white bar instead of the inner white bar, and dog does realize this and hence he used his border brains to lean wayyy and dangerously inward Evel Knieval motorcycle lean into the next jump, so he not only recovered the full time but also outsped a normal champion border collie by taking the next hurdle with the razor sharp directness. Also if you freeze frame, he did not lose 3’, he only lost half of his small body length. Had he taken the inner white bar there is no physical means that he could gain more than half his body length. And once again, the angle was so sharp and so directly parallel to the bar, it shows that keen working border collie edge. Folks in agility that outer white bar is still a very solid stable location. Is it perfect? By no means, but it is still a very good jump, still very decent.

 

Frame 0:29, the handler cues the turn. At frame 0:30 look at the dog's head going over the jump, it's straight, not turning even though the cue was turned. He turns on landing, another wide turn.

 

Frame 29 is actually very solid. I’m confused about the critique. The dog did read his handler, and knew exactly where to go. It didn’t need to look or turn its head, because it had already memorized the handler’s pre-cue. If it had turned its head and shoulders mid-jump it would have shortened and flattened the jump and a bar would have been knocked over for this tiny dog. A small dog needs to jump straight on and only after it has safely landed can it then turn its shoulder and gaze. Remember the dog is very short and turning the shoulders at such a great height (26”) and momentum causes flattening which can cause a knocked pole. The tight positioning was good and ready to go into the weave poles. Also just look and compare the other border collies. They way overtake that jump and truly go way out there into lala land and have to recover, whereas this border collie didn’t.

 

Frame 0:32 is an example of a good turn, the dog hugs the inside standard and is turning in the air to land facing the direction for the most efficient course path. I put this on in here as an example/comparison to the earlier ones I mentioned that weren't as good.

 

Frame 32: I agree exactly with what you said in that this is a perfect jump. Frame 26 is the only one that is not “perfect” but it was still decent. All other jumps I maintain are definitely “perfect” according to a ballerina’s eyes, lol!

 

Frame 0:34 this is basically a wrap over the jump back to the weaves, a place where you'd want to the dog collect, land short, and turn tight. Notice where he is taking off, in extension, from a distance back. He lands straight and has to turn on the ground. This adds another 5-6 feet to his yardage. Admittedly on this one (which was about the worst turn I saw on the course) the handler did not cue it very clealy as he's still facing forward with arm out when he sends the dog. His location behind the dog, deceleration, and a verbal send on however will cue most dogs that the next thing is a turn back, not keep going straight, so while the handler could have added a bit more help for the dog, the dog read even the cues that were given as continuing on straight ahead and did not pick up the turn until he was already in the air.

 

Uh, Diana, I'm thinking you accidentally wrote the wrong frame? On Frame 34, it’s a pull through between 2 parallel hurdles before the tunnel and it was beautifully executed with no weaves involved. The angle was soooo tight and once again the dazzling perfect parallel lineup between the bars, another Evel Knieval.

 

The only section where there might have been some slowness on the handler’s part that you referred to is way back on Frame 29 which we had already discussed when the handler might have blockaded the dog by a few fractions, but the dog just held close to the handler as if it were the sheep and went on through to the “next task at hand”…..all with lovely positioning and entry into those weave poles you mentioned about.

 

Folks, Diana has a perfectly legitimate, good eye. I just have the eye of someone who does ballet. That's the only "expertise" I have. So whoever looks at the video can see how someone like me might be so impressed and drawn to Rolfe's dog and why I might say one-in-a-million border collie.

 

Haha, guys, since it’s such a great relief to have people having some fun on the thread: I saw Geonni write up this.

Geonni’s response to G. Festerling’s comment:

G. Festerling, on 09 December 2011 - 03:06 PM, said:

That is almost as if to say that all Irish are great dog handlers.

 

What?!? You mean they AREN'T?

 

Ha! And don’t forget the Scots and the Welsh, and who says sheepherding can’t be just fun and games too, bwahaha! (evil grin). Since it’s nearing Christmas, it’s time to send up my absolute favorite Season’s Greetings too :D

 

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I read this last post of yours and the first paragraph alone contains so many wrong assumptions that it reinforces the feeling I have that you have gotten some ideas in your head, that are not backed-up by what is really the case, and you are running with them - it's what my DH would call "speculating", or making assumptions and building an entire scenario on them - like a house without a sound foundation, many of your arguments don't have a solid basis in fact.

 

While I'm not going to spend any time watching the videos, many of your descriptions of the dog running this course, remind me of a good hunter/jumper - an animal that is very well-suited and well-trained, who under the guidance of a good rider (handler), does a good job. The right animal, the right training, and right person - all come together to do a great course.

 

But I see no justification for breeding any Border Collie based on agility performance, and don't agree with any working Border Collie breeder who breeds their dogs to a dog that is outstanding in a performance venue and not proven itself on livestock. That's my opinion. Your mileage obviously is happening on another road entirely.

 

Thanks to all who have posted eloquent, knowledgeable replies. It's been worthwhile reading those.

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Hunter- in the arena- beautiful form over fences that fall down- perfect surface- needs perfect pace and stride.

 

 

Real hunter- runs with the hunt-and hounds-goes over solid obstacles at good hunting pace- terrain even- muddy- hard- hills.....

 

Dressage- Old school dressage was designed to fight on horseback with a sword. Something that now is never tested.

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Three-day- came from the military- the training of a war horse. I had two coaches that fought on horseback during the first ww. Their stories were different than the civilian trials that came later.

Horse trials- three day without the endurance phase- Dressage, x-c, staidium jumping

 

 

True three day- with the endurance phase during x-c horse and rider can cover ten to 15 miles at the upper levels. 1-2 in steeplechase, 5 or so in the x-c

the rest in roads and tracks. All the fences are solid, the terrain varied, the footing, varied.

 

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Other dog breeds that I have watched do true work.

 

I think these folks all have their own reg but I have not ever asked them.

 

 

 

Working Dachshunds/beagles- bred for going to earth and flushing rabbits for falconry

 

Hounds- I have seen the vanishing of the lion/bear hounds- These dogs track and tree cougars or black bear. Something I have needed in wildlife work. (These dogs are not too biddible. They work on their own.) Some of these dogs are incredible uncanny in their ability to scent. One dog the guy would put the dog on the hood of his jeep and slowly drive the old forest logging roads till his dog would cry. Then he'd stop and send him off. We could then follow. The loss of these dogs where I am is very sad. I hope that the hound men will keep them going. They are very useful in tracking wildlife, to help them.

 

Village type sled dogs- also not very biddible. They need to use alot of their own judgement. And in the old days were often turned loose to forage. fit, tough, hard old feet.

 

 

 

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What I am trying to say.....is if the work goes away so must the dog or horse

 

And for that matter the person who trains for this job.

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Dear Doggers,

Several have described a unique Border Collie “spark”. While I am not at all sure I’d keep dogs if not Border Collies, I don’t think that spark is unique; it pops and snaps in many, many dog breeds. That commonplace spark says something interesting about how we think about dogs and how dogs help create people.

 

My friend Vicki Hearne loved terriers, especially the Airedale. For Vicki, the quality of “gemeness” was paramount. I don’t think she ever saw a dog fight but I believe she always sort of wanted to. She expected and valued terrier resistance, trained with Bill Koehler (another hard dog man) and when Kep, the Border Collie pup I sold her said “What do you want?” instead of “prove it” Vicki thought Kep wasn’t morally serious.

 

Vicki was as personally mild as she was intellectually tough and how and why her dogs taught her the virtues of gameness, I don’t know. In her beautiful, irreplaceable essay “Oyez, a Beaumont” (Animal Happiness), Vicki writes “once, late one evening on a beach in Malibu, he (Gunner) took down a man who was attacking me with a knife. The vet had to patch Gunner up some, but he didn’t turn tail the way my assailant did. Brave Gunner. Hearken to Gunner. Twenty four hours later, bandaged, he clowned and told jokes for the kids at Juvenile Hall, performing for the annual Orange Empire Dog Club Christmas Party.”

 

Perhaps this is when Gunner’s gameness spark ignited Vicki.

 

I can guess when Border Collies started en-light-ening me.

 

When we moved to the farm forty years ago, somebody thought I should get a Border Collie pup. Not interested. Without ever seeing one I knew they were ratty little nervous dogs.

 

Maybe five years later a friend had a pet – Shy – who was. Hid whenever anyone visited.

 

Meantime, one fine fall day I bought 12 steers at the state graded steer and someone asked, “Did you give them their blackleg shots?”

 

“Huh?”

 

The only fence on the farm was the loading corral so I gathered twelve friends and two mini bikes and we spent an unpleasant, loud, cursing hour pushing those terrified, lathered animals into that pen whereupon they simultaneously sucked in breath and the pen exploded. The steers trotted to freedom. It occurred to me “There must be a better way of doing this.”

 

A neighbor gave us two granny sheep. One August, one’s bag swelled in an alarming fashion and I called the vet and he thought mastitis so I drove an hour into town for some infusers, tackled the ewe, pressed fluids into her bag and an hour later she presented us with twins. We were in the sheep business.

 

Sometime later I hadn’t bought a birthday present for my wife Anne. A friend was picking up a Border Collie pup at the State Fair so i said, “Get me one too.”

 

When Pip was maybe 8 months old, one morning he took off, ignoring my frantic commands, outran three hundred yards and brought 150 ewes to my feet.

 

Spark. But I didn’t know it then. I just wanted to learn how to train and use a farm dog. I attended some Jack Knox clinics and one afternoon, visiting New York, I was being pestered by a dweeb/drunk in a Greenwich Village saloon so I shouted “Ge Baack!” in my Imitate-Jack accent .Cured him but the bartender said, “Do that again Bub and you’re 86’d.”

 

Even though I’d written Nop’s Trials I didn’t know the spark had ignited and wouldn’t buy a second dog – writers are jackdaws and I didn’t want two dogs hanging around after I became fascinated with Robert Fulton and the Civil War or Hunkpapa Sioux hunting practices or Henry Clay Frick or whatever else caught my promiscuous fancy.

 

I did buy a second dog and more afterwards. They’d begun to change me.

 

I was a philosophical pragmatist who fed a commercial flock every winter day so the spark had tinder. But other sparks had tinder too and though I probably would never think gameness was an important virtue, I might have thought “birdiness” or “making the find” was.

 

As it happened, the Border Collie spark caught and has helped create a sheepdoggy geezer. Yesterday afternoon, when I picked up my wife at the hospital, there was a Border Collie behind the seat. We’d just been to a Tommy Wilson clinic.

 

Donald McCaig

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What I am trying to say.....is if the work goes away so must the dog or horse

 

And for that matter the person who trains for this job.

 

Tea, very poignant and painfully true..

 

As long as we're looking for a magical number of posts....I recently discovered a satellite channel dedicated to horse events...I was watching a show jumping contest last night, followed by a reining competition and it occurred to me that the Quarter Horse might have suffered a similar fate as is predicted for the "agility collie." I owned a Quarter Horse out of racing lines - she eventually ended up a show jumper. Though I never tested her, Skye was obviously not bred for any kind of "cow sense". For those members who own horses/ livestock - the top flight reining horses I saw last night...are they bred for "cow sense" or have other criteria topped the list of desired traits?

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Anyway, in the UK you will also get far more sheepherding folks involved with agility because distance traveled is much shorter, there are tons of opportunities for sheepherding folks and agility folks to interact amongst each other and to rub elbows and be “neighbors” and trade information.

 

I wouldn't exaggerate the number of people who both work their dogs and do agility here. I know some certainly but we don't really have a culture where many people play at hobby herding so although the opportunity for dual tasking is there, in practice it doesn't happen that often. We have a couple in our club at present but we are in a fairly major sheep area. People who seriously work their dogs are usually too busy to have unproductive hobbies. I haven't come across so much of the Us and Them mentality though.

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The only fence on the farm was the loading corral so I gathered twelve friends and two mini bikes and we spent an unpleasant, loud, cursing hour pushing those terrified, lathered animals into that pen whereupon they simultaneously sucked in breath and the pen exploded. The steers trotted to freedom. It occurred to me “There must be a better way of doing this.”

 

 

 

 

Thanks Donald, that made my day :D

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Tea - absolutely! The difference between a show hunter and a field hunter is enormous.

 

And talk about many breeds under one name - the American Quarter Horse. That original handy, can-do horse is now a plethora of horses. How many have cow sense? How many could do real ranch work?

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Tea - absolutely! The difference between a show hunter and a field hunter is enormous.

 

And talk about many breeds under one name - the American Quarter Horse. That original handy, can-do horse is now a plethora of horses. How many have cow sense? How many could do real ranch work?

 

(Great minds, Sue....:) See my question post #587)

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Hi Serena,

 

I believe you may have missed my question, posted just a little ways back in the thread. Just in case, here's a repost.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have a question that's been rattling around in my head, too, and it is specifically for the OP.

 

You said a few times, that you believe that this Agility breeding should only be done by the most elite of the elite "MACH Handlers", or whatever, and that anyone who isn't in the upper crust of this upper crust is "O-U-T".

 

Reference, Post 400 in this thread, Serena is quoted:

 

You only breed the very top agility champion lines and only!!! from handlers who've got decades of experience in teaching agility, training for agility, who've got real proven titles and ranks and only if they keep close friends and contacts with the sheepherding community. If anyone fall short they are O-U-T!!!!

 

 

I believe you said this a few other times, as well.

 

What I wonder is this: Who is supposed to ensure that only the absolute "best of the best of the best" - let's make it simple and say that's by your particular definition of who those people are - are actually breeding? Who, exactly is supposed to put them "out" if they do not meet this high elite standard?

 

Maybe you have said and I missed it, and if you have, a post reference would be fine.

 

And just to be clear - I am not asking this because I am in support of breeding of Border Collies for Agility. I am really interested in getting a better picture of where you, Serena, are coming from. I have never come across this exact mindset in Agility before.

 

I hope you will spare a few minutes to answer this question.

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Back on subject. Think of spatial movement. You take two Olympic runners in the speed race. Pretend they are equally fast but that one is very tall with long legs – 6’. The other is only 5’ tall. That 5’ tall runner is going to have to run twice as fast to cover as much grounds as the 6’ tall sprinter. So for Will Rolfe’s dog to win it’s truly amazing. The dog has extremely short legs and a very small stature compared to the other border collies, so he has to match the much taller border collies who indeed have the 26” stature.

 

It's rather an innaccurate comparison to draw between sprinting and Agility. The general rule is that longer legged dogs may cover the ground more quickly than a more compactly built one but its turns may not be as tight. Neither type is superior since some courses will suit one build, others the other, and most will fall somewhere in between. Experienced handlers will work to their dog's strengths to compensate for any weaknesses.

 

Here is a perfect example with split screen slo mo -

 

http://www.frequency.com/video/eo2010-lucy-ben-vs-dave-rocky-agility/12955774

 

If Lucy's dog had not missed its DW Dave's longer legged dog would have lost it on the last jump because he spent too much time in the air.

 

As for Will's dog, it's not particularly small. I don't know anything about its dam but I do know its sire is an ISDS working/agility dog. Most if not all of the litter are doing very well and a repeat mating looks to be following suit. However, you have to bear in mind that the pups have gone to handlers who are already successful.

 

This is where the myth that you will succeed best with a purpose bred dog comes from. Successful handlers are the ones most likely to acquire pups bred from "proven" Agility parents - it's just the circles they move in and it can be a rather lazy way of deciding where to get the next dog. They then do well with those dogs (as they probably would with any other dog from whatever source) and the fallacy is perpetuated.

 

There isn't anything magical about top handlers and dogs that are purpose bred for sport by them or anyone else and there isn't anything magical about dogs bred from working lines in terms of biddability for Agility. Don't put them on a pedestal - all dogs are individuals and there are no guarantees wherever they come from. (We have 2 herding failures that I know of in our club atm - I from a top trialler that has seizures if worked for long but with great Agility potential, the other a very nice pet dog with little drive, also from a top trialler.)

 

There's no such thing as an Agility superdog. I've seen top handlers succeed with dogs that looked unpromising initially and I've seen dogs with tremendous potential fail to live up to it in less experienced hands. Once dog and handler get to the top there's really not much to choose between them and others sharing the higher echelons of the sport.

 

Pam

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In several of my posts that I did delete, and some I posted over the years, I refer to things that have happened to other breeds and species.

The American Quarter Horse being one. Sure, if you want versatility, it is your go to breed. But you go to any AQHA show and watch the different disciplines and you might as well watch different breeds of horses. All bred by someone for a specific task. Which, for some, is fine I suppose. But years ago one of my charges was an AQHA World Champion Two Year Old Halter Stallion (when I met him he was already older than two). He was a fun horse. Big, gentle and very sweet to ride....as long as you didn't want to go anywhere that is! This horse was so big, muscle bound, no reach in his stride...it was almost pathetic. And I have yet, after 20 years in the business of horses, meet a halter horse that can do anything past pleasure at best. And I am talking a real halter horse. Not a horse someone plays halter with on the weekends at local open shows!

In the horses I am a snob. Just as I am with my dogs. Do whatever you want with your animal...but do not breed them but for the reason they where designed and that shaped them. And yes, the folks that know me know how I feel about halter horses!

But as long as there are people that have no grounding involvement with a breed, it boils down to individual preferences. How many times did I hear "I am not a good rider and still love horses, so I show halter!", "I am not interested in training and riding, so I show halter!". Of course, as long as those folks exist, there will be horses bred for them and that purpose! I can't go into more how I feel about that simply because there is not enough time.

 

My drug of choice are the reiners. I train. I do not breed. Main reason is that everything I would want is out there already! Designed and thought out along the lines of bred on the job - for the job - by the folks that do the job.

There are many arguments to be made for preservation of original purposes. Of course our society is changing. We will see less and less folks that truly use their dogs and more and more that love their dogs and are looking to find an alternate venue with them. So the downslide begins.

Years ago I fell in love with a German breed of dogs called the Harzer Fuchs. A herding breed that hardly exists anymore. Why? Because its jobs disappeared. The few that took it upon themselves to preserve the breed were very reluctant to let folks that where not in position to work them have them. They are not easy to find and most people have never heard of them.

 

And to go back to the "leftover" term from a while back. Even the best breeding that was designed to produce all working dogs - does not. Nature does not work that way. A few out of a litter may be supreme, others are not. They can fill any and all alternate positions. That does not mean that a sport person can not buy the supreme dog and use it for an alternate purpose. More power to them! But it does mean that breeding for an alternate purpose is not needed! It is already being done in a sense. My new boy has several littermates that qualified for Colorado this year. He is a far way from anything like that. Yet he is perfect for me and where I am at in my own personal herding training! And, by the way, I paid good fair money for him. And he is already trained to a level. And I love it! Not because some of it (as in ob and everyday stuff) I could not have done myself, but because it is different. It makes me think. Maybe even tweak some of my training. For the most part I don't bond well with older dogs and go for pups. But it is always good to keep an open mind. May miss something if you don't!

 

I don't always find the right words. So I hope this works a bit better.

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Serena, what is this supposed to mean?

 

... but the dog just held close to the handler as if it were the sheep and went on through to the “next task at hand”…

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Diana, thanks so much for writing. Hurray!!! ok. Here is my personal assessment as non-expert handler but a ballet person, lol!

Frame 23

Dog is in the outer white bar instead of the inner white bar, and dog does realize this and hence he used his border brains to lean wayyy and dangerously inward Evel Knieval motorcycle lean into the next jump, so he not only recovered the full time but also outsped a normal champion border collie by taking the next hurdle with the razor sharp directness. Also if you freeze frame, he did not lose 3’, he only lost half of his small body length.

 

 

Frame 29 is actually very solid. I’m confused about the critique. The dog did read his handler, and knew exactly where to go. It didn’t need to look or turn its head, because it had already memorized the handler’s pre-cue. If it had turned its head and shoulders mid-jump it would have shortened and flattened the jump and a bar would have been knocked over for this tiny dog. A small dog needs to jump straight on and only after it has safely landed can it then turn its shoulder and gaze. Remember the dog is very short and turning the shoulders at such a great height (26”) and momentum causes flattening which can cause a knocked pole.

 

 

 

Uh, Diana, I'm thinking you accidentally wrote the wrong frame? On Frame 34, it’s a pull through between 2 parallel hurdles before the tunnel and it was beautifully executed with no weaves involved. The angle was soooo tight and once again the dazzling perfect parallel lineup between the bars, another Evel Knieval.

 

Folks, Diana has a perfectly legitimate, good eye. I just have the eye of someone who does ballet. That's the only "expertise" I have. So whoever looks at the video can see how someone like me might be so impressed and drawn to Rolfe's dog and why I might say one-in-a-million border collie.

 

 

 

I was looking at time on the video, not frames, so maybe that's where our disconnect is. I re-watchted the video you attached to your reply and the turn to the weaves is indeed at 0:34 seconds of the video. Anyway, for time 0:23 you say:

 

"Dog is in the outer white bar instead of the inner white bar, and dog does realize this and hence he used his border brains to lean wayyy and dangerously inward Evel Knieval motorcycle lean into the next jump, so he not only recovered the full time but also outsped a normal champion border collie by taking the next hurdle with the razor sharp directness. Also if you freeze frame, he did not lose 3’, he only lost half of his small body length."

 

I'm basing my critique off of the statement that this dog is a 'one in a million' and an example of a dog who needs to be bred. So the fact that he made an obvious error and had to take a dangerous manuever to make up for it, and moreover that what he is doing is 'brilliant' because he's making up for an inadequate body size and legs that are too short - well that to me just doesn't scream 'breed' even if I agreed with breeding border collies for agility. For the distance he lost - a dog who collected a bit more and hugged the inside standard would actually land right at the jump standard closest to the next obstacle (the one on the right in this video). Now that looks like a 5 foot bar and it has five color stripes on it (alternating dark and light) and the dog clearly was positioned at the fourth stripe (so 4 ft from the right standard) as he went over. So that's where I'm seeing minimum 2-3 feet to make up even if he somehow managed to close some of that distance on the way to the ground.

 

Later you said "If it had turned its head and shoulders mid-jump it would have shortened and flattened the jump and a bar would have been knocked over for this tiny dog. A small dog needs to jump straight on and only after it has safely landed can it then turn its shoulder and gaze. Remember the dog is very short and turning the shoulders at such a great height (26”) and momentum causes flattening which can cause a knocked pole. "

 

This is where training comes into it. I have seen quite small dogs be able to wrap a 26" jump right around the standard. It's about adding more collection and jumping off the power from the rear to get maximum 'up' thrust vs 'outward' thrust. A dog with good body control, strength, and proper training can pull off that type of turn over a 26" jump without hitting the bar. So again, I'm not see 'one in a million must breed' - I'm seeing a dog taking a less than ideal path to make up for deficiencies in body type.

 

You also have to remember that size is not necessarily an advantage. It's an advantage in effor to jump to be bigger, but in effort to turn the smaller shorter-bodied dog will get a better time than the larger longer-strided dog, so on a course with a lot of turns (and a typical UK course has way more and tighter turns than even a typical US course) the smaller dog has an advantage. This is why so many people get upset when people enter a higher height than they're required to, because the smaller dog in the height class with the bigger dogs who have a harder time turning, will have the advantage. So this dog's smaller size is possibly giving him some advantage to make up for some degree of efficiency lost with how he has to handle the jumps.

 

You wrote: "Folks, Diana has a perfectly legitimate, good eye. I just have the eye of someone who does ballet. That's the only "expertise" I have. So whoever looks at the video can see how someone like me might be so impressed and drawn to Rolfe's dog and why I might say one-in-a-million border collie."

 

I've had quite a bit of experience in agility and teach it, so I'd take my eye over a ballerina eye any day . . . you really can't compare the two areas. I can easily see how this dog would impress someone with less knowledge. At a typical trial the flashy dogs who overruns his jumps and skids around turns as a result gets oohs and aahs from the crowd on how good he is, while the truly skilled dog who measured ever stride perfectly and makes it look smooth and 'no big deal' hardly draws attention.

 

I would say a large percentage of border collies would look amazing if properly trained and handled. Agility is more about handling/training than it is about the dog, once you get a dog with a certain basic package of skills. Which is why I see no reason to breed for agility. Stockwork on the other hand (and breeding for stockwork) is all about creating a better dog with regard to incredibly complex 'mental wiring' and absolutely something that must be bred for.

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Remember the dog is very short

 

Do you think you and Serena think the dog is small because you aren't used to seeing dogs of that size jumping 26in?

 

Looks nothing out of the ordinary sizewise to me.

 

Did you see my post about dogs being unused to the artificial surface at Crufts? Few UK handlers would expect their dog to turn as tightly as usual for fear of slipping and hurting themselves because most of the time they are competing on grass or equestrian surfaces. There's even a slight difference in grip on the outer darker green surface. It's not really fair to judge the quality of a dog from what you see at Crufts. I find it quite painful to watch. As I said earlier, I don't know this handler and dog but I've seen plenty at Crufts that I see regularly in normal competition and am well aware of the difference in performance, although it isn't as marked with those dogs that are regulars at Crufts. I don't think this one is.

 

But whilst I'm willing to give this dog the benefit of the doubt, no dog is "one in a million".

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Apologies to the list. The server isn't accepting Pam's PM's.

 

Dear Pam,

If you can mae prints of Pip (and my) first trial, I'd be grateful and glad to pay your costs. Donald

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