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Donald McCaig

The Draw

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Dear Fellow Sheepdoggers,

 

There are more reasons to not host a sheepdog trial than host one. Not enough sheep, no suitable trial field, no parking, too much preparation, too much out of pocket expense.

 

Fortunately, hosting does lessen the soul's time in purgatory and/or insures that on the next cycle of the cosmic wheel one won't reincarnate as a wool maggot or hedge fund manager.

 

But the very success of sheepdog trialing leads to almost universal overbooking. (viz:Bluegrass, Dave Fetterman's trial etc, etc.).

 

The host has several available strategies to accept more handlers: he/she may shorten the course, cut the time or extend the number of days (viz: Kingston, Bluegrass).

 

There are disadvantages to each of the strategies and none of them are sustainable if the number of competitors continues to rise faster than available trials.

 

The only present solutions to overbooking are (a) run to a standard or (B) the draw. Both have their problems. Some handlers will travel hours to a trial with a dog that may slice his outrun, push them off the top and circle the drive but, the dog is a brilliant shedder and that shed is the handler's main reason for entering. Many handlers plan to travel together with their dogs but what if one gets in and the other doesn't? Often the draw is held so late the excluded handler can't enter his second choice trials on the desired weekend.

 

I am seeing new trials but we need more of them and we need to encourage more people to become hosts. The HA could reward trial hosts and encourage new hosts with a guideline that those who've hosted HA trials in the previous 12 months would jump the queue if there's a draw.

 

Donald McCaig

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Thanks for info Sheepdogging Geezer

 

Pete and I plan on hosting a trial.

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Is there a way to organize financial assistance, so at least that barrier might be reduced? If USBCHA or local groups had funds that could assist with upfront costs, it might improve matters. Could even be repayable after the trial -- effectively an interest-free loan.

 

Looking forward to hearing more about your trial, Tea!

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The reason I am doing a trial is because the many friends I have that put on trials, figure everyone must help in this. I am getting a friend who is, er, a big hat? To set course. And hopefully to judge, but he wants to run in it.


We are using our land which is open range country with some big hills.

 

And range sheep.

 

I have been so touched and honored that many friends have offered to help. How can I not do this?

 

We need it, the dogs need it.

 

It is beautiful

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Thank you very much for encouragement.

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Dear Mr. Kling,

The ABCA does offer grants for trials - especially, I'd guess, new ones. And, if you do all the prep work yourelf or with volunteers, upfront costs for a no frills trial shouldn't be prohibitive unless you must pay venue or sheep rent before the entry checks come in. Entry fees for a no payback trial should cover your out-of-pocket costs but costs vary tremendously from trial to trial. My sheep don't cost me - cash - a penny but my grocery bill (which a no frills trial wouldn't incur) is plenty.

 

My largest expense is preparing the field for the trial (endless clipping, fencing and weedeating) but since that comes under the "farmwork" category I don't figure it in.

 

The first trial is worrisome but it does get easier and you'll have plenty of helpful volunteers. Remember: all a sheepdog trial needs is enough sound sheep, a course that doesn't reward handlers by their place on the running order, good setout and a fair judge. Everything more is frills.

 

And everyone wants you to succeed.

 

Donald McCaig

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Tea, we hosted a one day trial for our first one. It allowed us to get our feet wet knowing that the entries would be lower (fewer people travel for just one day of trialing). We could focus on the field (set-out, exhaust, and course) and managing the whole concept of hosting a trial. We were not total novice hosts since we had helped our mentor prep and run large trials for several years, but this one was all on us.

 

One year we had a close call on a disaster of a trial. We wanted to try out a different field on our farm for a novice trial. We got the set-out pen up and then tried running courses with our open dogs. The sheep were not cooperative coming out of the set-out; they were doing everything they could to beat our open dogs to get back to the pen. Once on the field there was so much pull back to the set-out pen that our open dogs had difficulty keeping the sheep on what was to be the cross drive. This was one week before the trial and we had to scramble to move everything to another field for the trial. Personally, I see nothing wrong with testing (you and a few experienced trialers) what is to be a new trial field to see if there may be issues; use a different course but use the set-out (filled with sheep) and exhaust pen like you would during the trial. The pressures on the field will be different with a filled set-out pen, people and dogs in the spectator area, and sheep in the exhaust pen. It's better to expose major issues during a fun day than during the first day of a trial.

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Very good advice which I appreciate a lot. But we live so dang far out in the middle of no where I think it must be a two day trial. However, we can test the fields and hills in a variety of ways to see what will happen. I think the first trial is really just getting our feet wet. I am sure we will make errors, but I have some very seasoned friends who will offer sound advice, as you and the Geezer did. :)

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I also think that people will just want the challenge of your different fields and sheep and will do what they can to make it a success for you. Wish I lived out that way!

 

I like the idea of somehow rewarding trial hosts.

 

J.

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Julie, maybe we will have to find a way to get you out here!!!!

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