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muggs

Nosey question for the sheep trial people here

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Am I being too nosey? After reading on these boards for a few months now, I would love to know what got different people into herding trials. I appologize if the question has been posed before. I love reading about people's experiences at the trials (such as Denise's account of the Bluegrass trial), and would love to hear what got everyone into it. It definitely makes someone with no experience like myself want to save up a few dollars and pay for lessons one day.

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Muggs, you're not being nosey. Here's my story. I started with a Border Collie puppy I purchased as a pet. The breeders of my pup were going to be at a dog trial and said that I should go watch, so I did. It was Hubert Bailey's U.S. Open Stock Dog Championships in GA and once witnessing these amazing dogs at work, I knew I had to try it. I found an Aussie person to take lessons with and later started going to monthly clinics with Hubert Bailey and Nancy Schreeder. That first pup was not well bred and could not take training pressure, so having the desire to succeed, I decided to buy a well bred puppy from working lines (Rook). Then, not wanting to wait years before I could compete at a trial, I bought a trained bitch. She was a super dog for me to start with, easy to handle, not a "law breaker" and took me from Novice to Open in two years. Once in Open, though, her lack of power showed more and more so I sold her. I have since been through many more dogs. I moved from GA to VA in order to be where the competition is the toughest and so I can gain experience among some of the best handlers in the nation. I bought a farm and sheep for my dogs and as they say, the rest is history. My only regret is that I wish I had discovered this passion a lot sooner! Not only because of the companionship with my dogs, but also how blessed I feel to have met so many wonderful and caring people.

 

I have a question. It seems to me that a lot of handlers that are doing well with their dogs have past experience riding horses. Marianna is a perfect example! She excelled in the hunter/jumper ring when she was younger and is now an up and coming dog handler. Perhaps that human/animal bond is a benefit? Who else out there used to show horses?

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Our Story......

 

When Renee and I were engaged we started talking about what breed of dog we'd like to get (we both wanted a dog as soon as we were married). We wanted an active breed but not one as large as a lab. We talked about Springers (too hyper for Renee), English Cockers (breeder would sell to an apartment dweller), and Border Collies. Come to find out the dog my family had while I was growing up was not the Collie mix my mother was told but a Border Collie mix.

 

We settled upon Border Collies and once married started asking around for a source of pups. We were at Purdue U and there was someone else in my department who gave me a list of breeders to call. Of course Mike Neary was on the list. He wouldn't sell to a pet home but he did give me Bruce Fogt's number. Bruce told me about litters that George Conboy and Dick Bruner had. We choose one from Dick's litter and brought Duncan home when he was 6 weeks old in the fall of 1993. The next spring Dick was doing a demo for Mother's Day in Lafayette (with Duncan's sire and others from his line) and we took Duncan and he agreed to expose him; Duncan did show signs of turning on.

 

My Post-Doc ended in the spring of 1994 and I took the position I have now. We had been taking Duncan through obedience classes in IN and continued a few in MD but Duncan soon bored with it and our thoughts of competing in obedience faded. Not long after we were in MD we started learning about agility and decided to try it. Duncan loved it. We took classes which led to competing and Duncan's U-ACH (UKC) and one leg towards U-ACHX.

 

While we were running agility Renee and I bought our first house (1/2 acre). My commute took me past a farm where Border Collies were used to work sheep and sheep time was available. One day I just couldn't take it any more and I stopped to talk to Nancy Starkey. She told me of a Cheryl Jagger-Williams herding clinic at Mary Brighoff's farm and suggested I attend. I tried, but the clinic got canceled. I then started harassing Mary to give me lessons (harassing since the weather kept forcing cancellations). Eventually we did get lessons and I got hooked. Duncan proved to be VERY hard headed (true to his lines which Mary knew of and was worried about) and eventually proved too much for me. However, I was infected with the herding bug and my desire to do agility was quickly fading. During this time Renee got Starr (from Cheryl) and had been working with her in agility. Starr loved agility. One day while I was working with Duncan and Renee had Starr in the car, Starr turned on; she started howling and staring at the sheep. This was Renee's cue to start Starr. Renee was still torn between agility and herding; one day while we were at a place with agility equipment and sheep Starr jumped off the dog-walk to run to the sheep. The was Renee's cue that Starr had chosen sheep over agility.

 

Now with both Renee and I committed to herding we started spending more time at Mary's helping with chores, getting lessons, farm sitting, and dog sitting June (retired open dog) while Mary was on the road. June was getting into good shape playing with Starr and Mary suggested that I take June out to work and to learn from her. I did work June and learned a lot and even competed a few times until her heart condition caught up with her. Mary had an open dog that Renee loved to visit with while we were at Mary's farm. When Mary mentioned that she was thinking of selling Moss, Renee protested and ended up buying Moss.

 

It was during this time that Renee and I started talking about wouldn't it be great if my stock options become valuable enough so we could sell our house and buy a small farm. One day Mary said she was thinking about downsizing from her current farm and would we like to split some property with her. This allowed us to get some property earlier than expected. Thus "Pipedream Farm" was born.

 

Now we have more dogs :eek: , sheep, too little land :rolleyes: , and are addicted for life to herding when neither Renee nor I had livestock (or horse) experience growing up.

 

Mark

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Mary Brighoff did a lot of stuff with horses before getting into dogs.

 

Sam: TODD(My babies back!)

I'm happy for you, we were looking out for you.

 

Mark

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In case you all don't know the old saying....

 

 

"Old horse people don't die- they just go to the dogs"

 

And yes, I was a horse person before dog (was on the show jumping and three day event circuits).

 

Julie

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Originally posted by kelpiegirl:

"Old horse people don't die- they just go to the dogs"

Ain't this the truth! I did the equitation circuit as a junior and then went on to hunter/jumpers. I do miss the horses terribly, but not the expense to keep them!

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Muggs,

I had a border collie mix as a pet and jogging partner. He's 12 now. I also had some great neighbors with dogs and so we basically had a doggy play group. When I decided to move from Virginia to North Carolina, I thought I'd get Indy a buddy and me a new jogging partner (Indy was a big spastic for jogging--knocked me over too many times, always at random moments). So I contacted border collie rescue and got Willow.

 

Once I moved, I got a new vet, who happened to have a widowed client whose recently deceased husband had left behind a border collie that she wanted to find a home for. I got myself talked into Farleigh.

 

I was talking with the rescue I had gotten Willow from and mentioned that the farmer who had owned Farleigh had used him some to chase the geese out of his crops and back onto the ponds. The rescuer than suggested I take my dogs to a trainer who lived about an hour from me. I screwed up my courage, made that cold call (August 2000), and found out that Willow had some aptitude. I started trialing her in the novice classes, and the trainer gave me another novice dog, Boy.

 

I started going to trials and watching dogs and when I found out about a planned litter between two dogs I liked, I asked to be put on the list. That's how I got Twist.

 

Willow showed early promise, but after a non-trial related incident, she just sort of quit. Boy was a novice dog who would never go to open. Both dogs were rather quirky and taught me a lot about handling (in other words, I had to work hard at the success I had with them).

 

But by then Twist was ready to start, and so I started her. I got help from Sam, and Sam ended up giving me her retired Jill to learn from. Getting Jill helped my whistling ability tremendously and gave me confidence to get out there since at least I knew she could make it around an open course.

 

Twist ran in novice in a couple of trials and then moved to P/N. I ran Jill in P/N a few times, then ranch. Then Jill got hurt, and I was down to just Twist again.

 

After Jill recovered from her hip injury, my vet and I discovered she also had a partial cruciate tear. At the time, the vet was pessimistic that Jill would ever trial again. So there I was with six dogs and one I could trial.

 

Then I found Kat (well, Sam was keeping her at the time), who was entirely different from Twist and available for a decent price because she didn't shed well. She became dog number seven. I worked at rehabbing Jill and by the following March, she was cleared to start trialing again. So I moved her up to open fairly quickly after that. This was last spring.

 

I moved Twist to open last August and will move Kat up this August.

 

So for me, it all started with a rescue dog (or two).

 

Incididentally, my family was raised where it was specifically so that my mom could keep her horses. We were basically raised on horseback (against her doctor's advice, mom continued to ride during all of her pregnancies). We all pony clubbed, did hunter/jumper showing, and later I showed dressage. There are quite a few women in dog trialing who have a long horse history behind them.

 

J.

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This is great - thanks so much for sharing! So you can get into training without a background in livestock. I'm definitely going to be a (quiet) spectator at a trial one of these days soon.

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Muggs,

You should come to Ben Ousley's in Lawndale, NC, Memorial Day weekend. You will see most of the handlers from these boards and many other good ones. It's a great trial!

 

J.

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Where do you live Muggs? There is a really great trial next weekend in Lawndale, NC. You should try to come for the day.

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Hey Muggs...

 

Hmmm... I used to "ride" horses, too... the last time I was on a horse, the saddle wasn't cinched down right, and as I was trying to remember how to post, the saddle slipped loose and I fell off, but I had 1970's style boots on and my foot was stuck in the stirrup, so I was dragged way too far across the pasture before it finally came loose. Needles to say, the young lady I was trying to impress with my equestrian skills never agreed to go out with me.

 

Fast forward 30 years, I was doing agility and "herding" with our first Border Collie, Mick. We were bringing home ribbons in agility, not doing *@**#&& on sheep. Was at a friend's place one day working his sheep, told him I was thinking about blowing off stock work to focus on agility. The East Tennessee Farm Boy asked me how old Mick was and many times he had seen sheep. I though a second and said, "He's three and maybe he's been on sheep forty or fifty times." The reply was simple -- "Heck, you've got two months worth of training on a three year old dog. Y'all are doin' great!"

 

That was the end of agility!

 

Don't know where you are in Nawth Karlina, but there's a sheep & cattle trial in Rutherfordton this weekend and the North Carolina State Championship Trial next weekend near Lawndale. Would be a good opportunity to see what these dogs can really do!

 

Other trial dates and detailes can be found here -- http://www.usbcha.com/upcomingtrials.htm

 

CCnNC

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No, I'm not a good handler at all (there may be mitigating circumstances there, however), and I was into horses when I was growing up. I worked at a racetrack walking hots and did trail riding and horseback vaulting. I didn't have horses, however, maybe that's the difference. Horses ARE expensive!

 

I grew up in the city but dreamed of a sheep farm in my ancestral stomping grounds - or at least my immediate relatives' stomping grounds in Montana. When I moved out here I revised my 2000 head dream flock down to something we could run on the 15 acres we had just purchased, but I always imagined, from reading Scottish books, that we'd have a farm dog to help out. What I didn't know was that a "collie" was not a Lassie collie!

 

Fortunately, before I made that mistake, my husband got a job working for a lady who had "border collies." (Angela Wessel, for those of you in the VBCA) She did a bit of trialing with them and brought a tape. I was hooked.

 

That was about 12 years ago. We took a few more years to get sheep on our farm, but meanwhile I had acquired a purebred border collie and had gone to a clinic, at Steve's. If it weren't for Steve I'd probably never have kept up with the higher levels of training, remaining happy with a dog with a great outrun and balance and absolutely nothing else, suitable for the bare minimum of farm work. I started going to the USBCC clinics with Jack Knox a couple years later, and he taught me that it wasn't magic that only stockmen could tap into, that there was some logic to his (and Steve's) approach. From then on, my training consisted of maybe once every other month lessons with Steve and twice yearly clinics with Jack, who would TELL me what Steve had been trying to SHOW me for six months, and I'd make a little progress.

 

I haven't competed in a trial in probably nine months - I think the Novice Championship at Wayne Parker's was my last trial. But the trials are important to keep you honest, stretch your ideals, improve your level of stockmanship and show your dog's weaknesses, not to mention hang out with people with a common interest in these great dogs! So I go watch Open trials and try to learn, until the time comes when I can get out there again.

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Colin, your story about using your equestrian skills to try to impress that girl was hilarious! And I can visualize that scene very well. :D

 

Mark, maybe I should contact the USPS? Rook could be their BQ model. :rolleyes:

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Originally posted by juliepoudrier:

Muggs,

You should come to Ben Ousley's in Lawndale, NC, Memorial Day weekend. You will see most of the handlers from these boards and many other good ones. It's a great trial!

 

J.

Hey Julie, does that mean the handlers on these boards AREN'T good!!???

 

Well, may apply to me, but.....

 

CCnNC

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I'm in the Raleigh area. Just looked up Lawndale to see where it is located - not too far from Charlotte, huh? I'm seriously going to see if I can make it! What is the best way to get information about a trial - start time general directions. I opened the link, CCnNC. Would emailing the person on the link be the best way? If I can swing it, you'll recognize me as the person looking totally lost. :rolleyes:

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Colin,

LOL! I originally had written the great handlers from these boards, but then thought about myself competing and didn't want to come off as quite so self-aggrandizing! :rolleyes:

 

Anyway, "other good ones" implies that the ones on the board are good too, at least most of them!

 

P.S. I love your horse story. I too have a great mental picture going....

 

J.

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I find a lot of the people that trial have had something to do with horses at one time.

I am no exception.

I was a horse nut from the day I could crawl I think. I rode and showed hunter-jumpers on the junior circuit in California while I was growing up.

I somehow managed to talk my parents into letting me take my horse to college with me. Big mistake. I ended up working for a professional trainer in LA and spent several years as assistant trainer for this big hunter-jumper barn.

I grew tired of the rat-race of the show circuit--and moved up to the Santa Barbara area where I worked for a Thoroughbred farm. I broke and galloped yearlings for the racetrack as well as sale-prepping and handling them at the sales at Hollywood Park and other tracks in So. Cal.

Those days I remember with real fondness---experiences of a lifetime. Broke some nice horses too! One won the Hollywood Gold cup and beat John Henry!

I eventually burned out--and moved up to the Pacific Northwest. I lived on a horse farm --Bought and sold livestock for awhile--until I had to get a real job. Ended up becoming a meat cutter at a local supermarket.

I still have that job today--counting the years to retirement, when I can devote my time to training dogs and trialling.

I had always been around stock dogs and such--and after trading a horse (yes) for a border collie pet, I became interested in herding. I found a fellow in the area that trained working stockdogs. He and I, as it turns out, had both been in the horse business near each other in Calif. and had somehow ended up in the same town here in Wa. I mentored under him for many years.

I got a dog that I could trial with--took him from novice-novice to Open.

I bought sheep--and still keep them at a fancy bed and breakfast that has some pasture, as well as at home.

For the last 10 years, I have had a wonderful dog that I bought in Scotland while visiting there from Johnny Wilson as a pup. I ran ol' Bill in Open and he did well for me. Highlight for me with him was running in the National Finals when they were out here in the West at Klamath Falls a few years back. I retired him last year.

I have some young dogs coming up, but my job puts a lot of constraint on just how much I really can do. Can you say no weekends for 25 years. Tough to find the time to trial. When I can retire--here I come!!

Hopefully the dogs I have now will just be reaching there prime when that happens.

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muggs, the e-mail listed there doesn't work - best thing is to call the number - I believe it's the vet office and they have no problem giving driections. Dr. Ben's was the first trial I ever attended!! I'd give you directions myself but I have no idea what the best way is from the Triangle. I come from the Winston area and I go almost to Hickory on I-40 and then take 3something, 10, and then 18 to Stagecoach Trail.

 

The address of the farm is 1316 West Stagecoach Trail if you want to Mapquest it. Or anyone else, for that matter!

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Muggs said "If I can swing it, you'll recognize me as the person looking totally lost."

 

Then you'll look just like me! Dr. Ben's field has always been a REAL challenge!

 

I'll be going out Friday, so I'm going the "back way" so I'll miss Charlotte traffic on the first day of the holiday weekend.

 

Sunday would be the best day, especially if you can stay for the Double Lift Champion runs late in the afternoon. There are Open -- top class -- runs Saturday and Sunday, top scoring teams do the double lift -- aka International Shed -- to determine the overall winner.

 

Here's the easy way...

 

I85 to US74 south of Charlotte...

 

US 74 to Shelby, NC...

 

NC 18 north to Fallston...

 

Left on NC 182 in Fallston...

 

go thru Lawndale, Dr. Ben's farm is on the right a mile or two west of Lawndale, this ole brain doesn't remember the landmarks, seems that you pass a convenience store on the right, then there's a right curve to the road, the entrance is just after that on the right... if you miss the turn, there's a four-way intersection just past the driveway, make a U and come on in!

 

If you want to bring your dog, that's fine, but there's a couple of unwritten rules -- no barking and your dog should be on a lead. Sheepdog trials are one of -- if not the ONLY -- canine event where you never hear dogs barking.

 

BTW, there's a bunch of us from the Triangle area, just ask around.

 

Hope to see ya!

 

Colin

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Great, all of you going to that trial can plan the Boards get-together then, especially since Colin will be there...does he know it's at his house? :rolleyes:

 

Oh, and swing by the agility trial on your way home and let me know all the details!!!

 

-Laura

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Bonnie,

I wanted to do what you did when I was little!

 

I was very into horses as well, competing in hunter/jumper from when I could barely reach the stirrups up through college. Never had my own horse, always traded work for ride time...and loved the work as much as the riding. When I graduated from college, I leased a horse for a bit, then the money crunch forced me to switch to dogs. There's a LOT of agility handlers out there who got their start in horses and are applying some of the same jump-training techniques to their agility dogs.

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Originally posted by rtphokie:

There's a LOT of agility handlers out there who got their start in horses and are applying some of the same jump-training techniques to their agility dogs.

This might explain why I am such a crappy handler then! I wasn't horsey as a kid - I wanted to be, but we were poor.

 

Of course, I do have two Masters level dogs so I guess I'm not completely terrible, but now I see the disadvantage I'm at ... all because mumsie wouldn't give me horse lessons! Drat.

 

 

Oh and Muggs, I have competed in a grand total of 2 herding "fun" trials. We DQ'd for gripping at the last panels in one, and by sheer coincidence of sheep flying through obstacles while Piper ran about in a mad panic we placed 4th or 5th in the other. Needless to say, my lack of horsie background has not done much for my herding handling skills either, obviously.

 

But I still live in the city, apartment style, and have no plans to go country in the near future. And I've been working my dogs on stock for probably 3 years or so now. I blame the strong urban influences on my lifestyle.

 

RDM

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