14th Annual Sheep Dog Trials

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State Sheep Dog Trials Held at Fosterfields

Photos By Joe Gigli

Morris Twp. - Although a light, cool mist fell from gray skies, the 14th annual Labor Day Weekend Sheep Dog Trials went on as scheduled at Fosterfield's Living Historical Farm. It was the New Jersey State Sheep Dog Trials to be exact which served as the qualifying event for the Northeast Border Collie Association (NBCA) and the U.S. Border Collie Handlers Association. (top right and above left) Sam Furman, of Richmond VA. with her dog "Todd" in the Pro/Novice event. (right) The sheep crew Alex Mundy, of Kingwood;  Robbin McKnight, of Point Pleasent; and Wally Dury, of Parsippany; hard at work, getting the sheep ready for the next event.

A Weekend for the Dogs

By Jeanne Gigli

MORRIS TWP. Although a light, cool mist fell from gray skies, the 14th annual Labor Day Weekend Sheep Dog Trials went on as scheduled at Fosterfield's Living

Photos By Joe Gigli

Historical Farm. It was the New Jersey State Sheep Dog Trials to be exact which served as the qualifying event for the Northeast Border Collie Association (NBCA) and the U.S. Border Collie Handlers Association.

 The top 10 winners earned points towards the NBCA championship and the top 20 percent of the competitors are eligible to compete in the 2003 National Finals that will take place at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon, Tenn. in November.

(top) Judge Tom Lacy, of Richmond Va., has a chance to show his skills after the competition. (above middle) Ellen Skillings, of Calran Mass. in the Pro/novice Class with her dog "Jute". (above) "Paige" a 2 year old border collie runs the course, as (right) her handler Sally Molloy, whistles the calls in the rain.

 It's always exciting to witness an animal doing what mother nature intended it to do, just as these dogs did this weekend. Border Collies are intelligent, obedient, eager to please, easily trained and have a strong natural instinct to herd.

 At most trials, the dogs must herd the sheep through a course and ultimately into a gated pen, obeying the voice or whistle commands of its trainer. A judge watches each dog's

performance and deducts points for any deviation from the ideal perfect run. Each segment of the run carries a specific number of points. As mistakes are made, points are deducted from that segment's

allotted amount. In no case can a dog lose more than that segment's number of points for a given segment.

 A sheep dog trial is the ultimate test of a Border Collie and its training. The first recorded event was at Bala in North Wales in 1873. Since then, that first trial has evolved into a standard and set of rules that are upheld worldwide. There are six segments to each run, each worth between 10 and 30 points if done perfectly, equaling 100 points for the perfect score. Ribbons and cash prizes were awarded to the top 10 finishers for each of the three days.

  This writer's two children are such animal lovers that they wanted to pet and cuddle every one of the dogs. They ended up at one of the holding areas, feeding the sheep hay instead; almost like being at a petting zoo!

(above left) Melanie Chang, of Philadelphia; with her dog "Fly" who finished second in the Novice/ Novice Class. (right) Eric Johnson, of New Lebanon, NY, readies the gate to end the run. (below) "Jute" runs the course as he takes commands from his handler Ellen Skillings, of Calran, Mass.

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