Monday, September 22, 2008

Whistle For a Cure SDT Report

Here's my version of the trial report: "It was a great day, everyone had fun, dogs ran, we raised a lot of money, and some dogs won." And now here's a GOOD version of a trial report, written by Julie Poudrier :)

Whistle for a Cure Sheepdog Trial: Ovines Against Ovarian Cancer
September 20, 2008

Although it wouldn’t officially be fall for two more days, a perfect fall morning greeted the handlers and spectators at the inaugural Whistle for a Cure SDT, Saturday, September 20, at Robin French’s Shoofly Farm in Oxford, NC. This trial was held as a benefit to help raise funds for ovarian cancer research. Joan Stout Knight, a two-year-plus cancer survivor and long-time sheepdog trialer in this area, and her team the Knightingales will be participating in the Gail Parkins Memorial Ovarian Cancer Awareness Walk this coming Saturday, September 27, and the local trialing folk thought that a novice and nursery trial would be a great way to raise money for Joan’s team and cancer research while doing what we all love to do. (See below for information on making donations.)

We used two separate flocks of dorper cross hair sheep for the trial. The home flock, whose sheep were a bit tougher to handle since they were on their home ground, was used for nursery and ranch, and Kate Caldwell’s flock, who didn’t have the advantage of knowing the “lay of the land,” so to speak, was used for P/N and N/N. The trial field was not large, but the hilly terrain, trees, two ponds, and rock outcroppings make it tricky to negotiate, especially with young dogs and wily sheep. The handler’s post was set at one end of the field under a walnut tree. From the handler’s post, the field slopes down to a dry, rocky streambed and then sharply uphill to the set out. In front of and to the handler’s right is the larger pond, with a dam that runs along the edge of the field through a wooded area. To the left is a smaller pond, more like a “watering hole,” hidden by the small dam that holds it (a couple of dogs found this pond the hard way!). Beyond the ponds and streambed, the field climbs sharply and begins to roll, giving the sheep an advantage in trying to get away from the dogs.

Dogs sent to the left could make a nice sweeping outrun, avoiding most of the terrain trickery, but something about sending left also causes many dogs to come in flat on top (which risked pushing sheep off sideways, and toward the pond, which was a strong draw). Dogs sent right had to cut in toward the center of the field to avoid the edge of the pond and then kick back out on the other side to get around their sheep nicely. Most handlers took their chances on the dog being flat at the top and sent to the left, but a few brave souls sent right.

The course was set as a left hand drive. The drive away panels were set in front of a rock outcropping and to the left of the smaller pond. There was just enough space between panels and rock to make a tight turn, if handler and dog were sharp. The small pond near the drive away panels was an additional obstacle that added another layer of complexity to that leg of the drive. On the cross drive, the sheep were first drawn downhill toward the small pond, which required a quick flank in order to get the sheep back online before the pond interfered. Just past the cross drive panel, the field sloped off, and handlers had to be quick to flank the dog around before losing sight of the sheep over the hill (if this happened it usually meant that the sheep were heading for the big pond, but all of that action took place out of sight of the handler). Sheep that went over the hill were considered off course if the teams couldn’t get them back in sight within ten seconds or so. The return leg of the drive brought the sheep down over a set of small rock retaining walls and through the gully at the edge of the pond and back up to the pen. Again, the sheep could go out of sight as they hit that gully, where they tended to lean toward the pond, often reappearing offline to the left of the pen. Handlers who successfully negotiated the drive generally managed to pen fairly well.

Nursery ran first, with three sheep, one ewe and two lambs. Five of the nine nursery dogs ended up retiring, for a number of reasons, most having to do with the sheep or the terrain just getting the better of the young dogs. Anet Haithcox’s Dod and Laura Carson’s Nick both handled the sheep and course well, with scores of 62 and 64, respectively, to be the day’s nursery qualifiers. The ranch class ended with just two dogs posting scores. Tony Luper and Blurr won the class. Joan Knight’s Brook, running noncompete, posted the high score of the class with a 67.

A couple of demonstrations before lunch were provided as an educational treat for the spectators, some of whom had never seen a sheepdog trial. Denise Wall and Mick and Julie Poudrier and Twist each demonstrated a double lift using Robin’s flock of production dorset cross sheep, with Joan Knight narrating for the crowd at one end of the spectator area and Becca Shouse doing the honors on the other end. The first outrun was to the right and was blind for the dog and nearly blind for the handler because of the trees in the upper part of the pasture. The dog had to run out across the dam through the woods and then kick out around the edge of the pasture to come up behind the first set of sheep. At this point, the handler could not see the dog and could just barely see the sheep, so it was a real test of the dog’s ability to find the sheep and bring them on the first part of the fetch on its own. The first set was dropped at the streambed between the ponds and the dog was sent back to the left to gather the second group. By the time the second group came down the field, the first group had drifted up near the handler’s post. Both groups were put back together, put around the drive, and then penned. After penning, the handlers were required to split the group in two. The second demonstration consisted of getting six border cheviot spring lambs off a trailer (these lambs were being delivered to Robin by one of the trial competitors), working them as one would to dog break sheep, and ultimately penning them. Denise Wall and Mick did a fine job of showing what a well-trained and talented dog can do with non-dogged sheep, and their pen was a real crowd pleaser.

The food concession at the trial, the Border Collie Bistro, was also part of our fundraising efforts, and we tried to provide excellent food to encourage good donations. The breakfast menu consisted of Kate Caldwell’s world-famous gingerbread with blueberries, as well as crumb cake muffins, banana nut bread, and fruit, along with coffee, of course. Lunch’s pork barbecue was homemade by Joan’s husband, Jim Knight, and marinated chicken breasts were grilled by Kate Caldwell and Art Beverage. Sides included Bonnie French’s homemade slaw and Kate’s potato salad and beans, as well as chips, and Rachel Brassine’s homemade cookies and brownies for dessert. True to form, the crowd ate well and we managed to raise about as much money for the food as we did in entry fees!

After lunch, we switched to Kate’s flock and ran five sheep for P/N and four sheep for N/N. The left hand drive or wear was shortened for these classes, with the turn back to the pen in front of the small pond. Kate’s flock was much more cooperative around the course, though they proved a bit more challenging to pen than the morning’s sheep. We had a number of good runs in both classes. Laura Carson and Nick again took first in P/N with a score of 75, followed by Julie Poudrier and Pip with a score of 69. Becca Shouse and Ted were first in N/N with a 65 and Caroline Reichard and Jim second with a 46. At the end of the day, we had time for some fun runs, so anyone who wanted another try at the course had a chance to work out some of the problems they encountered earlier in the day.

Of course, without all the volunteer help, this trial could not have been a success. Robin worked tirelessly to make sure the field was in good shape for the trial, and several work weekends saw a number of folks going out to build the set out pens, paint panels, cut down trees and tree limbs and haul branches to the burn pile, and generally help spruce up the place. Thank you to Julie Poudrier, Laura Carson, Colin Campbell, Tony Luper, Becca and Patrick Shouse and PJ and Joey, and Lauren Seabolt and Joan Knight. Tony Luper judged the nursery class, and Dean Holcomb judged the remainder of the trial. Julie Poudrier, Laura Carson, and Tony Luper did set out, with help sorting in the pens and pushing out from Colin Campbell and Rachel Brassine. Lauren Seabolt and Rachel Brassine clerked for the judges, and Joan Knight ran scores and posted them, as well as making and posting signs to get people to the trial. Kate Caldwell and Art Beverage planned and manned the food concession, with help from the other chefs, Jim Knight, Bonnie French, and Rachel Brassine. Denise Wall and Robin French exhausted sheep and helped gather up sheep that were lost on course during the runs. Sandy Gunter was “Girl Friday” on the day of the trial. Joan provided prizes of small “stuffed” lambs and dog treats from GourMutts Bakery in Raleigh, NC, as well as Gail Parkins Memorial Walk t-shirts to all volunteers. Carolina Portable Toilets donated the use of a porta-pot for the trial. Apologies to anyone we’ve forgotten to thank by name. There was so much help, it was hard to keep track of everyone!

Special thanks to all of those who sent in-spirit donations and entries. Together we raised in excess of $1800 for Joan’s team at the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Walk (not bad for a little novice trial!). If anyone would still like to donate to the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Walk, you can do it online at . Select Joan's team name (Joan's Knightingales) from the list to give us credit. The walk is next Saturday, September 27th, so there's still time to donate.

Here are the complete results, along with our in-spirit entries. Thanks again to everyone for supporting such a worthy cause!

Whistle for a Cure SDT - Results

Laura Carson and Nick 64
Anet Haithcox and Dod 62
Dean Holcomb and Jill 54
Denise Wall and May 34
Anet Haithcox and Flow RET
Anet Haithcox and Gin RET
Dean Holcomb and Mac RET
Julie Poudrier and Phoebe RET
Julie Poudrier and Pip RET

Peggy Wilkinson and Liz
Laura Hicks and Kat

Tony Luper and Blurr 60
Colin Campbell and Brynn RET
Kay Sander and Dutch RET

Joan Knight and Brook 67
Colin Campbell and Scout DQ

Becca Shouse and Ben
Lauren Seabolt and Faith
Lauren Seabolt and Chad

Laura Carson and Nick 75
Julie Poudrier and Pip 69
Lauren Seabolt and Mac 68
Denise Wall and May 56
Kate Caldwell and Sam 54
Kay Sander and Scout 47
Robin French and Nan 45
(Mary Ann Hannan)
Julie Poudrier and Phoebe 39
Lauren Seabolt and Ghyll 37
Kay Sander and Blue 7
Dudley Fontaine and Sweet RET

Dudley Fontaine and Sweet RET

Amanda Winecoff and Grace
Karen Thompson and Tim
Amanda Winecoff and Scott
Karen Thompson and Emmy
Kimberly Esterman and Sophie

Becca Shouse and Ted 65
Caroline Reichard and Jim 46
Kate Caldwell and Rose 28
Patrick Shouse and Gus DQ

Rebecca Dnistran and Snickers
Elizabeth Ampleford and Wisp
Paula Smith and Jack
Mary Luper and Roxanne
Kate DeGiule

Open In-Spirit Entries
Dan King and Fann
Dan King and Jig
Richard Rogers and Roo
Sue and Alice Barrow Rayburn & Celt, Megan, and Bute (brace)
Mark and Renee Billadeau
Laura Hicks and Zac
Tom Forrester and Bud
Linda Tesdahl
Laura Hicks and Nell
Christine and David Henry and Holly
Carol Campion and Whiterose Kep
Joan Stout Knight and Rip
Sherry Smith
Carolyn Crocker


Anonymous said...

It was fantastic, and I am SOOOOOO grateful to everyone who helped in any way, and to each person who donated. Thank you!!!!!

Even though I am a survivor, I still have cancer. So we have to keep working for a better way to diagnose and treat ovarian cancer.

Please go to and read the symptoms of ovarian cancer. It's sneaky. The symptoms are simple things such as bloating. Most women (including me) diagnosed with ovarian cancer are already in stage III-C, out of 4 stages. Please learn the symptoms. A Pap smear won't find ovarian cancer.

Thanks again to everyone!


Rachel said...

You are an amazing woman Joan!

Trial was great all around...good food, good company, raising money for a good cause.


Robin French said...

I'll second that one Rachel - Joan is amazing and an inspiration to me! :-)

Anonymous said...

Well, that's what makes a good friendship, I guess. We inspire each other, in different ways. :-)