Five years ago, my dad and mom said "Maci...let's check out this competitive herding sport". What they didn't say was oh yes, we have to drive 6 hours to get to the trainer and facility to actually check out field dog herding sanctioned by United States Border Collie Handlers Association. Having grown up on a farm with cattle and agriculture, dogs were always a part of our world. But the best control we had on them for stock was "Shhh" get em up. Yep that was it. So off Mom (Peg), Dad (Jim) and I go. We had already spent the previous 6 months watching a "trainer" take our dogs to sheep in competition in small arenas, but we were told..owners don't handle. Well hello, we are do'ers not watchers. So that's what sent us 6 hours to our first lessons.
Well that first year was good, bad and down right ugly. What it did teach us was there are some amazing people in the sport who can help you navigate the journey. They will help you find a path that is right for you. We quickly found that that "trainer" is an interesting term. What constitutes a qualified trainer? I read a bio on a person once who listed every organization she was a member of along with list of events she had been a part of. Wow I colored myself impressed, until you delve into all it takes to be a member is to sign up, and all it takes to attend those events is to enter. We learned if you want to truly understand a sport start with the best...those that competive people seek for assistance. This is how we found our way to Idaho, to Patrick Shannahan and Dianne Deal and their "Novice Preparation Clinic". Little did we know how these two would help us grow.
We came home excited having taken the summer to attend Patrick Shannahan, Dianne Deal, Scott Glenn, Herbert Holmes clinics and realized we should share this new intraspective of herding with some friends in Arizona. "No fences...no Way!" So off to find a place to host a clinic big enough with fences. We found a five acre pasture fenced and imported Dianne Deal from Arizona. She came down with knowledge and a smile. Little did she realize she help start us all down a new path.