Monday, October 14, 2013


A tremendous amount of time and effort are required to produce a trial of this magnitude. THANK YOU to the committee, co-chairs Barbara Ray & Lori Cunningham, Michelle Dobbs, all the volunteers, the set out crew and every one who made this week at Belle Grove possible. While the extreme weather conditions made executing the National much more difficult, it appeared seamless to the handlers and we greatly appreciate the hard work. Thank you also to Susan Rhoades for offering the practice field.

Congratulations to Scot Glen & Don and all those in top placings.

Neither Alasdair nor I did well in the nursery. Alasdair ran Renee Newcomb's Skye and like many dogs, retired in the first run. Nell showed glimpses of both her mother & father (Star X Alba Cap) in round 1 and made it through to round 2, but with running sheep that she could not get with I retired. We enjoy  watching the young dogs and it is a treat to see those from parts of the country we do not travel.

The highlight for me was running Max in his 10th consecutive National at 12 yrs. old. We drew a difficult ewe in the qualifying and did not make the semi but as always, Max punched above his weight. He looked more like a 6 year old than a 12 year old in this, his last National. It has been an brilliant journey. His natural ability and talent have afforded me invaluable experience. He is a tremendous partner and friend; I am so grateful and incredibly blessed.

Cap ran exceptionally well in the semi's but did not get the breaks; with a difficult ewe and a shortened clock we timed out before the single, missing the cut for the final. Alasdair and Jim suffered a similar fate but Alasdair made it through to the final with Sweep and was Reserve Champion! They had a flawless turn back, best gather, excellent drive and Sweep was very impressive and positive in the ring.

We bred Sweep in 2009. He is out of Alba Lyn (Alba Cap's litter sister) & by Don Russell's Sweep (a son of Alasdair's Sweep).
With the same complex formula in which I selected Cap (looks like my Bear :-)) I choose Sweep as a puppy. I ran him in the nurseries in 2011 National (we finished 8th) & gave him to Alasdair in Dec 2012 as I had 4 open dogs. In that short time Alasdair and Sweep have developed a remarkable partnership and they are an amazing team!
I am also very excited and proud of Peg Anderson and Spot. They had a great National finishing 4th in the Double Lift-congratulations.

Although fashion lost out to function and the weather was gloomy, the good friends and good dogs (especially the good friends who make a mean lemon drop), made for another great National!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Pylons and Tigers and Dares, oh My

The start of the month we loaded up the pylons and the dogs and once again dared to cross the Canadian border. This time, however, our phones were not confiscated, our rig was not searched nor our trip detained- in a word, seamless!

The clinic at Chris Jobe's had excellent weather, good people and nice dogs. Thank you Chris and all the participants for a great 4 days.

photo by Michelle Bryan (Kristi you are here in spirit!)

We had a fun visit with Stormy, nearly collected on the bets he owes us and worked a few dogs.

Stormy's young male dog & his Kate

One of the highlights of being home was the visit with Annemarie, Vergil & the Caplettes! (Brooke X Cap)

Another awesome clinic with Polly Simpson-the hostess with the most-est! Always enjoy working with the group in Wisconsin and great to have new handlers join us.
The WWSDA Labor Day trial field is excellent and sheep were in the main, responsive to the dogs. The shed in the final was difficult and the turn back a very good test. Huge thanks to the WWSDA and all that made the trial possible.

An exceptional weekend as Max had a 1st & 2nd in the qualifying, won the overall and was the only dog to get finished in the double lift final, getting 2nd place to Cap. Max will be 12 yrs. old next month and it has been nothing short of a brilliant journey. I am very blessed and incredibly grateful!

Max, photo by Michelle Guderian
Finally, bringing August to a close my alma mater, Clemson knocked off no. 5 ranked Georgia Saturday night-go Tigers!!

Monday, July 8, 2013

An Opening,,,

After a packed 6 weeks of projects, lessons, travel, judging, trialing and clinics our schedule is fairly open. Fitting this shot of Gail in the opening above was taken just this morning.

We spent two weeks of June at home & good news for Spangle; more than just the wit was cutting.

Spangle's summer haircut
We departed June 18 for Parker, Colorado. We had a great time working and visiting with Susan & Ladd Squires, always considerate and generous hosts.
The highlight was our Vancouver visitor. We worked on Rex having less wrecks! We also tackled video editing, impersonated 80’s girl band, ate sushi, drank wine and laughed endlessly.
Kristi's Rex
June 26th we headed to one of our favorite trials, Free to Be Classic in Mountainair, NM
Lurena's Bliss
This is a trial to put on your bucket list. Although we did not have great results we had an excellent time. The courses and the sheep were tremendous. Thank you again to Geri Abrams and her dedicated and talented set- out crew and all the contributors.

I judged the nursery so we ran our nursery dogs in Open ranch and each won a class. Overall Nell did capably, Li, Sweep and Cap all ran well. I ran Jim 2 of the Opens and my lack of preparation with him was evident. I entered Max the last two days and unfortunately he ran me!
There is consolation in the first dog you moved into Open, at nearly 12 years old, running as strong and fast as a dog ½ his age; just as well, as there are no prizes for it :-)

Following the trial we did a 2 day general clinic. Good people and lots of new faces; we greatly enjoyed working with the young dogs and eager students. The 3rd day was an international shedding clinic and the sheep were fantastic. We finished out the week with a tribute of  the song, ‘Who the eff is Lisa’ for Peg Anderson, 2 days of lessons, 1 day of laundry and a Sunday respite.

The next 3 weeks we will have the privilege of leasing and working the Rambouillets on the ranch. Geri has over 330 acres with every size working area imaginable. In addition to the clinics and USBCHA trials, she also hosts AKC & AHBA events. She has goats for the young dogs as well as dogged sheep for those not quite ready to work the range ewes.

The sheep and fields are an incredible opportunity for the nursery dogs

Alba Nell
as well as the 3 year olds without much experience, Jim and Gail.


With the same sheep the same color as the terrain, spotting them at a distance can be a challenge.
Ground & sheep identical beige?

An 850 yard outrun opportunity at every corner, training the Open dogs on fields of this scope is invaluable.

When not used for training, the arenas double as an excellent puppy play area. Brae & Jaff are growing like weeds! 

Brae & Jaff
My forward thinking girlfriend sent mindless novels for relaxing in the shade with the dogs in the hot afternoons (Kristi if you are reading this, books only after dedicated hours to the project of course :-)).
The weather here is hot during the day & cool in the mornings and evenings; varied but never subtle.

Excellent sheep, a brilliant training facility, gorgeous vistas and good Mexican food; the makings of a great summer!

Max, walking at last!



Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Need for More Bars,,,,

'The need for more bars'--could have been a dissertation for many of us in the '80’s! 
Much more tame with middle age, the 'bars' referenced are the measure of cell signal strength on the phone- or in our case, the absence of bars. Without connectivity have been unable to post including the great trial in NC last weekend.

The laptop acquired signal as we were departing NC & I was able to upload some photos from the trial to FaceBook, a practiced process on my PC.
This connection was short lived but my phone looked to have a reasonable signal & I thought I would give that a try.
Smart phones really are amazing and as they do not require as much bandwidth, we are able to do more with less.
This is the snag for me; they enable a false sense of competency.
The result of my technical prowess? I unwittingly managed to delete the very photo album loaded the previous evening, ugh.
Apologies to those copied on photos; I hope to get it right next time & managed to re post a few below.

Dr. Ben’s provided a challenging outrun, brilliant weather and good people. Ann Allen hosted a live twitter feed to relay many of the nice runs over the holiday weekend. Stand outs included Vic Wilcox and Ken Arrendale with both their dogs, Dwight Parker with Craig, Emily Falk with Spain, Bob Washer with Clare and many more. Linda Fogt with Jill put together two runs in the Open as well as a good run with a solid finish in DL to win the NC Championship. Alasdair and I only managed 2 runs in the prize list combined; Alasdair with Sweep in Open II and Jim & I in Open I. We did not compete in the trial with our young dogs but we stayed to watch the Nursery Monday morning. Dee Penatzer with Floss won with a very good run.

Thank you to Emily and Dr. Ben Ousley for their generous hospitality, Dean Holcomb, the entire set out crew and all of those that contributed to put on a great trial!
We enjoyed watching dogs we don’t see often and visiting with friends that live far away. Sunday evening a fun handlers dinner included Vic Wilcox’s reign as the mistress of martinis as well as the Hanley’s providing honey badger enlightenment. We had a fun stay at Dee's Memorial Day and hope to make it back to North Carolina soon.

Laura & fellow connoisseur Trig, the glass is empty but the nose, knows!

Chris & Vic Wilcox

Dee & I anticipate the nectar Vic is swilling above
Have some quick business and the chance to get the young dogs out to a new spot on the road home. The dot on the field below is Renee Newcomb’s Skye. Will be in Missouri until we depart for Geri Abrams excellent trial in New Mexico later this month.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bluegrass, The Finale!

Alasdair & Sweep
Hopefully, everyone saw my updates from Sat & Sun on Facebook. As predicted the best runs came in the first half of the day before the heat and humidity peaked and Scot Glen's Don is the DL champion.
The Bluegrass is such a special trial to us personally and we are so grateful to be able to participate. I know I have have thanked the organizers, volunteers, quiet supporters and set out crew several times but again, you are so much appreciated.
Foremost, I want to to correct my order in yesterdays recap, Vergil with Scott were 4th with a very solid finish and Ron Enzeroth with Mick were 5th.
The highlights for us began in the morning with Alasdair's Li. Although they had some trouble on the turn back Li made a tremendous save in the ring and earned Reserve Champion. Black Gold Premium Dog Food, our personal sponsors, came through once again supporting the Border collie community and donating the DL prizes. Thank you for your very generous continued support as well as many thanks to all the other contributors.
I only gave Sweep to Alasdair in December and they are already a great team. They performed especially well in the final and as Alasdair said, it went even better than in practice, always an encouraging sign. A flawless turnback and excellent lines earned them 3rd.
Cap also had a perfect turnback but me working hard to hold the fetch lines in the height of the heat cost us valuable time. Running in the 15th slot I was concerned the shed would be extremely difficult. As it turned out we had a good flowing shed down to 4 plain ones that was only stymied by the time constraint. We had just 10 minutes in the ring for time spent on the drive & ended up 7th. Of course, it is always easier looking back and the mistakes were mine. I was very pleased with Cap's performance as well as his 'striking' run Open I and the thankfully less eventful win Open II.
Ron Enzeroth and his young dog Mick were standouts throughout the trial, having just won Cattle Nursery Championship 2 weeks prior. I wrote about Mindy Bower Day 1 as she and her dog Possum made both Opens look easy. They finished just behind Roy Taber and York in the DL.
Ron Enzeroth also stood out on the Nursery field winning the overall with Pete who ran solid everyday including beating Nell & I on outwork in Nursery II. Another stand out was Jimmy Walker with Brock who was on equal points with Alasdair & Skye Nurs IV and finished 2nd on OLF. I believe Jimmy was also Reserve Champion in OR with his other young dog.

This was Nell's and Renee Newcomb's Skye first time away from home (litter sister's Cap X Star). They each won a Nursery class and qualified for the National.
Nell also won Reserve Nursery Champion.
We were sorry to miss yesterday's final runs but had a brilliant night with my grandmother at Mallone's, prime rib, sushi, incredible wine and most important family. thank you to all my generous friends in KY especially Laura Hanley with her help at the airport!
Although there were several changes behind the scenes at this year's Bluegrass what did not change is this one of our all time favorite trials--thank you to all!

Friday, May 17, 2013


Kristi at this rate, i should try for a tribute album!

Congratulations to Lorna Savage winner Open I! 
Congratulations also to Ron Enzeroth who won Nursery again today.
Nell illustrated, ‘Speed thrills, Speed kills’. She was thrilled and killed any hope of a good run, but that, as they say, is young dogs! She finished up 9th. Alasdair was 7th and got his 2nd leg with Skye!
Open II:
Don Helsley judging, 11 minutes, right hand drive, any single, then pen. Sheep are overall a good bit heavier.

Alasdair had a very good run in Open II with Li and is leading on an 86. Tommy Wilson had a good run with Roy and currently in second with an 84. I ran Max & managed to miss the drive away with expert precision. I never called him on the shed (which is any sheep).  It was far too risky to take the last one on the head yet Max boldly disagreed & came in on the last one on the head anyway. I was far more stunned and scared by this than yesterday’s lightning bolt!
My shout did get a lie down and the judge called it. We scored an 82.
This was Max’s last year to run at the Bluegrass as he will be 12 years old in October. It was his 10th year running here and his 8th running here in Open. I managed to get us DQ’d in Open I so we will not compete on Sunday but he has put me through to the Final here more times than I can remember, a testament to his ability given my inexperience as Max is the first dog I trained to Open (beating Bear to the field by 2 months). He is an amazing partner and friend and I will miss trialing and training him more than words can express.
The sheep remain heavy and look to be getting even better. If it continues scores may well soar to the 90’s so very difficult to predict yet who will get in beyond Alasdair, Vergil and Mary Lou Campbell at the time of this writing. More severe storms are expected for today and tomorrow. The temperature is currently about 85 and 100% humidity. Here is hoping it cools down lots before Sunday. My grandmother is flying in tomorrow (88 years old) to watch and we are very excited, off to prepare for her visit!
Christines Bess also had her last BG run
today. She will be 12 yr. in December

Thursday, May 16, 2013

BLUEGRASS day 2, show stopping run with Cap

If you asked me yesterday if I wanted to have a show stopping run with Cap in Open I, would have said ‘yes’,,,today, not so much!

After 5 DQ/RT in a row on the open field they were running far ahead of schedule. Obviously unpredictable, this is generally a good thing. The Bluegrass is a brilliant trial and painstaking care is taken to try to run the simultaneous fields without conflict. To have many runs go as quickly as they did was very unusual. Uncharacteristically they also happened to be well behind on the novice field. This coincidence was most unfortunate for me as I was literally on the OR field running Nell just before my open run. Thankfully Carla King noticed and shouted for me to get over to Open as I was on in 2 dogs (thank you Carla and Mary Thompson who graciously exhausted the run I was meant to in OR)!

I made it in plenty of time though without the benefit of seeing how the sheep were running (albeit with many DQ’s shortly before me I had a clue yet, to add confusion Vergil  scored a 91 with Brooke the run I arrived!). I was able to watch all of Vikki Kidd’s run and it was very good scoring an 89 and making it look easy. I thought certainly that must be a good sign!

Cap spotted the sheep and began what looked to be good outrun but stopped a bit short (a theme for most every dog sent left),,, lift & fetch not so bad, around the post (which has been the beginning of the end for many runs) was fluid, the drive away reasonable until complete miscalculation on my part caused missed drive away, but only just. The cross drive & 3rd leg were on and I had 4 & ½ minutes or so once I entered the ring.

I remember the sheep started to run just a bit, but as the shed is any sheep, I thought, ‘this is coming’,,,
what actually came was a bolt of lightning so fierce both I & the largest speckled yearling jumped 3 inches off the ground!  Vergil said he was amazed Cap was completely oblivious to the commotion, staying intent on the sheep.
Fortunately, Alasdair was oblivious to Cap and the sheep, shouting for me to get off the field as he later told me he could smell burning!

I was a bit stunned as likely were Rusty, the judge, clerk as well as the few passer-byes who ducted into shelter with us. We were there for over an hour. Kudos and thanks to Vikki Kidd who stayed under exhaust the entire delay to keep my sheep from drifting too far up or down the field. Thank you to Dee Petnzer for her shout out for the sheep to be kept!

Although I had 3 ½ minutes when they started the clock again, after grazing and being held together away from the others for an additional hour the sheep were not as quick to shed and I ran out of time at the pen scoring a 71.
Hopefully, I put will be able to put together a good enough run in the next round to play on Sunday. At the very least hoping I can put together a less exciting run!
Expectedly after the down pour the sheep were much improved and stayed exceptionally tolerant for most of the remainder of the day. 

This morning Alasdair had a very solid run with Li scoring 80 in the Open. They were several 80's and I believe an overall better day than yesterday. I apologize for not having more pictures (will keep trying) or a better update of open runs,,,with all going on I missed quite a bit. All scores on

I ran Nell who did not so bad in OR scoring a 72 with no pen and more importantly standing up well and looking quite positive on the sheep.
She tied for first in the nursery and while they asked me to bring her over for a run off at the end of the night, later decided to do it on OLF. Congratulations to Ron Enzeroth & Mick for the  Nursery win.
Delighted Nell is doing so well on her first trip away from home. Also thrilled for Alasdair with Skye who finished just one point behind Ron & I and received their first qualifying leg.  
The last few runs in open were meant to be tricky and ultimately the fog prevented the finish. Will complete in the morning as soon as weather permits.
Finally, thank you especially to Dee Penetzer who recognized such an unusual day should only only be concluded with a delicious red from Alexander Valley!
Dee & Queen

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Bluegrass Day 1: 
The Bluegrass Classic SDT held every May in Lexington, KY is among the oldest and most esteemed trials in the country.
Spring time in the Bluegrass is incredibly picturesque. The organization and hospitality are second to none and the Texas yearlings are an excellent test of the dogs. Foremost thank you to the KBCA and everyone that made this year possible!

Special recognition to Susan Carvalho, Paul and Leigh Anne Tucker, Rusty Krieder, the tremendous set out crew and the tireless volunteers. These are a few key contributors and we realize there are countless others-you are all very much appreciated!
Masterson Station's bowl shaped field is as pristine as ever and the cross Suffolk yearlings extremely healthy.
The morning began with moderate temperatures and quickly warmed to the high 80’s with sunshine and high wind. The yearlings were touchy and a bit difficult to predict at the start.
The first very good run was Mindy Bower with Possum. They made what looked to be a very difficult time of day to run look effortless and scored a commendable 81. 
I was up soon after with Max in the 10th slot. The sheep ran unexpectedly upon the lift,,,and ran and ran.
Max interpreting the big come bye flank as set up for the turn back (and waiting for it) was not helpful. In fact, it caused the sheep to bolt past me on the wrong side of the post.
A dreadful beginning, I had been on this side of a poor start in years past. My goal was to start the drive in an effort to piece together a run with a passable result for the 2 score cumulative trial.
I brought the sheep back around to my side of the post and planned to take the point loss per the USBCHA Guidelines as I had already lost so many on my fetch. As with all best laid plans there was a small snag, the judge was not utilizing the guidelines and he DQ’ed me instead- my fault, tough lesson learned the hard way!


Kristi, this one is for you!
The sheep would prove to get better and then not so good again and finally very forgiving by the end of the evening or at least until about run 58 (I missed the last 10). Lorna savage had a gorgeous run #53 to score a 94. Earlier in the day I missed Joyce Geier who scored a strong 93 but was there and absolutely thrilled for Alasdair with Sweep who ran great and scored a 90. Missouri also provided another high score with Larry Moore and Bee on an 89.

The Open Ranch had its own challenge with fresh yearlings on the tricky terraced novice field. Alasdair and I are running litter mates. I have Nell and he is running Renee Newcomb’s, Skye (Star X my Cap). Both are nursery dogs and today was their first time away from home.
Nell finished 8th in OR with Skye just a few behind and Nell won the Nursery with Ron Enzeroth and Mick in 2nd place.
A very long and great day of dogs, tomorrow begins with the conclusion of Open I at 6:30 sharp, OR II & Nursery II.

Renee Newcomb's Skye

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Alasdair Reflects on the 2013 Cattle Final,,,

Thad's Molly (photo taken by Cindy Lowry)

I did not attend the Cattle dog Final this year but Alasdair judged. Thad Flemming and his entire family worked tirelessly to deliver a first class event. Congratulations to all the winners especially Champions Dwight Parker with Craig and Nursery Champions Ron Enzeroth with Mick. Below Alasdair reflects on the four day competition in his (mostly:-)) own words,,,

I’d like to commend The Fleming family for hosting a very professional and well run USBCHA National Cattle dog Final. The weather was unusually harsh for the first week in May with several inches of snow and freezing wind. Event organizers, volunteers, competitors and spectators were put through a ‘cowboy up’ test and all passed with flying colors.
The efficiency with which the cattle were set was impressive and after a few initial problems with exhausting, that too became seamless. The stick-to-itiveness of all the riders, on Thursday and Friday especially, was nothing short of heroic.
The cattle were ideal for the most prestigious award in the cattle dog trial calendar. They were testing but workable and as even a bunch as one could wish for; a credit to the Salmon family who donated them free of charge.
A very benevolent gift, it can only be appreciated fully by those who have put on trials where they had to lease the livestock. It is an expense which can sometimes make the books unsustainable and result in no payback or even cancellation. Although just judging, I would like to express my thanks to Bob and his family for their above and beyond generosity.
The Lions club came through for the event in exceptional form. They not only made their parking facility available but also provided a tractor, flat bed, straw bales and ferried everyone to and from the field.
Black Gold Premium Dog Food once again showed tremendous support for the Border collie community with a significant cash donation as a Judge's Sponsor . These are just a few of the many contributions that were significant in the four day trial running like a well-oiled machine.
The conditions returned to seasonal, beautiful Missouri spring weather for Sunday with some impressive dogs and exciting competition. The cattle were worked with respect and authority in the main and we crowned well-deserved champions.
Congratulations to 2013 Open winners Dwight Parker and Craig and Reserve, Bill Reed with Ann; also Ron Enzeroth and Mick, Nursery Champions and Missouri natives Larry Painter with Troy taking the reserve Buckle.
Finally, congratulations to Kelly and Thad. You said that you could put on a first class Cattle dog final that would be a credit to Leeton, Missouri and the USBCHA and that is exactly what you did.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Amendment

Our singleton had everything we look for in a puppy and more….for 8 weeks he had distinct blue eyes.
We decided to embrace the variation on tradition and name him after a personal favorite, Frank Sinatra, ol' blue eyes himself.

We waited for weeks to be certain and several assured us that at 8 weeks eye color is set including Lisa Wright (how is that for irony, right??) 
At 8 ½ weeks the blue started to green?!

We found ourselves at a crossroad.
Shakespeare asked, ‘What's in a name’? Reminding us that what you are is far more important than your name, but we have never been a fan of Shakespeare.
Moreover, how could he be the namesake of Sinatra with green eyes?? Change was in order but his stealth predator moves would only allow for so much variation.
Every bit as loveable as Frank of the Serengeti, we would like to introduce:
Kilimanjaro Jaff (really Alba Jaff, non-transferrable!)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Big Country,,,,

Abilene, Texas and the surrounding area is referred to as 'Big Country'. You hear this on newscasts, radio station identifications and many advertisements.

Someone of my generation inevitably gets the song, 'In a Big Country' by well, 'Big Country' stuck in their head. It is not quite as haunting as Abba's 'Dancing Queen' (which allows for more customization of lyrics), but lingering none the less.

The chorus begins, 'In a big country, dreams stay with you', and so they do....

One of our dreams was born here


Another got bigger
and bigger
A third was foreign to us, until we arrived here
Not quite certain that all dreams were honorable, ahem 
but when in Texas dream big!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

the Vendetta,,,,

We are very excited about our puppy out of imp. Gail. He is happy, sweet and has been developing as if reading the puppy stages manual,,,,
at two weeks, eyes opened

At exactly three weeks, this past Wed. he started walking

His character is developing and he has started playing a bit. That is what I anticipated with the hedgehog,,,
I hoped to capture one of those precious puppy moments; a photo to treasure in years to come. Instead what I witnessed can only be described as exacting revenge

riddled with growling and biting, it was completely void of any cuteness. It was, well, more like a 'first blood' moment. Which lead to this

pure, unadulterated gloat. Hedgehogs beware!