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AHBA & ASCA Trials?


JaderBug
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Why are AHBA and ASCA trials frowned upon here on these boards/the Border Collie community? From what I understand it's the whole title process that isn't liked here, but how is earning titles any different from earning money?

 

Personally, I like AHBA and ASCA trials because they're at a level I can compete at right now... I certainly have aspirations to compete at USBCHA-type trials, but that won't come until long after I have the right dog, my own sheep, more exposure/opportunity to train and practice, and most importantly much more experience. So what's wrong with them?

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I don't really think most people here frown on them so much as want to make it clear that even the highest title from an AHBA trial is barely equivalent to a Pro-Novice level in USBCHA-style trials (I'd say less as you are unlikely to see the same outrun and drive lengths). I won't speak to ASCA because I've never attended one but I do think AHBA does a great job of welcoming and mentoring beginners of all breeds which is a positive. However, this by necessity makes the levels of AHBA more "user-friendly" and that means often using dog-broke sheep, small courses and making more allowances as to where the handler can be.

 

Case in point, I have dog I'd like to trial in Pro-Novice this fall and I considered taking her to a close AHBA trial just to work her in a new place under a trial-ish setting until I found out they had no outrun at all, only a "take-pen". Take pens, to me, are about as dumbed down as you can get. Of course, you'll have lots of "other" breed folks insist that it's a true test of their particular breed but I don't need a dog to get sheep out of tiny pen, I can do that myself. This is the type of allowances (for dogs that can't learn to do even the smallest, handler close outruns) that I find :rolleyes: . What's the point of a herding dog that can't gather sheep?

 

Lastly, there is a contingent of AKC-oriented border collie folks who think a HTD III title meanst their dog is breed-worthy. If you talk to AKC folks new to the breed, they can "get" the title system while the USBCHA trials are a mystery to them. Many are happy to remain in "title land" without challenging their own world view to see what it's really all about. So I think it's a good thing that working border collie people do make it loud and clear that these trials are not the ideal test for our breed.

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i also enjoy ahba trails because it is what my dog is capable of right now. i think they are frowned upon because they do not really test a border collies true working ability. they are considered dumbed down so other "herding breeds" can participate and even excel. indeed, in some trials i've been in, i've seen stock harassed and downright abused by dogs. the judge has allowed it to continue and even given the dog a qualifying score. it can be more like a rodeo then a true test of a dogs ability, with very lenient standards for working stock. i think those that trial their sheepdogs in usbcha type events hold the dogs to a higher level of performance. (as it should be for breeding purposes)

for fun purposes- play where you like. just respect the stock and the dog.

 

 

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From what I understand it's the whole title process that isn't liked here, but how is earning titles any different from earning money?

 

I agree fully with the previous two posts. This question kind of brought me up short, though, because I'm puzzled how earning titles is in any way SIMILAR to earning money. When you win money at a trial, you get back your entry fee, and maybe your gas and motel expenses, and maybe your dogfood expenses, and maybe even make a dent in your vet bills, etc., depending on how much money you win. The sum doesn't get appended to your dog's name as somehow indicative of his quality.

 

If you have any kind of overall feel for what a good working border collie should be able to do, it seems frivolous and pointless to award and flaunt titles for having accomplished something far, far below that. It can mislead people who don't have any knowledge of what a good working border collie should be able to do (which is most people). It shifts the focus from the essence to the adornment. That's why it seems distasteful to some. But I certainly wouldn't frown on anyone for entering AHBA or ASCA trials with their border collies -- not at all. I don't see anything at all wrong with doing that. If they included all their dog's titles in their sig lines, I would be a little put off, but I would just politely avert my eyes. :)

 

ETA: I guess I should mention that I'm one of those old-school folks who don't believe there should be money prizes in the novice classes, so in that respect maybe I am treating prize money and titles equivalently, even if I don't see a real similarity between them.

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Why are AHBA and ASCA trials frowned upon here on these boards/the Border Collie community? From what I understand it's the whole title process that isn't liked here, but how is earning titles any different from earning money?

 

Personally, I like AHBA and ASCA trials because they're at a level I can compete at right now... I certainly have aspirations to compete at USBCHA-type trials, but that won't come until long after I have the right dog, my own sheep, more exposure/opportunity to train and practice, and most importantly much more experience. So what's wrong with them?

 

 

I come from an arena trialing background, largely because there are no USBCHA trials in the state of Nevada. Nor are there any USBCHA trainers. I presently go over the mountains to Suzy Applegate, who is the closest trainer, but in the winter, my monthly-ish lessons become even more sporadic.

 

So, starting with arena training and arena trialing was the only place I had, 10 or 12 years ago. I still do our local ASCA and AHBA trials, since they're in my back yard and these are the folks I "grew up with," so to speak. The trials are fun, the prizes are fun, and the people have been good to me all these years. They in fact pooled their funds to purchase my Nick for me, when I lost a previous nice pup to an accident.

 

I've nothing against ASCA or AHBA, at all. But ... now that I'm trialing Nick in Pro-Novice with an ambition to eventually reach Open, I've come to realize that, while my early background taught me the basics of handling dogs and sheep, moving out to USBCHA border collie trials is a whole 'nother thing. My Nick and his sister Gael are awesome in arena trials, consistently land in the placings. But it's taken me two years to learn the skills to become any good in Pro-Novice, and the learning curve is still very steep.

 

I think, therefore, there can be a certain amount of scorn towards the ASCA and AHBA world simply because so little of it translates to border collie field trialing. Take away the fences, throw some wily range ewes or lambs out there, and an arena dog is very likely to be completely out of his depth. It's a different skill set and very different sheep and situations. And sometimes it's very different dogs.

 

That's part of why some people frown on the whole title process. A dog can be an AHBA champion or WTCh-ed to the eyeballs, and yet totally lack the skills, instinct and training to run even a Pro-Novice course. People therefore regard it as misleading when breeders from that venue boast of producing "herding" dogs, when in fact their dogs have never been truly tested or proven outside the arena, and therefore haven't shown whether or not they have the best qualities of a working border collie.

 

My tuppence, anyhow. :)

 

~ Gloria

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Dear Wouldbe Sheepdoggers,

 

Sheepdog trials and AKC/AHBA/ASCA trials have different purposes. Sheepdog trials were designed and are organized to select the most useful Shepherd's dogs and bitches to become sires and dams of pups that working farmers/ranchers/shepherds and (incidently) cattlemen can rear and have a useful helper for stock work.

 

These other trials were designed so humans could have fun with their dogs working sheep. (The AKC designed theirs to prove that geetic abilities once possessed by show bred/one-time working breeds were retained in those breeds. Since they aren't, the trials had to be easy).

 

There's nothing wrong with this. I think human and dog lives are bettered by shared activities. Have fun with your dog!

 

But "fun" doesn't select the best sheepdogs. Sheepdog trials do.

 

This morning, I was judging the junior classes at my trial assisted by a 60?ish cattleman/ scribe. He'd always had Border Collies but Richard Rogers was helping him train a young one for trialing. Of course his farm dogs would fetch the cows and load the cows in the truck - did everything he asked them to do. But he wanted to learn how to use them better.

 

Sheepdog trials do not select Border Collies to be trial dogs (though the few real Border Collie breeders certainly breed them for that). As it happens, dogs bred from trial winners, in the hands of sensible stockmen with no time to train, no special dog savvy and a desire to GET THE WORK DONE - those dogs do GET THE WORK DONE. Whereas, of course HIT dogs from these fun trials can't and won't.

 

Sheepdog trials aren't fun. They are extraordinarily difficult tests of dog and human ability. They appeal to dog savvy/stock savvy people who welcome extraordinary challenges.

 

The satisfactions are powerful and real . . . but not exactly - fun.

 

Picture an AKC/AHBA trial where most of the best dogs got nothing for their efforts - no titles, no ribbons, no legs, no acclaim.

 

Saturday at my trial, of 31 open dogs, six had scores. Twenty five top dogs handled by very fine handers earned zero.

 

Today of twelve ProNovice dogs, no dog got a score and only one of six Novice/novice dogs got a score. The sheep were even, sound and fresh. The course was difficult. The dogs had never worked Polypay sheep before and their misreadings caused the difficulties.

 

Handlers told me it was a good trial, they'd had a good time and hoped to come back next year. I don't think they were flattering me.

 

For three years in a row at our National Finals on range sheep on a very tough course, not one Finalist completed the course.

 

Dog Fanciers I've told this to were puzzled. "Why would anyone . . . What kind of competition is this?"

 

Like most open handlers, I prefer trials that test me and my dogs to the limit of our abilities and a bit beyond. We usually lose - of four runs this weekend I had one score.

 

Fly was dead sure her sheep were in the exhaust and crossed the course - 19 points off. But after we sorted that out , she flew out like the lovely creature she is, gathered, fetched, drove, split, and penned elegantly and when we stepped into the shedding ring for our single on the head, I called her through when there was no hole for her to come through, no space, none,; knowing that this particular last sheep would hesitate and make that space and that Fly would come and because she trusts me,she came through turned and took that sheep away. It was very simple.

 

Very simple is very hard and very beautiful. I can see it now, in my minds eye.

 

Donald McCaig

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Dear Wouldbe Sheepdoggers,

 

Fly was dead sure her sheep were in the exhaust and crossed the course - 19 points off. But after we sorted that out , she flew out like the lovely creature she is, gathered, fetched, drove, split, and penned elegantly and when we stepped into the shedding ring for our single on the head, I called her through when there was no hole for her to come through, no space, none,; knowing that this particular last sheep would hesitate and make that space and that Fly would come and because she trusts me,she came through turned and took that sheep away. It was very simple.

 

Very simple is very hard and very beautiful. I can see it now, in my minds eye.

 

Donald McCaig

 

I would have loved to have seen the shed. "In The Zone" comes to mind. In prior years, I participated in a physical sport at a high level and had a few (very few) "In The Zone" experiences. Every once in a while, I will also re-live those few short seconds - and feel ... happy!

 

Jovi

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The Satisfactions are Powerful and real.

 

 

 

Yes, Old Sheepdogging Geezer!

 

 

 

Powerful enough for me to go to every trial, broke and my last trial I sheared sheep at noon to enter the next trial!

 

Powerful enough to wonder at the look in Sweep's eyes before his outrun when we stand on the bones of shepherds that went before us.

 

 

And then at home to sit in the fields and on the trails and watch my Old Deaf Cap creep slowly towards the flock to move them softly.

 

He creeps and at every step I wonder at this partnership.

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Dear Wouldbe Sheepdoggers,

 

Sheepdog trials and AKC/AHBA/ASCA trials have different purposes. Sheepdog trials were designed and are organized to select the most useful Shepherd's dogs and bitches to become sires and dams of pups that working farmers/ranchers/shepherds and (incidently) cattlemen can rear and have a useful helper for stock work.

 

These other trials were designed so humans could have fun with their dogs working sheep. (The AKC designed theirs to prove that geetic abilities once possessed by show bred/one-time working breeds were retained in those breeds. Since they aren't, the trials had to be easy).

 

There's nothing wrong with this. I think human and dog lives are bettered by shared activities. Have fun with your dog!

 

 

 

Yes, this. I know I'm in the not-popular minority here, since I do AKC events (with my neutered rescue dog). I know with the AKC hatred on these boards, why it's frowned upon. However, I would hope nobody would look down on anyone doing ASCA and AHBA events, if that's the level that your dog is capable of? I don't think anyone here is going to argue that AKC/ASCA/AHBA come anywhere close to testing a border collie's cababilites and showing their true grit and talent. Apples and oranges! But it doesn't mean (to me) that there's anything wrong with doing what you can with the dog you have.

 

PS. Oh, and I love the story of Fly and the shed. Awesome!

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Speaking only for myself, I don't look down on people who run their dogs in ASCA and AHBA trials. They are what they are, and they can be a place to have fun and trial a dog who has limitations that don't allow it to go to higher levels. Plus you get the opportunity (at least with AHBA, don't know about ASCA) to work other types of livestock, which can be really fun (Pip--and before him, Jill--LOVE some ducks!). I think that where most people have problems with them is when they are used as a standard for breeding or proclaiming the working greatness of one's dog. I do find the "big fish in a small pond" aspect a little underwhelming, but I also realize that not all people who choose to trial in those venues are doing so just for the bragging rights. So for me, any looking down on is based in a titling mentality that uses those titles to justify breeding choices and to proclaim to the world the greatness of one's dog.

 

Payback doesn't really show up as certificates/titles on a wall that you can point to when describing to a potential puppy buyer what a good dog you have. Nor does payback attract paying students or people who send you their dogs for training. And yet I've seen quite a few people who have a little success in AHBA/ASCA/AKC who then hang out their training shingle, pointing to their titles as proof of their ability. I suppose that fact shouldn't bother me, since folks get what they pay for and if the clients of such people are happy, then it's all good. But it's the whole mindset that goes with that sort of thing that I find unworthy of respect.

 

J.

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Another person here who runs in AHBA for fun. I like the variety too. I did one a few weeks ago with a rather challenging course. It was a group of 25 sheep and they were bound and determined to split into 2 groups and bolt into the woods. Dogs that couldn't think on their own and sort sheep out of heavy brush got confused and lost. There was actually a decent drive and outrun in level 3, about the length of a lot of PN and ranch courses on the east coast. Unfortunately, because of the size and difficulty of the course, pretty much only Border Collie people were willing to attempt it. I hope that doesn't cause the trial host to make it less challenging in the future in order to get the other breeds to participate.

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I really like my students to run in AHBA before they head out to NN; In AHBA they can leave their dog at the post and get close to the sheep...Make sure they are right on the outrun.

 

Now during training they are way past this point..but with nerves and first time trialling it gives a good venue to "get out on the field".

 

i trial in AHBA to support the people that put them on. Plus I can works some stuff out on my dogs at a close distance. They are fun...I have some titles, I have no idea which ones...and they certainly are not put at the end of my dogs names

 

Cynthia

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OK, I run in ASCAA and AHBA trial. In fact, I am an AHBA judge. I have a bunch of the titles they offer but I do not display them or use them as promotion for my success. The tiral are offered around here and it is a good way for me to see if my dogs can handle tghe close pressure work etc. They do a lot of farm work so we do very well at these trials (we pretty much clean up). However, I use them as a means to see where there is a hole in my training and get my dogs comfortable with close pressure.

 

It has helped a lot when the sheep and dog are in tight spaces and my dogs work smartly and not grip, instead waiting and walking up slowly. That has paid off in the USBCHA trials tremendiously when a ewe will try to stare down one of my dogs. Plus it has helped a lot in pen work. I NEVER practice pen work for the USBCHA trials as we do a lot of that work on the farm

 

Some people hang their hats on the titles they obtain as well use them to promote their breeding. Whatever! Poeple have asked me if that person's dog is good as my dog and my answer is "Have them run a Open field course and if they place in the top 20%, then yes!"

 

Some people won't change their minds on the arena trials and thinks it is the end-all. Some people are open to expanding thei world.

 

I do know at one ASCA trial that I had to retire with Scott (open dog)on the cattle as they were horrible. As I walked off the field, I heard people say, "If that Open dog can not move the cattle then no one else can". Every run that day was a retire. I have had people come up to me and tell me that they thought an USBCHA dog (meaning Open) could not do the arena course and when we did it, they changed their views on quality of work. They also realized that a dog needed to be able to do both so I guess we did open a few eyes.

 

I have my students run in them for experience and to see their gaps in training.

 

Use it as a mean to expand your training. Don't use it as a mean for breeding.

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If you knew nothing about running races and I told you that I won the 5K at Williamsville, VA (this is for you Donald) you might be impressed. However, since most people know about running races they'll understand that an award for winning a 5K in a small town is nothing like winning a marathon or even the Boston Marathon. They would understand that while the small town 5K might be fun for those who are into running it doesn't qualify as a test of someone as a good runner or even one as a running trainer/coach. Herein lies the problem with stockdog events; the general public does not know enough about these events to assess the difficulty of each event.

 

 

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Oh heck, Cousin Mark,

 

I can barely do a 440 dash, let alone a 5K. I am a fast twitch runner than a slow twitch runner.

 

Now the most running I do is maybe 200 yards or so when training dogs. Occasionally a 400 yards when Roo is being bad but that is rare now.

 

One of my student is one of top IronMan woman and I am in awe of her.

 

Diane

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Actually, most of my running is cross-country often in shit crusted boots or shoes and I'm lucky to be able to utter a word once I get there.

I've never been much of a runner, I raced bicycles. Using the bike race/ride analogy doesn't work in the USA as well as the running one does.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My current oldest dog is an AHBA herding trial champion. I did pronovice with him for a bit - we got around the course a couple of times, that was about it. There is a world of difference between the two. But I do find the AHBA courses fun, especially the ranch and large flock courses, where you might be working 25-30 sheep and taking them over bridges and from one field to another, doing various tasks meant to mimic chore work. I find it a nice place to start the young dogs too, where I can be close and get them used to things like having a spotter out there and my own trial nerves, and even familiar sheep act very differently in a trial, which can unsettle a young dog. To the person who asked the original question, I think the answer is that people here are pretty tolerant of what you DO with your dogs, but not so tolerant of anyone who might BREED their dog based on those other activities.

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