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Up to my eyes in agility club business and Christmas preparations so yesterday I decided to take a breather and go and watch a couple of friends in a new handlers trial. Only just over an hour away at Derek Scrimgeour's place.


Thoroughly enjoyed it and even met Ludi from France again who is a member on here.


Weather fine, dogs and handlers a much better standard than I was expecting, good company, good food. What's not to like?


Not an easy course for newbies to my uneducated eyes. Quite a long outrun for a beginner, lift and fetch through the gate, round the handler, through another gate, cross drive to another set of gates finishing with an open pen.


Things I have learned - that English is pretty much the universal language of sheep dog trialling, that each sheepdog association in the country has its own rules and that Wales and England encourage new people into the sport by holding new handler / pre nursery trials but Scotland doesn't.

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I saw Derek's pictures on Facebook, and it looked like a wonderful day for everyone. The frequency of events held specifically for novices varies a lot around the US. The Washington Association of Stockdog Handlers, WASH, of which I am a member, has a goal of encouraging beginning handlers, and many of the local trials include novice classes.




Here's an example of a free WASH event to help novices learn about trialing:




For a variety of reasons, holding sheepy events is more difficult down here in Southern California, but a few years back, Anna Guthrie held a one-day novice trial, and it was very popular.


It would be great to see more!

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The trial on Sat was for new handlers and new dogs just thinking about starting trialling or maybe done a couple of Nursery trials and for new handlers with an experienced dog, usually retired. It's an informal level rather than part of the progression structure.


Is that the equivalent of your Novice or is that something different?

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So good to see you again mum24dog! It was a pretty interesting course, the exhaust pen's location and the Shetlands proved to be a particularly potent combo for some of the less experienced dogs. I myself had to let Meg take the reins on the cross-drive since I had a Heb that fancied bolting for the exhaust, luckily, my dog knows what to do more than I do. ;)

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In response to Mum's question, in USBCHA trialing, there are only two classes, Open and Nursery. The other classes -- Pro Novice, Novice, Ranch, etc. -- are all held for the purpose of training and experience. The USBCHA doesn't define or sanction them. They aren't part of a progression, and they tend to vary from region to region.


And btw, a novice handler with a retired Open dog is a wonderful combination! Trialing has such a steep learning curve that having a dog who knows what he's doing provides an amazing amount of education and help.

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