Thursday, February 2, 2017

Good Luck RESDA

I'm not going to re-join RESDA this year. If I had, it would have been my 20th year of membership. I joined in 1997. That's a long time. I always saw the club as a local venue where I could get sheepdog trial experience on my dogs. I was never competitive nor interested in running for the high-point year-end award. What I have now decided is that the club is not a good fit for me, or my dogs, any more. I'm sad, but moving on.

We saw a few years ago, that there were issues with the dog work and the judging. We tried to make suggestions to improve, and those ideas were often times not well accepted. When I judged I would start off my handlers' meeting by saying I did not want to see any chasing and that it was not warranted.  I explained what type of dog work I wanted to see. I laid out clearly what type of movement of the sheep that I expected to see. The club rules state this explicitly, but only a few handlers are doing it. Dogs are still chasing and running too tight.  Not a good fit for me.

Last year at the start of 2016 I decided I no longer wanted to judge in the club so I withdrew my name from the pool. It was a relief for me not to have to judge RESDA. I don't mind judging AHBA or PN/Nursery, and in fact those are fun and it feels like you are giving back to the sport that mentored you.

In 2016 I only went to a couple of RESDA trials as a spectator but I saw some dog work and some handling that probably should have been called off. And, members were not entirely respectful of one another. This is not good and it's not where I want to be. I was often told over the years, that the club was a good place to get started but you didn't want to stay there too long or get stuck there. I'm moving on with head held high.

Many folks deserve thank yous  for trying to hang in there and maintain the club and improve the situation. It's an historic organization with a proud tradition but no longer a good fit for me.

One of my suggestions to improve the club would be to put more of the responsibility on the Open handlers. Do not give a seven-minute warning except possibly at the farm trials.  At the fairs and the other trials where prizes and high-points scores are awarded, put the onus on the handlers and make it part of the handling challenge. Especially if the judge has chosen to use time as a tie-breaker, then the warning needs to go; it only makes sense.  The handling and the dog training and dog work just has to get better, overall. That is what is most needed in addition to respect for one another as peer judges and handlers and course directors.

Good luck.

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