The Kingston Sheepdog Trial - 2023

by Werner Reitboeck

I did not make it to the first few Kingston Sheepdog Trials, at that time called the Pittsburgh Township Sheepdog Trials. My first entry was 4 years later. I drove up, quite nervous, on a Friday morning August 9, 1991. Trial was to begin at 9:00 am. I found Karen Curtis and gave her my entry. I think I ran one dog in Novice and one in ProNovice. Handlers at that time were mostly Ontarians and from NEBCA region.  Already some US friends showed up that would become regulars… I guess there probably were 50 or so dogs competing in the three classes.

Quick forward to today: no more Novice classes, trial starts on Tuesday or Wednesday, this year 114 entries (plus CBCA Nursery 2x22 dogs). Down a bit from 2019 when there were 165 entries. 2020 was no trial due to Covid, 2021 smaller trial with no spectators.

Before Covid, spectators came on mass - somebody mentioned 6000 or so over the weekend. If they needed to stretch their legs they could watch demos of agility, K9 dogs, birds of prey, shearing; they could shop at a variety of boutique vendors, find food and refreshments at a variety of food stands: a busy, bustling place. This year the crowds were back but not yet all the vendors and demos.

Sheep (about 600) came from the flock of Erin Rougham and Bob Fleguel from Waupoos Island. The last two years sheep were difficult to say the least, completely undogged and uncooperative, unpredictable. This year sheep were great, still mostly undogged but now they came from solar farm grazing, and while difficult they did react to dogs mostly in a normal fashion. I thoroughly enjoyed running them. Now some of us did have a hard time penning: poor Faansie and Finn: beautiful DL run and, three times sheep were in the pen and each time just as the gate was closing one ewe decided to jump out! So, the CBCA Championship eluded him by one point, he had to be content with Reserve. (Faansie’s Finn was also the Purina Top Field Dog – Herding for 2023. Also running at Kingston were two previous winners of this award: Beverly’s Lee and Barbara’s Grant.)

In the judges tent this year one could find Michael Davidson from Northumberland and Angie Coker-Sells from Oklahoma, both did an excellent job at sorting the runs. Some of the handlers come from far, far distances like Joe Haynes, who has made Kingston a regular stop. He comes all the way from Arlington, WA. Joe had a great trial experience this year as he won the CBCA Championship with his Jim. Lee Lumb is from BC, Mary Minor, another regular, from Nevada, her partner Sandra Massie acting as chief-shepherd of the flock,and Faansie Basson from Texas. Faansie won Reserve Nursery Championship with Eddie and Reserve CBCA Championship with Finn.

Lots of handlers from “nearer” States like Virginia, North Carolina, North Eastern States as well as handlers from
Quebec, Nova Scotia, Alberta, and BC.

Who was missing this year on the trial field was our host, Amanda. She did, however, provide the spectators with great commentary on the runs. Health problems of her trial dogs prevented her from competing. Whenever and wherever Amanda walks to the handlers’ post chit chat in the handlers’ tent ceases, all eyes are following her dogs as they skillfully maneuver the ewes through the course and into the pen. Ah well, perhaps we shall see her return to the post this October but most certainly by next spring; until then, some of us lesser skilled can share the spoils.

A review in pictures: (*photo credit also to Werner Reitboeck)

First day was CBCA Nursery competition, each team was allowed 2 runs and combined highest score was declared 2023 CBCA Nursery Champion. This was Mich Ferraro with Peavey, seen here at the pen. Reserve Champion was Faansie Basson with Eddie.

“I can see the line” during handlers’ meeting Barbara Ray and Tracy Hinton discuss the course while another handler is seen walking the cross drive

“Na… we don’t like this pen…you can’t make us go in” Kevan Gretton’s Bud at the pen

Barbara Ray, the virtuoso whistler. Barbara whistled up a storm as handlers listened in awe.

Many a handler and dog lost the battle at the pen when sheep decided to keep running in circles.

Another danger of Kingston is the turn around the post. For years handlers were frustrated if their dog could not turn sheep before they were over the crest and so most likely glued to the exhaust pen. Here Viki Kidd hopes that her Jones will beat the woolies to the top.

Helter Skelter: Peg Anderson and Lyn from Oklahoma were frustrated at the pen by four ewes each running in different directions


Joe Haynes and Jim had a hard time penning during the preliminaries as one ewe led the way out of the pen, quickly followed by the rest of the sheep. However Joe & Jim had better luck at the Double Lift Finals when they managed to win and so become the 2023 CBCA Champion beating Faansie Basson and Finn by one point.

The crowds are back. Visitors to the Kingston Sheepdog Trial enthusiastically clapped whenever dogs managed to maneuver sheep successfully around the course.

Faansie Basson’s Finn flanking alongside sheep to bring them on line  

Border collies were as interested as handlers to watch the competition. Here a pup is trying to pick up
some pointers as John Campbell's Gem works at the International Shed.

Judges scoring Mich Ferraro’s run as her dog, Bella, works the sheep along the cross drive in the double


The 2024 Kingston Sheepdog Trials are scheduled the week after August 5. See you there!


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