NEBCA History

NEBCA History

In the sixties and early seventies, there were at most a dozen sheep dog trials in the northeast. The best attended ones depended on the presence of handlers outside New England, men like the Pulfer brothers, George Conboy, Lewis Pence, Thurman Platfoot, Paul Coy, Carroll Schaffner, and, later on, Bob Childress, Ivan Weir, and Jim Bob McEwen. During those years a regional Border Collie club was formed, but it didn't last.

At that time most concerns centered around judging, entry fees ($5.00 per dog), and the sheep used, especially when undogged or when familiar to only one handler.

In April of 1977 Nancy Hayes began a publication called the New England Sheep Dog Letter. At first only a single page, it soon grew. This newsletter contained information about trials and clinics. It also placed free ads for puppies and presented editorial commentaries on matters relating to handler conduct and dog health. In less than two years the newsletter grew from twelve subscribers to one hundred.

The need for guidelines and consistency was increasingly evident, especially after a trial in New Hampshire in September 1977, sponsored by a rod and gun club, unexpectedly shared space and time with a turkey shoot. When the shooting started and handlers scrambled to secure their terrified dogs, some sheep bolted from the unfenced course, only to be lost in a nearby river.

The name of our organization evolved during its formative years, finally becoming the Northeast Border Collie Association (NEBCA) with the drafting and membership approval of its first written by-laws. Its first president was Maurice MacGregor, who was followed by Vergil Holland and then Cheryl Jagger Williams.

Another early effort of the club was the sponsorship of novice trials to encourage new handlers. The first of these was held on June 30, 1979 with only 8 dogs entered. Handlers included Janet Larson, Carole Presburg, Ceacy Henderson, Denise Leonard, Tom Mohan, Anne Tracy, Dorothy Shagoury, and Nancy Hayes. It was only as the number of novice entries increased over the years that a distinction came to be established between the Novice and Pro-Novice classes.

Since those humble beginnings in 1978, NEBCA has grown in numbers and stature. It is now several hundred members strong, covering a geographical area including the New England states, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Quebec and Ontario. NEBCA is looked upon as a model for change and growth in the Border Collie world. Instrumental in encouraging new handlers, the NEBCA novice program paved the way for other regional groups to address the issues of ever growing number of handlers entering the sport while balancing the need for support of new handlers and continued venues for all members. A quarterly newsletter goes out to all members keeping them abreast of upcoming events (trials & clinics), trial results, current issues, classified ads and more. The NEBCA calendar is still sought after by people from all over the US.