Submitted by Ruthann Epp
The Riverside Community northwest of Swift Current is hosting the 61st anniversary of the Border International Chicken Championship sponsored by Crescent Point Energy, Coyote Ugly Whiskey & Bone Beer.
The generosity of five family ranches has made this competition possible -- Glenys and Brian Weedon, Adam and Rebecca Anderson, Lexi and Barry Cole, Sid and Madeline Moffit, and Dale and Glenda Schultz.
Travis and Jenny Gellhaus have been coming here to train their dogs on these ranches and preparing for field trials for quite a few years. Four years ago they decided to become full-fledged members of the community and purchased the Circle Five Ranch, which is now called Sage Brush Ranch.
These family ranches are hosting a most prestigious field trial with participants hailing from Oklahoma, Idaho, Missouri, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Washington, Wisconsin, California, Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Many of the professional dog trainers have dog camps during the summers in Saskatchewan, Alberta or the Dakotas. This trial is one of their first opportunities to see what their training season has produced.
For some of the landowners this field trial may bring back memories of the past. Lexi Cole has bred and sold Tennessee Walking Horses in the area for sometime. Her first horse to get her started in that venture came from a field trialer. Sid and Madeline Moffitt are originally from the Carolinas so they were familiar with field trials in southern USA. They are now hay ranchers for most of the feedlots in southern Saskatchewan and Alberta.
The Weedon ranch received the TESA National Environmental Stewardship Award in 2011 for their efforts to be good stewards of the land. We feel privileged to ride over all these ranches. The field trialers are awed by the beauty of the vistas and especially when coming over a big sand hill and looking down to see a dog showing a mile away. The terrain allows for plenty of opportunities for the participants to show their dogs. The object is to combine a beautiful far-reaching race with the ability to point sharp tailed grouse, (chickens) or Hungarian partridge (Huns), and to do so with style and manners.
The judges, Clint Blyth from Fleming, SK and Murray Lambkin from Blackie, AB follow behind two participants at a time, all on horseback, with a gallery of onlookers riding behind them. Some of the landowners have joined the gallery to observe as well. Anyone wanting to ride along is welcome. The three one hour braces begin every morning at 7:30 and finish around lunch. Then it begins again at 1:30 for the afternoon.
There are 137 dogs competing over the eleven days of the trial on these prestigious grounds that can boast of being one of the few in North America to run on all native prairie grass. A banquet will be held on Sunday giving those in the community, the landowners, sponsors and field trialers the opportunity to mingle and share stories.
Starting Monday the 9th to approx. the 13th, the second stake, The Alberta Classic will commence. All are free to come along and ride in the Wagon, driven by Reg Johnstone or in the saddle! Please join us. We depart every morning at 7:30 a.m. sharp!