Meet the 2011 Judges...
This year's judging team was selected for their expertise and knowledge of North American sheep, geographical conditions, and the style and working characteristics of the North American Border Collie.
We wish to welcome the following judges to the 2011 National Sheepdog Finals in Carbondale, Colorado: Norman Close, Warren Mick, Frank Cashen, and Peter Gonnet.
Peter Gonnet was raised on a farm in Alberta Canada where he grew up with Border Collies. His Dad used them every day for chores. The Gonnet’s had Scottish shepherds for neighbors which provided the family farm with pups. Peter remembers watching in awe as his neighbors worked their Border Collies herding sheep. He was amazed at how the dogs responded to whistles at such great distances. This curiosity and amazement for the Border Collie has stayed with Peter throughout his adult working life.
Peter and his wife Pam now manage a large grazing reserve looking after 1350 cow calf pairs and have a purebred flock of North Country Cheviots of their own. Peter got his first Border Collie 29 years ago, to help him with his work. He uses his dogs everyday for ranch work and trials as well. Peter believes that your best trial dog must be your best work dog as well. He has won the Canadian Championship and has been Reserve CBCA Champion, Western Canadian Driving and WCC Nursery Champion, nine times SSDA Open Champion, as well he has judged throughout North America.
I was born in 1959 and raised in Offaly, located in the centre of Ireland. I always had an interest in dogs having trained hunting dogs, mostly pointers for hunting pheasants and grouse. In 1990 I got married to Maree and moved to my wife’s farm in Wexford, in the South East corner of Ireland. We have four daughters Mary 19, Aine 15, Claire 14 and Elaine 9. Maree farmed sheep, cattle and horses and I decided to get a border collie pup rather than go herding on
I trained this pup with the help of my neighbors Jim and Toddy Lambe, who were training and trialing collies. In 1993 they encouraged me to take Ben to the nursery trials where we qualified and won the nursery final. At that time I had got and almost trained a second collie a bitch called Jan.
In 1995 I competed in my first National and made the team with Jan. I also made the team again in 1997 which was the first year for the International to be held in Ireland. Due to being the last Irish dog to qualify I was the first to run in the qualifying which I won. I also ran first in the Supreme and won. Jan had never won an Open trial before and we were the first Irish pair to win the Irish International. In 1999 I won the Irish National Brace with Jan and Spot, and in 2000 I won the same again with Jan and Rosie. Rosie was also Reserve National Champion the same year and qualified for the Supreme, ending up in 12th place. In 2002 Rosie was Reserve National Champion and in 2004 I was Reserve National Brace Champion with Rosie and Sam and came third in the International. Since then I haven’t had any success at national trials. In 2010 I was runner up in the Nursery Finals with a dog called Jip. He is now running well in open classes along with my two other bitches Clare and Fly.
I've judged numerous trials in Ireland and abroad since 1997 including the 2001 Continental in Paris, Finnish National, Irish National 2007, Kingston Sheep Dog Trials Canada 2007 and 2010, Sonoma San Francisco 2010 & 2011 and the Swiss Open in 2010. I've given numerous clinics in Switzerland and Finland. Since 1998 until March of this year I've been working in construction, but now I have more time to work my dogs.