Horses, Dogs and Old Friends
What a great time.
Though, my back is a little worse for the wear after spending seven hours in the saddle last Saturday at a field trial near Camden, Ala.
It was the opening day for the National Open Shooting Dog Championship and though I won’t know the winner by press time, I’m thinking I may have seen her.
Of the bird dogs I saw run, Elhew Sunflower P.F., handled by Shawn Kinkelaar and owned by Butler & Flaming, had four finds in her hour and one-half outing.
The field trial was very special in that I joined two good friends – Dwight and Bobbie Smith – who I haven’t seen in almost 10 years. They live in North Carolina and I got to know them when I lived there. They were always so nice about letting me ride their horses and they introduced me to field trials.
Also, there were several people I had met through them who were on hand including trainer George Tracy and his son, Mike, of Summerhill Kennels in Gettysburg, Pa.
Together they have a string of 70 dogs in competition. And, it certainly is a lifestyle, not just a job. They can be on the road – with dogs and horses – for months at a time.
Though pretty muddy, the grounds of Shell Creek Plantation where we rode were beautiful and, besides quail, I saw a number of deer.
What I enjoy best about going to field trials is the people I get to meet. Riding along beside someone is a good way to get to know them.
One man, Jack Sanchez, who I had met in North Carolina, was there. The years have been kind to him.
He’s really interesting. Jack, who lives in New Jersey, was born in Spain and grew up in a poor family. Hearing his life story – of the love and values instilled in him from childhood – is inspiring.
Jack was about to freeze. He’d been in Mexico for some time attending field trials there where it was 85 degrees. Then he mentioned having gone to Mexico City.
I asked him his opinion of what former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s consulting company will be able to do to cut crime in Mexico City. That city recently hired the former mayor’s firm to do just that.
Jack didn’t seem to think much will be done and then related how he and friends in Mexico City were escorted by four armed guards everywhere they went. He also talked of beautiful homes that can’t be seen because they are surrounded by tall, concrete security fences.
Jack’s a very successful businessman but it’s obvious he never has forgotten where he came from.
We also talked about one of Jack’s dogs. He can just about tear up when he talks about the late pointer.
Bases Loaded isn’t the top all-time winner but he’s high on the list of the best.
There’s a funny story about Jack having dinner one night and a Japanese man kept trying – with cash in hand – to buy Bases Loaded.
It got into the six figures. But Jack wouldn’t sell.
That dog meant more to him than money.
The small world theory was also at work at the field trial.
Another man, from Dallas, owns a 20-section ranch not far from where I lived in Pampa, Texas. As a matter of fact, he has to come into Pampa (50 miles) to get "groceries and beer."
I recalled how the only place to drink coffee in Lipscomb County had burned down a couple of years ago and Charlie said nothing had been rebuilt.
There are some wide-open spaces out there.
As you can tell, I have some fond memories of my trip and you can bet it won’t be another 10 years before I do it again.
(Kate Dickson can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org)